The TCD ASProject
Posted on: 21 October 2005
Asperger’s Syndrome is a condition that is characterised by a number of impairments (social, cognitive & behavioural) which make it very difficult for the student to satisfactorily engage in the full university experience. Many of these students, although above average intelligence and often highly knowledgeable in one particular area of expertise, are nonetheless socially and personally isolated due to their condition. It is estimated that 91:10,000 people are affected by AS. This suggests that up to 137 students at Trinity College may be experiencing the effects of this condition.
Did you know that researchers have identified many outstanding philosophical thinkers and scientists who appear to have had symptoms of AS? In science there was Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, in music there was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and in literature there was Jonathan Swift and Hans Christian Andersen. Gaudi and Vincent van Gogh made their mark on architecture and art. All of these famous geniuses made great contributions to human life, art and technological progress. However, they all seemed to share the AS condition which made it difficult for them to participate in social settings.
The ASProject is a collaboration between three Trinity departments, the Student Counselling Service, the Disabilities Services and the Department of Psychology. The ASProject seeks to identify students in college who have a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of AS. The students can then become involved in a structured process of individual needs assessment, and then collaboratively develop an individual multidimensional support plan which will be implemented, monitored or revised during the AS student’s time in college. Our peer-support element of the project has already proven successful for the students with AS who have been involved.
An important aspect of this project is raising awareness and de-mystifying this condition both for the student and academic body. Many students with AS do not disclose their condition for fear of discrimination. Unfortunately this means their individual differences are left either open to misunderstanding and possible ill treatment, or unacknowledged and unsupported, thereby compromising their happiness and ultimate success in college. The ASProject initiative will provide a free, confidential support service to those students who may otherwise remain ‘invisible’.
If you need to talk to someone about AS, or think that you might be displaying some of the symptoms associated with the condition, we are here to offer support. Please contact, Rita Honan, Ph.D, RegPsychologist, senior Lecturer, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, School of Psychology, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 608-2431, or The Student Disability Service, 1st Floor, Arts Block, www.tcd.ie/disability.
If you have good social communication skills and are interested in supporting a student with AS through the Student Counselling Service Peer Support Network, contact, Chuck Rashleigh, M.Sc., Counselling Psychologist, Student Counselling Service, Email: email@example.com; Tel: 608-1407.