Educational Support For Students With ASD
Published 15th November, 2021
Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are elements of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They are two human conditions which have existed for centuries in societies around the world, but have only been recognized and addressed by medical and academic experts within the last fifty to sixty years. Parents and teachers of children on the autism spectrum will agree that reaching these individuals, if at all possible, is a challenge and a puzzle, and the rewards are immense if it can be done effectively.
For those individuals who are able to function independently and without supervision, the quiet, focused life of an academic might be a viable and productive option. People living with ASD in particular may find the intense focus on a particular topic or field fulfilling and rewarding, enabling them to live a full life.
The trick is to find ways to support and nurture the innate potential of students living with autism, as parents, teachers, lecturers and friends. Here are some simple ways to do this, without needing to be a trained expert or therapist.
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Students living with autism can suffer from pathological demand avoidance (PDA), which means that they suffer from anxiety when demands are placed on them. This can lead to students being unable to perform routine tasks within the undergraduate framework such as essay writing or tests.
A concerned parent or room mate can help friends suffering from PDA to access the best essay writing service Reddit has to offer, and encourage them to use this as an alternative writing resource, alongside any tutoring service that the university may offer to students, to help improve essay writing skills. This can help to relieve anxiety levels, and also unlock the academic potential of someone who might otherwise be hampered by limitations imposed by ASD.
Individuals living with autism may have difficulty in formulating expressions of how they feel, or what they are thinking. They tend to use imperative language to communicate. These are commands or questions, and they do not allow for the speaker to create space in which to engage in dialogue. This results in more or less inflexible thinking patterns, which impact on social skills and communication skills.
Lecturers, parents and friends of autistic students can help them to learn dynamic intelligence or flexible thinking by using, and encouraging them to use, declarative language, instead. These are statements of opinion or observation, of memory or solution, which create a space in which both participants in the conversation can share an experience. Because this therapy lies in language itself, it can be a low-pressure way to help an ASD individual to develop a creative mind.
This is one of the strategies employed by Relationship Development Intervention consultants, who specialize in behavioral therapy for children and adults on the autism spectrum.
Find societies or groups on campus which provide an opportunity for students with ASD to meet and connect. This is a great opportunity for your friend to interact with likeminded individuals in a low-pressure environment, where he or she can practice his or her social skills. You can encourage (not pressure) your friend or room mate to try out one of these groups. The act of trying something outside of the normal routine might not be very welcome, but using your declarative language, you might be able to persuade your friend to venture out. This in itself is an exercise flexibility, and is a great step towards developing better social skills for a career in academia.
Preferably, before sending an ASD student off to university, ensure beforehand that there is a good, reliable and active on campus support system. This usually falls under “Students with Disabilities” and can be a comprehensive program or a box-checking exercise, dependent on the institution. All of Canada's top universities offer verifiable support for ASD students, which is an encouraging sign that ASD students are recognized, and the stigma associated with autism is being dismantled.
Aspects which fall under services for students with disabilities can include academic planning, accommodation selection, work opportunities, therapy or counselling, clubs, groups and associations, and information for parents, guardians, high school teachers and guidance counsellors.
Although sending a child with ASD off to university may feel daunting and seem like an impossible venture, with the right assistance and preparation, an ASD student can live and thrive on campus. Lecturers and peers of students with ASD can also help to create an environment in which an individual living with ASD may feel secure and confident enough to explore his or her academic brilliance.
Using the very simple and memorable strategies mentioned in this article can encourage and support an ASD student to complete his or her undergraduate degree with a minimum of trauma and anxiety, and help to accomplish a level of education that may not only be beneficial to the student, but perhaps even to the rest of Humanity.