ARTICLE: SUPPORTING STUDENTS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD) IN HIGHER EDUCATION
Students with ASD have identified the challenges in transitioning to higher education as: social interaction; coping with the learning environment, that is, sensory overload, lack of structure and predictability; and engaging academically (Hastwell, Harding, Martin &Baron-Cohen, 2013a; Knott & Taylor, 2013). Students have expressed academic concerns relating to time management, group work, oral presentations and the need for clear specific directions (Knott & Taylor, 2014).
Difficulties with communication and social skills, and associated anxiety can impact on students’ ability to establish social relationships and interact effectively with academic staff.
Unfortunately, students with ASD are often reluctant to disclose and seek additional assistance when required, or may decline initial offers of support (Fleischer, 2012a; Knott & Taylor, 2014; Macleod & Green 2009; Pillay & Bhat, 2012). Difficulties in articulating their needs, anxiety aboutnegative labellingand stereotyping, and lack of trust of staff, contribute to this non-disclosure (Ackles, Fields & Skinner, 2013; Fleischer, 2012a; Knott & Taylor, 2014; Macleod & Green, 2009).
Students often try to cope; however, when eventually struggling students are identified, academic development, mental health and general wellbeing have already been adversely affected (Macleod &Green, 2009). Hence there is an imperative need to explore how students with ASD can be provided with proactive individualised support services that meet their characteristic needs, and provide them with the same opportunities as other students undertaking higher education studies.
Cassie lives in a halls of residence with other students.
She has autism and has special requirements, strict routines are important.
At university, some days she might study all day. On other days she might study for only part of the day, or may not even have to attend classes at all, but she is expected to do a lot of work outside class times.
This variation is hard for Cassie to adapt to.
Cassie needs to prepare for classes before they start by reading class notes, textbooks and other recommended materials.
She must find her own resources for completing your assignments from the library or internet.
She must complete and submit assignments on or before their due date.
Cassie may get overwhelmed easily and become stressed and anxious, especially not having her usual family support behind her.
Independent Living Services & Solutions That Support Cassie at University
The Time To Call You Voice Check-In calls Cassie every morning, it provides a support message and encouragement. The Voice Call delivers learning strategies that maybe useful for Cassie. The Check-In also offers Cassie reminders as to who to call if she is struggling.
The Time To Call You surveys also track any sleepless nights, dizzy spells, headaches etc These could be indicators to poor wellbeing. Tracking these and providing a summary for her carers/parents can help give a better overview of how she is doing and what needs she may have.
The Time To Call You SMS Reminder Service send out a checklist Cassie can follow. The Checklist aligns to her Student Timetable and helps to provide guidance and routine for Cassie.
Regular Reports & Alerts
The Time To Call You will take the collected information and create summaries to be sent out to the people Cassie has nominated. Cassie's Support Worker will get a different report to the one her parents recieve. Reports are dynamically created based on needs.
Her parents get peace of mind knowing that Cassie is neing regularly assessed and has the ability to give feedback about how she is feelimg each day. IMPORTANT: No information is shared with anybody unless the end client (e.g. Cassie) has agreed to share that information.