Coming to UEA with a SpLD

By Natalie Froome

Going to university is a life-changing experience. It will probably be the first time you’ve lived independently and had full control over every aspect of your life. It’s daunting and challenging, but also an incredibly exciting time for everyone – socially and academically.

If you have what’s known as a SpLD, the challenges you face can be slightly different from your peers. A SpLD (Specific Learning Difficulty) is something like Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, ADHD, ADD or Dyspraxia. This article also covers ASC’s (autism spectrum conditions) as these don’t exactly fit in the SpLD box, but the support systems in place at UEA are similar.

We asked current UEA students what advice they’d give to incoming freshers who have SpLD’s or ASD.

Here are their experiences and advice:

(disclaimer – these may not be all applicable to every individual situation, but are personal things individual UEA students have found helpful).

“I have dyslexia and dyspraxia and I’ve found having a mentor has been the thing that’s worked best for me! Also, making sure you talk to your tutors (use those office hours!) and record those meetings, I always work better when I’ve talked my ideas through first. Any kind of visual aids you can get help too, like maybe get some coloured paper when you’re using your DSA printer if you get one, and find fonts that work for you when typing up.” – Charlotte Earney.

“Make your room your sanctuary. Fresher’s week is so hectic that it’s good to have a place to come and unwind. I had a colour changing lamp, fluffy blankets and also took the same Febreze I had at home so that it smelt familiar. Also, DSA is definitely worth applying for. The form filling is boring, but you get a lot out of it that’s really helpful and the assessment isn’t scary at all.”    – Anonymous, (ASD)

“Fidget aids are surprisingly handy during lectures and assignments, for both stress release, ‘grounding’ and concentration. I also got my ASD diagnosis through the UEA student support service at 22, thanks to the amazing, ongoing support of my ASD adviser. Finally feel I ‘belong’ and this course has been a fresh start, as the whole of me is now being acknowledged and supported. The teaching staff are also excellent, very approachable and been more than happy to provide further support and advice when needed.”  Abbey Doormann

“I was only diagnosed with my SpLD at the end of my second year. I have been really impressed with the speed at which UEA have put the support in place, giving me access to the sticker system for coursework and a tutor, ready for final year. I’m feeling a lot more confident about next year now.” – Matilda Richetto (ADHD and Dyslexia)

“Don’t be afraid of people here they are super nice. Eat dinner at the table during the first week to make friends and if you don’t get along with your flatmates it’s okay to go to accommodation and ask to swap. Make sure you talk to people, especially your advisor and join societies where you can make something, it’s therapeutic and makes you want to go so you can complete your project.’ –  Sarah Darley, (ASD, Dyslexia & PD)

Image “University of East Anglia from the Broad” by mira66 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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