I was due to start my second year doing film studies at university at the end of this month, but I have decided to take a year out. There are two main ressens for this. One is my work. I wanted more time to work on my writing, and autism talks than I would have got if I was going in to the second year of a university degree. And the second reason is that the last five or so months have been so stressful, and full of difficult things that I need a break. But underpinning all of that is why my autism affected my time at university.
I have to say I got a lot of help when I first enrolled, and I can’t fault my university for the way they have helped with both my autism, and dyslexia since classes began. But I think my conditions still made my time there harder than it would otherwise have been. I don’t drive so to get from my house to my university I have to get two trams. This is OK when I am traveling mid-morning to mid-afternoon, but when the lecture does not end until five, or starts at nine I ended up traveling right in the middle of rush hour. As the year went on it became harder and harder to do both the traveling, and the lectures in the same day. If I had a three hour class the last thing I wanted was to get straight on to a packed tram, and have to fight my way off only to get on to an even more packed tram. And if I had got on the two busy trams in the morning I felt too overloaded to be able to pay close attention to my class. I also found it hard to balance my university with my autism-related work. My aim is to one day make a living from my writing so I feel that it is something I need to put a lot of time in to in order to make this happen. But I found that even in my first year I was expected to do so much reading and work out side of the class room that it ate in to my time for writing, and planning talks. Now I do feel that if the traveling, and overload after class had not been an issue this might have been OK. But once I had been to a class I found it hard to do anything else that day, and if I knew I had to go out to a class I found it hard to do anything in the time leading up to that. This meant that three days of the week were spent doing nothing, but being in university. Add to that the fact that each class came with a group project that meant you had to come in on other days, and meet up with your group. I felt I had hardly any time at all to do what I think of as my real work.
So in the end I decided to take a year out. I want to take some time to relax, and try and de- stress, but I also want to use this time to work, and write a few more books. It took me a while to decide, but I feel now that I made the right decision.