Autism spectrum

Autism is a developmental condition that affects how a person communicates and interacts with others, as well as how they sense and experience the world around them. Autism is a spectrum condition, which means it is very individual and varied.  

There are some common features in the behaviour of people on the autism spectrum:  

  • specific sensory regulation characteristics, such as over- and under-sensitivity to sounds, light, touch, smells, tastes and colours,  
  • thinking or behaving that appears rigid or repetitive,  
  • difficulty understanding social interaction,  
  • difficulty concentrating,  
  • unusual data processing, and  
  • special sensitivity to stress.  

The strengths of people on the autism spectrum include:  

  • good attention to detail,  
  • ability to concentrate on special interests,  
  • means of unusual problem solving,  
  • the ability to notice mistakes that may go unnoticed by others, and  
  • good sense of justice. 
Autism and studying in higher education

Many students on the autism spectrum may need support both in the basics of everyday life and in studying. However, it should be remembered that the need for support is individual. For this reason, it is important to hear the student’s wishes and map out them needs together with the student.  

For most people, joining a study community and making new friends can be challenging, so this is something you should invest in. Because flexibility in thinking and acting can be limited, the need for rules and routines is emphasized. Adapting to changes is also difficult, and the threshold for starting but also quitting tasks can be high. In this case, the importance of the study plan and support in starting but also returning assignments are emphasized. Thus, students on the autism spectrum especially need support at the beginning of their studies, in new environments and in changed life situations.  

People on the autism spectrum often experience more stress. Even a small change in schedules or arrangements can significantly increase stress. A clear structure, timetable and performance requirements help in studying. Sensory hypersensitivity, on the other hand, can make it difficult to concentrate and understand what is listening. For example, noisy and echoing spaces, as well as bright lights and strong smells, can easily disturb concentration. 

Students who are on the autism spectrum have also a lot of specific strengths. It is very important to support using these strengths as well.