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How To Get Aspergers College Education Funding for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome

Updated on August 28, 2011

Autism : A Practical Guide To College Education

Getting frustrated in finding the best information for how to get someone with Aspergers college education funding? In this article we focus on young people with Asperger's syndrome. Aspergers is a form of autism classified as an autistic spectrum disorder. If you are looking for a way to understanding the education system and getting access to specialist educational funding, then this article is for you.

Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term consisting of many components of autism. People with this condition are unique and these components contributes to this individuality and uniqueness.

Children and young people with asperger's syndrome don't thrive in mainstream education, the system often fails them when they already feel like failures. College education, therefore, has to be particularly well planned in order to put these vulnerable young people on the right track for life.

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Careful thought from professional specialists in this field is essential to cater for the individuals needs. This can't be satisfied in mainstream further education. It is in this article I will tell you how to get specialist further education for people with autistic spectrum disorder. How would I know? Because I have been there and done it!

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Specialist Further Education College

What Is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome is a condition classified under the umbrella of autistic spectrum disorders. It is a developmental brain disorder that affects social interaction and its understanding. People with this condition often obsess and fixate on certain interests and behavioural patterns can be repetitive.

This is a form of autism which does not affect academia. People with this form of asd are termed as high functioning because they have normal or above normal intelligence. However, they may appear clumsy, uncoordinated and lack empathy.

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Asperger's Syndrome : Pervasive Developmental Disorder Consisting of Dysphasia, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and Attention Deficit

This is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) that covers not just one symptom but many different ones across the spectrum including:

  • Dysphasia - An impairment of language e.g 'I just can't find the right words at the moment'
  • Dyspraxia - A disability that affects body movements and co-ordination. It often leads to clumsiness, and problems with language, perception and thoughts
  • Dyslexia - An impairment in the brain's processing of information that results in difficulty reading, spelling, writing, and related language skills
  • Attention Deficit Disorder - A condition characterized by when a person is easily distracted and has difficulty staying focused on an individual activity for any period of time

This list is not exclusive to the individual - one person may display more symptoms of one of these aspects and less of another. This makes for complex people and complex people need individual care and education plans suited to their complexities. It is for this reason that it is essential that young people with Asperger's syndrome get the specialist education college tailored to their needs.

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You may not be thinking about a college education now.  It might seem a long way off before your child leaves school.  Believe me, it comes around quicker than you think!  Keep in mind the long term view and put strategies in place. 

  • You need the written confirmation of the diagnosis of autism.
  • If you can obtain a 'statement of special needs' do so.

Autism Spectrum Disorder : Diagnosis Of Asperger's Syndrome

In order to achieve the impossible challenge of receiving a college education specialised to the needs of those with ASD you will need to have a diagnoses of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and/or autism. You may not achieve a future that will help your son or daughter to fulfil his potential without this.

It might even help to have a statement of special needs, although this is increasingly difficult to obtain because Councils are more inclined to shy around these documents. They justify this as moving away from ‘labelling’ and ‘stereotyping’. The reality is, however, that if you have a statement of special needs, they have to be more committed to funding specialist education.

A statement of special needs, therefore, is not essential but is helpful.

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  • Keep Hold Of All Paperwork
  • Log Calls and Conversations
  • Start A Case File
  • Collect As Much Written Evidence As Possible

Autistic Behaviour : Paperwork Evidence

You need to keep hold of every piece of paperwork that you might have that refers to behaviours and difficulties associated with the person who has the condition. This can range from logs of calls to various health, education and social welfare departments to a report from the person who made the diagnosis.

Every school suspension, reports of incidents, referral’s to clinical psychologists and Doctor’s letters are all good future evidence. You need to start a file, sooner than later, of all problems, meetings and attendances. If there is a way for the system (or funding council) to get out of paying for specialist education, they will. More evidence, therefore, the better. Did I mention that you have to collect as much evidence as possible? More is not enough, I cannot emphasise this enough!

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Gather A Multidisciplinary Team : Client Centered Approach

The multidisciplinary team are supposed to work for you and the person who has Asperger's syndrome. They are supposed to work in unison within the guidelines of a client centred approach (What's this? Click on the highlighted link at the bottom of this article).

This is, briefly, about putting patient or client needs to the centre – a people first approach. However, this is an ideal and is not always the case. You have to be the ‘Director’ – the person that is the glue to the team and, believe me, this is no easy feat – forewarned is forearmed!

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Who should you enlist on your multidisciplinary team?

