High-functioning autism (hfa) and Asperger syndrome



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tarix28.04.2017
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High-functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger syndrome (AS) are autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)

  • High-functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger syndrome (AS) are autism spectrum disorders (ASDs)

  • They are characterised by disturbances in social interaction, both verbal and non-verbal communication and repetitive and/or restrictive behaviour.



The main difference between autism and AS is thought to be in language development, in that those with AS will not have had delayed language development when younger.

  • The main difference between autism and AS is thought to be in language development, in that those with AS will not have had delayed language development when younger.

  • In reality, it makes little difference as the triad of impairments is present in both.

  • The impairments relate to social interaction, communication and development of imagination.



Only a small percentage of those with ASD will enter Higher Education.

  • Only a small percentage of those with ASD will enter Higher Education.

  • Sharp rise in number of diagnoses of children in the 90s – so expect this to impact very soon on HE.

  • Huddersfield University has 61 ASD students, on a variety of UG and PG courses. Arts, Humanities, Science, Nursing etc. – but mostly in Digital Media and Gaming.

  • None in Law – YET!



ASD and Asperger’s children are often not thought of as having ‘special needs’.

  • ASD and Asperger’s children are often not thought of as having ‘special needs’.

  • Significant interpersonal deficits but often highly intelligent or gifted.

  • Won’t understand the ‘give and take’ of speech.

  • Could be hypo- or hyper-sensitive.



As HE providers we are under a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments.

  • As HE providers we are under a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments.

  • The Equality 2010 introduced a new head of disability – discrimination arising from disability



This will occur if the following three conditions are met:

  • This will occur if the following three conditions are met:

  • You treat a disabled student unfavourably, that is putting them at a substantial disadvantage, even if this was not your intention, and

  • This treatment is because of something connected with the disabled student’s disability…, and

  • You cannot justify the treatment by showing that is ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim



No – there is no duty if the student does not make us aware.

  • No – there is no duty if the student does not make us aware.

  • Most will declare a disability on the UCAS form

  • Disability support in the University will follow this up and make reasonable adjustments from the start

  • Student may apply for DSA



As the final determiner of competence and grading, assessment is key in accommodating disability.

  • As the final determiner of competence and grading, assessment is key in accommodating disability.

  • The “tradition” of a language orientated approach is no defence against the need to make “reasonable adjustments” in the modern market.



In a proactive institution, inclusiveness should not only be a consideration in developing a Personal Learning Support Plan after a student reports a disability.

  • In a proactive institution, inclusiveness should not only be a consideration in developing a Personal Learning Support Plan after a student reports a disability.

  • The overall assessment strategy must build in recognition of a range of skills from the very start.

  • This will encourage initial take-up of courses by people with disabilities and also help improve the representation of people from different backgrounds, opening up education for all.



These are necessary to Law degrees, but adjustments can reduce the barrier they represent to students with ASD.

  • These are necessary to Law degrees, but adjustments can reduce the barrier they represent to students with ASD.



Provision of special rooming and equipment and extra time are common accommodations. As a centralised process, the impact of such allowances on academics is kept to a minimum.

    • Provision of special rooming and equipment and extra time are common accommodations. As a centralised process, the impact of such allowances on academics is kept to a minimum.
    • When academic staff are involved, even more can be achieved e.g. practice sessions and additional support in exams targeted to the specific assessment beyond the “general” services available.


However, delivery can only achieve so much. The structure and format of the assessment itself needs consideration.

  • However, delivery can only achieve so much. The structure and format of the assessment itself needs consideration.

  • Questions must be:

    • Relevant
    • Unambiguous, and
    • Clear on required outcomes


Questions should be:

  • Questions should be:

    • Broken down into manageable parts with clear allocation of marks, focussing the student's attention. MCQs may be considered.
    • Clear and precise about any facts, so relevant considerations are apparent and in a logical sequence.
  • Essay question require particular care, the traditional “discuss” approach needs to first identify a practical issue within that area of law.



Again, the outcomes need to be clear.

  • Again, the outcomes need to be clear.

  • The tutor should be available to explain the requirements and any ambiguity within the question.

  • Self-directed study is a particular challenge for those with ASD, they need clear direction and time-management prompts.



Other possibilities, responding to the needs of a particular student rather than being inbuilt to all coursework, could include:

  • Other possibilities, responding to the needs of a particular student rather than being inbuilt to all coursework, could include:

    • A flexible word count.
    • Adaptation of the question to reflect a particular interest of the student.


These are increasingly popular as a way of demonstrably improving employability skills.

  • These are increasingly popular as a way of demonstrably improving employability skills.

  • However, they may be particularly stressful to a student with ASD.

  • Adaption should be the first option, but if the case is serious enough then removal should be possible.

  • There are other ways of demonstrating knowledge, and presentations are not an absolutely “essential” skill in a Law degree.



This is another useful employability skill, but is again potentially stressful.

  • This is another useful employability skill, but is again potentially stressful.

  • Once more, adaptation is the preferable option but total replacement should not be ruled out where it is in the student’s best interests.



Inclusiveness should be the starting point in the design of any assessment, rather than an end consideration.

  • Inclusiveness should be the starting point in the design of any assessment, rather than an end consideration.

  • Where a student has particular needs, flexibility in making adjustment should extend to the assessment itself not just the delivery of it.

  • In the end, we are testing for the knowledge and the skills that have been learned.



It is unfair to limit a student’s opportunity to show how they have progressed to one particular task.

  • It is unfair to limit a student’s opportunity to show how they have progressed to one particular task.

  • This is necessary to some degree for most students as a way of allowing us to assess on a large scale, but for disabled students adjustments can and should be made, and must be proactively offered.




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