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ASD and university - any one with any experience?

(12 Posts)

Hi - my DS is planning to go away to university in September. He is somewhere on the high-functioning end of the spectrum. We are supportive but understandably very anxious for him, (which we are obviously keeping to ourselves in an effort to not hold him back/allow him to realise his potential.)

Does anyone have any experiences to share?

I could really do with hearing some positive outcomes.

Thanks

FallenCaryatid Mon 07-May-12 17:02:09

Liaise with the pastoral services there to see what's on offer as support, how far away is he going and what's he studying?
What do you think are going to be the key areas he's going to find tricky?
There are several people on here with children at uni, mine is still at 6th form.

Thanks Fallen - 90 miles away to do Natural Sciences. Key tricky areas self-organisation and dealing with GAD and a phobia.

FallenCaryatid Mon 07-May-12 18:01:07

So you need to make the university fully aware of what he needs to access the course, work with him to find the most appropriate accommodation with regards to location and flatmates or not. A friend managed to get a top floor room next to the storage cupboards because she is hyper-sensitive to sound for example.
He may want to move their earlier, my DD went two weeks early to get used to everywhere before the floods of students. What about ways he controls the phobia and GAD, how can that be facilitated when he's not in the home environment?
90 miles is good, he can nip home for a weekend if things are getting stressful.
Does he have any hobbies that he can continue there?

Yes I have been in touch with the Student Support team at the uni and they appear to be very accommodating in terms of allowing DS to not have to share a room, (which would have been names in a hat/ pot luck otherwise.)
The accommodation is pretty limited in his college with no en suites for 1st years which could prove tricky for him -I'm not sure how to get round that.

In regard to the GAD and his phobia, medication is the main safe-guard, but he will probably need some type of 'go to' person in times of panic attack to replace us. I feel that the uni does have a good pastoral care set-up but I'm not sure how much DS will need to access until he's actually there trying to cope in the university setting. He has managed with very little extra care at school for the last 4 years - but that is probably because as parents we've picked up most of the slack in other areas to allow him to concentrate on his studies and maintaining his friendships. We have been giving him a crash course in the basic practicalities needed for uni - I'm not sure it will be enough though.

My main fear is him simply feeling overwhelmed and that will trigger his anxiety or cause his phobia to escalate. Your advice of him going early is something we hadn't considered but makes a lot of sense.

Yes 90 miles and 1 direct train seemed reasonable to us too, he feels reassured also.

The uni is apparently quite a sporty one, he is not sporty, but looking on the clubs and societies there is loads of stuff he'd like and he is incredibly friendly so I hope this will help him settle in. Part of his success in the last few years has been down to his really supportive group of friends, I just hope he can recreate this at uni. My fear is, he may have just been really lucky at school to find kids that can see through all the ASD/anxiety crap.

Thanks again for your input.

FallenCaryatid Mon 07-May-12 19:46:38

What's he like at keeping contact through texting, facebook messaging and phonecalls? Both of mine use different ways to contact me, sometimes to interpret a situation, sometimes to just hear a reassuring voice.
If he's not got ensuite, he will learn when the non-busy times are and use them, or you can supplement with wetwipes, cleansers and the old jug and basin if he really wants to withdraw and lurk in his room.
Make his room as refuge like as you can, you will know what he needs as will he. DD changed the bulb and the lightshade and took specific items she needed from home. She also keeps a stash of food in there, so that she didn't have to go out and mingle if she didn't want to.
Year 2 has been a lot easier for her, in a houseshare with people she got on with who appreciated her quirks and tolerated them.

FallenCaryatid Mon 07-May-12 19:48:09

If it doesn't work out, he can always come home and have a rethink. I made it clear that it wouldn't be the end of the world, and that there are always alternatives too.

Sorry back again - dealing with homework with other 3.

Yes he is generally very good at staying in touch and at the height of his difficulties txting was a godsend for instant reassurance. We thought he could Skype too when he's away.

Making his room a refuge is a good idea, he has quite a few tics and eccentricities and he'll definitely need a space to just be himself and relax. I will remember the food stash - his 1st year is catered to cut down on extra responsibilities - but you're right he may need to just withdraw sometimes.

What was the most difficult aspect for your DD in the last 2 years?

Yes we've made it clear that there are always alternatives if it doesn't work out - I guess I just wanted reassurance that we are not mad to be encouraging him to try and do the whole 'away from home' experience, as doing a degree will be hard enough on its own.

FallenCaryatid Mon 07-May-12 20:21:30

I'm going to PM you, because I don't want to give out too much information and have to namechange again. smile
WetAugust and Vicarinatutu are friends of mine who have older children in uni or heading that way, WA is fantastic on law, legislation and rights if things go wrong.
Vic is generally wonderful anyway, so they might be along too.

Thanks so much that's really helpful.

FallenCaryatid Mon 07-May-12 20:33:28

I've got to go, be back later.

WetAugust Mon 21-May-12 21:35:56

Just found this thread.

<thank you for the nice words Fallen>

OP - does your son have a 1) Statement or 2) has he had an Ed Pysch report since the age of 16, or 3) does he receive DLA?

If he has 1) or 2) you can claim Disabled Students Allowance to get him additioanl support in HE. You can also make a claim without 1) or 2) - it's just easier if you have them.

If he gets 3) he'll be entitled to his own room and will be able to claim Housing Benefit (LHA) to pay for his accommodation.

Not sure if you are still active on this thread. If so I might be able to answer any more queries. Is he planning to go to place with 4 letters that is very sporty - if so my DS is there.

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