‘Far too many are struggling’: are universities failing autistic students?

Matthew Moffatt, who is autistic, struggled when he started at De Montfort University. “When I saw how busy my lecture theatre was, it was terrifying,” he says. “My sense of panic is through the roof and I’m not very good at controlling it. It just builds really quickly – I start shaking and want to leave.” The Guardian reports

Moffatt is one of a growing number of autistic students, many of whom find UK universities ill-suited to their needs. According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of students with social and communication impairments has increased from 2,815 in 2010-11 to 10,595 in 2017-18. Some need extra time to process information, feel intense anxiety in social situations, and find noise and bright lights distressing.

“Far too many are struggling to get autism-specific support and end up dropping out. There’s too much inconsistency,” says Claire Burton, who leads on student support at the National Autistic Society. Autistic students are often socially excluded by their peers, she says, which makes settling in difficult.

So why are universities getting it so wrong? “Schools need to speak to us more about the students coming here rather than dumping loads of documents in the post,” explains James Hitchins, head of student services at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where around 15 of the 1250 students are autistic.

Read the full article and see how some universities are trying to help autistic students.  ‘Far too many are struggling’: are universities failing autistic students? 

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

 

 

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