How to recognize when you need to ask for help

Recognising when you should ask for help is not easy for many people with autism. This is why checking in with your Advisor regularly can be a good idea.  They can help you to identify problems and, if they cannot help you solve it, they can help you contact someone who can.


Communication can be difficult at the best of times, but if you are feeling very stressed you may find it challenging to reach out. Try not to worry too much about how you phrase an email or explain your concerns, the most important thing is to communicate that you feel you need help. The rest can be clarified after the initial communication.

How could this affect me?

If some of the list below is true for you, there is a problem and you should be asking for support. This list is not exhaustive so your signs of stress or worry might not be included but this list will give you an idea of what signs to look out for.

  • You miss lectures and/or tutorials because you do not know where they are.
  • You are deliberately avoiding some or all lectures or tutorials.
  • After two weeks you have no books or other information you need to do your work.
  • You feel panicky most of the time.
  • You come out of lectures very stressed or feeling you have not understood anything.
  • You are not sure what to do for a piece of work so it is not getting done.
  • You keep putting off doing something.
  • You are using your chilling routine or distracting activity more than usual.
  • You think that everybody else is doing far better than you.
  • Your anxiety behaviours are increasing in intensity.
  • You keep getting emails from university staff telling you that you haven’t completed an essential task or asking you to make contact.
  • You get confused trying to work out how to use the university email and online help systems.
  • You cannot find the online resources you are supposed to use.
  • You do not know when the lecturers have their ‘office hours’.
  • You do not email people spontaneously and avoid answering emails from lecturers, tutors or support staff.
  • You think you are organised, but still other people complain to you about things you have not done on time.
  • Your notes are in a pile on the floor, or stuffed in your bag and never, or rarely, read.
  • You would like some help but do not have time for the meetings with mentors or your Disability Advisor.
  • You are too busy to do anything else but your work and you do not feel you have time to relax.
  • You are feeling isolated and lonely and it is affecting your work.

What to do next?

Think about how you will ask for help if you need it now - so it is easier to reach out if you need to.

Practical tips

If any of these things are true for you and your work is not getting done, this is the time to seek help. Contact your Disability Advisor to say you need to see someone for help. Sending an email to these staff or asking in person are both good ways of making contact to ask for help.  If you cannot do this, get a parent / carer or friend to do it for you.

About the author

Adapted with permission for UCC from the University of Leicester Accessability Centre (with credit to the original author Tess Coll).

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