You may remember my post from last year on autism and the school environment. That turned out to be helpful for quite a few people so I thought I'd write about autism and university; the relationship between them and my experiences. Let's begin...

autism and university

I moved to University feeling anxious and overwhelmed, but I think that is a common feeling for many students as after all, University is a completely different experience to anything that I've been through before. Despite only being at University for a year so far, I have learned so much about myself and other people. Just to clarify, this isn't some sort of self revelation post, this is me realising that hey, a lot of people really don't like me but I can live with that.

Something that I've always found particularly difficult is meeting new people and making friends. The people I've known for years are aware of me, how anxious I get and how I'm not rude at all but usually, I'm just feeling incredibly awkward and nervous. Whereas, new people do not give me enough time to show who I actually am before judging me and deciding that they do not like me just because I'm a little bit different to them. It sucks. Luckily, I've met a few lovely people during my first year who are now my closest friends but I've also come across some people who have made me feel incredibly awful and generally self loathing. It's hard to like yourself when people constantly make you feel bad for who you are.

At the end of the day, I don't go out and get drunk, I don't have the ability to engage in loads of societies and speak to new people in lectures, it's just not something I can do but I'm proud of what I can do. I've pushed myself to take part in things I never thought I'd be able to do and I have really improved because hey, 15 years ago, I was pretty much mute and now I'm living in a different city by myself - that's something to be proud of. I'm aware of myself and what I can do and while I spend some days feeling bad that I can't do things like other people, I'm slowly learning that that's ok and if people aren't happy with me how I am, they aren't friends. However, for people that don't like me, they do have an awful lot to say about my life. Darling, I could miss 2 or 200 lectures, it's not for you to comment on xo

Moving on to one of the main things that I struggle with; public speaking. Luckily, this is not something I had to encounter in first year but presentations are a part of my course in second and third year and this is already making me incredibly anxious. One thing I will say is that for my University at least, the support services are so much better than the ones I experienced at secondary school and sixth form. For once, I do feel as though these people understand what I need and they are trying to do what's best for me. I do want to push myself to be able to take part in presentations and group projects but I just don't think I'm going to be able to do that. Unfortunately, even though I know that it's nobodys business, I still worry what people think. Oh, the joys of anxiety. However, other people who experience similar issues to me have said that being in a situation where they have to engage in public speaking has helped them to gain confidence so, I think that's great. You have a lot more freedom at University and that is something that is so much better than at school and sixth form.

Freedom for many students also means moving out and living in student accommodation or shared housing. For many, this is the best thing for them; they get to make their own rules and control what they do. While I love this aspect of living by myself, I hate how messy a lot of people are; that really messes with my sensory issues. As I've probably made quite clear before, my sensory issues are one of the main parts of autism that really messes with me. The slightest bit of mess can make me feel sick and panicky and it prevents me from eating anything that would be thought of as 'normal' in a student diet. So, not only does this make my food shopping a lot more expensive, it also leaves me unable to enter the kitchen the majority of the time. In my second flat during first year, people were incapable of emptying the bin and the smell was horrific, there were stains all over the sides and even the sink was filthy - it was driving me insane and lead me to spending a lot of the final term at home. I'm lucky in the respect that I am only an hour train ride away from my home town because I think I would be feeling a lot worse now if I had to be stuck there every time I had a sensory meltdown.

What do you think of the University environment? Let me know!