Back to University with Autism

graduation Yes it’s that time of year again, after the non routine of the summer break, it’s back to school folk. And it seems that schools and Universities in particular are going the whole extra mile in trying to incorporate young adults with autism as fully as they possibly can into their curriculum.

An article appearing in the Guardian on September 9 written by a mother who is sending her son off to University celebrates the transitional process between high school and University. Her experience with Birmingham City University, who offer a summer school for students with a diagnosis so they can acclimatise to life at university and living away for what may be for the majority the first time ever. The three day summer school is held for the academically very able and run by the university. Students and would be students can experience the change of pace and work on their social skills preparing themselves for what to expect in the fall.

The number of autistic young adults attending or wanting to attend a university in the last two years has increased by a staggering 200% and that figure does not include students who have not yet received a diagnosis, or who have not disclosed that they have autism. Disclosure helped by better equipped high schools are helping Universities prepare themselves for greater intakes of autistic students.

“Although diagnosis can be problematic in certain parts of the country, it is generally easier than it was in the past, it had 26 students with autism in 2009, and now has 122.”

says John Harding, head of the disability resource centre at Cambridge University.

Most autistic university students have high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome – rather than classic autism,” explains Vicky Neale, the National Autistic Society’s student support coordinator for London. Students with Asperger’s aren’t all replicas of The Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper, Neale adds – though the highly intelligent, socially aloof character is seen as a hero by some.

However, more autistic students tend to drop out of higher level studying than neurotypicals, due to their ability to cope with new situations and the feeling of being thrown in at the deep end at their university of choice. Also due to the Freshers feeling – alcohol and partying being a right of passage for most youngsters in their first week of university. Some autistic young adults feel very much out of their depth and very uncomfortable in that scenario.

At Cambridge University, staff receive training on the ways to help autistic students keep up with work using recommendations developed by Harding after a three-year research project on autism and higher education. The project, based at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, advises that academic staff give unambiguous instructions to students, avoid last-minute changes to timetables, and make lecture notes available in advance.

For the full article in the Guardian please click here

We at Autism Daily Newscast would like to wish all October 2014 students luck with their ongoing studies!