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WE can be much more than the ‘I’ could ever be.

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Tom Delahunt is a Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing having worked as an A&E nurse for many years. His PhD work is in education and the notion of ‘unlearning’ which builds upon his interests in the crossover between the educational system and neuro-atypical learning needs. Tom is a dyslexic with autistic tendencies.

In this blog, Tom reflects upon how it feels to try to demonstrate normalised and accepted behaviours within education and health care professional situations and systems when, as an individual, your perspectives and approaches are somewhat different.

You are treated with platitudes and false courtesy, yet your issues are a frustration and really just plain disruptive. Passive aggression leaks through their words and expression.

You feel it's maybe paranoia and others tell you not to worry. But it's real. You can taste the toxicity and tension in the room. You can see the fragmented patterns and distain for ‘alternative’ that hangs in the air like false truths hang on your tongue.

In the meeting there is a not-so-subtle hint that process must be followed. The question of “did you need support with that.?”... almost said with a grin.. a look of self-satisfaction at your bare Achilles.

In response, I hide away all aspects of self out of fear and ridicule in what was meant to be a safe space. This is my classic response now after a history of deemed ‘inappropriate’ and ‘misplaced’ internalised and traumatic responses that I have previously made, especially in my school days.

You go to school thinking good things and full of hope. A place to make friends and a space to be and become. But the culture often becomes suffocating, devoid of colour and indeed does not create the space to be and become who you truly are unless, of course, you are one of the few who thrive in a linear environment that prioritises certain academic subjects and ways of learning over all else.

However, through a combination of biology: my innate cognitive ability and my autistic tendencies to perform in exams and social expectations; my unquestioning compliance, I managed to navigate and survive the mechanistic and impersonal system that is school.