10 Study Tips
for College Freshmen with ASD

Studying isn't easy for any student, but it poses unique challenges for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including Asperger Syndrome. If you have ASD, these ten tips are designed to help you thrive in college using a successful study regimen. Every person is unique, so use the tips that work best for you.

1) Create an Academic Timetable – While it's often impossible to determine ahead of time how much weekly studying you will be required to do, it's likely that you'll have the same number of lecture and class hours every week. Creating a successful study schedule starts by outlining your academic timetable then planning your study time accordingly. While it's not possible to get a perfectly accurate assessment of how much studying you will need to do on a weekly basis, an academic timetable will provide you with a dependable outline for planning your daily studies.

2) Create a Non-Academic Timetable – Successful studying requires time, but scheduling time for studying isn't enough if your daily responsibilities are getting in the way. By scheduling more mundane tasks like doing laundry, eating, shopping, visiting with friends and family, and extracurricular activities, you will better be able to schedule blocks of uninterrupted time for studying.

3) Consider Where You Study – One of the main study goals for students with ASD is to eliminate distractions. Different people are distracted by different things, so it's important that you determine what stimulus distracts you most, and then develop your study plans accordingly. While some with ASD find that studying in their own room prevents them from being distracted, others find that the comfort of their "home" environment is a distraction unto itself.

You may find it's easier to study in a library setting. However, if the main room in the library is distracting, ask the support staff about smaller study areas or study rooms in the library. You will have to adjust your study schedule around the open hours of the library and find out if the study space you want to use needs to be reserved in advance.

4) Include Breaks During Your Study Time – Many students with ASD can become hyper-focused when studying. When that's the case it's important to take breaks every so often to get the most you're your study time. Try a timer or other tools to remind yourself to take breaks at certain intervals. Your break need not be too long - enough time to stretch, clear your mind, and refocus.

5) Use Feedback to Improve Your Results – While feedback sometimes sounds like negative comments, feedback, also known as "constructive criticism", is designed to help you. Rather than allowing yourself to feel discouraged, appreciate that you now know exactly how and where to make improvements that will help you to be successful in your class. If you're ever unsure about the intent of a professor's feedback ask them to clarify it for you.

6) Understand What's Most Important and Prioritize Accordingly – While scheduling study time is important, HOW and WHAT you study is even more vital to overall success. Prioritize your studying so that you address the most urgent materials first. A report that is quickly coming due is a higher priority than preparing for a lecture that is still two weeks away. Prioritizing does not come as easily for those with ASD so practice prioritizing to build this muscle.

7) Use Visual Tools – Visual tools like pictures, calendars, even objects, help students with ASD to better manage WHAT is going to happen, and WHEN it's going to happen. Visual aids can be a tremendous benefit when developing academic and non-academic timetables, and in scheduling the best times for studying.

8) Use Color Coding to Prioritize and Lists to Show what You're Accomplishing – Colors can be very helpful for persons with autism because it helps to delineate work into separate categories. More urgent study work can go into a red box, while work with plenty of time to finish is placed into a green box.

By creating lists that prioritize your workload, when the task is complete you can cross it off - an excellent way of reassuring yourself that you are accomplishing your goals.

9) Utilize Technology to Remember Your Schedule – Your computer, cell phone, and other technological gadgets are resources that can help you manage your study time more effectively. For example, send yourself messages via email or text that remind you when it's time to study for a class, take a break, or change your area of focus.

10) Create a Place for Your Finished Work – When you're finally done with your studying, it's important to make sure that your work isn't misplaced or lost. By creating specific places for your finished work, you ensure that you won't be searching for it when it's time to turn it in. You may find that color coding these places is helpful.

Studying is a challenge for every student. The fact that you are reading this article shows a high level of commitment to excelling in college. If you have ASD, you may find it comforting to know that it takes time for every student to discover how to study effectively - from organizing their time and materials to finding the most effective environment. Use these tips to make the most of your study time and show the world how capable you really are.

If have ASD, are or will soon be a high school graduate, and are interested in attending Seattle Central College discover how the SAILS program can help you reach your goals in college and beyond.

Visual tools like pictures, calendars, even objects, help students with ASD to better manage WHAT is going to happen, and WHEN it's going to happen.