This section is about why a student may choose to disclose. As you read this section, keep in mind the following learning objectives:
Why a student may disclose
When to disclose
Below are the key points of this section. You should read the key points before reading the rest of the section.
|Disclosure is a personal decision. It is important to discuss what is best for your student with them. Keep in mind, the sooner your student discloses, the sooner they will receive the beneficial adjustments and accommodations.|
|The university is there to help your student and wants to see them succeed. It is important to encourage your student to communicate their needs with the disability/accessibility unit to ensure tailored support.|
Disclosure means informing the university about the student’s autism diagnosis. It is a dilemma that a lot of students with a disability or neuro-variation, including autism, must face.
On the one hand, students may prefer to keep such information private and confidential. On the other hand, universities are committed to creating an environment where diversity and difference are valued and respected, and can do this only if they are aware of the student’s differences.
Confidentiality is taken very seriously in the tertiary environment. Staff at university understand that they must seek the student’s permission before they can tell anyone else about the student’s differences/ diagnosis. For example, the disability/accessibility support staff may want to inform the teaching staff to make sure that appropriate reasonable adjustments are put in place: but they should do so only if the student agrees. The student has the option not to disclose the actual autism diagnosis. The teaching staff would still be made informed about the reasonable adjustments the student may require, but not the diagnosis.
Disclosure is a personal choice, so your student is not obliged to disclose their disability. However, if your student chooses not to do so, staff at their university may not be able to meet their specific needs, as they will not know what these needs are. In addition, disclosing to the university may allow your student to participate in work-ready programs that are becoming more prevalent at universities. This may include an internship/work experience program, industry mentoring, resume/CV/interview preparation, or field visits to different job sites.
Read more about your student’s rights once disclosure has occurred.
Your student’s educators do not need to know about the students’ disability or medical condition if it does not impact on their learning.
WHEN TO DISCLOSE?
If your student needs help while studying in university, it is important that they disclose as soon as possible. Here are some ways to disclose:
If your student has not yet started their tertiary studies or has not enrolled: most universities ask about the student’s disability on the enrolment form. Your student can specify on the form that they have a disability and specify the condition, for example autism, Asperger’s Disorder, etc. Also, before classes begin, encourage your student to contact the disability/accessibility support unit because this will increase the chances that adjustments will be in place when classes start.
If your student has already enrolled in a university course and wants to get additional support: the student can speak to a teacher or lecturer, or contact the disability/accessibility unit about their autism diagnosis. In many cases, teaching staff cannot make reasonable adjustments until the student has disclosed the condition to the disability/accessibility unit.
If appropriate, you might also consider offering to accompany your student when he or she visits the disability/accessibility unit to disclose the condition.
Disability/accessibility support services
Every university should have some type of student support office/ team. Each university and institute in Victoria employs at least one person in the role of disability/accessibility support. The support staff works closely with students, and the students’ teachers, to determine the appropriate reasonable adjustments to allow the students to fully participate in their studies. Please note that for your student to receive reasonable adjustments and accommodations, disclosure at university requires documentation of your student’s diagnosis. Your student should bring whatever documentation they had in high school or any medical documentation they might have. For more information about this, you should contact the disability/accessibility support unit at the university to find out more about the process and what exactly is required.
You have completed the “Disclosure” section.
You should now know why a student may choose to disclose and when a student should disclose. If you feel you need a recap of the information, revisit the learning objectives and key points from the beginning of the section.
End of “Disclosure” section.