  • Clinical psychologist via Doctor referral
  • Local Member of Parliament via face to face appointment
  • General Practitioner
  • Speech and language therapist via Doctor or SENCO referral
  • Behaviour modification therapist via SENCO/Doctor/Clinical Psychologist/Social Worker
  • Councillor via Doctor referral
  • Special Educational needs teacher via school
  • Educational psychologist referral via SENCO/Head Teacher
  • Social worker via Doctor or Self Referral
  • Head Teacher of school – educational professionals who knows the child or young person.
  • Connexions Advisor - Make contact independently or via Secondary School
  • Parent support – Parent Partnership (self referral - ring up County Council for details)

This list is not exclusive but the more professional involvement you have the better.

The Autistic Connection With The Multidisciplinary Team

Communication is the key here and you are the one that has to chase, phone, e-mail, write, visit for meetings and produce a personal log of all communication, whom it was referred to and why.

This system seems to have been set up to deter the weak willed and, in doing so, save money. Most of the multidisciplinary team seem unable to communicate and, if they do, seem reluctant to chase and document details for fear that they might be ‘liable’. They seem torn between the cost implications, their managers and the client concerned.

  • You need to act in the best interest of your autistic son or daughter and this means being the strong communication link.
  • If your son or daughter has been in trouble with the Police (which is not unusual for people with an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis), then keep these reports, dates and discussions too.
  • Try and gently persuade them to write reports in support of your endeavours for specialist education and keep in the forefront of your discussions the notion ‘we are working for the benefit of the child or young person so as they can fulfil their full potential’. You might need to subtly add the idea of a Client Centered Approach (see links at the bottom of this article) as a trigger reminder as to who they are working for. This is not only a reminder, but a ‘heads up’ to state that you actually do know your stuff!

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Mainstream education is not for people with Asperger's.
Mainstream education is not for people with Asperger's.

What is the Correct Procedure Toward The Right College Education For Someone With Autism?

It is imperative that you get this one right! First and foremost, and this is a very hard thing to go through with someone with Asperger’s syndrome, you need to be rejected from mainstream further education. There is no way around this as it is the major factor in obtaining the evidence for qualifying for the extra funding at County.

In order to reduce the agony here, try and talk to the head of your local Further Education College.

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People With Asperger's Syndrome Will Not Be Considered For The Forces

Please keep in mind that there are some careers that people with Asperger’s Syndrome will not be considered for. Careers in the Armed Forces and the Police Force are such exceptions that will not take people with Asperger’s Syndrome. These are legal exceptions, despite the Disability Rights Act.

Formulated on these ideas, this can be a sure winner if you need to be rejected from mainstream as a factor, as well as unmanageable past behaviour from school and permanent exclusion.

County, who fund specialist schools and education, needs to see that the young person can not have his or her needs catered for in mainstream further education and that there is no alternative but for a specialist education college to manage their needs. This is about providing written evidence for this.

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This must be what it feels like to enter into an interview to know that you will be rejected because you have Asperger's Syndrome
This must be what it feels like to enter into an interview to know that you will be rejected because you have Asperger's Syndrome

People with Asperger's Syndrome Need To Be Rejected From Mainstream Further Education College

It is essential that the person with Asperger’s Syndrome, probably with his or her primary carer, attend a local college base interview. Here it is advisable to put your concerns over as to how you feel that the potential student would be unable to cope with organisation and daily stresses of mainstream education.

You need to be sensitive here for the benefit of the potential student and, perhaps, guide him or her through this process by explaining that in order for him to get what he needs, he has to go through this procedure and not to worry. However, this is a very bitter pill to swallow.

It is imperative that you get the rejection in writing stating why mainstream college education is inappropriate at this time. This is the key evidence to help you in your cause!

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Specialist College Education : Don't Allow Yourself To Be Deterred From Your Focus

You will need to have a copy sent to your connexions adviser and keep a copy for yourself. At the same time you need to collect support from your local M.P., your G.P. and a social worker – make sure this is written. This helps to create an airtight evidence based support to your funding application. It also helps if you have a nervous breakdown. This can easily be achieved – just go through the process of How to Win the Right For Someone With Asperger’s Syndrome in College Education!

You must not be deterred. Determination and taking this time to totally focus this into a project will eventually get what is right for your son or daughter who has ASD. This is a difficult task, but then if you are fighting for Government funding of up to £90,000 per year, how can you not expect a fight?

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Plan B - Care?

