Why does the Folk High School system suit people with high functioning autism?
In several research projects, Martin Hugo and Joel Hedegaard have focused on adaptations in the educational system that could improve the results and well-being of adult participants with high functioning autism.
A qualitative interview study was conducted with 21 participants who were enrolled in study programs at Folk High School which had been adapted to suit young adults with high-functioning autism.
The result shows that the participants enjoyed themselves and felt secure at Folk High School. They felt that they and their academic endeavours were suitably recognised, acknowledged, and understood. They reported that the teaching was suitably adapted for them and they felt that they could succeed in their studies. A frequent report that they made concerned their experience of clear structures in the teaching process and its predictability. The participants stated that Folk High School has the ability to satisfy each participant’s needs, which entailed lower levels of perceived stress than what they had experienced in their previous schooling. The participants experienced personal development during their time at Folk High School.
Therefore, the conclusion is that Folk High School, and its special character, is able to successfully satisfy the needs of participants with high-functioning autism. Many of the participants, for the first time in their lives, experienced a sense of inclusion in an educational system and felt that they could succeed in their studies. However, there exists a risk that they become institutionalised, which entails that the participants function well primarily in Folk High School’s safe and caring environment.
In an earlier project, Hugo and Hedegaard have interviewed students at an IT-education specially adapted to suit people with high functioning autism. That project made a large impact on the willingness from the stakeholders to make long term investments in that particular IT-education. A thorough description of the study and its impact on the surrounding society is available here.