Supporting autistic students aiming for College or University


As we end exam season and enter into the daunting transition of further education, we asked Dr Susy Ridout, author of Autism and Mental Well-being in Higher Education, how best to support autistic people preparing for higher education.

In her interview with Learning Disability Today, Susy writes about:

– The main challenges autistic people face when going to College or University
– How to find a mentor
– The implications of autistic people masking their condition
– The accessibility of higher education and its barriers
– Flexibility on entry requirements
– And how to prepare for the transition of entering into further education.


Are you a mentor, academic skills worker, lecturer, disability advisor, mental health advocate, a student or an employer?

Autism and Mental Well-being in Higher Education is a manual written to address the provision of effective support in higher education via mentoring in order to build students’ confidence and enable them to take control of their lives.

It brings together ideas tried and tested among an array of students and it provides a toolkit of coping strategies that can be tailored to individuals through its activities and resources.

Find out what other people have said about the manual here.


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3 comments on “Supporting autistic students aiming for College or University
  1. Kae Fairhill says:

    I find it amazing, that even after diagnosis, the difficulties you have because you mask in having your reasonable adjustments identified. I also find it amazing how you yourself underestimate how things affect you, leaving yourself at a disadvantage because you fail to anticipate what is expected and the planning of assignments etc means you’re late submitting and therefore are not able to access the marks you would have received if you had been on time. By failing to recognise what executive functioning difficulties I have and addressing them with effective strategies has left me with scraping through with a pass instead of getting the predicted 2:1 based on my actual ability. I can only suggest that anyone with Aspergers and ADHD to get a thorough assessment and make use of the learning assistants to ensure you’re assignment planning, task completion and issues with memory etc are effectively identified, strategised and follow through so you an get the qualification you’re truly capable off.

  2. Paul D says:

    Not been through higher education but I understand what you’re getting at Kae and have experienced the same difficulties in other areas, namely working!

    Have to say though in the current political climate, young students with ASD might get a look in but as usual there’s nothing in place for adults looking toward a future degree level course – it’s now impossible as the benefit rules have been changed such that you cannot guarantee financial support alongside maintenance grants, and some of us need to pay rent and eat and have no family support to fall back on. (Guardian article on this, can find if wanted..)

    On the topic of work – when Universal Credit is rolled out those of us who want to put in a few hours a week for self-esteem, to feel productive and contribute to society etc.. that won’t be possible because ‘permitted work’ will be treated as ” must be a viable business capable of earning equivalent of a full time salary ” or the support is stopped. There will be no opportunity to do the few hours that some of us can only manage, except perhaps voluntary work (but with that you are shoehorned into cynical government appointed roles in charities etc – none were suitable for me as I can’t travel).

  3. Linda Buchan says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts feelings and important information Kae and Paul

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