As the final year of my undergraduate degree is now upon me, I thought I would impart some of the wisdom and survival techniques I have gathered over my four years as a student.
It is also coincidently both Dyspraxia and Dyslexia Awareness Week, two commonly misunderstood neurodiverse conditions.
You might be wondering why I have decided to use the terminology neurodiverse: why should people such as myself be labeled as disabled, when this totally ignores the benefits of thinking in a different way.
We are often more creative and are better at seeing the bigger picture when solving problems.
Disabled Students Allowance, or the DSA, is a grant that student funding bodies give to eligible students in order to level the playing field for them in their university studies.
A large number of students that are eligible don’t apply, as they do not feel that they are the textbook definition of “disabled.”
I feel this could be combated by a simple change of terminology.
DSA covers a lot: ergonomic furniture for students with physical impairments; a laptop with a suite of assistive technology; a range of non-medical personal helpers such as a notetaker or proofreader; even alternative formats of academic texts for students such as myself that have a range of invisible impairments.
Time management techniques are important. Try and allot yourself twice as much time for your assignments, as this allows you to have some contingency time for those days when your brain just doesn’t want to cooperate and has decided to take a vacation.
There is a wide range of assistive technology that you can utilise. From the low tech whiteboard, to write yourself reminders, or the more high-tech such as screen-readers for your laptop: these can take the strain off your eyes and brain when reading, which believe me, as someone in the midst of doing a dissertation, this is a lifesaver.
An ARUAA, an Agreed University Record of Accessibility Arrangements, outlines the adjustments you need in order to be reasonably access your coursework on the same level as your peers.
This could be the use of a reader or scribe in your exams, or extra time and extensions for your deadlines.
A few parting words of wisdom: it won’t always be easy, but don’t worry. You will find your own little ways of getting that pesky information into your brain.
Featured Image: The Telegraph