Dr Susy Ridout

Autism and Mental Well-being in Higher Education 2nd edition


A practical resource for students, mentors and study skills support workers

A practical resource for students, mentors and study skills support workers.



Autism and Mental Well-being in Higher Education 2nd edition looks into the fact that, too often, autistic students and those with mental health needs struggle with higher education, often dropping out of courses because they do not receive the informed support that would help them to succeed. This much-needed manual addresses the provision of effective support via mentoring in order to build students’ confidence and enable them to take control of their lives.

Beautifully illustrated, this unique publication is written for those with a neurodivergent perspective, and brings together ideas and activities tried and tested among an array of students. It encourages students to take control of mentoring and study skills sessions by signposting them to topics which they wish to address, while also providing a useful framework and resources for mentors and tutors in higher education. It includes clear information about what constitutes mentoring, as well as coverage of academic study skills, highlighting key points for attention and discussion.

In particular, the manual addresses specific issues raised by many autistic individuals and those with mental health needs, and through its activities and resources, it provides a toolkit of coping strategies that can be tailored to individuals. Finally, it covers elements of independent living with which many individuals struggle, and which have been raised in various forms by students with whom the author has worked.

Following the success of the first edition of this book it was apparent that new chapters needed to be added to better reflect diversity and to acknowledge the prevalence of sexual violence on campus. With this in mind, Chapter 13 is on gender and explores such issues as identity, disclosure, pronouns, name change and transitioning. The second new chapter, Chapter 14, addresses issues experienced by many individuals from BAME communities, such as acceptance within their own culture, language barriers, obtaining a diagnosis, tokenism and inclusion of BAME voices within higher education. The third additional chapter (15) addresses sexual violence, whether it has happened prior to university or during studies and on or off campus. This chapter discusses processing and communicating what has happened and support options available.

If you already own the 1st edition of this title, you can download the accompanying PDF here.


Suitable for: autistic students and those with mental health needs considering entering or already in higher, further or secondary education, mentors, academic skills workers, tutors, lecturers, autistic and mental health advocates, disability advisors and employers.


ISBN: 978-1-913414-01-6

Publication: November 2019


Part 1: University life and support for autistic students and students with mental health needs (mentoring and academic support)

Part 2: Exploring autism or mental well-being related issues with or without your mentor

Part 3: Being Independent



Dr Susy Ridout, Mentor, Academic Skills Support Worker and Researcher

Susy has worked as a mentor and academic skills support worker with autistic and disabled people in higher education for a decade. Seeing mentoring as an opportunity to explore issues relating to both disclosure and well-being within a number of settings, including higher education and employment scenarios, Susy was also a mentor for the Cygnet Mentoring Project (a research pilot designed and delivered by autistic/neurodivergent individuals for autistic individuals). Having also benefited from mentoring, she uses it as an approach to examine barriers to learning, develop effective coping strategies, investigate what constitutes enabling learning environments and explore terminology used to voice these. Completion of her doctorate (University of Birmingham, 2016), highlighted the use of mixed media as a means to locate the autistic voice to the fore in research, services and debate. Susy has taken this forward to extend her research as a member of PARC (the Participatory Autism Research Collective), where she is an Independent Researcher. Susy continues to mentor throughout the UK and apply her research to a range of issues including neurodivergence and sexual violence.


What a fantastic resource this is for those interested in how to support autistic students and for autistic students wanting excellent information around how to navigate University. Susy’s writing may very well prove, for some, to make the difference between succeeding at university and not. A superb book which should be read by anyone at university involved with autistic students, and stocked by all universities so it’s available for their autistic students.

Dr Luke Beardon, Senior Lecturer in Autism, Sheffield Hallam University

Getting the most out of university life and study can be a challenge for many students. It is also a challenge for universities in terms of providing accessibility and flexibility that takes account of diversity within the student group. Based on her years of insider experience supporting autistic students, Susy Ridout provides a handbook that is equally useful for students and those providing mentorship or support. It combines the everyday and the practical with a sophisticated theoretical underpinning that recognises the inter-related issues of neurodiversity and intersectionality. This challenges the more traditional disability paradigm in which autism (and by implication) autistic people are seen as a problem, and solutions are seen in terms of autistic people having to accommodate to and fit in with social, sensory and learning environments which are profoundly unsuitable and oppressive.

Professor Jerry Tew, Mental Health and Social Work, Director of Family Potential Research Centre and Head of Education, School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham

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