personal statement and special needs(20 Posts)
Hi, I was wondering if anyone has advice regarding mentioning special needs in personal statements. Does it make any difference?
My son was diagnosed with Aspergers as a young child and had a statement at primary school, but he made amazing progress and we decided to move schools and not continue his statement, he has moved schools again for sixth form and we did not mention his DX.
I'm now wondering if it's something that should be mentioned in his uni applications as he will be living without our support, which is quite a big change and may bring up a few things.
I may be over thinking, but would be interested to hear if anyone has any experience.
He don't need to mention it on his personal statement if he doesn't want to. If he does mention it in his statement make it a strength as it shows he has overcome challenges.
There is a separate section of the UCAS form which ask if you have a disability. If he fills this in he will be sent a form to apply for disabled students allowance. This funds support at university so he could have a specialist mentor and assistive software for his lap top.
I would also have a look out for taster weekends for students on the autism spectrum to help prepare for living away from home. Some university's do do them. Speak to the university's he is applying to about halls. Some have a quiet hall for students who have autism or other disabilities.
I know you said he chosen not to mention it to previous sixth form but at university support can be more subtle and in my experience well worth having.
Thank you Elephantgrey, that is very helpful.
I think he will probably mention it as he may need some support with the living away from home aspect of it all.
I'm also considering mentioning it at the next parents evening at his current sixth form, he didn't do very well in his AS exams, so has been getting some extra support and he is now going to apply to university with his results and take a gap year.
It is worth speaking to different universities to see what they can offer him and which one is the right one.
It is also worth thinking of what aspects of living away from home he will find challenging and see if he could practice any of those things. It might help if he had a routine so that he has a regular slot where he can do different things like food shopping his washing as that would make it easier.
Yes I'm trying to put cooking and clothes washing in place at home already. I'm hoping he will learn some life skills in his gap year, he is talking about doing a trip abroad relating to his subject (biology) and getting a job and passing his driving test, I will be really pleased if he manages to do even one of them!
The personal statement should be a wholly positive document; the place for this is in the reference and by declaring a disability
There are several points to unpick here.
1) If he needs support then makes sure that he ticks the disability box to make sure that he gets that support. Lots of DC don't like doing it but he may be surprised at how many qualify, he won't be the only one. Disability support at University is usually much better than at school.
2) There isn't much point in him mentioning it in the PS. It needs to come from an official sources, be independently diagnosed.
3) A DX from ten years ago won't wash. They will want a post-16 DX.
A post 16 diagnosis only applies to specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. This does not apply to autism. It would be totally inappropriate as autism is recognised as a life long condition and the NHS waiting list is over a year. If you have autism a letter from your doctor stating that your son has the diagnosis and how it affects him now (some university disability services provide templates) is all that is required.
senua My DS was diagnosed with HF ASD at the age of 6. His diagnosis letter is what was used as evidence for DSA and the Disability Support Office at Uni. The alternative would have been evidence from his GP - whom he had probably seen 2 or 3 times and not relating to his ASD. His GP couldn't have told them anything about how his ASD affects him.
itscoldoutthere My DS applied for Disabled Student Allowance and had an assessment (which was done by someone from a Uni near to where we live in the Summer before he went away to a different Uni). That assessment determined what help and support he would need at Uni - regardless of what he had had at school/6th form. He was funded for 2 hours a week 1:1 with a mentor to provide support. He also got assistive software to go with his laptop (he had to pay £200 towards the laptop). He manages surprisingly well with the domestic side of things - which is just as well as he doesn't get any support with that - only academic support, although I'm sure the mentor would flag things up and direct him to the right support if it was appropriate. The mentor is not employed by the University - it is a contract with a separate agency, although the funding is managed by the Uni.
