Experiences of University Life for Students with Asperger's Syndrome: a comparative study between Spain and England

S. Casement, C. Carpio, Rachel Forrester-Jones

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Research has consistently shown that young people with Asperger?s Syndrome (AS) are likely to experience increased anxiety during new social situations; yet, studies have been regionally and culturally bound. The aim of this study was to explore how higher education students with AS experienced attending university in two European countries: the UK and Spain. The objective was to find out if experiences differed between the two countries in relation to contrasting support arrangements and what kinds of interventions might aid students? social well-being at university, an important learning outcome for future practice. This small-scale comparative exploratory study incorporated life-history interviews with nine students with AS. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Four superordinate themes significant to both groups of students in Spain and the UK emerged from the data: social relationships, ?special interests?, ?environment? and ?support mechanisms?. Students with AS need and want clear, unambiguous and structured information from academics; support to get to know others in ?small special interest groups?; more designated ?quiet zones? across campuses; and above all, a move away from ableist notions of AS. To our knowledge, this is the only Spanish?UK comparative study of university students with AS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-89
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Inclusive Education
Issue number1
Early online date26 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 May 2016


  • Asperger?s Syndrome, higher education, student experiences, Spain, England


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