‘We are all together as one and all as important as each other. Different doesn’t mealess, it’s just different.’
That was the message from former student Daniel Bennison-Pauls who returned to Banovallum School to talk about life as an autistic person.
Daniel left Banovallum last summer to join the Sixth form at Branston Academy.
He said: “It (autism) doesn’t define who I am but it is a part of me, just like it is a part of someone if they have ginger hair or are short or tall.
“ It means that often I see the world from a different perspective than everyone else.
“ Everyday things such asnoises, smells and even people’s faces appear differently to me than they would to you.”
Daniel went on to reveal he struggles to ‘read’ facial expressions and finds eye contact difficult.
However, he told a packed assembly that the fact he did not always look directly at people did not mean he was being rude.
He also spoke about how words can often seem ‘jumbled up’ and revealed how he often needs extra time to decide what he wants to say.
Daniel added: “I didn’t speak properly until I was about six years old and two-way conversation still at times is tricky and tires me out.
“However I do love to talk and am worth listening to... although get me onto one of my pet subjects like football or Liverpool and I run the risk of boring you!”
Daniel went on to praise the support he received while he was at Banovallum
He said: “My former TA Mrs Nutt helped me cope with anything that was thrown at me.
“The teachers recognised my autism and helped me feel safe and a valued member of the school.
“During exams I had certain measures in place so that I could be quiet and calm and in a room of my own.”
Daniel added the support helped him ‘journey through’ Banovallum safely and happily. He went on to achieve excellent GCSE results.
He told the assembly: “I am now studying A-Levels in Geography, French and Philosophy and Ethics at Branston Academy.
“I still have a TA who helps me called Mr Robson but I have settled in well and I am enjoying the challenge of sixth form life.”
And in a fianl message to students, Daniel said: “Please remember, autistic people may need you to speak clearly and slowly, be a little less noisy around them and sometimes not touch them too much.
“But most of all we are individuals just as you all are. We have our own personalities and we are unique. “
Jo Priestner, Careers Co-ordinator at Banovallum School, said: “It was very moving to hear Daniel’s perspective.
“He delivered his speech to three assemblies with great professionalism and humour.”