Life on the Autism spectrum

Autism & going to college or university

Many people we talked with had been to university or college of further education, or were planning to go into further education. Some people had gone to colleges of further education to do NVQ courses in administration, mechanics or caring. Some were unsuccessful because of sensory sensitivities or anxiety problems, particularly on placements. One woman, for example, could not speak on the phone if other people were in the room so she could not complete her work placement. 
“The placement at the council was hell for me”
Alex was sent on various college courses by social workers after leaving school a couple of years earlier with GCSEs and A levels. She found the courses were aimed towards people with learning difficulties and so the academic level was below her ability but in other areas, other students did much better than her.
A few people had graduated from university with degrees in Accountancy, English literature and Science Communication. They had mixed feelings about their experiences.

Some lived at home during the course and didn’t socialise much, while others experienced living with other students, again with mixed feelings. Some people were currently at university. A few had found university too difficult to manage and left without graduating. Two people were preparing to go to university and they discussed the support they had been offered through the disabled student support services at the universities. Christopher hoped to do some A levels and eventually go to university.
“University allowed me to read things I’m interested in”
Some people had positive experiences at college or university. They found college or university easier than school because they were studying subjects they liked. A few people also found students more understanding than those at school and it was easier to avoid people they didn’t really get on with.

Donate to

Last reviewed July 2016.
Last updated November 2010.


Please use the form below to tell us what you think of the site. We’d love to hear about how we’ve helped you, how we could improve or if you have found something that’s broken on the site. We are a small team but will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice. If you are affected by any of the issues covered on this website and need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact The Samaritans or your Doctor.

Make a Donation to

Find out more about how you can help us.

Send to a friend

Simply fill out this form and we'll send them an email