SUPPORTING STUDENTS ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM THROUGHOUT THEIR UNIVERSITY STUDIES
Autismo Burgos (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often find it difficult to deal with changes. They need specific support to manage transitions, especially ones that involve a variety of demands in different areas of life. The transition from high school to university and higher education is an example of such a period in a young person’s life, involving social, personal and academic demands.
In the Autism&Uni project, we have collected data from students with ASD, their families and carers, as well as specialists and professionals in higher education institutions. This data has been analyzed to identify supports that could help students with ASD to achieve academic and social goals, and to collect examples of good practice from the countries involved in the project.
The results highlight a number of critical periods. Prior to the transition, vocational guidance is crucial. The students may have difficulty making realistic choices that are based on their skills rather than just interests. Acquisition of independent living skills is an important goal that can affect the choice of courses. For equality in terms of access to higher education, some students with ASD also need specific adaptations in the exam situation to avoid sensory overload and stress-induced loss of concentration.
First-year students’ identified needs revolve around specific academic support and assistance with daily living skills. They need to establish structure, find their way to various locations and learn to manage their timetables. They face the tasks of disclosing their diagnosis, engaging socially with other students, and handling study-related paperwork.
In the later stages of their studies, typical support needs involve exam situations, dealing with anxiety, developing social support networks, and accessing grants and other forms of financial support.
Keywords: Autism, transition, support, higher education.