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I have high functioning autism / aspergers syndrome comorbid with ADHD.

During highschool I went undiagnosed, but always suspected I was autistic. I had a few Dr's comment but I didn't really agree with them at that time.

Fast forward now, I got my psychiatric diagnosis, and also found out that I had ADHD. I don't care about being autistic, but finding out I had ADHD and treating it is what really impacted my life the most.

I can conduct myself well socially but have significant difficulties in particular social situations in specific contexts -- ones that I do not have any experience. In addition, I learn in very specific ways and methods.

I'm hesitant to inform my school about this because I don't really consider it a disability. I don't really care that I'm socially clueless (I prefer to be alone most of the time anyway) and my ADHD is being treated and working well so far. I have a few sensory issues and routines but they are under control. My emotional regulation is fine. I'm very "anal" at particular things.

My degree somewhat aligns with my special interests, and I've learnt to better manage doing things I don't like (which was legitimately impossible without my ADHD medication).

Country: Australia, but will appreciate other perspectives

Age: 19, M

  • I do not have ADHD .I am supposed to be a " Functional Autistic " whatever that clinical term means .I went through the University system as a normal person .I did fail some stuff that others found easy .I felt that it was better to pass normally albeit specialising in repeating some courses.I felt that if I had got the Profs to make allowances for me it would have meant earlier graduation but it would have devalued things .Now that I am middle aged I realise that this was the best approach. for me .If you can pass normally then it is best that you do . – Autistic Feb 4 '17 at 0:14
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    @Autistic That's what I plan on doing unless I find myself in a negative situation. – silenceislife Feb 4 '17 at 0:17
  • Good ! in the good old bad old days you had Exams and there were candidate numbers . Sample final Exam scripts from Commonwealth countries like Aussie , NZ ,Kenya etc went by boat to britian . This is why graduation was in may and not say december .This meant that the quality of degrees was more uniform .So the people marking your exam questions dont know if you are Autistic or anything else for that matter . – Autistic Feb 4 '17 at 0:28
  • Well, whether you think it's a disability is irrelevant, because it's important information for the school to have. I don't ask for and receive this kind of information because I think the student won't be as capable and needs some kind of crutch; I get it because that's part of who they are and I want to teach that person, and I need to know what will allow or prevent me doing that job effectively. – Nij Feb 4 '17 at 4:15
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If you are in the U.S., and if you are referring to post-high-school education, there is a sort of bifurcation, by law and custom: there's no point in mentioning any sort of trouble unless you have registered with "disability services" (or equivalent), who will negotiate on your behalf with various departments for reasonable/purposeful "accommodation" (about extra time for exams, or quiet rooms for exams, etc)

In that context (again, in current U.S. college or university) individual instructors are explicitly not to make any judgements about disability issues, about accommodations, etc. After all, they/we are not experts in understanding such things.

Similarly, (other) chronic medical conditions (since the previous is biochemistry, presumably) are not within the purview of instructors. E.g., the side effects of anorexia or bulimia can be occasionally debilitating. Despite being able to make inferences, I do not want to intrude in peoples' private lives, so I do not ask for any sort of detailed explanation for anything. "Medical issue" (as reason for absence or "incomplete") is more than enough.

It is unfortunately true that the "immediacy" of most classroom/exam situations (such as demands for "class participation") are biased against shy or nervous or ... people. The typical rationalization for this is that it is often unhelpful "out in the world" to be shy or nervous or ... so to operate in a way that penalizes that is merely a presagement of what is to come? (Um, wait, don't people pay tuition, not to be filtered only, but to be educated and assisted in that education? Nevermind.)

You might make a more informal remark, as pseudo-apology-in-advance, explaining possibly unusual behavior or reactions as due to ... whatever you'd care to say... rather than a negative-critical reaction to whatever's happening in class. But something more on the order of "I have some personal issues that may cause me to behave quirkily at some points, and I don't want you (the instructor) to think that it's at all a reaction against what's going on, it's just me". Or to your taste. No reason to give more details to any reasonably sophisticated college/university instructor in the U.S. (Of course, some are not sophisticated, and further, often themselves having issues that make such sophistication difficult, sadly-ironically.)

