Photo: Bath and North Est Somerset services

Our student support service provides a range of support options in further and higher education for autistic students. Students can use our local services during the transition from school or college to life at university and then from fresher's week to graduation.

Working closely with both academic and non-academic staff, we can work in partnership to try and ensure the student's individual needs are meet. We work to ensure that the support we provide is both person-centred and discreet.

The support we offer

We provide two types of support for students – specialist mentor support, and study assistant support. The type of support provided by each one is slightly different. Read the details below:

Specialist mentor support

A specialist mentor provides one-to-one sessions on an appointment basis for students on the autism spectrum. The sessions take place at the student's university, unless remote assistance is required.

The mentor will help the student to overcome barriers to learning. They will help them to develop new strategies to ease potential difficulties with university life and to encourage independence.

Areas in which a mentor can support students include:

  • time management and planning
  • prioritising and structuring workload
  • organisation
  • managing change
  • development of communication
  • social and interaction skills
  • managing anxiety and sensory needs
  • understanding expectations of the course
  • facilitating communication with staff and peers
  • explaining other people expectations and highlighting the unwritten rules of university life.

Study assistant support

A study assistant works flexibly to provide specialist enabling support and reassurance in learning environments to facilitate the student's access to learning.

They do this by clarifying the language of the higher education environment, checking understanding, and rephrasing information to ensure it is accessible to that student.

Support can be given in:

  • orientation and building independence
  • communication with staff and peers and understanding social situations
  • concentration and taking useful notes
  • encouraging motivation and attendance
  • lectures and seminars
  • library support
  • lab sessions
  • group work
  • around campus
  • during exams
  • trips
  • during induction/Fresher's week.

Our aims

  • to identify realistic adaptations that can be put in place to support students and to facilitate equal access
  • to identify and discuss areas where students may have challenges with social and communication skills and provide strategies to address those challenges
  • to define the different areas of staff responsibility, so that students know who they can approach about different issues
  • to increase students' ability to cope independently at university
  • to raise awareness of autism.

Our service

The support we offer is flexible and may be increased at times of change or potential stress, such as before exams or on field trips. Each student's requirements are unique and we suggest that the student themselves, or a representative, contact us to discuss what support they require and whether our service is suitable.
Prior to support commencing a member of our team will meet with you to discuss your needs and objectives.

We will carry out an assessment from which we will create a support design detailing how we intend to support you. You will then be able to review and amend this document and confirm you are happy to commence with the support as outlined.

How to pay for this support

Our student support service is funded by Disability Student Allowance (DSA). This must be in place before we can offer our service, unless funding is available from other sources. Specialist mentoring costs £58.80 per hour, and study assistant support costs £30 per hour. All rates are inclusive of VAT.

As we are funded through DSA, our main aims are to make sure everyone involved with you has an understanding of autism, and that you're clear about the work you must do in order to complete your course.

As all students' needs are different we suggest that you, or a representative, contact us to talk about what support is available and if our service can meet your needs.

Our team

Our motivated team of staff have the skills and knowledge to best help students realise their potential. They continue their training in autism spectrum disorders throughout their career. All our staff have enhanced DBS checks.

How to access our support

Our student support service is usually funded by Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA), although other funding streams may also be accepted. Funding must be in place before we can offer our service, so contact the disability adviser at your place of study for help with applications for funding.