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Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

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This page provides information on ways in which you as a staff member can support students with ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome.

Introduction

Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is an umbrella term for a series of pervasive developmental neurological disorders including-

  • Autism
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is recognised as being at the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum. For the purposes of this information, we will use the acronym ASD to cover Asperger’s Syndrome also.
Individuals with ASD may experience difficulties in (i) social interaction and social relationships (ii) verbal and non-verbal communication and (iii) imagination, behaviour, and flexibility of thought. Students with ASD often have above average intelligence and high aptitudes for acquiring knowledge. These aspects can enable students with ASD to thrive in a college environment. The number of students with ASD entering Trinity College is increasing every year. It is important to understand that the difficulties identified below do not apply to all students with ASD.

Difficulties that may be experienced

  • Students may have a need for order and predictability. Students may find adapting to new routines or changing circumstances challenging. The transition to third level, where days are largely non-routine can often be difficult for students. Students with ASD may have difficulties with organisation, and orientation to college locations and systems, particularly in their first year.
  • People with ASD sometimes interpret language literally and may have difficulty understanding metaphors, sarcasm, unclear directions or ambiguous content.
  • Students with ASD may be quite conscious of their performance in social situations, which can be a source of anxiety. Students may have difficulty getting to know new people, and building up relationships. Students with ASD may find group work situations challenging or stressful.
  • Students with ASD may be hypersensitive to sensory stimuli (vision, hearing, touch, taste or smell). As such, students may be easily distracted or overwhelmed by noisy environments, for example lecture halls.
  • Perfectionism can be a problem for students with ASD. A fear of failure and a determination to complete a perfect piece of work can lead to students procrastinating and getting ‘stuck’. Organising material, planning and managing time and deadlines can be a significant challenge for many students.
  • Students with ASD may experience difficulties with gross or fine motor skills, and can have difficulty with handwriting or note taking.

Strategies staff can use to support students

  • Students may have disclosed as having ASD to their School through a LENS Report. Access the LENS report for details on how you can support the student. Implement and support a student’s reasonable accommodations with efficiency and discretion.
  • Provide clear and unambiguous instructions.
  • Make lecture notes available in advance if possible.
  • Provide a clear timeline of events, assignments, and deadlines so students know when things are due.
  • Be understanding of the fact that students with ASD may find the transition from second to third level particularly difficult.
  • Follow Trinity Inclusive Curriculum guidelines as much as possible.
  • Access advice on using the College Accessible information policy.

Resources/links

For more information please see


Last updated 9 June 2017 andrew.costello@tcd.ie (Email).