Entering university with Dyspraxia can be a daunting prospect, but there is lots of support and plenty of resources available to help you.
A good place to start is your university’s disability services. Disability services support a wide range of people, not just those who identify as disabled, this includes those with learning difficulties like Dyspraxia. They will be able to signpost you to resources and will be the ones who can get support in place for you, such as extra time in exams.
The first thing your university’s disability services will likely do, is assess your needs. Your paperwork or needs assessment from school/ college may not be appropriate, so they may ask you to take another assessment for Dyspraxia. Once they establish that you have Dyspraxia, they will then conduct a needs assessment to understand what support you require and to establish the ways in which the university can support you, this tends to focus mainly on academic support.
A further thing to be aware of is the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). The DSA is open to any student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability through Student Finance England. This is a great way of being reimbursed for equipment you may need, such as a laptop or Dictaphone.
The best thing to do is to speak to your university, as each university will have slightly different processes. They’ll be able to tell you which order to do things and will ensure that you’re not out of pocket.
I found it really eye opening that my university were so happy to test for Dyspraxia for me. I knew from friends how challenging getting support can be, especially in my state school. My university experience was completely different: disability services suggested I had the test done and the university paid for it, I didn’t even think I had Dyspraxia at the time!
It is definitely worth getting support. I was able to get a cover letter for assignments, so my work wasn’t unfairly graded. I also was able to get extensions and extra time in exams, if necessary. I got access to a laptop, specialist software and specialist in-person support, which helped me understand my learning style and how to use technology to my advantage.
I personally wish I made full use of the support I had. I felt embarrassed to take it all because I didn’t look like I needed help, but really, I was only making my life harder than it needed to be. So, I’d recommend using all your options, or at least exploring them.
Although the levels of support will vary between universities, there really is nothing to lose by reaching out to disability services and finding out what your options are, even if you’re unsure if you have Dyspraxia.
by Raheela Shah – Dyspraxic Me Volunteer