The Educational Experience – Q&A

Children taking a test
900 600 Paul Louden

Q: What was college like for you?


I tried to go to college a couple times. Eventually, I stopped going to classes most of the time. The second college I went to had an office for students with disabilities. They treated me pretty poorly. I went in the first time and had an interview. Then, I went in the second time and got yelled at for how I treated the person.


I think they confused me with someone else, because the first time I was there with my mom. Neither she nor I thought that I’d done anything unusual. That gave me a sour taste from the start.


Q: What were some big issues you had with college and your experience?


The big problem was that the only concession that they could offer me because of my autism was longer time for tests. That is not the kind of help that I need in any sense.


Typically, I go very quickly on tests. An hour test might be completed in fifteen minutes. I rush through things and get it done. Often, what I needed was sort of more flexibility on when homework could be turned in. I needed knowledge of what the homework was, in advance, so that I could work on it early to get it done on time.


Overall, they didn’t really have any sort of understanding of autism. I was unable to handle college, in large part because of their lack of understanding. I think that for a lot of people on the spectrum, college is an option if they start off with the right experiences.


Q: What made school easiest for you? Do you remember an example?


The easiest and most enjoyable time I had learning was when I was in Indonesia and we had 1 math teacher for 4 grades.


The classes were all at the same time. The teacher would say, “You’re on chapter 7. You have to complete chapter 7-1 through 7-7 in the next 10 days. I’m going to give you a test at 10 days and by that point you have to have turned in all of these assignments.” It was very black and white.


I could turn the assignments in earlier if I wanted to, and take the test earlier, and go on to the next chapter. I could work at whatever pace I wanted. It was entirely self-taught. I would read the lessons; I would learn the things. If I had questions, I would go directly to the teacher.


If I didn’t have questions, I could just go onto the test. I was allowed to work absolutely at my own pace. It worked fantastic for me.


Thank you all for reading! If you have any additional questions, feel free to head on over to the “Ask Paul” section and shoot me a question.

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  • Marianne Daugherty

    I home-schooled my children who had very different learning styles. Home-schooling may have the flexibility needed for autistic children in 1-12 grades. Maybe online college or apprenticeships could be options for post-secondary education.

    Thank you for sharing from your first-hand perspective.

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