You may need to resort to a plan B. What would this be? To be prepared to send your Asperger’s son or daughter into care. Yes, this sounds drastic but, ultimately, if this is the case, the care system would have to send him or her to the same specialist further education. So, the outcome, although crueller, would be the same.

You need to remember that you are being cruel to be kind. You need to put your hurt aside and do this because it is for the best interest of your son, daughter and the rest of the family. Social Services need to know you mean business and the cruel route is far more painful for everyone involved than the ‘controlled’ route, through your Connexions advisor.

If you make a threat, you need to be prepared to carry it through.

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Careers Advisor is the Key Player

Your Connexions careers advisor is a key player. He or she is the person who writes a report, correlates the information and submits it to County for special Further Education recommendation. Keep Connexions informed and build a good relationship with them. You are the centre of the team and to remind them that you are still on the case is helpful.

Keep your Parent Partnership advocate with you – every step of the way. These advocates are a very powerful ally in meetings. They help to keep the rest of the team to task.

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We Are A Team!
We Are A Team!

The Multidisciplinary Team - We Are A Team

Ensure that you have regular sessions with your son or daughter’s clinical psychologist and remember to keep hold of all documentation on an Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis. You need them to help with the documented evidence and an ear to help your son or daughter through a very difficult time of uncertainty and rejection.

Enlist the support of your Doctor. A letter of support goes a long way and he can help with referring you to other agencies.

Be prepared with a letter of support from your Member of Parliament. The multidisciplinary team will make sure they do their jobs right – this is exactly what you want – your right to a college education that is appropriate to the needs of someone with Asperger’s syndrome. It is a shame you have to go down this route, but necessary.

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Active Social Worker and Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator's Input - Essential For Referral To Specialist College Education

Active Social Worker involvement is a must. You need them to part fund the residential component of college education. Be warned, you will probably be fobbed off – keep trying and trying. Get an assessment and leave plenty of time to do this.

Your special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), needs to be closely involved. She or he will have access to past assessments and reports, which will need co-ordinating to the various agencies that needs it. You need to do a lot of the leg work – for example, finding appropriate college education for which may be appropriate and linking the various people that you have contact with.

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Getting An College Education For People With Asperger's Syndrome Conclusion

In learning how to get a college education for someone with Asperger's syndrome, we have learned about advocacy - the person who pulls the team together, stands up for the rights of the young person and speaks up on his behalf. In the process, you have to ensure that you have all the paperwork in order to use as evidence for a college education designed especially to suit his complexities. This is not an easy task! However, it will be worth it in the end. It will be an empowering opportunity for him to overcome the problems associated with autism spectrum disorder and provide a foundation that will create a pathway to independence. A college education from these establishments will stake the odds in his favour. The goal? A happier and more balanced and independent life as an adult.

© Shazwellyn - This work is covered under Creative Commons License

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Specialist Education Gets To The Hardware Of The Aspie Brain And Can Start To Help

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    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 5 years ago from Great Britain

      Thank you for your kind words chef :)

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      As a teacher in a specialist college working with all types of young person on autistic spectrum - mainly through drama, music and horticulture - I get to see first hand the results of positive decisions based on sound advice and guidance. It's a wonder to work with young folk who have such supportive parents and mostly very positive support workers from all kinds of agency.

      Your hub reflects your commitment on a personal level;I'm sure it'll be of immense use to many parents who face life with children in need of great understanding and practical input.

      All strength to you.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      bizymomof3 - keep us posted on your progress, wont you?!

    • bizymomof3 profile image

      Joann Marotta Nellis 6 years ago from New York City

      We are manuevering through this process now with my son. Thank you for the informative hub.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      Maybe you should just do what makes you feel happiest. Dont try and fit a square peg in a round hole - just find the right hole to fit!

      Why people feel it necessary to be part of the group, is possibly, a form of conditioning that we have learned as 'normal'. Normal just doesnt exist - only individual. And that is what you are - individual. So celebrate your forbouys with joy and love who you are. Just be your best, that is all anyone can ask :)

    • profile image

      ThufirHowat 6 years ago

      Yes, that is the problem, team working, what when working society demands team work and team building exercises, where does that leave the aspie. Where it leaves the aspie, is in a place where they are not comfortable, where they cannot fit in and for the undiagnosed, that is hell as it was for me. The truth is I excel on my own, I like my own company and I cannot work with others, least of all the public interface for obvious reasons. I am unemployed, I have been these past four years, the diagnosis makes me virtually unemployable for no one wants a non team worker, which I will have to be to be comfortable in my work and not enter the destructive depression that the wrong situations bring, perhaps that is part of the college problem as well.

