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Jacobs: 381

Do you know where the queue starts? someone is heard asking. Yes, yes, at the back! they said. Of the almost 50 thousand students placed this year in Higher Education, 381 entered through the special quota for people with disabilities. That's 66 more applicants than last year.

But if I think that 1 in every 100 adults has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and without thinking of other people with disabilities, the idea that 381 candidates do not correspond to reality is great. And this feeling is not new today, as I see more and more autistic people applying and attending Higher Education.

But how do you calculate the number of people in a certain agglomeration? For example, when there is a concert or a demonstration, people use the Jacobs method to do that calculation. In other words, this method calculates the area of the place where the event is going to take place. It then estimates the number of people using aerial images, for example. And finally, the area is multiplied by the density.

However, this very method seems to be inadequate for the purpose. Why is this so? Because there is still a considerable number of people who do not yet have their diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Besides, there is another equally considerable group of people who, being autistic, choose not to request the referral to Inclusive Education in Higher Education, either because they are unaware of this possibility or because they deliberately choose not to do so, mainly because they have had a set of negative experiences throughout compulsory education.

And if we think about the answers that Higher Education can provide at this level, both in pedagogical terms and also in relation to mental health, we become a little more apprehensive. Even if Higher Education continues on a path of modernisation and adaptation to the needs of the academic community. It is also true that the challenges posed by neurodiversity are equally great, in and out of class.

The reflection could go on, as could the number of neurodiverse people existing in this university context. However, it seems more important to me that all those involved, be they autistic students or those who suspect they are, their families, teachers and academic leaders, as well as psychologists and other professionals who accompany these people, and the community in general, may feel the need to be able to build a University and therefore a society that mirrors the reality of diversity that inhabits it. There may be a greater collaboration of autistic people in this whole process. Being that in the end they are the ones who have been less heard, running the risk of continuing to make efforts that become vain or inglorious.

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