Higher Education and Autistic Spectrum Disorder – different strokes for different folks.

Higher Education and Autistic Spectrum Disorder – Pat Guy, Education Specialist

While all young people find transitioning to university challenging, ASD students may find it more challenging than most. Research and preparation are essential.

  • Look at the websites of the universities that you are considering: they will provide information of the support the university offers students with additional needs. 
  • Contact each university’s Disability Advice Team for the specific detail of their provision. Do they offer counselling and mentoring for students? Do they provide support with independent living or help with the organisation of work /leisure schedules? 
  • Research the support available for students through the DSA, (Disabled Students’ Allowances.) These allowances provide funding for appropriate software, 1-1 study tuition, specialist mentoring, and so forth.
  • If you decide to tell the university about any diagnoses and previous support, forward the relevant paperwork in good time, then check that it’s arrived safely.
  • Visit the universities and go to any Open Days. Look at the Student Support Centre, dining facilities, student halls, the library and local transport routes. 
  • Consider accommodation options. Would you prefer a local university; perhaps living at home for a while, then moving into student accommodation at a later date. Weigh up the pros and cons: it can be helpful to have other students around to help with daily routines, like getting to lectures on time, but it may be disruptive if they cook strong smelling snacks in shared kitchens or play loud music late at night. 
  • Consider the opportunities available for socialising. Does the university have a Campus Buddy system linking new students with older students; Facebook groups for Freshers or Transition Summer Schools, so that students can get to know each other before term starts. 
  • Is there a wide range of clubs and societies? Becoming a member of such associations is a good way to socialise: meetings will have a structure and purpose, rather than being loosely organised social events. Hopefully, university will be a place where you enjoy the company of likeminded people, in addition to gaining the qualifications you need.

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