High-achieving VCE students deserve to be congratulated, but the future is not so rosy for some students with a disability. My grandson is high-functioning autistic. He got a healthy ATAR score, despite the anxiety that accompanies him during exams. However, he will not be able to undertake his first-choice university course – or any university course – because his English score does not meet their prerequisite.
My grandson has been reading with comprehension since he was three and has a better grasp of grammar than most adults. He won a scholarship to a well-respected independent school for his secondary years, which he would not have done if he were illiterate.
He did not attempt year12 English as it focused on the study of fiction, which is not something his autism allows him to grasp easily. Instead he did English Language. He wonders why English is compulsory and maths (at which he excels) is not.
Universities will not even read the "special consideration" information he has provided, which sheds light on his problems and abilities. His only option is to do a TAFE certificate 4, a diploma and then a degree.
Why is achieving a higher education qualification made so difficult for some students, when there is a focus on those with a disability contributing to society and their own economic security? His mother suggested to a university that if the issue was concern about his basic literacy, he could take its English language test for overseas students, but this was rejected. Organisations supporting autism could offer no helpful advice as "most autistic students don't make it to VCE".
This one did, with the help of a caring, supportive school, only to find that everyone's efforts have been for nothing. We are in a situation that fosters anxiety and depression and requires a young person with a disability to jump through hoops.
Karin Bicknell, Oakleigh South