My DS also wanted specific accomodation in Halls and his proof of disability enabled him to get his 1st choice, which made life easier (as it was actually on the campus, not 3 miles away - plus it was en-suite)
One of the things that might be very important to him is the kind of flat he is put in within halls?
my DS needed to be in a halls that was very quiet and away from Hubbub
So they put him on top floor along with others who wanted/needed quiet hall rooms
The reason for top floor was that there were no lifts and so students didn't climb the 126 steps all the way to the top to cause trouble and make noise and parties, they basically couldn't be bothered to climb the stairs so had parties in lower floors flats
Other of his friends who were in other flats had parties throughout the week and were very noisy and hard to work in
He also had fab support from disability team while at Uni
OP you might find it useful to read this thread about dsa from earlier in the year. Just tick the box on the ucas form and it triggers a dsa application
I was on the thread Eatyour mentions and I would definitely say - tick the disability box on the UCAS form - it is what DS was advised by university and by and large it all went from there. He did not mention it ( dyslexia in his case) in the main part of his PS - just ticked the disability box. As I said on that thread - when you know where he wants to go - phone admissions - they are ( well Ds's experience ) very very helpful.
We're in a similar position to you, OP.
DS is somewhat in denial of his diagnosis, has sent off his application without ticking the disability box. I don't think he will need additional support, but I hadn't thought about it from the accommodation side of things. I can see him getting really agitated by something like a beeping lift or overexcited housemates.
He says his reasoning for not disclosing his DX is because he doesn't want people thinking he's spending his time in his bedroom building a bomb.
And does anyone know how you confirm the DX with the uni? My paper copy of his diagnosis has gone missing and now he's over 18 I can't get a copy from the GP.
Thank you everyone for the replies, all very helpful.
I used to use MN a lot (lurking mostly) but have not been on for a long time and I suddenly realised this would be the prefect place to ask.
We've had a really interesting journey with DS, he had a DX of high functioning autism/Aspergers when he was 6 through our council and school which, then led on to a statement for more or less full time TA in primary school. He made amazing progress and by the time he moved to secondary school he was getting a bit fed up with being put in a SN group. We made a bit of a life change and moved out of London and moved him to a slightly alternative private school and we chose not to take the statement with us. He did very well and was with many similar (as he likes to call himself) 'geeky' children and his DX was not ever really an issue or something that came up even though the school knew of his DX. He moved to a much more standard style of school for 6th form, it was his choice as he wanted somewhere that was more focused and academic. We didn't mention his DX (possibly because we though they might not accept him if they knew).
This is now why I'm not sure about it relevance, but I think the accommodation is probably where it seems most relevant. DS does not go out much, doesn't like parties, doesn't drink, smoke, etc etc.
When we've been on uni visit the accommodation has been of real interest to him and he def. wants his own bathroom, he would find it really hard if he was in with a load of party animals.
So can he use the origional DX paperwork as Autism/Aspergers is considered a life long condition?
Like others have said his current doctors have had no real interaction with him as he's only been to the doctors a couple of times since we moved and they have never been involved regarding his DX.
I will have a read of the thread mentioned. Thank you everyone.
ds used his statement from year 11 as he did not want to convert it to an LDA when he went to college - the dsa people accepted it despite it being 3 years old. (He'd taken a gap year) How old is your ds's statement? Did the LA officially cease it or did it lapse due to it not being reviewed when he changed placement? The latter could indicate that the need is still there.
Ds moved into halls a few days before the rest of the flat which was probably the biggest help of all. We went up and stayed in a nearby village for the week and spent the time helping him find his way around the city and familiarising him with the most important places he would need. It really helped in terms of him not being overwhelmed with too much info during freshers week.
Not ticking the box doesn't matter in terms of dsa as it is possible to apply for it later so he could wait until he has chosen his firm.
If his uni is in a city ..........?
Also a way of making getting around the city easier for them is to buy a bus pass.
They then don't need to worry about having money or correct change
Also paper ones work better than on mobile cos if they are low on charge the bus pass won't work but paper version is no problem
eatyourveg no his statement didn't officially lapse, we just moved out of the area and didn't try and take it with us or seek a replacement one in the new area as we changed to a private school, that we in year 8. I did get a low level DLA till he was 16 but didn't apply for it once it came to an end, he's 17 now.
It sounds like you did a great thing to settle your DS in at the start of term, really good idea.
We aren't sure exactly which uni he is applying to as we are waiting and applying with his results ( he didn't do very well in his AS exams so has poor predicted results) but I'm keen for him to go to a campus if possible.
ds took a gap year too - knowing in advance where you are going is much easier than it all hanging on results day and then only having 3 or 4 weeks to prepare. Despite him being at the other end of the country meaning no mid term trips home and not having previoulsy been away from home except on a geography field trip, ds is loving it.
Finding the right place is really really important for dc like ours. Good luck to your ds
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