Too often, autistic students and those with mental health needs struggle with higher education, often dropping out of courses because they do not receive the informed support that would help them to succeed. This much-needed manual addresses the provision of effective support via mentoring in order to build students' confidence and enable them to take control of their lives. Its aim is to help students maximise the opportunity provided through the mentoring and academic study skills hours available to them. In addition, the manual and the tools it contains provides a starting point for all mentors and support staff to help students navigate their way through what can be a very confusing, anxious and challenging time by providing key focal points for discussion and related activities.
Beautifully illustrated, this unique publication is written for those with a neurodivergent perspective, and brings together ideas and activities tried and tested among an array of students. It encourages students to take control of mentoring and study skills sessions by signposting them to topics which they wish to address, while also providing a useful framework and resources for mentor and tutors in higher education. It includes clear information about what constitutes mentoring, as well as coverage of academic study skills, highlighting key points for attention and discussion. In particular, the manual addresses specific issues raised by many autistic individuals and those with mental health needs, and through its activities and resources, it provides a toolkit of coping strategies that can be tailored to individuals. Finally, it includes elements of independent living with which many individuals struggle, and which has been raised in various forms by students with whom the author has worked.
What a fantastic resource this is for those interested in how to support autistic students and for autistic students wanting excellent information around how to navigate University. Susy’s writing may very well prove, for some, to make the difference between succeeding at university and not. A superb book which should be read by anyone at university involved with autistic students, and stocked by all universities so it’s available for their autistic students. Dr Luke Beardon, Senior Lecturer in Autism, Sheffield Hallam University
Getting the most out of university life and study can be a challenge for many students. It is also a challenge for universities in terms of providing accessibility and flexibility that takes account of diversity within the student group. Based on her years of insider experience supporting autistic students, Susy Ridout provides a handbook that is equally useful for students and those providing mentorship or support. It combines the everyday and the practical with a sophisticated theoretical underpinning that recognises the inter-related issues of neurodiversity and intersectionality. This challenges the more traditional disability paradigm in which autism (and by implication) autistic people are seen as a problem, and solutions are seen in terms of autistic people having to accommodate to and fit in with social, sensory and learning environments which are profoundly unsuitable and oppressive. Professor Jerry Tew, Mental Health and Social Work, Director of Family Potential Research Centre and Head of Education, School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham