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Reasonable Adjustments: Autism

Reasonable adjustments refer to a “measure or action taken to assist a student with disability to participate in education and training on the same basis as other students”1 They are designed to place students with disability on a more equal footing, and not to give them any kind of advantage.

Reasonable adjustments made for a student with disability must maintain the academic integrity of the qualification and not cause a health or safety risk for another student(s) or negatively impact upon the learning experience of another student(s).

Adjustments are negotiated to meet the needs of the individual student, this is predominantly done through a Disability Practitioner within the institution the student attends. They commonly include the following.

To accommodate individual students

Students with Autism Spectrum Conditions may benefit from a range of inclusive teaching and assessment strategies.  Some adjustments that are frequently used for autistic students include:

  • Access to peer note-takers
  • Provision of recorded lectures, professional note-takers, or transcription of lecture recordings
  • Access to Student Access Study Centre
  • Additional tuition/learner support in language skills, structuring work and so on
  • Access to speech recognition Assistive Technology for written assignments
  • Access to Assistive Technology or scribe in examinations
  • Arranging the provision of specific tutorial allocations or tutors with whom the student is already familiar
  • Protocols and expectations for group work established, including dispute resolution
  • Provision of additional time within tests and examinations due to reduced processing speeds
  • Protocols established with the student for how to inform them if any changes must be made (course content or venue etc), ahead of time where possible
  • Provision of course materials and instructions in advance
  • Provision of subject word lists, glossaries of terms and acronyms
  • Provision of an individual contact person who can provide support and/or additional explanation of requirements, protocols, benchmarks, feedback, progress and instructions
  • Identifying sensory processing challenges within the learning environment and addressing these with adjustments or modifications where possible
  • Allowing students to engage with activities or strategies that help them to meet their sensory needs (e.g. having a fidget item in their pocket, using headphones to decrease auditory stimulation, providing opportunities for movement breaks, or the option to remove themselves from class for brief periods of time if needed)

Revised by Alison Nuske. Access and Inclusion Adviser, University of South Australia (August 2021)

References

1 Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2013. Student Diversity. Accessed on 21 July 2016 from australiancurriculum.edu.au/studentdiversity/students-with-disability
Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training, Identifying Student Requirements and Making Reasonable Adjustments.  Accessed on 20 July 2016 from adcet.edu.au/inclusive-teaching/working-with-students/making-reasonable-adjustments/
Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training, Autism Spectrum Condition. Accessed on 21 July 2016 from adcet.edu.au/disability-practitioner/reasonable-adjustments/disability-specific-adjustments/autism-spectrum-condition/
Queensland VET Development Centre (2010), Reasonable adjustment in teaching, learning and assessment for students with a disability.  A guide for VET practitioners. Queensland Government. Accessed on July 20, 2016 from adcet.edu.au/resource/7383/reasonable-adjustment-in-teaching-learning-and-assessment-for-learners-with-a-disability-a-guide-for-vet-practitioners