For World Autism Awareness Day, Will Simpson, a BSc Information and Communication student, talks about his experiences studying at the University with autism.
He speaks about the transition to university, overcoming challenges, the support available and his advice to other students with autism:
How was your transition into higher education?
My transition into higher education was good. During my first visit to the university, I met with a member of the support team, and she showed me around the campus. I returned for an ASD event, and this helped me. I met another staff member there called Rebecca Breen, and she made me feel really welcome. It was this ASD event that influenced my decision to come to the University of South Wales, and so far, I love it here.
What helped you to settle into university life and make friends?
I joined a Facebook USW group and made some friends through it. They are lovely people, and I’m still in contact with them now, as they are on the same course as me. I also receive specialist mentoring support, and on Friday afternoons, I attend a chance to chat support group. It's where I can make new friends. I’ve also joined many societies, such as the LGBTQ society and the running society, as I enjoy running.
What support have you received from the University for your Autism?
The support at USW has been overwhelming, and I’m thankful. In fact, so amazing it’s been quite emotional. I get in-class support, study skills support and a specialist mentor. This is all part of my DSA. USW has supported me with my autism and anxiety through specialist mentor support, and I speak to my mentor weekly. This provides me with the opportunity to touch base about how well I’m doing. I also get notes taken for me in my online lessons.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced, being a student with Autism at University, and how did you overcome this?
My biggest challenge has been moving to USW, coping on-my-own, and I’ve managed to do this successfully. It was life-changing, and I didn't think I would be able to do it, but I did it! The amount of work has also been a challenge. Fortunately, I'm organised, and I don’t give up. I try to manage my time in the best way possible. I also prioritise my deadlines.
As things have been online this year, I’ve had to be more motivated than ever to get up out of bed, away from home. So far, I’m managing it while achieving 65 per cent in some of my assessments, which is a 2:1 classification!
What advice would you give to other students with Autism?
My advice to students with autism is don’t worry as things always work out in the end. It’s a degree course, and it’s not going to be easy. You need to put your heart and soul into it. If you want something enough, you’ll work for it. It’s about having that passion for what you do, that determination and being resilient in not giving up. I’m doing things no one thought I could ever do.