This is a brief post I decided to write after seeing a tweet asking how Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) helped myself and other students whilst at University.
Disclosing your autism is not an easy decision to make. It is best to talk this decision over with someone you trust, such as a family member, social worker etc. To get an idea of what can happen if you do decide to disclosing your autism before undertaking a Degree read about my experiences in this post.
Disclosing your autism is a decision ONLY you can make and have known many autistic people who haven’t disclosed their autism when beginning University. The main reason why many choose not disclose is because they feel that they may be treated differently. I personally decided to disclose my autism because I struggle with processing and retaining information.
If I had not chosen to disclose that have Aspergers then I know that wouldn’t have achieved the degree I did and could have ended up dropping out. Was I treated differently? No, in fact I found that my peers and lecturers treated me no differently to anybody else. There were some questions around the notetaker that was provided as part my support I received but once I explained who they were and why they were there I didn’t get questioned any further. If you decide to disclose and you receive notetaker support always remember that you are in charge. So if they’re not reliable or the notes they are taking are poor you are completely within your right to request a different one or another course of action.
In fact I had to do that once, because the notetaker who was assigned to me kept repeatedly not turning up and so I contacted the organisation who provided the note takers and received someone who was more reliable as a result.
As with any other time when you are faced with the decision of having to disclose the choice is ALWAYS yours, but personally I would do it. The fact that may require some additional support shouldn’t be a big deal, because you won’t be the only one and always remember that the University wants you to succeed. Additionally having some additional support also makes life easier and believe me when you come to the last year of your Undergraduate you’ll be grateful if you decided to disclose use this link.
If I just jump back quickly to the whole being treated differently thing, I have found that whenever I have told people that I have autism they don’t overly care. If I am involved in group activities they are more bothered I’m doing my bit for the group and completing the work on time. I have also found that as students you’re all in the same situation and you all have different strengths and skills. Therefore will try to help each other out.
To conclude the decision to disclose is yours and yours alone. But do consider the possible ramifications you might encounter by not disclosing and also remember that people aren’t bothered if you have autism. You could say I am biased but I chose to disclose because I knew that I would really struggle to succeed without the support. I would always suggest that you do the same but, and I can’t say it enough you are in charge and the decision to disclose your autism before starting a Degree is yours.
If you are interested to see what kind of support I received check out my post called How DSA Helped Me.