Heading off to do a degree or a postgraduate qualification?

As an Autistic student it would be well worth your while to apply for the Disabled Student Allowance [DSA]. Not only can you get your hands on some useful software and some nice kit to play it on, but you could also be provided with some very useful one to one support.

There is an excellent visual timeline to applying that can be found from A2B Assessments, but generally speaking the application process is application form, needs assessments, entitlement letter and then booking support.

The application form be a very daunting thing but most Universities have a team within their student support unit that would support you with completing the paperwork and checking you have appropriate evidence for your application.

The study needs assessment is booked at a centre local to you and will be a one to one discussion with an advisor. They will talk to you about what you are studying and the barriers you will be facing in your studies. At the end of the meeting the assessor will write up a report to sent to Student Finance with recommendations of what support you should receive.

Any support you receive will be at no cost to you, but there is a contribution expected towards a PC or Laptop.

When you have your entitlement letter it will tell you about physical equipment (like a laptop and software) but will also outline any support workers you are entitled to. This will also outline which company is providing that support. You cannot receive support from any other company than the one named on your entitlement letter, but you can request the company to be changed if you are unhappy.

Specialist Mentors for Autism
Specialist Mentors come under the DSA heading of Non-Medical Helpers. This means support workers who provide academic support only, for other types of support you would need to speak to your local social services.

What can a “Specialist Mentor” support with?
The role of a Mentor is to support you outside of the classroom. They can be a great source of knowledge around time management, executive functioning and a good sounding board to discuss social difficulities.

 They can also support with things like:

  • Transition to university – understanding how it works and what to expect;
  • Orientation – finding your way around – campus, the city, useful routes;
  • Socialisation – joining clubs and groups;
  • Friendships – discussing issues, set- backs, concerns;
  • Emotional difficulties – listening, talking through problems, sign posting, offering practical advice and Problems solving and finding solutions;
  • Guidance;
  • Motivation;
  • Finding strategies to maximise learning effectively;
  • Organising yourself and your timetable;
  • Techniques for addressing procrastination;
  • Strategies for managing information overload;
  • Breaking the task down to manageable, achievable goals;
  • Developing a suitable work life balance;
  • Health and wellbeing advice;
  • Encouragement of social engagement;
  • Sleep hygiene and nutrition.
All Specialist Mentors are trained and professionally qualified in Autism to a high standard set by DSA. Our team at Autistic Nottingham were trained through Spectrum First in how to support “Autistic Students in Higher Education”.

Some Specialist Mentors are Autistic themselves and come with their own experiences of higher education. In this way they have both an understanding and empathy for your needs and will offer support to help you achieve your goals academically and socially.

A mentor will arrange with you the most appropriate meeting times, but the support given is always flexible; therefore, it will adapt to your changing needs. Your entitlement letter will outline how many hours of support you have per year, between yourself and your mentor you will need to decide how often you will meet within that “budget”.

Your Mentor will not provide direct subject matter support, nor can they do your assignments for you. However, they will offer practical support and strategies to help you maximise your strengths, help with strategies for effective communication as well as working with you to form clear strategies to help you overcome difficulties and excel.

Specialist One to One Study Skills Support Tutor
This type of support is a one to one teacher to support with general study skills. The tutor aims to help you become a more independent learner by showing you how to develop skills that enable you to work more efficiently and effectively. Your tutor will help you to communicate your passion for your subject in a way that is accessible to assessors.

During the sessions you and your tutor may cover:

  • reading and note-taking;
  • essay planning and assignment structure;
  • presentation skills;
  • grammar, spelling, punctuation and proofreading;
  • research techniques;
  • organisational skills;
  • exam skills.

Autistic Nottingham as a DSA Provider
If you are heading to your study needs assessment and would like Autistic Nottingham to be your provider, you can request this at your assessment.

If you have received your entitlement letter and Autistic Nottingham are named as your provider you can book NMH sessions with us:

Email: prosper@autisticnottingham.org 
Phone: 0115 888 3223

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