Sean and Workload

Sean, a second year Science student, explains the difficulties of completing coursework.

Photograph of Sean



How does Autism affect your study?

Before starting in College I knew I struggled around exams and stress in studying. After my first year studying science I failed two exams which was a blow to my confidence and started to question whether it was the course for me. Just before my repeat exams I found out I had depression and anxiety. It affected me a lot with my academic confidence, and if I was faced with tough assignments or exams I would procrastinate or put it off for fear of failing – but this only lead to more stress!

What other ways was your work affected?

Before arriving at Trinity College Dublin as a Computer Science student and even before my diagnosis of being on the Autistic Spectrum I was already aware of my difficulties in social encounters, especially in group work.

In conversations my “radar” is limited in picking up all the subtle messaging that we all give out and I can be too literal in my understanding, leading to confusion. Indeed it is this “literalness” I suspect is why I enjoy coding so much.

Another issue is my own personal shyness and apprehension especially with new people in so that it could be months before I feel even confident to say someone’s name or with group work make even make a basic suggestion.

But with group work there are additional issues in my need for a stability and certainty. Without it I enter a familiar process from feeling highly stressed to weariness and finally to resignation and withdrawal from participating. How group work can cause this is by the group being leaderless, self-doubting or the task at hand being very unclear.


How did you cope with this?

Well then I was assigned a fantastic Occupational Therapist through the Disability Service. Through working with him I was able to pin-point what my stressors were and how to structure my day and life best for me, both in College and at home. As well as this I was given the option to do my exams in a separate exam centre which helped alleviate my nerves and anxiety around exams.

Steps that I have taken to address my group-work issues include contacting the Course Co-ordinator with my Disability Officer to explain the issues I face and in working with the Disability Service in developing these skills I will need after I leave college into the workplace.

Only in facing our difficulties can we hope to fix them.

Working with the OT had helped me learn more about myself and has set me up to better understand how to handle difficult situations once I leave College. It’s been a really rewarding experience!



Find out more about the student experience of studying in Trinity.