Here Clenton talks about how attitudes he encountered at school affected his own behaviour and identity.


My two favourite subjects were history and RE because there was no writing involved. I excelled at that cos I loved history and they but nobody at school picked that up. They said I had behavioural problems because there’s a saying that I use now called RSI and RSI, don’t use it in the term of repetitive strain injury, I use it as repetitive statement injury. Enough people tell you that you can’t do something, you believe it and I believed it and my behaviour, my attitude ended up doing exactly what they expected me to do, if that makes sense. But I hated school, secondary school. because of how I was perceived and treated.
But I had one teacher, I remember Mr Hebden who saw, I don’t know what he saw, he saw something in me and he kind of brought me out myself for sport, rugby and you know, and he just gave me self worth and self esteem, that I could do something and he helped me a lot, to build me my self esteem. One of the things I had initially was knowing my left and right. I’m right handed but I’m left handed but when I went through school they tied my left hand behind my back and made me write with my right hand. He picked up that I was a 'leftie', he used to say. He said 'You’re naturally left, he said, what’s happened?' I said, well I was told it was wrong and he's saying, so you’re telling me someone’s forced you to and I went, well yeah.
And now I write, now it’s become the norm for me and he said, 'Well just do what feels natural' and I used to say, 'Natural, you’re off your head, I normally get told off if I do what’s naturally to me'. But he helped me, instilled into me that you can do stuff but do it your way and he helped me find my way when I was doing sport cos I did everything differently. It was difficult but he made me feel there was nothing wrong in who I am, so yeah he instilled in me some pride, which I didn’t get cos I only got, if I was in trouble at school I had loads of people noticing me, if that makes sense. That’s why I said RSI came in and I ended up believing in myself so the only time I got noticed and people to care about me in my warped mind, was when I was in trouble so I behaved like that.

Explore more

Explore stories by theme or view the timeline of significant events in education for disabled people

A selection of other stories...