Posted on 06th October 2015

Support and Challenges in the Finnish Higher Education system – A student’s voice

During the research phase of the Autism&Uni project we received survey responses from nearly 300 people, systematically reviewed the available literature and spoke to numerous higher education students on the autism spectrum in order to learn from their experiences.
One of the students who has told us her story is Heidi Lindholm (image above), currently studying Nordic Literature at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Alongside her studies, she has for several years been active in a national association for autistic adults, engaging in public speaking and running a peer group focusing on art and culture.

The challenges that Heidi has faced in the university environment illustrate many of the themes that came up repeatedly in the Autism&Uni questionnaire survey. To start with, diagnosis and services do not always come before entry into HE, or even in the first months of study.

I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in my third study year. At first, I did not understand that this had to do with more than just my difficulties with social interaction.
Somehow I knew that I needed extra time to complete the assignments, but because there was so much to do it was not always possible to arrange that extra time. It got to a point where I would even spend nights at the University. I didn’t know how to structure my schedule properly, because I didn’t even know I had…

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