This post is in the Students category

ASD is alive and well in creative industries education. Allan is not the only ASD student in my own immediate circle – since then there has also been Harry, Janet, Michael, Frank and Susan, plus a few others with undiagnosed or sub-clinical traits.

As a teacher in a tertiary music and audio environment where collaborative and technology driven creative projects are common – theatre, composition, music and audio production, I observe students with heightened autistic traits on a regular basis. By this is meant that individual traits are heightened, rather than collections of traits that might attract a diagnosis. For example, a student might exhibit a strong local coherence and detail focus without the communication issues associated with Autistic Spectrum Disorders.  As has been continually pointed out in this dissertation, the traits exist on a spectrum and may be heightened temporarily through stress or other factors.  Students and others reading this text are therefore likely to have recognised at least some of the the experiences as being relevant to them at some times.

Tertiary educators in creative industries are frequently drawn from industry rather than education backgrounds. As such they are often unaware of student cognitive profiles and learning styles until they encounter them in the workplace or through their own efforts to become better teachers. This is certainly the experience of many of the academics with whom I work, and the description fits my own practice as well. Ironically perhaps, most students are also unaware of their learning styles and cognitive strengths and challenges unless they begin to struggle academically or socially, at which point a weakness may be identified by counselling staff. Students with diagnosed ASDs however, are in the position to capitalise on their particular cognitive profile because they have some knowledge of it prior to entering higher education.

In such cases, many universities and colleges have policies in place for responding to the needs of the “disability” – provided that students disclose it. While this represents challenges for teachers and institutions to adapt teaching methodologies, students with ASD and their support network are encouraged to take responsibility for understanding their strengths and weaknesses and advocating for assistance when it is warranted.

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