The Info Guide: Dyslexia Awareness Week 2022
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Dyslexia is something that many university students deal with. There are many challenges to overcome when suffering with dyslexia whilst studying in higher education.
3rd October to the 9th October is Dyslexia Awareness Week 2022 and we’ve put together a guide to help understand a little bit more about dyslexia and how it can impact university life.
What Is Dyslexia Awareness Week?
Dyslexia Awareness Week is an important week which raises awareness and understanding of dyslexia, as well as the things we can do to change.
The theme of Dyslexia Awareness Week in 2022 is ‘Breaking Through Barriers’.
We should look at the challenges and barriers that people living with dyslexia face daily.
Despite these challenges, we can also highlight the individuals, organisations, and educational institutions that have succeeded beyond these ‘obstacles’, breaking through the barriers and thriving despite dyslexia.
What Is Dyslexia?
At least 1 in 10 people are affected by dyslexia. The genetic difference in a person suffering with dyslexia means that they struggle to learn and process information.
Dyslexia is simply a neurological difference which makes some people’s brains function in a slightly different way to others.
Difficulty in learning new skills affects the ability to be accurate in reading and spelling.
Dyslexia is found to impact verbal processing speeds, memory function and is also found across a whole range of intellectual abilities.
There is no defined set of categories and dyslexia should be looked at as a continuum.
A person might have poor time management skills or struggle with verbal memory, but alone this does not mean they suffer with dyslexia.
Each person is unique, with different experiences of living with dyslexia but there are a few main characteristics to look out for:
- Spelling that is irregular
- Slowly writing or reading, with a need to re-read sentences again
- A struggle to focus
- Difficulty telling left from right
- Mentally feeling overloaded
- Confusion when given several tasks at one time
- Poor time management skills
There are 6 million people in the UK diagnosed with dyslexia, but it is thought that there is a much greater number of people undiagnosed.
Many people with undiagnosed (or even diagnosed) dyslexia struggle with everyday processes and make compromises to fit in with neurotypical society. It is so common yet so often hidden!
Dyslexia usually runs in the family and is a life-long condition. There are positives to thinking differently though, with many people who suffer with dyslexia found to have strengths in visual and creative endeavours, as well as being able to reason strongly and coherently.
How Does Dyslexia Affect Education?
Dyslexia can have a massive impact on the educational development of a child as they move through the education system.
This continues into higher education, where a person living with dyslexia will come across complex problems and obstacles during university where other students might find no challenges at all.
If a child isn’t diagnosed with dyslexia by the age of 8, and therefore do not receive the proper guidance and support within a learning environment, it can have an impact that lasts for their entire life.
There are many barriers that children face during their school years due to dyslexia, and with the lack of support or understanding of the condition it can be difficult to fully embrace learning.
Some undiagnosed children are often labelled as ‘stupid’ or disruptive in class, when it is just a simple case of a condition that they need help with.
There are some signs of dyslexia throughout the different ages of schooling that can be spotted in the classroom:
Pre-school – Children will ‘baby talk’, struggle to talk in a logical order when telling stories and jumble up words. They may also struggle to identify letters within their own name.
Until the age of 8 – Children still struggle with letter names and the sounds they make and may substitute words when reading text out loud. They might forget how words are spelled and confuse letters that look or sound the same.
Ages 8-11 – Children will struggle to remember the key components of a story, skipping over small words when reading aloud and will struggle to be consistent with the spelling of some words. At this age they might be behind other students their age in terms of academic development.
Ages 12-18 and in higher education – Students will struggle to remember common abbreviations, spend a long time with reading assignments, and substitute some words for ease. It is during these ages where students are looked at as disruptive if they have not been given a dyslexia diagnosis.
What Happens In The Long-term For Students With Dyslexia?
Next within our info guide of Dyslexia Awareness Week 2022is what happens to students in the long-term who suffer with dyslexia.
Students without the correct support system and advice to help deal with living with dyslexia can sometimes suffer with depression, anxiety, and behavioural problems.
There are obvious social and academic consequences from a lack of support.
Students often withdraw, fail to make strong connections with other students, ‘play the joker’ and act disruptively.
It is also seen that students living with dyslexia will shy away from certain tasks and maybe miss out on academic achievements as they are too scared to try something unfamiliar and new that might be a challenge to overcome.
The longer it takes to gain the correct support and guidance for dyslexia, the harder it will be for students who have fallen behind their peers.
As long as you get there eventually, it doesn’t matter too much in the long run.
The longer that it takes though, the harder it can become.
You do find that many students diagnosed with dyslexia later in their school life are unlikely to progress into higher education as by that point they already feel like ‘school isn’t for them’.
Support For Dyslexia At University
No two students with dyslexia are the same of course, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good level of support available at each university to help students living with dyslexia.
It is understandable that after struggling with dyslexia through the school system that you might consider university a step too far and have some worries about the further obstacles you might face at this level of higher education.
Within all universities there is help available. When going through the application process students can speak to universities and be put in touch with specific disability services that can help with a wide range of conditions.
With this support, dyslexic students can thrive in higher education.
Tips For University Life As A Dyslexic Student
There are a few tips that might help you get the right support and to start life at university the right way.
The last thing you need when moving to a new place and starting a new course is to feel like you’re already behind on day one.
These tips will help you get ahead and to have all the support you need from your university, not just during Dyslexia Awareness Week 2022 but beyond your uni years.
Have The Right Diagnosis
Dyslexia is recognised officially as a disability. What this means is that any student with dyslexia or a condition related to dyslexia is entitled to the Disabled Students’ Allowance. You must have a correct diagnostic assessment to access this funding.
Apply For DSA
If you already have a diagnosis of dyslexia you should apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) as soon as possible.
You can do this through Student Finance England or Student Awards Agency Scotland.
As soon as you have had your university place confirmed you can begin this process. It can take up to 10 weeks, so the sooner the application is put in the better.
The Correct Support For Dyslexia
At university there are some different options available to assist students living with dyslexia.
An assessment on each person’s needs takes place before reasonable adjustments are made to help the student.
This could be the use of specialist software, such as speech-to-text programmes, or extra time allowance during exams.
Sometimes, extra one-on-one tuition is offered.
Use Dyslexia As A Strength
Dyslexia is a difference in the way a person’s brain learns rather than a disability.
There are so many examples of successful people with dyslexia who have made it in academia and other parts of life.
Look at some of the defining aspects of your character that make you stand out and are positive, that come from dyslexia.
Those living with dyslexia often work harder from a younger age, because they have to just in order to keep up.
Determination to succeed is an amazing quality for any person.
When you add in the likelihood of greater creativity, reasoning, and problem-solving skills, and dyslexia could give you an advantage in life.
If you have dyslexia and are finding it tough to study, we hope this guide has pointed you in the right direction for some of the amazing support available at your university.
Dyslexia Awareness Week 2022 is the perfect platform to raise awareness, to showcase the strengths alongside the challenges of living with dyslexia and to guide you to assistance.
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