Best 10 Tips For Students With Dyslexia
Having dyslexia or a related specific learning difficulty can make studying for a degree more challenging, but there are loads of things you can do so they don’t get in the way. To mark Dyslexia Awareness Week the disability and dyslexia service at Middlesex University offer ten helpful hacks to get you flying.
1. Always start your assignments as early as possible. Dyslexia and related specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) tend to affect memory and reading which can make research more time consuming.
2. Stay organised. Organisational skills are often affected by SpLDs so the more you can manage your time and resources the more successful you’re likely to be. Try colour coding your notebooks into subjects, putting monthly/yearly planners up on your wall so you always know what’s ahead, doing daily and weekly checklists of tasks, loading your deadlines onto planners and keeping your papers in order of date and topic.
3. Manage your time. Make sure through being active and organised that you make the most of time so you can meet your deadlines and have a life without causing yourself more stress than you need to. You can do this by setting yourself realistic targets and make a real effort to meet them. Set reminders on your phone so that you are not late for lectures and do work at regular intervals – try not to cram.
4. Make sure you understand the assignment brief. There is nothing more fruitless than doing work that you won’t be rewarded for. If in doubt speak to your tutor.
5. Remember the three Ps: plan, plan, plan. Do not sit at a blank, white screen waiting for inspiration. After working out what the assignment brief is mind-map ideas. Then, for each idea – read relevant material and write a paragraph. The next stage is to organise ideas into sections and elaborate.
6. Take frequent, short breaks from the computer. This will help concentration. Long sessions at a screen can affect your eyes so consider putting up a coloured background to decrease glare. Don’t forget to eat and drink plenty of water as dehydration can slow the brain down.
7. Get to know how you learn. Take an online VARK (Visual, Auditory, Reading, Kinesthetic) test to determine your preferred learning style. This will help you study in the most effective way for you so you can play to your strengths. For example, if you’re primarily an auditory learner, you could record lectures and thoughts in order to listen back to them.
8. Now that you know what type of learner you are – you could also determine how else you best learn: where in your house/flat will you set up a study area? What time of the day are you likely to be at your best? Do you like small study groups? Do you need absolute silence or music or TV in the background?
9. Assistive technologies are useful study tools. Mind-map software such as Mindmaple and Mind Genius are effective in helping you get your ideas down. Dragon and Read & Write Gold are speech-to-text and text-to-speech softwares. As SpLDs generally affect literacy, Grammarly is a really useful and free tool that will improve your writing. Some of the specialist software is funded by The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) but some apps can be downloaded for free.
10. Stay motivated. Don’t forget that for any student to be successful whether they have a SpLD or not, the key is motivation. Don’t give up and enjoy learning. If you’re struggling or if you have any queries don’t be afraid to ask your university’s support services for help.
This blog was written by Dawn Sandells and David Ramsden, who provide study support for students who have dyslexia and other learning difficulties at Middlesex University London.