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Monday, May 27, 2024

Accessing College Accommodations

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the growing number of college students on the spectrum.  

Jennifer Gerlach at Psychology Today:
The accessibility office is typically the gateway to accessing accommodations such as extended time on tests or the ability to record a lecture for college classes. A neurodiversity-affirming accessibility center can offer a space of support and community for neurodivergent students to meet others with similar neurotypes. At times, having a designated space can also be helpful to students who may be tackling the time management piece of transitioning to a college environment.

Katie [Belcher-Miller] reflects that self-advocacy is critical in obtaining support, yet sometimes the very diagnosis leading students to seek support can also make it difficult to self-advocate. Similarly, Kimberly [Gillette] shares that resources are best when there is a neurodiversity-affirming element, adding that issues such as autistic burnout can run rampant among autistic students. While the signs of autistic burnout might overlap some with anxiety or depression, the treatment is different. In anxiety or depression, strategies such as behavior activation are typically used. In contrast, these are not always helpful and may even be harmful in cases of autistic burnout. Autistic burnout usually requires a longer-term recovery process, including elements of rest and change to existing overwhelming stressors.
It is helpful if these supports are informed by the voices of neurodivergent students. A research study that began with a program focused on “social skills” but pivoted to a group on self-advocacy based on feedback from the students receiving services found that participation in the self-advocacy group correlated with a higher sense of academic self-efficacy and social support (Gillespie-Lynch et al., 2017).

Gillespie-Lynch, K., Bublitz, D., Donachie, A., Wong, V., Brooks, P. J., & D’Onofrio, J. (2017). “For a long time our voices have been hushed”: Using student perspectives to develop supports for neurodiverse college students. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 544.