find key people who can help you
It will be important to find key people you can go to who can assist you at university or TAFE. Find one or two ‘go to’ people at your campus. These people will be able to help you with questions you may have about managing your studies, or life in general. They may be able to help you contact other staff, such as lecturers or tutors. Letting them know about your ASD diagnosis and some of your challenges in the learning environment is a good idea. This will enable these staff to better understand you and provide tailored support and assistance if you need it at any stage. This chapter provides an explanation of the roles of some of the staff who could be your ‘go to’ people. It is a good starting point. It is important to know that actual titles may vary between universities and TAFE campuses. To find out their exact title and how to access their support, look on your university/ TAFE website for student assistance. Or visit a student information desk on your campus and ask for titles and how to arrange an appointment with these staff.
disability support staff
Universities and TAFEs are required by law to ensure that students with disabilities (including ASD) are able to access and participate in education. Therefore universities and TAFEs have disability support staff who can assist with your participation in the learning environment. Disability support staff help many students with ASD with issues such as:
- Developing a Learning Access Plan (LAP) or a Reasonable Adjustment Plan (RAP).
- Note-taking for classes.
- Access to a Disability Study Centre if available.
- Advice on the use of assistive technology.
- Loan equipment for note-taking.
- Special arrangements for exams, such as a separate room, use of a computer or scribe.
- Time-management and organisational skills.
- Extensions for assignments.
transition support staff
Universities and TAFEs understand that the transition to tertiary study is difficult for many first-year students. Some campuses have staff to assist all new students cope with the changes and new expectations. Transition support staff help many students with issues such as:
- Campus familiarity.
- Time management and organisational skills.
- Study planning.
- Subject and course selections.
- Communication with the academic staff.
- Understanding the university or TAFE processes
Counselling staff are available at most universities and TAFEs. Counselling staff help many students with issues such as:
- Coping strategies.
- Managing anxiety and stress.
- Dealing with relationships.
- Communication and social skills.
- Course selection and career planning.
- General life issues.
Many universities and TAFE’s have a unit to support students to learn academic skills. These staff help many students to learn skills such as:
- Understanding the assessment task.
- Approaches to academic writing.
- Assessment planning and organisation.
- Spelling and grammar.
Some universities or TAFEs have student mentor programs to assist students to adjust to tertiary study. Some campuses have mentoring programs specifically for students on the Autism Spectrum. These mentors help students with issues such as:
- Locating class rooms.
- Navigating around the campus.
- Support with communication.
- Understanding assessment requirements.
- Finding useful clubs and societies to join.
case study - student mentor program at australian national university (anu)
ANU students who identify with ASD have the opportunity to join a Participation Assistant Program to assist them in transitioning to university studies in their first semester. Participation Assistants (PAs) are ANU senior students who, where possible, have a background or experience of ASD either in their own families or have worked in the area of disability. PAs provide individualised, creative and flexible support to meet the needs of each student in the program. Generally, PAs and the student with ASD meet once a week during first semester. Support provided includes: orientation to campus and university systems (including IT/online systems); organisation and planning (timetabling, keeping track of assessments, when to start revising for exams etc.); liaising with professional and academic staff.
question & answer
Question: I am seeing the disability adviser and the first year transition support officer on my campus. Do I talk to them about the same things? How do I know who is best to help me?
Answer: Both the disability adviser and the first year transition support officer should be able to help you, each in a particular way. Ask both of them to clarify their respective roles and how they differ from and complement each other.
Question: How do I find out if my campus has a student mentor program?
Answer: Ask student services about any available student mentor programs.
- Your university or TAFE website page outlining support for students.