Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders have persistent difficulties in social communication and interaction.  They can have restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.  Symptoms can cause difficulties in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

Important points to keep in mind:

  • Most students need clear, systematic, organizational strategies for academic work as well as aspects of daily living.  Calendars, checklists, and other visual strategies for organizing activities can be developed with the student.
  • Many students will do best in courses that draw on factual memory and/or visual perceptual skills.  Courses that require abstract verbal reasoning, flexible problem solving, extensive writing, or social reasoning are often challenging.  Courses in communication and psychology may improve social understanding and skills, even though they may be a challenge.
  • Course load is an important issue, especially during the first year when everything is new.  For some students, a reduced course load can help keep the stress levels more manageable.
  • Some students may need extra time for thinking about problems and for completing work.
  • Going over written guidelines, checklists, or providing other advance preparation to the student may be needed for using such things as a campus map, e-mail, library, and discussing how lectures work.

Accommodation Examples:

  • Many of these students need a little longer to process information and organize responses.  This can mean they will take a little longer in responding to questions in class.  It also means that he or she should receive the accommodation of extra time on tests.
  • A less distractive environment may be important for taking tests due to difficulties in processing and screening sensory information.
  • Students with difficulties in oral communication or in working as part of a group can find group work and giving talks in front of the class challenging requirements.  In some cases, accommodations may be appropriate.  In others, the professor's understanding and support might suffice.
  • Clarification of questions or answers.