Here’s what you need to know about starting university with dyslexia

Going to university can be a test for anyone, fresh, or not-so-fresh from school. Students are not only expected to adapt to independent study and increased reading loads, but they also have to learn as soon as possible how to “do” the kind of academic writing and academic talk their given field demands. And for those students with dyslexia, this can be particularly challenging.

Dyslexic students are normally no different to their non-dyslexic peers in their understanding of their academic subject, but dyslexia can make things like reading course books, writing essays and remembering lecture points harder to do. And there can also be difficulties for dyslexic students in getting their words and ideas across in seminars and tutorials.

These things are hard partly because of specific cognitive difficulties with processing particular kinds of information, and partly because of the way schools and universities tend to structure and assess learning – through non-interactive lectures and timed, written examination. And because there is a lot of disagreement about what dyslexia actually means in terms of cognitive function, it can also be difficult to agree on what to do about it, in practice.

Grade driven learning

In today’s society being academically literate is particularly valued – with the most successful learner often seen as the one who gets the highest grades. High grades are often thought to go hand-in-hard with hard work, meaning lower grades are often thought to imply a lack of effort and a lack of academic ability – the twin-evils of “laziness” and “stupidity”.

But part of the challenge for dyslexia and learning isn’t so much that dyslexic people can’t keep up with complex ideas, it’s more that they may need to approach tasks in a different way to get the learning to make sense, and to “stick”. So when a student with dyslexia finds their learning preferences don’t fit so well with the learning environments on offer, they will often use additional study aids – such as speech-to-text software, mind-mapping applications and “read and write text help” – in addition to attending regular tutorials with a specialist teacher to work on their academic literacy.

Having dyslexia can make learning difficult at university. Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

But sometimes dyslexic students (and their peers) feel that using additional study help gives them an an unfair leg-up. This means that although dyslexic students have a right under the law to make use of things – like extra time in exams and specialist tuition – doing so can be a threat to their sense of self-worth and academic identity.

In other words, they can feel like they are not really “intelligent” if they can’t do the work without making use of adjustments. This can lead dyslexic students to play down their difficulties, and to refuse help. And students with dyslexia will sometimes try to go it alone, so to speak, to work hard and “just deal with it” – even though they will be disadvantaged by this approach. This can leave dyslexic students in a lose-lose situation.

Peer support?

Working out when to access support at university is further complicated by the uncertainty of how the students and staff they come across will react to a disclosure of dyslexia. Media representations of dyslexia have tended to be rather sensationalist, and often follow the “dyslexia as a myth” line without care for the details of the studies which they refer to.

Attitudes towards dyslexia among academic staff can also vary, and peers can react in unexpected ways – saying things like “that’s ridiculous, why do you get a printer just because you’re dyslexic?”.

Dyslexic students have to be ever-ready to explain what dyslexia means and how it affects them to whomever needs to know. They may need to declare it to their personal tutor one day, to an exams invigilator another, and to their housemate the next. And in each case they need to guess how their declaration will be received – which can be exhausting.

A dyslexic student may also find themselves stuck between contradictory ideas about who they are as a dyslexic person, and what they should be doing about it. And in this sense they internalise the apparent “common-sense view” that they are solely responsible for the difficulties they experience.

Rethinking dyslexia

So, to dyslexic students who have just begun their university education, it is time for you to rethink the concept of disability – because it is not a dirty word. The disabling aspects of dyslexia are not inside you, but rather they are part of a particular educational set-up and learning environment.

Don’t let dyslexia hold you back. Syda Productions/Shutterstock

To tackle this, work out which situations at university put you at a disadvantage compared to other students, and make use of any adjustments you need to help you. It’s not an unfair leg-up, it’s simply a small step towards evening the playing field.

You should also make use of specialist dyslexia tutors, because they not only there to help you develop academic skills and confidence, but more importantly they can also help you critically reflect upon what dyslexia means for you and your learning.

And finally, remember you are not to blame for some of the difficulties you may experience in university learning, so be kind to yourself. These difficulties are nothing to do with how worthy you are, or how “clever” you are – and you belong at university just as much as anyone else does.

Source: https://theconversation.com/heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-starting-university-with-dyslexia-50035

2 Comments

  • Sam Posted 25th January 2020 7:53 am

    Nice content, great site! 👍🏻

    • admin Posted 25th January 2020 8:53 am

      Thanks Sam!

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Craig has been a brilliant supporter, very professional, friendly, approachable and excellent communication throughout. Craig has gone out of his way to provide assistance, this has been a great aid for dealing with all my education difficulties and I really appreciate. Couldn’t ask for a better service, I highly recommend.

Would totally recommend Develop us, made my son feel at ease. Having the assessment done in the comfort of his own surroundings I think was a big help. My son actually enjoy his day and didn’t seem stressed or worried about the assessments. Craig was so helpful and still is a month on sending me useful links etc. Thank you so much.

Craig has been a great help, he’s been considerate and clear throughout and provided further support. Craig has gone out of his way to provide guidance and assistance, which has been a huge comfort and aid for dealing with workplace and personal issues, for which I am wholly grateful and highly recommend his services.

I recently had an assessment as an adult for dyspraxia or Developmental Co-ordination Disorder after self-referring. Craig was brilliant throughout. Great to deal with, understanding of my needs, and very supportive. He gave me a comprehensive assessment and communicated to me the whole process in an easy to understand manner. The final report was well written and I now have the evidence I need to get support in the workplace. I would highly recommend him and Develop Us

Craig is very patient and maintained really excellent communication throughout the whole process. During his assessment he was professional and patient, and pulled out all the stops to get his report to us ASAP. Highly recommended.

Craig has been a brilliant supporter, very professional, friendly, approachable and excellent communication throughout. Craig has gone out of his way to provide assistance, this has been a great aid for dealing with all my education difficulties and I really appreciate. Couldn’t ask for a better service, I highly recommend.

Craig has been a fantastic support with my son, Craig offers a wealth of knowledge, experience and great advice. Craig is enthusiastic and has a great deal of patience with the people he supports, I would have no hesitation in recommending his services and wish him all the best in the future.

Craig has been a Godsend to myself and my husband and my eldest daughter who was diagnosed. I am glad I asked for Craig’s professional opinion on the matter.  I am glad he did the assessment and we got the outcome of what we have thought it was for a while now. Thank you Craig.

I am a student who has been receiving support and tutoring from Craig since November 2018. Since receiving tutorial support from Craig, I have progressed onto high-level courses and an access course which has helped with my studies, knowledge and work. Craig has shown me support and helped make my course work manageable. I feel that I have been able to turn to Craig with any question or doubt and have received nothing but clarity and guidance. Without Craig’s help and support I do not think I would have the courage and ability to complete the courses and progress to higher levels. I have had support off Craig for a variety of courses and with work advise.

I feel that Craig has given me the confidence to take steps in my life that I would not have made on my own. Craig has not only been friendly and supporting, but has also been very professional, reliable and organised with the help he has given me.

Student

Craig engages with his students in a way that is both professional and clear and thus gains the most of the time spent in his classes.

Student
Phone: 02921 290 047
Email: [email protected]
1 Downlands Way, Cardiff Wales, CF33BY
Company Number: 11343082 (Registered company in England and Wales)
Open chat
Message us on Whatsapp