Succeeding in college with Asperger’s Syndrome can be challenging given the novel set of social norms, expectations, and hidden rules. Learning, but more importantly, understanding this complicated web of expectations can be a challenging goal for students with Asperger’s Syndrome. Think of college as a restaurant that you eat at every Wednesday. Every week you order the special of the day and a chocolate milk. The waiter knows your name, enjoys serving you, and even does his best to make sure you are happy with your meal. However, if you don’t show up one week, the waiter is not going to call to see if you are okay or if you need help. Moreover, if if your french fries are cold, they won’t know they made a mistake until you tell them. And, even though your burger comes with your much despised fried onions, they won’t take them off unless you ask them. Complaining after the meal only means you didn’t get what you wanted, when you could have easily done so.
Like a restaurant where you actually get what you want, your experience at college will be dictated by your ability to advocate for your needs and desires. In fact, advocating for what you want in college isn’t only essential, it is the key to succeeding in college with Asperger’s Syndrome. The college and faculty will follow their practices and procedures strictly, until you ask them to make an exception. Your grades and classroom expectations will be the same for you as everyone else, until you ask for them to be changed. Your professors will give you the grade they thought you deserved on your paper, until you challenge them on their reasoning. And, your final grade is only final until you’ve asked for a better final grade. Although college institutions may seem like a static, uncompromising place, it is like everything else in life, flexible.
But yes, on the surface, colleges may not seem flexible whatsoever. The policies, procedures, and rules may even have disclaimers saying that they are not flexible. However, there are a set of hidden rules that hang just below the surface that provide exceptions to even the most rigid rules in college that are crucial for succeeding in college with Asperger’s Syndrome. These hidden rules provide the flexibility of the policies and procedures that you will likely need at one or many times throughout college. Many of these exceptions to the rules may have an official form that just needs to be signed, you may just need to ask if that form exists.
Other exceptions may only be granted if you know who to ask and if you ask in the right way. It may not seem fair to bend the rules, until you realize that everyone around you is aware of these hidden rules and uses them to their advantage. If you don’t, then you will be the one at an unfair disadvantage. The truth of the matter is that there are very few dead ends to your challenges in college, you just need to stand up for yourself and be willing to step around roadblocks. No one else is going to remove them for you.