Understanding the fear of being ‘told off’

Posted by: alisrowe, May 30, 2022

When I was a teenager, at school, I was exceedingly and abnormally well behaved. I still have a memory of a classmate remarking to me, “Don’t you ever do anything wrong?”. I went through the entire 5 years of secondary school without receiving a single detention. Detentions were quite usual occurrences for most students. They were most commonly given for naughty or silly behaviour, swearing, bullying, not doing your homework and being late. I never did any of these things.

I’m definitely not the only autistic person who could be described as “well behaved.” Autistic people (girls in particular) are often described as being “very, very good” and/or “very, very quiet.”

One of the reasons that I was so well behaved was because I was terrified of being told off. It was just so much easier to be quiet and well behaved than have to deal with confrontation or become a focal point.

When a person is well behaved, they are able to ‘get on’ without drawing excessive attention to themselves. Well, I guess they could provoke the occasional “Well done” or other word of praise, but this is nothing compared to the attention that comes when someone behaves inappropriately.

Similarly, when a person is quiet, they are able to ‘get on’ without being noticed.

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