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JPmoney
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25 Aug 2009, 7:34 am

I have AS and am thinking about someday going to a university (but not a local college, due to bad experiences). Can any of you guys share your university experiences? Do you think it's a good idea, or do you think I should just stick with the local college idea?

I've been told by a lot of people that I would have a blast at a university and that I would fit in better. But I've also been told (by one person) that university people keep to themselves more. However, these were all NT people who told me this, and I'd like to get feedback from the AS side.



outlier
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25 Aug 2009, 7:49 am

I did not find it easier, but harder. I have many stories, but do not want to put anyone off going; I managed to make it all the way, though. Anyway, these days there is more support available.



mgran
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25 Aug 2009, 8:07 am

A bit of both. My first week I made a horrendous social faux pas, which people were still talking about four years later... but that faux pas drew the attention of my future son's father to me. While the NT's were having a chuckle about my idiocy I met a really nice aspie bloke (though we didn't know of our diagnoses at the time) and although we later broke up, I'm still friends with him, and I have the nicest son in the world. :)

The NTs were hard to get on with, as usual, but there were more folks like us there, and it was easier to be accepted. I was able to pursue my interests and actually be rewarded for nit picking perfectionism, and I did have a social network of sorts. At the same time, I could close my door and hide in my room if I wanted, and nobody thought twice about it.

It was hard to organise myself, that was the main thing. I developed a tendency to forget to eat for several days, or to work straight through the night, go to a lecture, go home, and work straight through. It took some time for me to figure out the fine art of keeping regular hours.

But in general, I'd say it did me good.



JPmoney
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25 Aug 2009, 5:39 pm

outlier wrote:
I did not find it easier, but harder. I have many stories, but do not want to put anyone off going; I managed to make it all the way, though. Anyway, these days there is more support available.

Wow. What kept you motivated? What's your secret?



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25 Aug 2009, 6:31 pm

My problem with University had more to do with attendance policies and teachers trying to run it like high school. There are days I can't make it to class because I'm too busy trying to deal with an emotional breakdown. Having that destroy my grade didn't help when I was having some tough times. I was forced to withdraw from college twice because of that.

I'm beginning to think I may as well have a mental breakdown in class, instead of trying to deal with it at home. I'm sure after letting everyone watch me break down in sobs, yelling at anyone who gets near me or touches me, they might be willing to make an exception to that attendance policy. I'll just tell them I knew it was going to happen but couldn't miss class because of the policy. There are going to be more meltdowns, and they can either adjust the policy so I can do it at home in safety or not change it and I'll show up to class to have my meltdown.

They might pick up that attendance policies aren't a good idea for Aspies with major anxiety issues.



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26 Aug 2009, 1:29 am

My first year uni I lived in dorms and it was really awful. I went crazy and nearly flunked out. I switched schools to one where I could live in a shared house with my own bedroom, and then I did well and liked it.



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26 Aug 2009, 1:35 am

No way in hell for me (I didn't stay at college). Attending classes was hell on earth.



lukefromnj
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26 Aug 2009, 1:43 am

It really depends on where you go- I went first to Mitchell College in New London, CT, and they had an extensive autistic support network there. With only a few notable exceptions (like my public speaking teacher who has earned my eternal enmity), most teachers and students were willing to overlook a few personal idiosyncrasies if the student does well academically, or has a particular skill, new perspective, etc. to contribute.



outlier
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26 Aug 2009, 3:35 am

JPmoney wrote:
outlier wrote:
I did not find it easier, but harder. I have many stories, but do not want to put anyone off going; I managed to make it all the way, though. Anyway, these days there is more support available.

Wow. What kept you motivated? What's your secret?


That's what a few people have asked, including my doctor and former counsellor.

I suspect what kept me motivated was having my heart set on it (which was not a choice, but beyond my control). In addition, the alternative was to languish at home, stagnating and dying (internally), because I had no equivalent options. I suppose I viewed it as a life or death situation, so, even though it involved daily mental torture for years, it was not as bad as experiencing a broken spirit or the heartbreak of failure. That's the only explanation that makes sense, because the people I mentioned, and myself, found it highly unusual someone with symptoms that severe managed to achieve it without support or friends. They gave the impression they hadn't seen it before.

There were also practical methods and strategies I implemented: working out how many marks I could afford to lose due to executive dysfunction and anxiety; carrying a flow-chart instructing me how to deal with certain events (e.g., becoming upset or needing food); commuting daily from home (it would have been impossible to have lived away); strategising exam revision.

I forced myself to disregard perfectionism because, under those conditions, it was impossible to do anywhere near my best. For example: I could not complete weekly assignments due to executive dysfunction and anxiety (it was lucky most of my course grades were based on the final exams); I was unable to make friends to obtain help and structure from them (most students worked on the assignments together); I was unable to approach the professors for help, and any contact with them was damaging (they would patronize me due to my traits, encourage me to leave, make comments on my appearance, and write things such as how I lacked intellect). Because it was a science degree, I could get away with not completing my coursework and refusing to give presentations (my anxiety was so severe that if I approached the front of the room, my entire body would tremble violently). Almost all of my energy was reserved for coping with my anxiety disorders and other issues, not studying. I would get both acute and chronic anxiety episodes so severe that I would be immobile for hours in terror. This always worsened during the examination period at the end of each year. I would just have to wait out the worst, then resume revision.

There is no way I would have put myself through that if it wasn't worth it. Gaining the degrees was worth it because it produced new opportunities, tested endurance limits, gave rise to numerous coping stategies, and I gained much knowledge (I'm not referring to the academic kind).



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26 Aug 2009, 4:30 am

I don't know the difference between a university and a college..
but anyway, I had a great time at mine, whatever it was. It was an art school, so I found a lot of people I had things in common with. I don't know if it's the same at a more general-type college. It was also lots easier than real life is now, lol.;;; Even though some classes were tough and I even failed a few. But I learned a TON more than I ever did in HS. Within the first week, even.


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26 Aug 2009, 5:59 am

It's a matter of perspective.

I feel college/university is EASIER than working. Even if you have high standards, academia is much more forgiving of shortcomings than an employer might be. You can get A's just by making a good effort and producing the work asked for in most classes...makes you wonder how anyone manages to get C's.

However, that might be MY experience because I enjoy learning (in spite of stress it may cause) and once I learned to break projects into "bite size" tasks I could manage, I had a system to get the work done.

You have a place to live, meals taken care of, lots of extracurricular activities to keep you amused (at least you have a choice of options)....

My only issue was socializing. I was an outcast. I had a very small circle of friends who accepted me in spite of my oddities, but it was more "friendship" than I had known in YEARS, probably even decades.