While there is a set of core difficulties that lead to a diagnosis of ASD, all people with ASD are individuals and there is inherent variability in their personalities, behaviour and needs.
The label ‘ASD’ may imply a uniformity which belies the variations in the individual manifestations of the condition, and the huge differences in strategies best able to deal with it.
We should not assume that there is a single approach to assisting all students with an ASD.
Individual differences and providing tailored support
The apparent heterogeneity is due to a number of factors such as:
- variability in the severity of the core symptoms
- individual differences in intellectual ability (some students may be gifted)
- diagnosis at different stages of development (some in preschool or school or even in the tertiary setting)
- different interventions and supports prior to entering TAFE or university
- varied levels and types of support from family (the majority are likely to still be living at home)
- co-morbid psychological disorders (many have anxiety or depression)
- differing biological bases for the presenting condition.
Staff should be aware about the diversity in presentation of ASD among affected students. The support needs of these students are thus often complex and highly idiosyncratic and may be at odds with the student’s apparent capability.
Therefore, a tailored approach that specifically targets the particular issues faced by each ASD student is necessary.