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Autism Spectrum Conditions

Autism affects the way you think, see the world and how you interact with your environment. It is often referred to as “Autism Spectrum Condition” (ASC) or “Autistic Spectrum Disorder” (ASD). You will have a unique strengths and difficulties, which varies from person to person. You usually experience difficulty in three main areas: social interaction, social communication and imagination and cognitive flexibility. Asperger’s Syndrome is a condition which falls under the term of the ‘Autistic Spectrum’. The difference between Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism is very technical, but in simple terms it is based on whether when you were a child you had a delay in the development of your language abilities.


How does Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome affect my learning?

Lack of empathy:

  • You may be unable to read the thoughts and feelings of others through usual cues.


  • You may struggle being motivated by all aspects of the course – you may only focus on what interests you.

Fine and gross motor skills:

  • You may have difficulty with handwriting due to limited fine motor control, and display clumsiness as a result of lack of gross motor control.

Need for routine:

  • You may find it stressful to have changes in routine.

Approach to learning:

  • You may have difficulties in processing information through hearing and need to write instructions down.
  • You tend to rote learn and therefore each piece of information remains disconnected.
  • You prefer to work on your own, or you may have a tendency to take control of group situations according to your own understanding of social rules.

Classroom behaviour:

  • You may keep repeating the same question until you have worked out the answer.
  • You often rely on strict routines and do not adapt to change easily (for example, always wanting to sit in the same seat, or feeling unsettled by a change in teacher or room).
  • You may become anxious when the situation is not predictable or clear.

Language, understanding and application of knowledge:

  • You may have highly articulate language skills.
  • You may have trouble interpreting analogies, or transferring knowledge from one context to another.
  • You may have difficulty in retelling stories or events in a cohesive and sequential manner, and significant events may be recalled alongside the trivial.
  • You may develop areas of intense interest that are not directly related to your study.
  • You also struggle with abstract concepts and take things very literally.

Further guidance, information and support on Autism/Aspergers syndrome.

Strategies to help you at college:

Consistency of approach:

  • Establish routines in the class, and try to ask for notice where changes in routine can be expected.

Instructions and responses:

  • Request written instructions.
  • Ask for things explaining if you are unsure what they mean.
  • Explain what you have understood to make sure that you have translated it as it was intended.

Classroom management:

  • Establish ground rules within the classroom setting with the tutor.
  • Agree a place for you to sit and a place for you to go if you need your own space.
  • Communicate to your tutor if you are uncomfortable with group work so that you can work together to overcome these difficulties.


  • Ask the tutor for clarification to ensure that you have understood what is expected of you.


  • Write down deadline reminders. Highlight key points.


Last updated: 16th August 2023

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