A bit ambiguous answer, but reflecting the legalities and intentions of current U.S. stuff, I think.

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    If "tertiary education" = undergrad, I've seen a similar situation in the UK. Eligible students would need to register somehow with the accessibility office. Then, the office would inform departments, which special arrangements are required. E.g., some students would be given extra time for tests. Overall, I think it makes sense to contact the appropriate office (accessibility office, disability office or whatever it is called) and register if you are eligible. Even if you don't need any assistance now, in the future something may arise. – Alexey B. Feb 4 '17 at 0:10
  • I followed you pretty well until you started using the ellipses. At first they seemed to stand in for "some other neurological difference," but then they seemed to branch off toward something else, or some other things, I wasn't really sure. Could you do some editing, starting approximately at "penalizes... presagement"? – aparente001 Feb 6 '17 at 3:50
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This is from U.S. experience:

I have Asperger's Syndrome (I refuse to use the DSV-5 revision of Autism Spectrum Disorder) along with Bipolar Depression.

The way I have been going about things has been to work things on my own as long as possible, but I am registered with my campus's Disability Support Services office, just in case.

I have only needed to use the support services in a few situations.

I do tell my professors that I have A.S.(mainly due to the fact I do not hide anything), and that at times I may intensely focus on one task and lose track of what is going on in the class, and may need redirection. Some are understanding of this, some are not. This is where the support services comes in.

Personally, I advise letting instructors know about that which may hinder your ability to fully learn what is being taught. There are certain caveats however.

You need to get a feel for the general attitudes of your professors, and of the departments you are in. This will help you in determining how to broach and explain the topic. And to know if explaining your disabilities will end in a positive or negative outcome.

Here in the USA, even though we have our Americans with Disabilities act, and mental disabilities are recognized, we still have intelligent individuals who do not view mental disabilities as true disabilities. (Have run into a few professors with this mindset)

Good luck with things. I wasn't diagnosed as A.S. until my Junior year in High School 2001 at age 17. 34 now, and I still feel as if I am socially at the level of a 12 year old, but intellectually where I should be. Still working on it though lol.

  • I liked what you said about "just in case." Sounds sensible! – aparente001 Feb 6 '17 at 3:52
  • @aparente001 I also have dysgraphia, which is making my Japanese 1 course somewhat difficult, and I am wishing I had requested help for the course at the start of the semester.. Hiragana/Katakana are so much fun sarcasm to write/draw when you cannot make a straight line to save your life. Just another thing I need to work on, asking for help when I need it, and to stop being so stubborn. – NZKshatriya Feb 6 '17 at 4:13
  • It's never too late! – aparente001 Feb 6 '17 at 4:18
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It's a very personal decision. Perhaps that is why I see two close votes at this time. (It might be helpful to edit the question and focus more on what the pros and cons might be.)

In this day and age, I personally don't see any cons.

Possible pros:

  • Medication effectiveness sometimes varies over time, and it can be hard to predict when and what sort of changes may occur.

  • Establishing eligibility while things are going well could prevent possible delays in supports being provided, if the need were to arise.

  • If a need were to arise, it would be easier to get supports if one were already familiar with the procedures.

  • For some people with neurological differences, it is liberating and empowering to bring the differences clearly out into the open. (Analogous to "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud.") However, this point is especially individual. Not everyone will feel this freeing effect.

  • Sometimes it's hard, especially with a new diagnosis, to know what supports will be helpful, and how much difference they can make. Figuring this out has been, for my son at least, an ongoing process.

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Many faculty will recognize ADHD and autism. Some of them will also have ADHD and/or autism. I've worked with faculty with these diagnoses.

It sounds like your concern is that people will try to "fix" you, and you don't feel broken. In this case, your best option is to be open about your diagnosis and feelings, rather than leaving people guessing about what you want and need. Keep in mind that it's normal for faculty to help students, without regard for their disability status.

  • At the many faculty with ADHD/Autism....I can attest to that. After bouncing around from psychologist/psychiatrist for over two decades, you begin to be able to figure other people out as well. I have had a few professors that I swear are somewhere on the spectrum near Asperger's (I will continue to use that term even if the DSM does not) – NZKshatriya Feb 6 '17 at 14:10

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