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University support with ASD

(9 Posts)
Flickering Thu 02-Feb-17 20:19:17

Reposted from SN as no responses

My dd is in year 11 and we're beginning to think about university. She has a diagnosis of HFA and dyspraxia and gets extra time in exams and a laptop. Other than that she copes very well in a highly academic selective school although the SENCO keeps an eye out and lets us know if there are issues.

What sort of support is available at university for students like her? Are some universities better than others? What should we be looking for?

She particularly needs help with organisation, possibly socialising, and I dread to think about washing clothes, cooking etc.

LIZS Thu 02-Feb-17 20:26:01

You would need to look into DSA (funding via student finance) and speak to the unis Disability and Learning Support department as to what they can offer. They can certainly provide study support and equipment but help with day to day life skills may be more variable.

eatyourveg Fri 03-Feb-17 08:17:18

Some universities are better than others, when we did the rounds of open days with ds3, we saw some that were very proactive and others with rather scant information unless we actively sought it out. One uni offered mentors who would knock on the door on a friday or saturday night to encourage the student to come out. DSA is currently available to fund the extras such as laptops and assistive technology but I thought there was a rumour that it might stop. Another thing in the pipleine was a consultation on extending EHC plans to cover HE but that isn't going to happen anytime soon imo.

This might give you an idea on where to start.

bigbluebus Fri 03-Feb-17 16:29:03

My DS went to Uni for a year (decided he had chosen the wrong course so currently at home before going back to start a different course).

He got DSA but had to pay £200 towards the laptop - which I think is fair enough as most students need a laptop for Uni anyway. He did however get all sorts of assistive hardware and software for free. He also got 2 hours funded a week with a mentor/support worker to talk through any problems and help him with organising his work - not certain how successful that was though (see above!)

He did not get any help with the domestic side of things - although I know the Uni had 'helpers' in the laundry for the 1st term and they also ran cleaning courses and cookery lessons in the halls of residence. DS did seem to manage his laundry and I think he lived on ready made food and takeaways rather than cooking for himself - which he was capable of doing. He seemed to do a reasonable amount of socialising which he surprised himself with - going out with people from his course rather than his flat. I think the Uni also had events for people who wanted to make friends and they also put trips on in the evenings and weekends so lots of opportunities to meet others socially - as well as the usual clubs and societies. He could just as easily sat in his room for a year though if he had chosen to - and i doubt anyone would have bothered.

I know there was a consultation about the DSA just before DS went to Uni (so 2015) as they were thinking of bringing in changes on the basis that they thought Unis should automatically provide lots of support rather than it having to be funded specifically. Not sure if changes were ever implemented though - guess we'll find out soon if DS applies for DSA again.

mummymeister Fri 03-Feb-17 17:30:21

DSA is really difficult to get in my experience. the best place to start is with the disability support officers at the uni. we found them to be incredibly variable. don't want to be too identifying so will message you on which ones we found the best.

My dc has incredible support at their uni. unbelievably good and it has really helped with the transition and now the studying.

Flickering Fri 03-Feb-17 19:54:41

Thanks so much, I'll definitely look into these suggestions. I imagine we'll be getting dd a good laptop for her A Levels (essay subjects) so I'm less worried on the finances but more concerned with the practical aspects.

mygrandchildrenrock Sat 11-Feb-17 22:20:01

In the spring/summer of Y13, your DD would have an assessment. This is automatic for anyone who ticks the right box on the UCAS form. The assessment takes about 2-3 hrs and covers every aspect of what the student might need help with. There is no cost to the student for this assessment. A report is then written and shared with the University Disability Support Team (or whatever they may be called). Your child doesn't need to have had an EHC or be getting DLA to get this assessment or support.
My son has a mentor for 1 hr a week, which is a great help and he can see her for the whole 3 yrs if necessary. He also had a support worker for 10 hours for the first week who was rubbish. He lost his library card on day 3, which was also his meal card and his access to various rooms. He didn't know what to do or where to go or who to ask. He got in touch with his support worker who arranged to see him 3 or 4 days later! It was only after he hadn't eaten for a day (no way to buy food in halls without his library card) that we contacted people and got things sorted. He now knows what to do should that ever happen again, but I was so upset and disappointed that the support worker, who was only there for the first week, didn't help.

