Student A has Asperger’s Syndrome, diagnosed in childhood.
The student first contacted the Disability Office when he was finishing secondary school. At the beginning of his course, the Disability Office supported the student with his application for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) for relevant equipment and software, but A did not require other support at that time.
The student and his mother contacted the Disability Office just after A had started third year. The student was very stressed and struggling to cope. The Disability Office Advisor contacted the student’s Director of Studies (DoS) to discuss workload. The DoS agreed to adjustments to the student’s timetable and to assessment submission dates. However, the DoS questioned whether a student with such a disability should be at the University of Edinburgh.
Following discussion between the student and Disability Office Advisor, support strategies were put in place. These included: more support from the School, regular meetings with the Advisor, support for lab sessions (the Advisor met with a support person for this and discussed Asperger’s Syndrome and clarity on boundaries), study skills support paid for by the DSA.
Third Year continued to be difficult for him, but Student A got through the year with low marks.
The student requested a change of DoS and felt that the new DoS was more open to exploring his needs.
However, the student experienced significant exam stress resulting in extreme anxiety and depression. The situation reached crisis point in fourth year and the student became depressed and suicidal on a number of occasions, twice contacting the Disability Office in extreme crisis. He was ultimately allowed to repeat fourth year. A had a severe breakdown during his repeat of fourth year and was admitted to hospital at the beginning of the second semester.
The Disability Office revised the student’s support and added a named contact in the School to monitor progress and liaise with the Disability Office regularly. This student continued to meet with his DoS as needed and with his Disability Office Advisor every few weeks.
The School were very supportive and the student returned to study to take his final exams.
This article was published on Aug 11, 2010