Studying with Dyslexia: How to Cope with This Challenge?
University is different from college and high school in many ways. Not only the workload grows significantly, but also you are expected to develop new skills. This includes advanced academic writing and speaking. Each student will find this task hard. However, if you have dyslexia, things become even tougher.
When it comes to studying and grasping the materials, dyslexic students are the same as their peers. Problems begin when it comes to writing and public talking. Essays can become a real challenge since the academic sources are full of complicated terms and unknown words. What is more, remembering and noting the lectures, processing tutorials, and taking part in seminars are also complicated practices when you have speech issues.
The format of university learning is all about non-communicative lecturing and written papers. In such an environment, cognitive difficulties connected with dyslexia can become a severe barrier for learners. Let’s discuss this disability and figure out what to do with it in practice.
The problem with stigmatization
Unfortunately, modern society believes that a good student is the one that has high grades. Most people have a stereotype in their minds: high grades are achieved when you are smart and work hard. In turn, low grades mark a student as a lazy and stupid person.
Students with dyslexia don’t have any particular problems with learning as it is. However, they need different approaches and methods that can make learning meaningful. As a rule, these people use additional tools to stay on track. Such apps as speech-to-text, as well as specific reading and writing programs, can make things much better. In addition, dyslexic children are recommended to visit a personal tutor to discuss their problems and find solutions. What is more, they have a right to get additional time during exams and individual consultations to improve their literacy.
At the same time, additional tools and visits to a specialist can make students feel really bad. This extra-care can be a threat to their identity and self-esteem. Their peers can also perceive such privileges negatively, which only makes a complicated situation even worse.
If a student is worried about these issues, he/she might refuse additional help. Such an approach will definitely cause negative consequences, but dyslexic students might choose this option and deal with everything on their own. Unfortunately, this is a wrong step to make.
Dyslexia is a disability, and students perceive such a condition as a shame. However, the time has come to rethink this attitude. Disability is not an abusive word. You and your disability are not one whole; this is just a factor that sets your learning environment up and makes it different from the others.
Is it possible to get support from peers and staff?
Getting support is not that easy when you are a dyslexic student. To make somebody understand you, you should know how to explain your disability. However, it’s not that easy, since the public perception of dyslexia is distorted. Some sources claim that there is no such illness and that it is just a myth. The others perceive it as a real catastrophe and a serious problem that makes you almost disabled.
The same happens when you enter a university. Both staff and your peers can react differently, as well. Some will try to understand and listen to you, while others won’t perceive your disability as a big deal. You can even encounter a reaction like “You need additional exam time just because you have dyslexia? That’s not honest!”
On the one hand, a student with dyslexia is responsible for explanations. You are expected to tell people more about your problems in a clear way. On the other hand, you cannot predict their reaction. That’s not easy for someone to understand himself/herself as a dyslexic person. What does it mean to be a dyslexic student? What should you do about that? What should you expect from other people? Some students cannot answer these questions, so they accept the negative common view and start blaming themselves in their own condition.
What to do?
- Figure out what difficulties do you have
Analyze your activities and compare yourself to the other students. What are the fields and segments that are especially complicated for you? Are there any adjustments that can help?
- Stop thinking that adjustments and additional tools are a leg-up
When you struggle with difficulties and use all the measures you can, this is not an unfair act. Keep calm and use all the privileges.
- Talk to personal tutors
Professionals can help you understand your disability better and learn how to decrease its negative influence on your everyday life.
- It’s not your fault
Stop blaming yourself for the problems you have in a university. Be critical but kind to yourself. You are a student just like anyone else here, and your troubles don’t characterize you as a person. Dyslexia doesn’t make you “less worthy” or “silly.”