Autism | ADHD | Late Diagnosis | School | Life Story

Autistic and ADHD Without Knowing: The Primary School Years

Life as a child in the 1970s, with no support for autism and ADHD

Alan (AJ) Autistic Widower
22 min readJul 6, 2021


[For people who are not familiar with the UK school system, primary school covers ages 4–11.]

A selection of technical books from my childhood, and some schoolwork, with the caption “Autistic and ADHD Without Knowing: The Primary School Years”
Some of the books and school projects from my childhood. Photo taken by the author, Autistic Widower.

My memories of childhood and primary school have always been somewhat hazy. It’s now around 40 years since those days, so please forgive me if my jumbled thoughts are not very well organised.

(When I found one or two classmates on Facebook several years ago, I was amazed by how much detail they remembered about school, compared to me.)

At Home

I never went to any kind of nursery / kindergarten, and had little contact with other children before I started school. My mum didn’t work, and we seemed to be at home for much of the time.
(My dad worked 5 1/2 days a week, so I only saw him in the evenings and at weekends.)

As the youngest of three, I tended to play games with my sisters quite often. Sometimes they would go out in the evenings; it must have been difficult for them to get ready, with me demanding attention.

At home, I was in a world of my own. I remember being fascinated by things like ornaments my parents had bought at the seaside, which would often feature a small snow globe, with a disc of material that changed colour according to weather conditions.

I was quiet when in unfamiliar places and around strangers — but often noisy and outgoing in situations where I felt comfortable. I remember going around the house with a cassette recorder, interviewing my family and reporting on what they were doing, like I was making a documentary.

Unusual things would affect me, which must have been confusing for my parents, who were relatively old when I was born. I would scream during bath time as a young child, because there was a twin light fitting with only one bulb, and looking into the unlit part terrified me. My parents eventually bought a tiny low-powered bulb to put in the other part of the light fitting, which solved the problem.



Alan (AJ) Autistic Widower

Former electronics engineer & programmer in England, 50-something with a dry sense of humour. Sharing stories & opinions. Tip jar: