online learning

Posted on 28th October 2020

Studying remotely in times of social distancing

Harriet Cannon and Nicola Martin are experienced higher education disability practitioners. In the Spring of 2020, they co-ordinated the creation of guidance for autistic students on how to study remotely in times of social distancing. With universities moving more and more of their teaching online and a new lockdown just starting, this guidance is as important as ever.

Sudden large-scale unprecedented change is challenging for students and universities. In our experience, autistic students work best in environments which are predictable, and the same applies to most people.The COVID-19 pandemic threw predictability into disarray.

In response, the following guidance document was created by a group of practitioners who have a great deal of experience of working with autistic students . This guidance is informed by research which involved autistic students.

What does the guidance cover?

  • It provides a form of road map which can be used to make sense of services available while the university is not operating in the way it used to.
  • It gives practical assistance with studying during and after the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown.
  • It covers mental health and well-being considerations as well as guidance in navigating university systems, services and people to liaise with.
  • It also offers guidance on prioritising work, taking into account a healthy work-life balance.
  • Overall, it aims to diminish the stress and anxiety often associated with confusing and challenging situations.

Harriet Cannon is Disability Advisory Team Manager at the University of Leeds and runs a national mailing list for autism practitioners. Nicola Martin is Professor of Social Justice and Inclusive Education at Southbank University.

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