SCHOOL is a funny one for us neurodivergents. I don’t like to generalise our community, and as a rule I usually won’t. Often the generalisations people make about us are the reason we remain so vastly misunderstood – but in this one context I will, because I think school is the one example where the experience of neurodivergent people is vastly similar.

Many of us love to learn, and our ability to hyper-focus on a subject we enjoy is second to none.

Ask my older brother about Iceland or Vikings and he will have you entrapped in a frankly exceptional conversation for as long as he can possibly keep you there. But school itself can be akin to spending the day battling a fire-breathing dragon with no sword.

It’s a juxtaposition of epic proportions, as is most of our existence in a neurotypical world.

READ MORE: Scotland must look toward the Faroe Islands for inspiration

If you consider the very fabric of the school environment and what it consists of, neurodivergent people are against the odds in virtually every single way. It is a mass disabling environment for our community.

Between sheer sensory overwhelm, social and communication pressures, rigid rules and timekeeping obligations, it’s not in any way a space designed to facilitate our natural flourishing, as they would have you believe.

Those who do make it through and better yet, those who make it through with an accomplished set of grades, have almost certainly sacrificed enormously on their personal health and wellbeing to achieve it.

The fact that neurodivergent children have to choose between their wellbeing or their academic performance is the finest evidence of the disadvantage I’m talking about.

The National: School girls walking to school

Primary school can be softer; with one consistent class and teacher for the entire year, smaller pupil numbers and a generally more gentle approach that certainly in my experience was much more palatable and easy to manage.

But high school as a neurodivergent, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, is in every sense of the word – unbearable. Arguably even more so for the latter, without a hope in hell of the lacklustre and bare minimum support that would at least be on the table with a diagnosis.

It is a real shame because with the right accommodations and support, school could be a much different and more magical experience for neurodivergent people. It could be a brilliant outlet and with the ability to harness neurodivergent potential early on, could avoid the well-known soul-crushing self-doubt and lack of confidence that comes part and parcel with the current school system.

One of those accommodations in particular being – the right not to attend.

READ MORE: Sam Thompson: I'm a Celeb winner represents neurodivergent community

There has been much conversation in the media this week about the UK Government’s latest campaign to quell school absences.

The soundbite we are being fed this time is “moments matter, attendance counts.”

But I’d ask Rishi Sunak, or perhaps this month’s Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, if they would agree that an unblemished attendance record is to be favoured over years of constant burnout? Mental health crisis? Physical health decline? The destruction of all joy and ability to function?

Because that is what is at stake for neurodivergent pupils, who without a break from the neurotypically-favoured system, are almost guaranteed to crash and burn.

If they won’t make the school system more accessible, and given how slow real change actually materialises in these environments, then those with accessibility needs depend on accommodations to make that environment more sustainable, and more likely to result in success.

And that includes being able to take a break without punishment.

The National: exams

I was never afforded a diagnosis while at school – I had no idea that I was neurodivergent until long after that torture ended. But the inaccessibility of the system disadvantaged me and held me back nonetheless.

When I started school at five, I was ahead of my classmates. Inquisitive, thirsty for knowledge, a good communicator. By the time I left primary school, I was winner of the inaugural “overall achievement” award, maths challenge winner, Burns poetry champion and was undertaking work academic years ahead of my age group.

When I left high school I was on an attendance timetable and had exhausted all avenues with my year head as to why I just could not seem to reach my potential.

An experience every neurodivergent reading this will clench their teeth at.

READ MORE: Scottish law to 'protect rights of people with learning disabilities'

Looking back, it took me years to recover from the permanent stress of being at school, both mentally and physically. Being forced to perform like a monkey in this environment has lasting consequences, and many neurodivergent people speak of school-related traumas even late into their adult lives.

High school transformed me from high-achieving whizz with a passion for learning to mentally unwell flunk with no confidence.

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I was almost positive that school was supposed to have the opposite effect. And I’m sure that it does, if you are neurotypical.

After all, 92.1% of children with school attendance difficulties are neurodivergent, and 83.4% are autistic. We’re not talking about unintended consequence, we’re talking at best about the intentional disregard for neurodivergent students and at worst, outright ableism and purposeful disadvantage.

The National:

It’s a policy that is almost exclusively harmful to one particular community.

Between this, a strangling of NHS services that sees neurodivergent people languishing for up to six years on diagnostic waiting lists in parts of England, and a further commitment to social security humiliation for disabled people, disadvantaging this community is no unfamiliar feat to the current Tory government.

They’re accomplished professionals in that one niche at this point.

If it wasn’t so exhausting and the read wasn’t so melancholy, I would write in-depth about the level of deep-seated failure we face on a weekly basis at the hands of this incompetent and if I’m honest, institutionally ableist, government. Because I think, possibly selfishly, that it needs urgent attention. That not enough people are attuned to the difficulties this community is forced to endure.

On this occasion, I will indulge myself in it – because I can’t bear the thought of yet another generation of autistic people being destroyed by an education system that, through no fault of their own, is designed to do just that.