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I failed university after very little autistic support is there anything I can do?

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This is very difficult for me to explain both because of my diagnosis and how painful it still feels even three years later.

It was my first time ever away from home and I made sure to contact my university and college about my diagnosis and problems I might face.

I heard nothing from the disability support at all and only received an email from my college to say that I’d not have to share a room.

The whole college experience was horrendous:


My room was in one of the busiest and most noisy parts of the whole college there was constant noise surrounding me I couldn’t sleep, I was stressed all the time. The college did nothing to help I kept asking them to stop the person above me jumping on her floor and partying all night and the college would keep promising to do so but never did. Then there was the extreme anxiety when people would knock on my door asking for donations or to sign up to certain things.


I never made any friends and some people found it very funny to torment me it made leaving my room and going to meals even harder than it was already. I do struggle with some issues with food and having to eat in a canteen with hundreds of other people made me constantly physically and mentally sick. It was made worse by the college occasionally allowing societies and groups to do events and gimmicks at meal time like a week when you could pay to have someone soaked with water balloons or super soakers or when societies would run in screaming, making noise and becoming physically close.


It was such a horrible time I struggled to leave my room in case I’d be bullied or become anxious but even in my room, I felt so lonely and uneasy with the noise and people knocking on my door. I barely slept and ate and felt extremely stressed the entire time. I did speak to the college about the situation but they told me it was too late to change rooms and they kept saying they’d make the person above me quiet but it never changed anything.


As for the course I, really do love my subject but I found the way they did was very hard for me. We’d have small group exercises in which I’d always be put on the spot or made fun of by the other students. It made me so anxious I wasn’t always able to go. Additionally, there just wasn’t the support from the disabled support at the university they kept moving and the one contact I had there stopped answering my emails and when, after two months, I built up the courage to call the office and ask what was going on I was told she left out of the blue. Then there were the note takers I found that all the notes were extremely badly done and when the office agreed they were illegible they typed them up but these were just as bad so it meant I was without notes for my classes.


So, after just about passing my first year after the bullying, academic and college struggles. I was severely underweight, sickly and had started anti-depressants. I should have given up there and then but I felt like I’d be letting down my parents not to continue my degree even though they were concerned with how sick I looked on my return.

I ended up repeating my second year and so after three years I just couldn’t take it anymore and I quit. I was so ashamed that I couldn’t do it because I liked the subject but the other issues were just insurmountable to me. So, I left with huge amounts of student debt, in a deep depression that I am only now just about beating and the feeling of having wasted my life.


I know that the university is not responsible for how I reacted to university life or my autism but they failed to provide me any support at all. Do I have any rights to ask them to pay me back at least some of my fees or to ask for an explanation or even an apology?


Thank you for reading


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First of all, sorry to hear that university has been such a struggle for you. University accommodation is notoriously noisy.


Any kind of response from the university would most likely be from using their complaints process. I think it unlikely that you would receive and reimbursement of fees. You should receive some kind of response if you were to make an official complaint, but that would not definitely include an apology.


I am not sure how long ago you left the university. If you have stopped attending, yet are still officially registered, you could get some guidance around complaining from the student support department of the students' union (but it may have a different name, as each students' union varies). Another option would be to contact Citizens' Advice or an advocacy service to help you if you want to complain.


You would be wise to consider whether it is worth complaining. If you are still finding life difficult now you could find that complaining takes up what little energy you have and may not result in a response that you are satisfied with.


Stopping university this time sounds like a wide decision for the sake of your health. Apart from anything, the disability service sounds disorganised. I wonder if the staff member who left suddenly couldn't cope with the place because it was not running efficiently.


If you ever decide to study again, it could be that distance learning is better for you, or just that another university organises their teaching in a way that suits you better. Living at home, or finding your own place rather than sharing with students (especially first years) would give you more control over your home environment and meals. Some universities have funding to help mature students.


All the best.

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I would suggest looking into Educational and Health Care Plans. They go up to age 25. It should details all the difficulties of SEN a person has - including health issues such as anxiety and depession - and should detail exactly how each of those needs would be met.


For example a dictaphone for recording lectures.

Any additional study time opportunities with lecturers.

Living accommodation

Maybe taking the degree over a longer period?


I would also suggest getting in touch with all the Universities that run the course you are interested in. Then get a breakdown of what the course actually entails - because that can be very different from place to place.


Find out if there is any Autism specific support and how that works and who runs it and what you can expect from them in terms of weekly contact to ensure everything is still on track.


Help with identifying any groups or societies that maybe enjoyable for you.


Any way of other autistic or Aspergers students meeting up etc.

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