Preparing for University

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Preparing for University

Postby Helen » Mon Oct 01, 2007 10:56 am

Hi all,

I am after some advice, please. Matt is hoping to go to university next year, Oct 2008. I know many of you are at university, so I am just doing a little prep, so we can give Matt as much support over the coming months, to help him prepare for this change to his life, as much as possible. What I really need is for anyone who has any advice, especially in hindsight, to share it here.

What kind of things did you do to prepare for life away from home and what skills did you learn or wish you had learnt before you went?

I have not packed any offspring off to Uni before, so this is new for me. I hope that with your help that I shall be able to help Matt prepare and make the transition as stress free as possible.

Any practical/emotional advice gratefully received.

Thanks,

Helen x



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Postby Steph » Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:37 pm

Hi! I went off to university in September 2005 and am now in my third and final year although I am thinking of doing a Masters here as well. The first and foremost thing is to make sure you apply for Disabled Students Allowance as this pays for academic and personal support-the people who do the assessment will decide the level of need and then recommend the equipment or support he will be entitled to. My DSA took eight weeks to come through and, from what I've heard from friends of mine also in receipt of DSA, this seems usual so, to get it from September, it's best to apply in June/July so the support is there from the first day at uni.

My university is only an hour and 15 minutes drive from my house, slightly longer by train, and I find this is a security thing for me. If you envision him getting very upset and lost away from home, it might be best to look for a uni that is far enough away to encourage independence but close enough so that he can come home easily if he is in trouble or just wants to see Mum and Dad! This is, of course, dependent on the course he wants to do and which universities are best for his course but it's just a suggestion.

I would also advise applying for the quietest accommodation-at Kent, the Disability and Dyslexia Support Service are happy to give prospective students details of the best colleges to apply to with regards to noise, practicality of lacation etc and I'm sure most universities will be willing to do this also.

Make sure the university has a good Disability Support Unit or whatever variation they use-this will be invaluable if he ever runs into difficulties or just needs some reassurance!

I would also recommend applying for an on campus university rather than one where the accommodation is halfway across town-I looked round Portsmouth and began to think it maybe wasn't such a good idea when we all climbed into a coach that took us on a 20 minute journey to one lone tower block in the middle of a field (literally!)-this was apparantly one of the best and closest accommodation blocks-it was then that I began to think about another place!

As for the skills, my mum taught me how to use the washing machines in my halls of residence on my first day there and this was very helpful to me. Also teaching how to clean and prepare food IF POSSIBLE-for me, sadly, despite numerous efforts, preparing food does not come easily to me at all but I have no trouble cleaning-my dyspraxia does not extend to having trouble organising my room, for some reason.

Hope that helps a bit. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask-it's the least I can do after you helped me so much with the DLA form :D
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Postby Helen » Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:31 am

Many thanks for taking the time to reply to my post Steph and for the useful advice.

Like you Matt has problems preparing and cooking meals and that is something we have really been working on. Not sure we shall have solved this by next year but he does a mean jacket potato! :D

I have investigated the Disabled Students Allowance and it seems Matt will need a more recent diagnostic assessment before our LEA will refer him for assessment for the allowance. He has not be assessed since his diagnosis 7 years ago. Did anyone have to arrange this?

He has recently been turned down for an assessment for Aspergers by our local mental health team, even though the head of learning support at college advised that he ask for a referral via his GP, as she feels he does have Apsergers, in addition to dyspraxia. His GP did refer him but they stated they did not have the resources to give his case and suggested a private assessment. So I am assuming in order to gain an up to date diagnostic assessment in preparation for applying for Disabled student's allowance, Matt will need to have a private assessment?

Would anyone know where we start seeking a reputable psychologist?

Matt wants to study a BA in Television Production at Middlesex University's Trent Park campus. This is just an hour away from us by car and less from his Nan's! I agree with you Steph that distance has to be a factor. It will be reassuring for Matt (and for me) to know that we can get to him quickly if need be.

Anyway, thanks again for your help. Much appreciated!

