Studying with a disability – what resources are available to help me?
I have just finished my work for my fifth and final year at the university. I was originally on the Biomedical Science course for two years before changing over to Psychology and Criminology, restarting from year one. I have suffered from painful joints throughout my life, and needed to have extra time in exams during my GCSEs and at college (as well as extensions of my coursework at college). It wasn’t until I was in my first year of university that I was diagnosed with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, a condition that affects the collagen production in my body. During my second year, I was also diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Contact the Disability and Dyslexia team
Before coming to university, I was excited, but also extremely nervous. I didn’t know how much help was going to be available to me and whether I would be able to have extra time and extensions. It was just after I had moved into my halls of residence that I read about the Disability and Dyslexia team. At first I was relieved, thank goodness they had a team dedicated to helping those with disabilities! But then, I was worried again. What if they don’t cater to my disability? What if they don’t allow the type of help I required? I arranged to have a meeting with the team to discuss the help I needed. As soon as they suggested extra exam time and coursework extensions, the relief came flooding back.
Support for your studies and finance
I was introduced to the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA – UK government funding for study-related costs for students with a disability). Through the DSA, I was given equipment to aid in my work and pain and, at first, all the suggestions and equipment worked wonders!
Until I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and my work (particularly my exams) began to suffer. It was during this time that I also changed my course, so to make sure all of my extra help was transferred over to my new course, I booked in another meeting with the team. During this meeting, I mentioned I had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and to my surprise, the team offered me extra help with my exams.
The Disability and Dyslexia team are an invaluable resource to disabled students (with any disability!) If you think you need extra help but are not 100% sure what will help you in your studies, they will help you! They were fantastic with my case; they were patient, listened to my worries and offered fantastic solutions. After my diagnosis, they also offered university-run one-to-one sessions for mindfulness. They taught me tactics to help control my anxiety that I still use to this day – almost three years later! I would highly recommend any disabled student to book a session with the team as soon as possible because they offer help that can be crucial to your studies down the road.
The university is there for you
At the end of the day, you should enjoy your time at university as well as succeeding in your chosen subject. Your disability should never get in the way of that. If you ever find that you are falling behind, or that your disability is getting in the way of you doing your best, reach out to the university.