People with autism have the right to access tertiary education, and often go on to be very successful students at TAFE and University. It is not always smooth sailing but with some minor adjustments and or supports people with autism can have very successful studies.
When seeking placement at a university of TAFE it is important to not only look for courses that interest you and match your skills and ambitions but also to look at the amount of support you can access.
All universities and TAFE institutions have a student support unit which provides free support for students with disabilities.
This support can include;
• Orientation to the university/TAFE and introduction to key staff
• Support with note taking in class
• Support regarding physical access
• Adaptive equipment
• Specialist tutorial support
• Support with vocational education and counselling
• Other support which you may need relating to support needs due to disability.
It is important to register with student support and speak to them regarding you needs. They are required to keep your information in the strictest confidentiality.
Speak with your lecturer, tell them you have ASD and let them know of any particular things they can do to help you, such as using visuals or checking you have understood a particular point. You may need to seek special consideration for exams, or altered exam papers – i.e. presenting the same information, but written in a different way.
Tertiary providers are required to provide you with materials, assessments and exams in formats you can access. You may need to provide evidence of your need to have modified materials or apply for special consideration.
Things you can do
• Ensure you have the correct books and learning materials
• Ensure you have correct timetable information, a map and know where to go
• Be organised- easier said than done, seek help with organising your notes, reading materials and assignments.
• Get a tape or digital recorder, seek help with taking lecturer notes, or take a laptop as handwriting will be difficult –taking in and writing down the information at the same tame is challenging if you are unable to write fluently.
• Pre read whenever you can so you will be familiar with what will be covered in class/ what you may be expected to do.
• Get the correct semester dates.
• Access learning materials on line- most universities now have study guides, lecture notes and learning materials posted on line for you to access.
• If you will be using public transport to get to university/TAFE it is important to learn the route and the timetables in advance prior to going on your first day and to practice travelling the route.
• Know what to do if the train/bus/tram/ is cancelled or delayed
• Have appropriate money or travel card
• Know who and where to seek help from if needed
• Learn where the toilets, library, cafeteria, book shop, first aid and student facilities are located at the university.
• Learn when where and how to evacuate if needed and how to locate or call security if needed.
• Carry a map of the university or TAFE campus with you in case you get lost.
• Be very mindful of your own safety and security – always keep your bag and valuables with you.
Other ways to access tertiary education
Many students with autism access tertiary studies on line as most universities and TAFE’s offer off campus study. This can be a grew way for people with autism to continue studies without having to deal with hassles such as using public transport and accessing large confusing, noisy buildings.
• You have the right to access tertiary education with the modifications you need to access the course, materials or classrooms.
• Be upfront with student support services and your lecturers about any modifications you will need.
• Get support from an advocate if you are having difficulties in accessing the modifications and services you need.
• If you have any issues with the university not making reasonable modifications so you can study ensure you contact student services or the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.