Special Teaching in Higher Education: Successful Strategies for Access and Inclusion

By Stuart Powell | Go to book overview

10

Students with autism and Asperger's syndrome

Tim Luckett and Stuart Powell


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James is a young man with Asperger's syndrome who excelled in a narrow range of subjects at school where he earned the nickname of 'the little professor' because of his serious attitude to study, smart dress and precocious vocabulary. While the other teenagers in his class spent their spare time gossiping and fooling around, James preferred to read textbooks or write computer programmes. Following excellent A level results, James was keen to go to university, despite his parents' concerns that he might have difficulty with the 'common sense' aspects of daily life when left to his own devices. The professor who interviewed James for a place at university was taken both with his impressive knowledge of his subject, and by the pedantic way in which he answered questions.

Once accepted onto the programme of study, James began the difficult task of adjusting to unfamiliar surroundings, and the challenge of structuring his own days rather than someone else doing this for him. Unlike most other new students, James avoided freshers week social activities in favour of the university library. Because of his unfamiliarity with the library cataloguing system, he had to search for several days to find the various subjects about which he wanted to read. Since no one introduced him to the university canteen, he took to buying his food from the same takeaway every day, despite having to walk some distance from the campus to reach it. James' room-mate, a potential source of help, started to avoid him after witnessing 'odd' behaviour when James thought he was alone. In lectures,

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