How to study at college with learning disabilities
Students sometimes suffer from such typical learning disabilities as dysgraphia, dyscalculia and dyslexia. In this guide, we provide tips and strategies of how to share these disabilities with instructors. It also presents the information to help a person with a disorder prepare for a test and pass it.
Recognizing Dyslexia and Dysgraphia
Approximately 20 per cent of the population is affected with dyslexia. Scientists believe that it is caused by brain connectivity differences. They have some practical advice on overcoming dyslexia.
Dyslexia primarily influences interpretation of words and reading. Failed writing abilities result from dysgraphia.
While reading the test, a human brain needs to perform several complicated steps, which answer such essential questions as:
- What sound goes with the letter?
- What is the right sequence for those sounds?
- How to insert separate words into sentences?
Some people believe that dyslexia causes a person to see and write the words backwards, but it is a mere myth. People with dyslexia fail to properly match a letter with a sound. It leads to problems with spelling, speaking and writing. Therefore, overcoming dyslexia becomes their life goal.
Though people with dyslexia may also suffer from dysgraphia, they are two separate disabilities. Dysgraphia influences person’s ability to write letters by hand and express ideas in writing.
Both dyslexia and dysgraphia can lead to problems in the classroom. Students with dyslexia need more time to complete the test. Their handwriting may be hard to read and they need extra time to take notes. Students with dysgraphia usually make many spelling errors. Both disabilities affect student’s self-esteem.
These disabilities are not related to intelligence. People with dyslexia and dysgraphia are fast thinkers and are creative. They cannot be cured but there are strategies to improve their personal performance and help them in overcoming dyslexia.
Dyscalculia influences person’s ability to understand and manipulate numbers. As a result, it leads to troubles with perceiving logical information and time sequencing. This disorder can either result from brain injury or develop.
The disability makes higher-math a real challenge for college students suffering from it.
There are several symptoms that may point to dysgraphia. In most cases, a student suffers from both dyslexia and dysgraphia. Just like with the two previous disabilities, dyscalculia may be treated to eliminate the most severe consequences through a number of activities for dyslexic students.
Work with a Professor
Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act state that all students should receive equal access to activities on campus and various campus programs. In college, unlike in elementary or high school when parents can communicate all the information to their children, students need to take their own responsibility.
It is advisable to communicate with your teacher or professor and feel free to discuss which learning preferences you have. In this way, you will help your professor understand how to work with you or develop some extra activities for dyslexic students.
Always be open to your instructors. They need to be aware of the areas you struggle with. In this case, they will be able to provide you with the needed conditions, ranging from extended testing time to private testing or course notes. Extra accommodations for students with dysgraphia or dyslexia are guaranteed by law.
Do not feel shy or uncomfortable to ask your professor for assistance in overcoming dyslexia.
This list of tips will help you get ready for the lecture hall:
- Make a plan of all tasks and due dates.
- Find an opportunity to pre-read the assignments on the curriculum.
- Try to sit in front in order to avoid any extra distractions.
- Break all the tasks you get into small sections in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
- Create an outline of what needs to be carried out. Meet with teacher’s assistant to ensure you fully understand all the upcoming tasks.
Drills and Tips
Here are some of the brain drills and activities for dyslexic students from Suzanne Cresswell:
Take an old printed magazine and pick an article from it. You should practice making snake-lines. This line should not run into any words in the article. Do not forget about proper spacing. Spacing is as important as the words themselves. This drill helps to develop firmness in writing and to become more accurate in spacing.
Top 10 Study Tips
Tip 1: You study area should be free from any distractions.
Tip 2: Classical music in the background helps to relax.
Tip 3: Use a rewards system.
Tip 4: Any progress should be visualized.
Tip 5: Use a phonetic dictionary.
Tip 6: Practice studying outside.
Tip 7: Work with your peer’s notes to ensure you have correct information.
Tip 8: Rewrite the notes you borrow in your own words.
Tip 9: Make pictures or diagrams on the basis of you notes. They help memorize data faster.
Tip 10: Read your notes aloud.
Strategies for test taking
Students with learning disabilities find it extremely stressful to take a test. They cope better if tested in a separate environment or have extra time. These test-taking pointers will help be more confident during a test:
Keep in mind the exam format
It is very important for students with reading difficulties to know the format of the test. They cannot adapt to the test environment as easy as typical learners. Find out the format of the test prior to taking it, for there is a great difference between the test on the computer and on a paper.
Do not panic
Students with dysgraphia know how challenging it may be to make you fingers listen to the brain. Remember that panic is your enemy. Stay calm and take deep breaths during the test. While you are reading the exam test, use some of this time to warm up your fingers. You may use a stress ball or a fidget spinner for this. This is an extremely efficient strategy in overcoming dyslexia.
If you have only one hour for the whole test, start with going over all the questions. In the process of reading them, make some notes for you to read the complicated words easier. If you feel stuck, get over to the next question, otherwise you may waste too much time. Use the last 20 minutes for answering the questions, which you skipped, and review the whole test.
It is very important for students with dysgraphia to review the answers. Pay attention to spacing and make sure that there are proper letter spaces. If you have any extra time after proofreading, get back to reviewing difficult or confusing points.
Usually professors have extra accommodations for students with dysgraphia.