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Int J Rehabil Res. 2012 Mar;35(1):54-61. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e32834f4d3b.

Support to students with Asperger syndrome in higher education--the perspectives of three relatives and three coordinators.

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  • 1Jonkoping University School of Education and Communication, Jonkoping, Sweden.


An increasing number of students with disabilities attend institutes of higher education (HE). Among this group are persons with Asperger syndrome (AS). Persons with AS have a cognitive impairment that can interfere with their studies and the ability to describe their needs and ask for support. This study deals with an assessment of the support services for students with AS from the perspectives of the students' relatives and the students' service providers at the universities they attend. The aim of this study was to investigate (a) earlier experiences and events in relation to the transition of students with AS to higher education, according to the relatives' perceptions of how these experiences and events affect university studies; and (b) the perceptions of both the relatives of students with AS and the coordinators for students with disabilities with respect to the study environment and support for students with AS. The approach is a case study methodology involving relatives and university coordinators for three students with AS. The coordinators' way of working with students with disabilities is primarily based on the coordinators' own ideas. No specific organizational routines exist for students with AS. The results reveal that the needs of students with AS have to be made explicit and must be incorporated into the support system. Relatives lack information about the situation and opportunities to engage in collaboration. Universities must adapt the support system to the cognitive impairments experienced by AS students and the difficulties of their everyday lives. The relatives of students with AS may play the central role in supporting the students and in understanding their impairment.

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