Starting University As An Autistic Student

Are you autistic and heading
off to uni this September? My name’s Sarinah, and as
someone who’s been there I’m going to give you some
tips which will hopefully help you get off
to a good start Not being able to picture
specific scenarios is often a source of anxiety for
autistic people, but when it’s something as significant
as a new home or place of education, it
can be debilitating Being as prepared as
possible is a great way to help deal with
the unknowns Ideally, this would involve
exploring campus as much as possible before term
starts, familiarising yourself with important places like the student council
building and the library If they’re available at your
uni, booking a campus tour is always a good idea If you’re renting private
accommodation, arrange a viewing and ask as many
questions as you need to If you’re coming from afar,
campus visits might not be doable, but
all is not lost You can familiarise yourself
with the campus map online pinpointing important
locations, and you can view photos of your
accommodation the campus, and its
surrounding areas You can register online
for things like gym and student union
memberships You can also like your
university’s official Facebook page, and follow
them on other social media which’ll help keep
you in the loop Because I don’t like
noise or crowds, I find my university’s social
media updates useful because if I know about
certain events, I can avoid campus when
they’re happening On Facebook, there are
usually closed or secret groups for freshers to get
acquainted before term officially begins, which
helps a lot if you’re scared about meeting
new people If you’re like me and your
subject coincides with your special interest, you might
be at risk of overworking yourself Although your passion is an
invaluable asset, it’s important to catch yourself when
you’re spending too much time
on assignments You might start paying
less attention to your diet your social life, or
your personal hygiene Not only is this unhealthy,
it’s unattainable and you will crash eventually Try to maintain a healthy
balance, and if you find you’re struggling with
perfectionist tendencies speak to a friend, a tutor,
or a trusted relative Remember that if a tutor
gives you a reading list as long as your arm and says
that they expect you to read it all, do not
take this literally It’s a ploy to instil fear into
your less motivated classmates Keep in mind that on most
degree programmes in Scotland your first two years
don’t count towards your final degree
award anyway Don’t feel guilty about
socialising, attending events or setting time aside to
practise new life skills You’ll thank yourself in
later years that you did Many students are unaware
of the help available to them if they have a disability or a
mental health condition at uni I wasn’t aware of my uni’s
disability service until second year after it was highlighted
to me by a concerned tutor following a period
of absence Once you register with the
disability service, your allocated disability adviser will
conduct a ‘needs assessment’ determining what kind
of help you’ll require This includes things such
as leniency with absences support with organisational
skills, access to quiet areas and funding for devices
such as laptops and voice recorders to be
used in lectures However, in order to
register with the service you must have a
formal diagnosis, which unfortunately, not
everyone can access In such cases, you can try
making an appointment with your GP, highlighting
the advantages that a diagnosis would have
during your time at uni and they might be able to
refer you to a relevant team If you’re going undiagnosed,
there are still ways you can access support This includes making yourself
known to the counselling and psychological services,
emailing your tutors to explain your situation, or
joining a student support group During my Freshers’ Week,
I joined a club specifically for women on the autism
spectrum, and it held events like talks and
soundless discos And if there are no
clubs suited to you why not start
one yourself? With all the hype surrounding
the start of uni, some freshers forget that a world exists
outside campus, but it’s one best preparing for When you’re autistic, it can
be hard keeping up with day to day tasks, so
fitting anything extra into your agenda during
such a busy time can feel utterly unmanageable However, it’s crucial to
register with a doctor and a dentist, to change
your address on documents such as bank statements
and the electoral register and to plan
your budget Don’t wait until the last
minute, because it will end up taking up so much
more time, energy, and effort Get into the habit of keeping
an organiser and a to-do list If your executive functioning
is particularly bad, which is understandable during such
a huge transition period why not ask a friend or
a relative for some help? It’s no secret that university,
especially during Freshers’ Week can be an unnerving
place for autistic folk I’m not exaggerating when
I say that I probably wouldn’t be able to attend uni without
my noise-cancelling headphones When Freshers’ Week
commences, there will be a lot of noise on campus,
including music from outdoor stereos, shouting and
chanting from megaphones laughter, crying, and
everything in between You’re also likely to be stopped
by people with promotional leaflets for various club nights,
bars and restaurants, and by students who want you to
vote for them in upcoming campus elections There will be stalls run
by various societies with home-bakes and crafts,
all with the objective of enticing you to join Considering this, it’s really
easy to feel overwhelmed and out of touch with
your surroundings This is where a pair of
noise-cancelling headphones will make all
the difference They reduce ambient sounds
via an app that uses active noise control, and when I’m
wearing mine, I feel like I can put a volume
button on the world They also have the same
functions as ordinary headphones so you can
listen to music, watch films and play games
on them too No matter how prepared you
feel you are for the big day there will be hiccups along the
way, and that’s totally alright When I was a fresher, I was
convinced everyone around me was having the time of
their lives, which made me feel lonely
and ungrateful It wasn’t until much later
that I realised a lot of people were feeling the same People around you will
create an idealistic image of what being a
fresher entails Don’t listen to them or feel
pressurised into doing what everyone else is doing Go at your own pace, practise
self-care and never be afraid to ask for help It might take a few weeks,
or even a few months but you will get there
eventually, take it from me And if you found this video
useful be sure to like and share

1 thought on “Starting University As An Autistic Student

  • What a great video! We have a few years until Max will be going but the awareness you are providing is fantastic!! Thank you for sharing! 🙂 x

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