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Five top tips for young people with autism who are looking to go to university

Hannah Louise, a member of the FLARE, the disabled children and young people’s group, gives her top tips for young people with autism who are looking to go to uni

Hi, my name is Hannah Louise! I am 18 years old and have just completed (very successfully) my A-levels. In September I started my university course; I am studying to become a primary school teacher in Sheffield and loving it!

It is a massive achievement for me to start uni this year due to the fact that I am autistic and suffer with stress, anxiety and lack of self-confidence. It also proves people wrong; for instance an old primary school teacher who said when I was first diagnosed: ‘what was I expecting to achieve?’, the course that I’m studying just adds irony to the equation.

Starting university with autism had also been challenging. It means dealing with large crowds in small spaces, having to learn to use public transport and being in situations where the trains are full to the brim. It has also brought a lot of change, and a whole new routine; just this alone has brought its own set of challenges. I love routine :) so changes can cause anxiety. However, the support I get at uni has been amazing.

My top five tips for people with special educational needs (SEN) when starting uni!

1.) When applying to university make sure you go as many open days as you need! It will help you to understand course in more depth and can allow you to evaluate if you believe that this is the course for you. More information prevents anxiety.

2.) Make sure that you apply for Disabled student support. It is really helpful and allows for all reasonable adjustments to be considered and may be accepted. It has helped me mounds and mounds. It is one of the most important of my tips. For further information on the Disabled student support please see their local offer page at https://tinyurl.com/yxt9r3v2

3.) Make sure that the university is accessible for you and that you will be able to travel around. Visit as much as you can and try to find the less busy routes to places where you need to go, this allows you to travel quicker without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed.

4.) Make sure if you’re travelling:

You do travel training to make sure you know when the quieter trains are and how to get to and from uni.

You apply for a disabled student railcard or bus pass to save your money and thus are able to fund other needs. For further information on the disabled student railcard please see the disabled railcard https://tinyurl.com/yy2kch6b

Have strageties in place when things don't go to plan and to avoid stresss and anxiety.

5.) Have fun, work hard and be better than you could ever think. Remember to put effort in and also have fun, try to socialise as much as you can and prove people you are better than they ever imagined. Why prove you’re the same when you can improve and be a better person?

Your disability does not define you, we just need a little support.

YOU ARE CAPABLE OF AMAZING THINGS. Keep on going and you will do great!

Thanks for reading, Hannah Louise