Many students are reluctant to share their autism diagnosis, but doing so allows the university to support you better in your student life and studies.
You may have some reservations about disclosing to your university. Brian, a Specialist (Autism) Mentor, answers worries and questions students have posed him about sharing an autism diagnosis.
How could this affect me?
Student There is something odd about having to do the autism thing with a disability office, it’s not a disability it’s just a part of me.
You’re so right. Professionals often use the word disability as a short-cut for ‘legally protected way of being’. In doing so we can access funding to make support happen.
Student I’m never sure about telling people about my Asperger’s diagnosis, I want to be able to do university on my own two feet.
Here’s the trick; no-one does university on their own. Having a support system in place is essential, make use of your universities support so you can get support that fits you.
Student I really don’t like talking about my limitations with others.
Neither do I, so let’s talk about strengths and strategies together. If there is a limitation, it is with the university, the seminar room, the noisy corridor, or the messy flatmate that doesn’t get you being you. Let’s see if we can make it better. You’ve got this.
Student What’s the point in telling people. Nothing is going to happen.
At the minimum, the Disability Office will sort out a less busy exam room and some extra time. This is so useful, even if you don’t use the time. They can also help sort out the funding for DSA to get a specialist mentor, like me, to meet. We can be useful to talk things through, create plans, and have your corner. There is also something to say about disclosing early just in case of stress later on in your university journey. Hope for the best, and have a plan for the worst.
Student I don’t want my autism to be seen as an excuse.
You’re probably right. Autism isn’t often an excuse… but it is often the context. This is why an early disclosure can be of help to you and your university. By letting professional Disability Services know early in your time with us it means that, if others misunderstand, they can help you explain autism as your context.
What to do next?
Contact the Disability Service
Contact details for the UoB Disability Services.
AuVision is an online resource created by the University of Birmingham which guides staff on how best to support autistic students.