Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day in the Life of Student 'Y'

Student 'Y' is studying on the Creative Studies course. He has 'high functioning autism' or Aspergers Syndrome.

A characteristic of students with Aspergers as stated by the University of Indianapolis, Disability Services Aspergers, is students 'may be very literal, concrete, logical, rule-oriented, rigid in applying social rules, and may lack comprehension of humor.'

Student 'Y' can find classroom situations difficult because of the many distractions. Those distractions could be: The other students, noise, harsh fluorescent lighting, changes in routine of classroom activity.
Student 'Y' might find his time in the classroom or studio spent predominantly being distracted by conversations in the room. He is unable to 'block out' the other students talking.
He may not enrol in the course in the first place because he does not believe the institution has understanding of his 'neurodiversity' and therefore cannot provide for his learning needs.

Some solutions:

For the distracting environment, Universal Design strategies can be employed. These strategies benefit ALL learners.
For Student 'Y', it is ideal that we have classrooms that avoid sensory overload (C. Vogel 2008), this is difficult in a studio based arts and design course.
Incorporating movable screens with storage space, or, rolling cupboard units would 'kill two birds with one stone'. The screens can create smaller insular areas for working while the shelf/cupboard space inside them provides a much needed home for all the random art gear strewn around the place.

For the perceived lack of institutional understanding -
At pre-enrollment time, when the learner is researching their options, a statement somewhere on the OP website and prospectus that acknowledges neurodiversity and a willingness to discuss possible accommodations with students.
A statement read out to all students in Orientation week, or the first week of classes. There are some sample statements here on the University of Indianapolis website. I'm not sure about the amount of information our students are given about Disability Services from Student Services.


Jennifer Hamlin said...

Katy, this was a very interesting student profile. It seems as if many people are intimidated by the issue of neurodiversity but I wonder if that is largely just due to a lack of understanding. It was very good to see you list some possible solutions for the flexible practitioner in the classroom but as blended delivery becomes more common I wonder how this student could be offered flexible options outside the classroom?

Katy Molloy said...

Hi Jennifer. Thanks for your comments. Great point about the need for flexible options outside the classroom as well as in. I'm working on producing instructional videos at the moment. With such resources available to view online (moodle?), Student 'Y' could learn in an environment and at at time that best suits.