Thursday 29 September 2016

Practical and social challenges

Published 20/01/2016 | 02:30

Sean Leaney (22) is a student with Asperger's syndrome. While attending Scoil Caitriona, Glasnevin, Dublin, he was provided with a Special Needs Assistant.

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When Sean began a B Sc in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences in DCU, the Disability and Learning Service gave him a laptop, and introduced him to the Unilink support service, which he visited regularly during his first year.

Now in his final year, Sean found the Disability and Learning Service's policy of interacting with students and not their parents problematic.

However, the service has also supported him through hard times.

"In my first lab of third year, I kept making mistakes and I got angry with myself. I was afraid I would break something.

"Because of that, the disability service was concerned for my safety and said I had to go see a counsellor before it could confirm I was ready to return to the lab.

"I was out of the lab for a couple of weeks but I managed to catch up and I passed third year.

"I'm glad the disability service was there to help me manage it and to get back into the labs, because I really like the practical side of my course."

Sean says he is "really enjoying" his course, but the social side of college life has been more challenging.

"I don't really have any friends on my course. I went to a class night out but I left almost as soon as I got there - parties are not something I like."

He prefers spending time with the college clubs and societies, including the Tea Society, Games Society and Rock-Climbing Club.

"The societies made it a lot easier for me to make friends," he says.

Irish Independent

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