Starting Third Grade

Starting Third Grade is a poem illustrating my experience as an autistic youngster in the 1950’s as I started the school year. The unconventional spacing represents the space of time for my brain processing to “catch up” so the next word can plop out of my mouth. This manner of speech isn’t a behavior I decide to engage in, but instead, nothing more than the way my brain does business – similar to the way your brain does business by not inserting spaces of processing time between your words mid sentence. Both the poem and the illustration are excerpted from pages 38-39 of my first book Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers.

Starting 3rd Grade

Too much new

for back to school

is why I just          don’t like it,


each new thing

all by           itself

is entirely


New shiny shoes

I do so love

new ribbons in           my hair

a freshly pressed

brand new pink           dress

Oh      …

ain’t I


My satchel packed

with all new things

with all the stuff I           need

sits on the floor

next to the           door

just waiting

for me

to leave!

New class lists

posted on the           doors;

the students find their           names.

They take their           seats

and wait to           see

what will

this brand new teacher


“Unpack supplies.

Get settled in.

My name is on the           board.”

on and on

her voice keeps           speaking

way much

too many


Her voice           plows on

it will not           quit.

Words heap up in a           pile,

while yellow           chalk

adds           to the           talk.


just ain’t

my style.

Time for           recess.

Go           outside.

New           playground has no shade.

Kids           race about;

They run and           shout.

At           recess

I might


I stand           real still

and close my           eyes.

The teacher comes           by me.

 She does           smell           nice,

but I’ve           made up my           mind      …

I right now


third grade.


Endow, J. (2019).  Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic Adult. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006).  Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013).  Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009).  Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009).  Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010).  Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013).  The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment. Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.