Laiyba is a third year Law LLB student, who during the pandemic has spent time learning knitting from family and YouTube.
Today, I will be writing about my Dyslexia experience before and at university. I hope it raises the awareness of neurodiversity and helps you understand the process I went through.
My experience before university
When I was studying in sixth form, I was not aware of learning differences. I remember, I always struggled in my studies, especially in maths. I did not understand numbers, and it used to take a lot of time for me to know how they work entirely.
Unfortunately these difficulties were not discussed which did not raise any awareness for the students. I went on to do my secondary and sixth form studies by working hard and spending extra hours after school reading through core books trying to understand the content.
Before I went to the City, it was my older sister who suggested that I should get myself assessed for Dyslexia. I was not too sure if I wanted to get myself assessed as I started questioning myself about the challenges I faced during my studies.
However, after a lot of thought, I decided that once I was at university, I would get myself examined. There is nothing wrong with getting it checked out, right?
In my second week of my first year at university, I found the Neurodiversity department, who help with any learning differences.
I booked an appointment with them where they were warm and welcoming and asked me a series of questions on my background. After I gave in all the information, they told me that I had to book another appointment for the assessment, which will be 3 hours long! I was shocked at how long the evaluation was going to take and found it a little daunting.
However, once I arrived for the assessment appointment, it was not intimidating at all, and the time flew by quickly. I answered a series of question on numeracy and literacy. Also, I performed activities such as matching the parts of the shapes together. I enjoyed the assessment because they used different ways to assess me, and it was not tense.
During my third appointment, I got to know that I had Dyslexia. I was not shocked but more relieved to know that I will get the support that I need, which will help me with my studies.
“This appointment with the Neurodiversity team was vital as it went through all the support I will receive. Everyone receives different support relating to their needs.“
To give you an example, I received:
Support for my assessments
- I received extra time for my assessments.
- Yellow stickers requested the tutor to make sympathetic marking on spelling and written expression when assessing my work.
- I have a special arrangement where I get a computer in my exams to type up my answers rather than writing them down as it’s quicker for me to type.
Study skills and support sessions
I had a session with an individual tutor who helps with study skills, revision skills, and independence.
I got information on free software I could download which would help with my education.
Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)
The university told me to apply for DSA, which is governed by the government.
- I received a laptop but I paid £200, and the government paid the rest.
- I have different software tailored to me which helps with my Dyslexia. For example, Claro Read.
- I received 1 to 1 sessions to help me understand how to use the software.
The support I have received from my university and DSA has been exceptional as it has helped me academically. I was able to use the extra time for my exams to write thorough answers. And I was able to engage more with the material through the software provided.
Also, the process was more natural as the Neurodiversity team went into detail of what steps I needed to take and were supportive. The process though is very long because for my first year first term exams, I was not able to use the support as I was still going through the process.
My advice would be to book an appointment as soon as possible when you start university if you feel that you need to get tested.
Recognising your learning difficulties is a beautiful way of getting a fair chance to excel at the subject that you love.
Learning differences refer to a range of neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
At City we appreciate that no one person is the same, whether or not we have a specific learning difference, and we each have our own individual learning styles and preferences. City staff work with students to understand your unique strengths, challenges and needs. You can find out more about City’s Neurodiversity team here, or research other university websites to find out about their support.
You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability. You can get these allowances on top of your other student finance, and you will not need to repay DSAs. Read more about DSAs here.