Disclosure means informing the university or TAFE institute about the student’s ASD condition. It is a dilemma that a lot of students with a disability, including ASD, must face.
On the one hand, students may prefer to keep such information private and confidential. On the other hand universities and TAFEs are committed to creating an environment where diversity and difference are valued and respected, and can do this only if they are aware of the student’s disability.
Confidentiality is taken very seriously in the tertiary environment. Staff at university and TAFE understand that they must seek the student’s permission before they can tell anyone else about the student’s disability. For example, the disability support staff may want to inform the teaching staff to make sure that appropriate reasonable adjustments are put in place: but they should do so only if the student agrees.
Disclosure is a personal choice so your child is not obliged to disclose his/her disability. However, if your child chooses not to do so, staff at their university/TAFE may not be able to meet their specific needs, as they will not know what these needs are.
Read more about your child’s rights once disclosure has occurred.
Your child’s educators do not need to know about the students’ disability or medical condition if it does not impact on their learning.
When to disclose
If your child needs help while studying in university or TAFE, it is important that he/she discloses as soon as possible. Here are some ways to disclose:
- If your child has not yet started his/her tertiary studies or has not enrolled: most universities and TAFEs ask about the student’s disability on the enrolment form. Your child can specify on the form that he/she has a disability and specify the condition, for example autism, Asperger’s Disorder, etc. Also before classes begin, encourage your child to contact the disability support unit because this will increase the chances that adjustments will be in place when classes start.
- If your child has already enrolled in a university or TAFE course and wants to get additional support: the student can speak to a teacher or lecturer, or contact the disability unit about the ASD diagnosis. In many cases, teaching staff cannot make reasonable adjustments until the student has disclosed the condition to the disability unit.
- If appropriate, you might also consider offering to accompany your child when he or she visits the disability unit to disclose the condition.
Disability support services
Each university and TAFE institute in Victoria employs at least one person in the role of disability support. The disability support staff work closely with students, and the students’ teachers, to determine the appropriate reasonable adjustments to allow the students with disabilities fully to participate in their studies.