Since I was 6 I’ve been diagnosed as being severely dyslexic. It wasn’t that I struggled picking up vocabulary or had difficulty using it, it was actually that I was so good at English when I’d just started Primary School which started the initial alarm bells ringing. Although I had difficulty in distinguishing the use of b’s and d’s in my writing, I never struggled academically apart from picking up foreign languages. This was a bit suspicious to my teacher so off I popped to an Educational Psychologist and there it was discovered I had dyslexia.
With a lot of new students starting GCSE, A Level and University courses around this time, I thought I’d share some methods I use to make sure it doesn’t becoming a barrier. It really annoys me when dyslexia is used as an excuse or a reason why someone should not be academically gifted. Dyslexia doesn’t mean your any less intelligent as someone without it, and managed effectively you can hardly notice it.
My first bit of advise is to get officially diagnosed. A lot of people think they are dyslexic, but until you get an educational report you will be denied access to support you would have been eligible for. All schools/colleges/universities have a department specialising in help (it may be called student support, study support or something on those lines) but if your unsure ask one of your teachers. From there you can get an official assessment. In some places this is free of charge, but I know quite a few people who have had to pay for it once they reach University. The test isn’t stressful or testing how intelligent you are, its just evaluating your skills and how you learn. It does take a few hours to complete but once you have a report done, you can start to find ways to manage your dyslexia.
Once you have your report you can then use it to get all the support available to you. If your in the UK you can look into applying for Disabled Student’s Allowance and some local authorities provide aid such as specialist software. One of the most important things to do though is give your school a copy of the report and ask them to help you manage your dyslexia. This may be through extra time (usually 25% extra), your notes printed on a different coloured paper or permission to record lectures on a dictaphone. At my University this included a series of private study support sessions where a trained member of staff would help me use new methods to stay on top of my work. The important thing to remember is that not everything works for everyone, but its important to have access and try everything just in case.
This leads finally onto my most used methods.I’m really lucky to be an incredibly organised person, it gives me plenty of time to use different techniques. Whenever I’m given any major deadlines for assessed work, I’ll write my own deadline down for two days before so if any major disasters happen like the printer running out of ink, I have time to do something about it. I use colour coded note cards and flash cards religiously and swear by my Staedtler fineliners. Although pretty expensive for what they are, they’ve last me 5 years now and not a single one has dried up yet (touch wood). I also attach stories, people and music to key bits of information. For anyone studying law, you will know the absurd number of cases you will be required to memorise. I tend to place my friends or people I known into the cases and find it so much easier to remember. With factual information I try and number the key information and for that topic, I will use the same number of key points. It then becomes really easy to remember if you’ve missed anything out. Finally I try and make use of all the time I have and make mp3’s with different people reading different sections of my revision notes and putting it on my ipod so I can listen to it on the daily commute. I’ll associate each topic with a different person and can then do revision on the go without any stress.
I hope some of this has helped you. Have you got any tips I’ve missed off? Let me know