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Good uni for intelligent ASD/dyspraxia(24 Posts)
Could anyone share their experiences of how university life worked out for their ASD/dyspraxic DCs please? Any recommendations of good ones to apply to? Or even which to avoid!
DS is extremely intelligent, but with zero organisation / planning skills. He loses everything, can't use a bus, forgets to eat unless food is placed in front of him etc.
It's difficult to imagine him managing university life, yet he's so ambitious he deserves to give it a go. He's bright enough to consider Oxbridge / top universities, but I wonder if a smaller, more homely place (are there such places?) would be a better fit.
We've looked at a couple of campus universities so far and he didn't like them....
Really grateful for anyone's suggestions.
It depends, really. I had issues at university... but I was undiagnosed at the time.
Because he’ll be 18 and older, the onus will be on him to contact tutors etc if he’s having any difficulties.
If he forgets to eat food, catered would be a good way to go, there are set times for breakfast and dinner. It’s not the same as plonking it in front of him obviously but it can help with a routine eg if he’s got a class at 9am, get up maybe 7:30 for breakfast at 8 or so.
Oxbridge would be good in the sense in that he’d be part of a small college, depending on the size there are anything from (guessing here) 300-600 undergraduates in total (so maybe 100-odd per year), so obviously only a small portion of those would be doing each subject. Most teaching is done in-college too, ie the supervisions/tutorials, except for lectures which may be at the faculty building.
It’d also be ideal in that colleges provide accommodation for the full three years, not necessarily at the college site but college-owned, so there’d be no need to hunt for a house like there would be elsewhere.
Of course you can talk to university SEN departments... but they’ll all promote themselves and seem much of a muchness. People will also have different experiences, so one person might say they had a difficult time at X University whilst someone else at X University will have had a great time.
There should be Student Support services at any uni but some are better than others. He can apply for DSA as part of Student Finance and would be assessed for whatever support he may need. However this tends to be more course related - extra time for assignments and exams, IT, equipment, scribe, organisational support, mentor - rather than for day to day life. What does he hope to study? Can you look for unis with fully catered halls and a small department for his subject.
Sheffield has an excellent DDSS service and are well keyed into ASD. What subject area? Feel free to contact them beforehsnd
If you are interested in ocaford/Cambridge I would suggest speaking to admissions staff and asking about their recent experience of similar students.
Cambridge is believed to have a lot of students with asd...
Also useful info here:
This lists specific colleges and subjects
When my ds (Aspergers) started at uni, as well as the academic side - extra time etc. He was assigned a peer mentor, who he originally met with once a week to help him with the practical side of living away from home for the first time. The sort of things they could help with was using the launderette, getting into a routine with food shopping etc, planning his workload etc. As my ds settled in, the meetings became less frequent but he knew he could call on him if he needed.
The uni SEN co-ordinator, was happy to talk to me about the sort of help they could give before my son started.
This also looks potentially useful:
I think the Oxford or Cambridge college system would be much more supportive in some ways as it breaks students down into more manageable groups. There would be approx 120 students per yr in each college all studying different subjects. Accommodation is often offered for all 3 yrs and tutorials are in small groups. I definitely wouldn't discount it, especially if your son is passionate about the subject he wants to study.
I think Oxford has videos from individual students with different disabilities (some very humbling when you think how hard they must have battled) and there was Dyspraxia, and Asperger's in there.
As well as looking at the course, and University level support, look closely at accomodation options, both first year and beyond. Somewhere like Warwick where most share houses in Leamington or Coventry after their first year might be more difficult. In truth Oxford or Cambridge sound better, or perhaps Durham or St Andrews. Or would places like Bath or York make exceptions and allow a student to stay in Hall accomodation in second and third years.
Thank you everyone, I will have a good read of all the suggestions and the links
Cambridge was immensely helpful when my DS applied and York wonderful when he ended up there. Be honest with needs!
I hadn't thought of York, but that's a good suggestion as it's a campus university isn't it? Could you tell me what sort of things the uni helped with when your DS went there?
For those who asked, he's likely to study Economics. It's been a toss-up between that and Theoretical Physics, but his passion is Economics so that's winning at the moment.
Bath (very good Physics course if he decides to go down that route) does a residential weekend for prospective students with ASD. It's usually held at the end of the summer holidays just before Y13.
Bath summer school
It says that bookings open in April.
They walked him around the campus to get his bearings and at the beginning of every module asked if there was anything specific he wanted. He didn't take up half the things they offered but it was reassuring to know they were there. Also got DSA for computer + equipment. Was for an arts subject.
And yes, it is a fairly compact campus, wonderful city. He got a disabled room too, with big things (shower/light switches?) which stopped him walking in to everything! Severe dyspraxia was his only issue but we got a very detailed ed psych report at school and then a DSA assessment pre-uni. It's a place with a lovely supportive atmosphere.
As Gwynfluff said, Sheffield has excellent support. My youngest son has Asperger's and dyspraxia. Sheffield offered support from the first open day, right through the admissions process. They had a special open day, once offers had gone out, for students with ASD. They were very pro-active. (They even have a free laptop repair service, great for my son who breaks things with ease!)
My son didn't go there though, he's at Oxford and whilst many things are great for him, living in for 3 years, very heavily subsidised good food, college libraries, small tutor groups etc. the overall support for him is not there in the same way it would have been at Sheffield.
It's a hard decision, but I don't feel Oxford offer as much support as some other Universities.
Thank you, this is all very useful information.
DS2 has dyslexia with some dyspraxia. Very disorganised although improving. He admits he is really bad with trains, timetables and losing things ( left bags on train before now, missed an exam as got the wrong day. I check that he has set his alarm for 10 minutes before he is due to change trains now so he gets his stuff together!! Also ask for the exam timetable and confirm the days and dates back to him- could not go through that again)
He was not diagnosed until October of year 13 ( he is very bright with high IQ) so we re-visited several universities to talk to the Learning Support teams and most were really helpful, particularly as we were still feeling our way . We were unimpressed with the support offered at Exeter. Lancaster was really impressive, and it was at Leeds where he was advised to go into catered hall for the first year. He went to Nottingham and learning support have been very helpful (mostly - there was one person who was not so good) He also managed to do a semester overseas and they helped him get support while away.
I am not sure whether Essex would be on his radar but they have a lot of accomodation and several friends' kids have been able to stay in accomodation for all three years.
DS has a good group of friends who remind him of things too.
If you haven't got a recent detailed Ed Psych report it is essential to access DSA and learning support. ( I assume you have one) .
Is there a commutable university close by so he could continue living at home? This is what my friends son is doing. If he struggles with executive function then I think that would be the best thing, then he just has to concentrate on his studies
if he's very bright Oxbridge sounds best if he can get in (lots of very good peopole with all As and A* don't get in of course and do well elsewhere). It is shorter terms, more easily fixed accommodation, catered hall etc. he could give you access to his timetable if you and he want that and you could call or email to get him to go to things on time.
Occasionally people take a parent to university - Ruth Lawrence who went aged 12 took her father and my sons' friend's whole family has moved to his university city (as they moved ot the Uk for his secondary education anyway) but that is quite a radical step for most parents.