The University of Cambridge Asperger Syndrome Student Project has outcomes that are very relevant to supporting students with Asperger Syndrome to successfully access their education.
10 Points of Good Practice
Study participants were asked to build on their observations, comments, and initial recommendations by contributing to the creation of a ten point good practice document for higher education institutions (HEIs). Sixteen students worked on the task in one-to-one interviews with the researcher, and eight as a focus group. A further 18 contributions came via email (six students participated in two ways).
The following recommendations for HEIs are presented below:
- Provide opportunities for students to discuss what would be helpful to them before starting University and establish support arrangements as early as possible.
- Prospective students should be encouraged to attend open days and transitional support events to familiarise themselves with the collegiate university environment, in order to aid transition into higher education.
- Provide support to identify and secure appropriate accommodation for the duration of the course.
- Aim to schedule all regular teaching/supervisions at the same time/day each week to create structure and routine.
- Provide access to quieter and less sensorily overwhelming careers events and ensure access to specialist careers advice, which provides practical advice for disabled students regarding sustainable employment.
- Ensure that supervision/tutorial groups are as small as possible. Large groups are hard to navigate socially and become overwhelming and unproductive.
- Advise lecturers and other staff that ambiguous language can hinder effective communication. Metaphors, humour, irony may not be understood. Where possible, use clear language with concrete examples.
- Arrange living accommodation to minimize noise and social intrusion whilst avoiding isolation by matching student interests or preferences.
- Use explicit written feedback. Provide constructive criticism and examples where possible.
- Ensure advice is consistent.
In October 2012 the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Service's (AGCAS) Phoenix magazine published an article written in collaboration between the DRC, the University of Cambridge Careers Service, and NAS Prospects, entitled ‘All graduates with autism need access to good careers advice'.