• Cory Morrison

Accommodations people with autism can use in college

It's that time of year. Many people on the autism spectrum may be entering college for the first time. Therefore, you may want to use accommodations from your college's disability services to ensure you have the best college experience possible.


What are some examples of accommodations that I used when I was in college that you could use to support your needs?


Extra time on tests and exams


Given sensory issues with noise or anxiety that may make test-taking more difficult for autistic people, this will be a useful accommodation. This accommodation may especially be helpful if exams were one of your main weaknesses in your school years.

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My college had a room in their Accessible Learning Services office where students can write their tests, usually for 1.5x the amount of time the general population would write the test. When I took Journalism, there were few tests. Therefore, I didn't need this accommodation. However, in the General Arts and Science program, I often used the room, especially for more challenging subjects such as Psychology.


Due date extensions


Similar to tests, if there is a particular project that is overwhelming for you, email or make an appointment with the professor to see if they can extend the due date by a week or two.


I suggest doing the above at least some time in advance and not during the last minute, as professors may be more patient with that. In my Journalism program, there was a policy on handing things in on time, or else the assignment would mean an automatic zero because professionalism is a huge part of the industry. Therefore, reaching out to the professor days or weeks before the due date about the issue would be a considerate move.


Additional clarification on material or assignments


With working memory struggles in mind, people with autism can easily miss information or forget assignment expectations. If you think you don't understand everything the professor covered, contact them to make sure you learn the material or assignment guidelines. The best part is, you can increase your chances of getting that A.

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I think this strategy was helpful with either maintaining or improving my grades in many cases.


Record lectures


Recording lectures from your phone or another device (In your pocket) can be another useful learning tool with working memory difficulties. I didn't ever record lectures despite having the accommodation, but I recommend that others do so if they feel it is necessary.


Even as a fast typer, I can't always type everything the professors say when note-taking in real-time. However, in "pre-recorded" situations, there is more opportunity for repetition, which for me at least, was a beneficial learning strategy during my school years.


No penalties for absences


According to a 2017 article from The Globe And Mail, young adults with autism are more likely to have mental health issues. For instance, at least 51 per cent of people between 18 and 24 on the spectrum have a psychiatric disorder, compared to 39 per cent with other developmental disabilities and nearly 20 per cent of non-disabled people in that age group.


Therefore, if you need some time off from school because of mental health issues that may make days more stressful, this may be an essential accommodation to consider for college.


I didn't have situations that would prevent me from going to college, but I did experience intense anxiety at times.


Conclusion


Like all people with disabilities and the general population, people with autism are fortunate to have numerous services in college to help them succeed to their fullest.


You may also like: Autism: Your job search starts here



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