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Autism and Aspergers

General information on Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) and Asperger's Syndrome

Introduction

Autism is a spectrum ‘disorder’ which means that the individual is affected to different degrees and in different ways. Asperger Syndrome is a form of high functioning autism.

People with ASDs are all unique and individual - the characteristics/ behaviours identified below are not the same for each person. People with autism are people first, with their own personalities and unique individuality.

However, in brief, people with an ASD may have the following characteristics to a greater or lesser extent:

  • Rigidity of thought
  • 'Special interests' and repetitive behaviour
  • Logical/literal thinking

They may differ from non-autistic people in respect of:

  • imagining future events
  • understanding situations, people, places that they have not experienced themselves
  • empathy
  • time concepts
  • change - finding new experiences difficult
  • understanding of their sense of self
  • interaction and appropriate communication
  • understanding relationships and the boundaries of the different relationships
  • understanding nuance, inference, irony
  • understanding body language, social clues and facial expressions

People with an ASD can:

  • be vulnerable - will do what people ask due to difficulty imagining the consequences
  • need closure (endings)
  • have poor understanding of cause and effect
  • have different sensitivity to the 5 senses e.g. hyper-sensitive to particular sounds, so much that it causes physical pain
  • become over-stimulated by too much input from verbal and non-verbal information leading to confusion

Leaving home and starting university can be a stressful time for any student. Students with ASD and Asperger’s Syndrome often find change one of the most difficult concepts to deal with. It means a complete change of established routines and learning how to cope in a new location, new study environment, with new people and, often, a new place to live. For this reason it is even more essential for these students to build on their internal skills set to cope with change.

Getting Support

The University provides advice, guidance and mentoring to students with Autistic Spectrum Conditions. Contact the Disability Services team - see http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/disability/aspergersyndrome/support/ for details.

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/disability/aspergersyndrome/links/ for a range helpful links from the Disability Services website.

www.users.dircon.co.uk/~cns/ - This website is aimed at university students who have an ASD. It contains a lot of useful information, including information on study skills and tips on surviving the university environment. There are also first-person accounts from individuals who have an ASD.

http://www.autism.org.uk/news-and-events/about-the-nas/contact-us.aspx Information and support related to ASD

www.autismandcomputing.org.uk/marc2.en.html#education - Marc Segar, a young man with Asperger syndrome, has written a survival guide for people with Asperger syndrome providing useful tips about friendships, living away from home, as well as advice about social expectations and study skills.

http://autismthinktank.co.uk/- This website provides some strategies to help people with autism and their friends and families to deal with various situations

http://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/ - (this has replaced www.skill.org.uk which is only available now as an archive) Disabled Students Helpline is 0800 328 5050 (free) Opening hours: Tues 11.30 – 13.30 & Thurs 13.30 – 15.30 with an email address of: students@disabilityrightsuk.org

Harpur, J., Lawlor, M. and Fitzgerald, M. (2003). Succeeding in college with Asperger syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Jamieson, J. and Jamieson, C. (2004). Managing Asperger syndrome at college and university. London: David Fulton Publishers

Martin, N. (2005). Asperger's syndrome in the workplace. Potential difficulties and straightforward solutions. The Skill Journal, 81, pp30-33Pike, R. (2005). Supporting students with Asperger syndrome in higher education. London: The National Autistic Society

Skill (2004). Into higher education 2005. London: Skill

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