      But anger, I have a very deep anger, at what I don't know, all the therapy I have had could not reveal it's true source, only excuses that are there then fade from view to reveal the same feeling again. For you understand for my kind of mentality, we have to understand the source before it can be let go and in that means finding the source first.

      But my anger is never outward, for the protection of others, I always deal with it myself until it subsides until another time, I am to a viewer, placid and easy going, though they do not know the turmoil that goes on within.

      Oh yes, aspies feel, we are not automatons, we feel, but often we cannot put a name to what we feel, and it drives us nuts.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 6 years ago from Great Britain

      Hats off for managing the armed forces - working in part of a team is particularly difficult.

      I think it isnt the anger that is problematic, but how you deal with it. Is avoidance necessary? Have you had help with some coping mechanisms to help you with this?

      It is about knowing yourself. If you understand your triggers, perhaps you can take advantage of anger as a positive attribute. Maybe you can learn to turn the feeling around into something positive? For example, if someone cuts me up on the road... in stead of wanting to ram my car into theirs, I feel the feeling... it sends a signal and I identify the feeling as negative. With a huge yell, I bless them! It seems to work for me quickly and effectively. Just a thought, my friend :)

    • profile image

      ThufirHowat 6 years ago

      Interesting the article about people with autism and the armed forces, guess what, I am a late diagnosed Aspie, and I suffered six years in the armed forces. The institutional aspect was comfortable, but I was always in trouble for interpreting orders incorrectly, but at the same time working to a level which far exceeded what was expected as a norm, just my way of doing things.Live armed was particularly scary for me, it caused massive anxiety, and now looking back on that with what I know now, is 'wow', that was scary and just be glad everything went smoothly, i.e. there were no incidents, for now looking back, I considered myself dangerous at that point with the aspie status I have now.

      But, it was a college of higher education that got me the diagnosis, whilst I was suffering greatly with what was required, and although there is help for learning difficulties, funding cuts makes that erratic, so the bottom line is I am slowly withdrawing from college, as it is causing me great anxiety at what is expected of me, and some of the subjects I need to avoid as it causes very real anger, an emotion I need to avoid as much as possible.

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the great post

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      LeanMan.. If it helps, then my work is done :)

    • LeanMan profile image

      Tony 7 years ago from At the Gemba

      This is a great hub, it must be very difficult dealing with these problems.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      billyaustindillon - I wanted to target all people from all walks of life - the professional (social workers etc), the average person and funding authorities. This is why I produced three articles based on experience (something for people to relate to), how to (something more formal and instructional) and why (something to establish the importance of funding for this issue).

      If these help to educate all people who have connections with people like my son, then we will have a better society for asperger's to live in.

      This sort of education is expensive, but in the long run, having them end up in prison for years, is even more costly. Prevention and intervention in the earlier years are by far the better option.

      I feared for Dan. He is obsessed with pornography, guns (Scarface/gangsters) and music (music is safe... it is the Beatles and Eric Clapton at the mo - although he says he is a Mod, but dresses like a chav... what is that all about??? lol). His life direction was not good. He was going down the road of being a menace to society. Now, I didnt have children to be harmful... I had kids because I wanted them to help make a difference to the world we live in and be an asset to society - to be good citizens.

      It is my responsibility to do the best for him and society as a whole. I hope this makes sense?

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      vydyulashashi - thanks, I need as much of God's blessings as possible :)

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Shaz you have published a complete resource for any parent or family member seeking to do the very best for a child growing up and wanting to go to college with Autism Spectrum Disorder - what a valuable resource for people to benefit from.

    • vydyulashashi profile image

      vydyulashashi 7 years ago from Hyderabad,India

      For who seeking information,remedy etc regarding Autism spectrum disorder, this is the rite spot.

      Wonderful information.

      God bless you.

    • shazwellyn profile image

      shazwellyn 7 years ago from Great Britain

      humagaia - I can tell you that the whole process has changed me. It has been one of the most difficult challenges in my life - and I have tackled some pretty tough challenges! If I had had this information to hand, then I would know who, what, where I was going to. I could have planned it. This is why it was important to publish this for others. Through my experience, I hope to invoke positive change for others. Is that not what we are here for? To, somehow, make a difference?

      Thank you for reading.

    • humagaia profile image

      Charles Fox 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      This set of Autism Spectrum Disorder articles gives a great resource for those that need it. When someone leans the ways to get something done, it should be posted so that others can utilise what has been determined.

      And determined you were.