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Predictions, only at the end of the game!

Prognostics, only at the end of the game! is a well-known phrase in the football world. But rest assured that I will not talk about football, because I am not competent to do so. But I will talk about something that happens in football and in many other contexts. And it has to do with the possibility of predicting how things are going to happen! Who wouldn't like that? And in this text, the question we'll try to give some clues is how can we predict the final outcome of the autistic university student when he finishes his education! Many parents, and the children themselves, feel until a certain moment that it will be almost impossible for them to enter university. And after entering university, they start wondering when it will end and what it will be like!

Without futurology, because I'm not competent to do it, I'll try to share with you some important ideas to exist so that there can be that positive final result.

The choice of the course to be taken and the institution itself is fundamental. It is so for any student in higher education, and even more for autistic people. For example, there are still many autistic students in higher education who were not properly guided in terms of the course/area to study. Even if they have undertaken this assessment in Year 9 at their school, there may still not have been any proper orientation work. This leads for example to many of these autistic students applying to Computer Engineering to become programmers and at the end of the first year of the course they end up changing or even giving up the course. And why is that? Some of them because they had an idea of the course that did not correspond to reality and therefore their expectations were frustrated. And the same happens with many other courses and areas and for very similar reasons. And the choice of institution has mainly to do with the fact that the institution may or may not be sensitive to Inclusive Education and to the autism spectrum in particular. Besides the fact that the teachers themselves, technical staff and others are sensitised and trained to make the necessary and appropriate adaptations.

This issue leads to a difficulty for the candidate students themselves but also for their parents. This is because there is no generalised information about the Higher Education Institutions that might be more adapted to Inclusive Education. There are institutions that have been developing Inclusive Education programmes for some years now. Be it the Polytechnic Institute of Leira, the University of Porto, the University of Lisbon, ISCTE, the Higher Technical Institute, among others. And some of you think that these names end up referring to almost all Institutions. It is true that there are Institutions that seem to be further ahead in Inclusive Education, even though these programmes may be developed more in certain areas of study, or for certain skills. And it is not a policy practised by all members of the academic community of that institution. This means that some may say they have had very positive experiences at the University of Lisbon, while others say the opposite. In other words, there needs to be a global policy for all Higher Education in terms of Inclusive Education. And that is reflected in the practical life of students with these characteristics.

And the question of the choice of institution will be interconnected with the ability to respond to the referral of the student to Inclusive Education. The vast majority of Higher Education Institutions already have this possibility, but they do not always manage this process in the best way. And also to mention that in other situations, it is the students themselves (or their parents) who do not want to be referred. Even because they have already had negative experiences in the past. Or they want to try to see if they are capable of doing higher education without any kind of adaptation.

Going to Higher Education is a right for all and is a wish that many feel they have to fulfil so that they can have an opportunity in life, namely in the labour market. And as such, applying for higher education may not make sense as an answer for some students, whether they are on the autistic spectrum or not. Even though people may say they want to do higher education regardless of whether they will have a better future or not. Higher Education fulfils several functions in anyone's life and is not only about integration in the labour market.

As such, it will be necessary that the transition process from the end of Secondary Education to Higher Education or to another type of training, will be fundamental that it is accompanied so that the transition and integration in the next level is the most adequate. And this accompaniment should be carried out from compulsory schooling and will probably become more marked from the age of 13-14. And no, I'm not talking about the transition or not to Professional Education. Whether in Regular or Professional Education, it will be fundamental that this accompaniment is carried out. And that it is not exclusively about the transition from school year to school year and the acquisition of syllabus. Although these aspects are fundamental. But it is necessary to go beyond this level in order to accompany the person in the preparation for the autistic person's life project. And if for those students who are in Professional Education there seems to be more support programmes for these students, the same does not seem to happen so well in Regular Education.

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