Autistic TV presenter joins Hampstead pupils for 'most wonderful day'

Rosie King with New End Primary School pupils

Rosie King with New End Primary School pupils - Credit: New End Primary

An autistic writer and television presenter told Hampstead primary pupils she would not have suffered so much had she been a student at their school.

New End Primary School, in Streatley Place, invited Rosie King to come and talk to pupils about her own experience of autism in a  bid to counter any prejudices and misunderstandings that affect children with learning difficulties.

After three sessions with different age groups, Rosie said: "I had the most wonderful day.

"The children really listened and were very responsive.

"In the top years they asked the most thought-provoking questions and clearly wanted to understand my predicament."

Rosie King told Hampstead pupils she wished she'd gone to New End Primary School

Rosie King, who has autism, told pupils she wished she'd gone to New End Primary School as she suffered bullying in the past - Credit: New End Primary

The 23-year-old, who works for the BBC, said she was bullied as a child and lonely.

She said that even at nursery some teachers were unkind and unfeeling with one locking her in cupboard. 

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"I thought this was normal," she added. 

At secondary school Rosie said she was subjected to violence and cruelty but when she reported it, the teacher responded by saying she had made it up.

"I trusted the teacher, so I thought he must be right. Later of course, I realised that what was happening was not right.

"If I had gone to New End I would clearly not have suffered the way I did. Here they celebrate diversity and multiculturalism."

After leaving school Rosie graduated from university with a first class degree in English and creative writing.

Rosie added: "We still have a long way to go but things have clearly improved in schools. We need to see more awareness, compassion and acceptance of difference in schools.

"Teachers need more training and schools need to hold events like this one at New End to educate other children.

"We no longer want to compartmentalise difference but embrace it."

One pupil said: "It was interesting to hear from someone who actually has the condition."

Another said: "She taught us a lot of things."

New End head teacher Karyn Ray held meetings with parents and with Rosie to explore their concerns prior to the meeting. 

Heidi Wilmot, special needs coordinator at New End, said the children had really taken on board what Rosie had to say.

She said: "Those who have disabilities seemed reassured and more confident. There was certainly an atmosphere of greater understanding. One boy commented to me that Rosie had summed up exactly how he felt."