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Is it illegal for universities not to provide adequate social support for students with asperger?
Last Post 16 Feb 2017 11:26 PM by Formerstudent92. 0 Replies.
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Formerstudent92User is Offline
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16 Feb 2017 11:26 PM
    Hi

    I graduated from university 2 years ago and during my time at university I have encountered some significant difficulties (bullying and isolation) due to the social skills problems my asperger causes. I dont want to go into details but I took this very seriously and recommended to the university union that they should implement a befriending/social mentoring system at university to help others in the same boat as me. However, I seriously doubt they will implement it as I asked them several times but there is no evidence they made serious progress with trying to implement the services. I worry if they fail to implement it others with asperger will suffer too.

    I have heard a law under Equality Act 2010 that all institutions are required to make reasonable adjustments to support disabled students to prevent them from having a substantial disadvantage. Among the many things in the law is a requirement that 'auxiliary aid' should be provided to students with disabilities. These include equipment and services for example a note taker may be provided for people with hearing impairment. However, I feel that students with autism do not receive an appropriate level of support on the social side of university. Although the university does provide services such as a support worker to explain lecture slides, extra time on exams, possibility of extensions on assignments i feel that the support is mostly limited to the academic difficulties that sometimes pale in comparison to the main difficulty experienced by students with autism: the social side of university.

    They may fail to make friends in their halls of residence or get bullied or taken advantage of, this can result in loneliness that results in depression or a very dull and stressful university experience that can affect their studies. I think what these students really need is a volunteer service where people their age group socialise with them and help them make friends, protect them from bullies and teach them social skills to help them deal with difficult situations. Even though mentors at university give a bit of advice about how to socialise this isnt enough in my opinion since they are there to mainly assist on the academic side of uni and if students ask for help on the social side as well then the mentors might not have enough time to help them with questions relating to their studies as students get 2 hours of support a week and it cant be guaranteed that the mentor can have extra sessions with them as they might have lots of other students to support. Also I doubt support workers go to social events with students as many are not students' age group and have professional boundaries. So a buddy system where a student who volunteers to be a befriender/social mentor, who lived on campus and could socialise and have fun with the student would be far more efficient at helping the social skills. It would be a huge confidence for the student to have a friend in their age group and would greatly reduce their risk of depression or dropping out.

    So I think this would be the most appropriate support for students with asperger and in I am not entirely sure that it is legal for the university to fail to implement these services, considering that Aspergers is a social difficulty and if students do not have social support it can cause as serious problems as if they did not have access to academic support. Do you think it would be possible in theory to take legal action against the university if they fail to implement this buddy system I proposed?


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