Posted on 16th September 2015

Students with Autism in the Polish Higher Education System

During the second half of 2014 we conducted research across the Autism&Uni partner countries. We used a number of different questionnaires, each targeting a different group of people including students, parents, teachers and universities. The general aim of the research was to map the needs and expectations of autistic students and HE applicants. The research revealed highly diverse situations among the partner countries. In this blog entry, we have a closer look at the situation in Poland.

The mapping of Polish educational institutions and associations that support autistic people showed that there is no regular and institutional support service especially dedicated to autistic students and candidates for HE. The institutional support that is provided in every Polish university and college covers disabled students generally. There is no specific path dedicated to autistic students.

Students who receive a formal diagnostic statement – official proof of the disability – may apply for support from the university’s ombudsman for people with disabilities. Therefore, the quality of the support depends heavily on the professional qualifications and personal competence of that ombudsman (or other person in charge of students with disabilities). This can present a bottleneck for effective support.

A further problem is the lack of specific professional training for university staff to effectively help autistic students. The majority of the professional organizations that were mapped emphasized a crucial need to design methods and procedures to provide support dedicated to autistic students. Therefore, it appears that participation in the Autism&Uni project will offer a great opportunity to propose effective and practical tools which can be adopted by professionals.

Our Best Practice Guide, to be published in early 2016, will do just that.

Text by:
Daria Modrzejewska
University of Humanities and Economic
?ód?, Poland

(Image by Halibutt GFDL via Wikimedia Commons)