Helen xx
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Postby Steph » Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:06 pm

That seems strange that he needs a more recent assessment before they will assess him for DSA-before I applied, my last diagnostic assessment was at the age of 11 and my authority still accepted my claim-they then sent out a list of assessment centres and I went to one in London where they held the assessment-if they do require a more up to date assessment, perhaps you could ask your sons learning support teacher whether they know any reputable psychologists who are willing to reassess him. I really don't know-sorry :( Best of luck!
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Postby Thirteen-thirty-seven » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:09 pm

I have only been at University three days, so I'm no exactly an expert, but I'll be happy to givehim advice about applications. Where does he want to go?
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Postby Steph » Wed Oct 03, 2007 10:10 pm

How's Oxford, Esther? Hope you're settling in well!
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Postby Thirteen-thirty-seven » Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:38 pm

It is insanely busy but the people are friendly and my tutorsare really nice. I have been lost a few times and lockedmy keys in my room once. I have also lost an important timetabe. :( Despte that, I am really happy. I have made friends with a girl who lives accross the hall.
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Postby Steph » Thu Oct 04, 2007 2:02 pm

That's great that you've made friends already-that bodes well for the future! Don't worry about losing things-I'm sure the support centre will be happy to help you out if you ever get stuck. I had a bad experience today-I needed to go to a NHS careers meeting but because I was so late, they had locked the door to the lecture theatre where it was being held and so I couldn't get in! :(
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Postby parnassus » Thu Oct 04, 2007 3:00 pm

Helen wrote:Many thanks for taking the time to reply to my post Steph and for the useful advice.

Like you Matt has problems preparing and cooking meals and that is something we have really been working on. Not sure we shall have solved this by next year but he does a mean jacket potato! :D

I have investigated the Disabled Students Allowance and it seems Matt will need a more recent diagnostic assessment before our LEA will refer him for assessment for the allowance. He has not be assessed since his diagnosis 7 years ago. Did anyone have to arrange this?


I was reassessed a year before applying for DSA. It's better to organise it as soon as possible so that the interview with the DSA people can be set up before Matt starts at university. Esther left her reassessment quite late, which means that she's at Oxford now without any DSA support.

He has recently been turned down for an assessment for Aspergers by our local mental health team, even though the head of learning support at college advised that he ask for a referral via his GP, as she feels he does have Apsergers, in addition to dyspraxia. His GP did refer him but they stated they did not have the resources to give his case and suggested a private assessment. So I am assuming in order to gain an up to date diagnostic assessment in preparation for applying for Disabled student's allowance, Matt will need to have a private assessment? Would anyone know where we start seeking a reputable psychologist?


The British Psychological Society keeps a register of professionals, I think. There is also a list of diagnostic services on the National Autistic Society's website.

I was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder on top of my dyspraxia when I was seventeen. I'm also having another assessment soon, which has been requested by my GP. (This is to help me get the right support after uni.) It will be performed by the Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Syndrome Service. CLASS accepts referrals from all over the country, and the assessments are free, but you do have to be over eighteen. I think Matt is seventeen now, but I'm not totally sure - time has gone by so quickly since I joined Matt's Hideout. You could ask your GP to refer him to CLASS for an assessment as soon as he's eighteen, if you're unable to find a good psychologist closer to home. However, CLASS insists on having in-depth interviews with the parents as well, so you and Darren will have to be prepared for a ream of questions about Matt's childhood and development if you go here.

Good luck,
Vicky
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Postby Steph » Thu Oct 04, 2007 11:14 pm

Actually, looking back, I did have recent documentation when I went for my DSA assessment-I completely forgot about that!!!!
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Postby C » Tue Oct 09, 2007 9:17 pm

Hi Helen

It's nice to hear from you and to hear about what Matt is up to!

I have just started my second year at University, although I live out myself (it's only a twenty-minute drive away). I would definitely reccomend going somewhere as nearby as possible. Obviously he should be interested in the course as well (sounds obvious but some students don't really see this as important!) For me, I can concentrate really well at things I am interested in; that's why I'm doing so well.

I had to have an up-to-date diagnostic assessment carried out as well but I was unable to get this before I went to the Uni - I asked my GP and he said it was down to the disability support centre at the college I was at but then they said it was down to my GP. As I was still living at home, this was not as urgent as it would have been for some other people who live out. Once I got to the University, there gave me a free assessment and I now get support.

I am interested that Matt may have aspergers as well as dyspraxia. The two so often seem to occur together...

By the way, sorry if this didn't make a lot of sense or is full of errors. I am very tired (long day) and plan on going to bed soon!
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