Best Ways for Autistic Students to Talk to College Professors

October 4, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


Hi, I’m Julie. I’m a lecturer at a public
university and I’ve also taught at a community college. I’m here to do a
couple of things: to show you that professors are real, not so terrifying
people who care about all of their students and also to let you know that
approaching your teachers at the beginning of your semesters can be a
really positive and productive thing. One of the first things to know is that even
when college teachers have been in higher education for a while we don’t
necessarily have a complete understanding of the needs of every
individual student. But most of us will be receptive to hearing about ways we
can adjust our teaching to help you learn best. Before a given semester you
should visit your campuses office of disability accommodations and acquire a
formal letter that lists the accommodations the office approves for
you. When you have that letter in hand contact your teachers to arrange a time
to go over these accommodations together. Many many students simply hand us these
letters and take off. Those students miss a crucial opportunity to start a
positive dialogue between them and their teachers. Having to repeatedly educate
others about yourself and your needs might get tiring but it’s so important
because there’s so little training for teachers about how best to teach you.
When you get to the meeting you don’t have to explain every behavioral aspect
of autism that you’ve ever shown, just what might be relevant to this class.
Your teacher could already know lots about ASD or next to nothing.
So, the best way to start is to ask: what do you know about students on the
spectrum? Now you’ll get an opportunity to describe yourself and how you learn
best. This is where you can discuss classroom behaviors, your needed
accommodations, and the additional support your professor can provide. If
speaking in class or group work are taxing for you, say so. If sarcasm or symbolic language can be hard for you to get, explain that. You can also
mention that students on the spectrum are often rule and routine driven and
passionate about their specific interests. Okay, that was a lot but as a
reminder we have a sheet of pointers you can refer to when you talk to your
teachers about your accommodations. You can be brave and proactive about being
an autism educator. Thank you for watching and good luck
talking to your teachers. Also if you find this video helpful have related
experiences or have tried this advice out please leave comments.