Guest contributors Kevin Fox and Russell Lehmann share what advice they would give their younger selves to help anyone who may be nervous about going back to school this fall. 

Article by Kevin Fox 

As a child, the last day of summer and the first day of school always had their own tinge of bittersweetness.

In summer, I could sleep in as late as I wanted and do the things I wanted to do. (Frequently, that was read books. Even though I read them in school too, during summer I could choose the books.)  But going back to school meant going back to getting up early and heading to a building surrounded by hundreds of other students and occasionally getting overstimulated. It also meant learning, which I did enjoy doing, but sometimes that learning came with a price. 

If I could give advice to my younger self going back to school, it would be: While this period of time is important, it is not all-consuming. There will be other chapters of your life. Do the best you can to learn what you need to succeed, but things will be different later.

As kids mature and learn to develop their own preferences, it is easy for them to get in the trap of thinking that what they did today is all that matters for the rest of their lives.

"I asked my crush to the prom today and she said no so my life will never be good again."

No, there will be other crushes!

"We had a fire drill today and had to stand outside in the 90 degree heat and when I came back inside, I did badly on a math test because I was still overwhelmed and hot."

There will be other days and other math tests!

Most importantly, no one stays in school forever. And while that may seem terrifying to some, there are lots of ways escaping school is a good thing, too.

For most of us, school is the most controlled environment we will ever have to endure in our entire lives. We don’t get to choose very many things. Usually we don’t get to pick our teachers. We have to come home when our parents want us to come home. We don’t always get to eat what we want for dinner. We do get to choose our friends, but even that is limited by the environment around us. We may find it easier to make friends at one school than another school due to factors we don’t control.

However, when we mature to adulthood, suddenly we get a lot more choice. While having all those choices can be challenging, it can also be freeing. If we don’t enjoy having brussels sprouts for dinner, we don’t have to eat them again. If we’re struggling in one job, we can look for another. Change can and always does come. While sometimes changes are difficult, having to remain in school for our entire lives without any change would be even more difficult. Doing the best you can in school is important, but it is also important to realize that it is only one step of many on the journey of life. 


Video by Russell Lehmann

Russell Lehman gives advice to his younger self for back to school 

Kevin Fox is a writer, online content editor, and autism advocate. He lives in Chattanooga, TN, and enjoys playing piano, going to concerts, and attending regular local autism conferences and support group meetings. Read more on Kevin's blog.  

Russell Lehmann is an award-winning and internationally recognized motivational speaker, poet, author, and advocate who has autism. Read more on Russell's website.