Very often, when I mention the struggles I had as a child, I would be asked why I did not ask a grown up to help me. I always reply that I don't know. But I have spent some time thinking about it, and I think I am slowly starting to understand.
It may sound strange, but a big factor was that I simply did not know that asking for help was an option. From when I was very young, I thought that not knowing something was a bad thing. If I did not understand something, it was my fault. If I did not know certain facts, it was because I was not clever enough. If I did not know how to do something, I must have missed the instructions that were surely given. After all, the other kids seemed to know things and manage to do things I had no idea about, to ask for help would be admitting that I was at fault for not listening or knowing. So I simply believed that asking for help was admitting failure. And that was too hard.
Another one was that I did not know how to ask for help since I could not understand why some things were so difficult. Again it was a problem for me seeing the ease with which other kids did things. I know now that I needed step for step instructions and explanations, but how could I know that as a child? It simply terrified me when we started doing projects in school. There must have been instructions given, but I have no recollection of that. I just knew I had to hand in a project about a certain subject, and I had no idea how to do it. So I could not even try. I wonder how many times I got into trouble for not handing in work. 'Forgetting' books at home because I had no idea how to do the homework. And I never asked for help since I believed asking would get me into trouble.
I am sure people told me to ask for help with certain things if I needed to, but they were not specific enough. An example – if someone told me to ask for help if I could not cover a book with plastic, I would struggle alone for ages with cutting the right size plastic – cutting is not covering, and they only said to ask for help with covering. I can smile about it now, but that was the way my mind worked. And probably still does, but I have learned to cope better. I still often wish though that someone would break down tasks for me into small consecutive steps and tell me where to start and how, and when to stop. And most of all, I still need the assurance that to not know something is fine. My head knows that not knowing is perfectly fine, my heart still struggles with that.