After being bullied in primary school, Blackbutt's Shae Foster felt relief when he joined a new class for children with autism at Lake Illawarra High School.
The 13-year-old said he was tormented for being "slow" and different to the other students.
"Sometimes people don't understand me and how I feel," Shae said.
But awareness, raised through events such as World Autism Day on Wednesday, helped other children understand him better.
The Year 7 student took part in one of two classes at the high school designed for autistic teens.
His mother Kerri-Ann Foster said more of these classes should exist across the education system.
"There's not enough places for kids like Shae, he was bullied quite badly in primary school," she said.
Shae has become more confident since he joined the class, she said.
"He takes on a leadership role around his peers, which would never have happened [before]," she said.
The school's autism class teacher's aid Colleen Barker said the children had a better knowledge of each other's needs.
"If one is feeling anxious the others can relate to that."