A diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, or ASD-I (Autism Spectrum Disorder, Level I), definitely does not mean that a student cannot be successful in college. In fact, many students with learning differences or learning disabilities are very successful in college – it just means that some extra attention may be needed in a few critical areas.
College does bring the opportunity to make new friends, explore interesting subjects, and learn how to live independently as a young adult. It also provides some challenges, as students need to learn how to navigate a new set of hidden rules and social expectations.
At first glance, colleges can look like impersonal bureaucracies, with lots of rules and regulations. While clear expectations may be appealing for some students, it is also important to remember that not every rule is permanent. Just because a professor’s syllabus provides a due date, and also states that no late work will be graded, does not mean that that same professor will not gladly offer an extension on a paper if a student asks with enough lead time. This is confusing, because one rule is clearly stated, and yet that same rule can be easily changed just by asking.
How are students with Asperger’s Syndrome supposed to be able to tell the difference between rules and regulations that are flexible and those that cannot be changed? How can students leverage their strengths while also continuing to build critical executive functioning and time management skills? Where can students go to receive the support needed for success on a college campus? These questions can only be answered by asking for help. For students who are motivated to “do it on my own” and who “do not want to use my needs as a crutch” it may be counterintuitive to ask for accommodations or exceptions to clearly stated rules – but the reality is that most students are asking for exceptions, extensions, and dispensations because they know how to navigate the world of hidden rules. In fact, it is only students who don’t that find themselves at a disadvantage.
College can be a place where students with Asperger’s Syndrome can thrive – but it also requires students to be more proactive in acknowledging their areas of growth and asking for support and services. To learn more about Mansfield Hall’s support and services please contact us today.