NoHaudinMaWheest Sun 12-Feb-17 11:39:30

Hi my son with ASD and other issues started university this academic year.
When you apply for student finance you will be asked if you want to apply for DSA. You will then be sent a form and asked for supporting evidence of the disabilities. If that evidence is regarded as sufficient you can book a disability assessment. There are centres at most universities so you don't have to go to the one you are planning to attend. We went to our local one as his chosen university is some distance away. We found the assessment very thorough and the assessor very helpful. Her report with its recommendations is then sent to Student Finance and to the first choice university disability support service. If Student Finance approve it (and the assessor said it was extremely rare for them not to) then the named provision will be put in place.
For ASD the sort of things recommended are:
(a) laptops and associated software. It is worth going through them to get a laptop even if you are topping up by more than the statutory £200 as that is the only way to get the free software.
(b) a mentor to discuss how things are going, help sort out problems, help with organising time, help access extra curricular activities ect. Typically 1-2 hours a week.
(c) study skills support - more focussed help with essay writing, presentation, maths skills or whatever is needed.
(d) a printing allowance if you are going to be doing more photocopying than usual due to your disability.

The university disability service will organise the provision of mentors etc and may also have other services available.
Ds has a named disability support officer and can make appointments with her at any time. For students who need it they can also have regular appointments. Ds's support officer has been great at sorting him out when he has got into a state and liaising with his department. I can also contact her if I need to which I have done a couple of times and found her very helpful. This is only possible because ds has agreed that I can speak to disability services. If you can persuade your dd to allow this it is invaluable.
The disability support service also organised a two day residential familiarisation course for students with ASD and similar issues before the start of term which ds found useful. They also had a quiet early track for dealing with registration and freshers' fair.
The disability service at his university also organises a social group once a fortnight aimed at students with ASD though it is open to all. As ds says a social club for those who don't like socialising.
It is worth finding out at open days or offer days what additional provision each university offers as it does vary a lot. The amount of provision and the attitude of the disability services was one of the reasons we chose the university ds is now at.

Each university organises its own special exam arrangements and
students should be told how to do this at the beginning of term. Again the disability support service helped ds with organising this.

Most of the university support is aimed at helping with the academic stuff and to a lesser extent the social and organisational things.
As far as daily living goes students are much more left to their own devices.

Things that we have found to help ds with daily living are:
* being at a campus university. His is particularly compact and he can access most things he needs within 5 mins.
* he is in a self catering flat but he eats his main meal at a catering outlet on the campus. This means he only has to cook at weekends (when there is almost no catering on campus). He does mostly do microwaved food then but at least I know he is eating. Having the kitchen means that he can be flexible about breakfast and lunch.
* being in a quiet, alcohol free flat means he doesn't have to deal with extreme behaviour from flat mates. I sometimes think it is too quiet though but ds doesn't seem bothered. I think most universities make this provision and some have whole quiet halls but you have to ask to find out about it.
* an ensuite bathroom was essential for ds as he also has OCD but it does mean there is one less thing to be anxious about in general.
* an alarm clock which is loud, flashes and vibrates helps him to get up in time.
* there is a bus directly from campus to the nearest supermarket which helps with shopping.
* a plastic laundry basket that he puts dirty washing straight into which he then takes down to the laundry and uses to bring clean washing back up.
Having said all that he does need quite a bit of input from me. I often have to phone him in the morning to make sure he is up. I skype him every night and he finds that helpful to connect with us and to let us know what he is doing. It is easier to assess how he is on skype and he is more talkative than he is on the phone.
We also visit a lot at weekends which means that we can take him shopping and ensure that his room is vaguely tidy and clean.
The first term he decided that he wasn't going to come home at all but he found that very difficult so this term we have arranged for him to come home every third or fourth weekend.
I know that parents of NT students will think I am helicoptering but in fact he needs this extra support because of his disability.

There have been bumpy bits along the way and I am sure there are more to come. When he was at the GCSE stage I really doubted whether he could manage at university never mind away from home. However in spite of the difficulties he is doing it.

Sorry that was really long but I hope it is helpful.

EnormousTiger Sun 12-Feb-17 12:30:16

My oldest son is dyspraxic.He had extra time and typed his exams. Also in the last year he with university support gave me his log in details for his timetable and deadlines which I know sounds dreadful but he found it very very helpful that I could nudge him if he had a deadline coming up or a lecture to get to. It did work for him (and it was his idea). i have not interfered in the slightest with my daughters at university who would call say once a month at most so am not normally a helicopter parent in any sense of the word.

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