Autistic postgraduates…

Many autisitic people may feel at home in academia, it is a place where ones autistic drive and view of the world is valued.

The academic world, however, is not always the most suited to autistic need, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be.

As with many contexts and situations, there is a lot of ableism in academia: a way of working and researching that at times disadvantages autistic experience.

“An ableist society is said to be one that treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of ‘normal living’, which results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve ‘standard’ people, thereby inherently excluding those with various disabilities.”

With this is mind, the University of Kent tries very hard to implement policies and services that support us. You can access student support, and with a diagnosis you can also access specialist mentors, skills tutors, hard- and soft-ware, etc.

You can also request reasonable adjustments to be made by your supervisor and the school you are situated in. If you decide to have your autistic status recognised by certain people (if not all) then you can have this on an Inclusive Learning Plan, with recommendations for things that are important for you e.g. “appears confident, but has a hard time asking for help when struggling”. You can determine who can and cannot access this/be made aware, and remember an ILP is not there to reflect badly on you.

When it comes time for things like your viva (your verbal defence of your thesis), there is no set recommendation for adjustment. However, there is no reason you can’t ask for them with literature supporting you.

Some of us have good, bad, and indifferent responses to disclosing our autistic status at university. We can but try, and largely responses from educated others are positive ones.

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