Midwifery student Rowanne always suspected she might have learning difficulties, but was unable to find answers at school. After enrolling at RGU, she was quickly diagnosed with dyslexia after reaching out to the Inclusion Centre. Read more about Rowanne’s experience of receiving support at the university.
How was your school experience before coming to RGU?
I always kind of suspected that I had dyslexia or problems reading. When writing, I would misspell things and reverse letters or words. At school, teachers noticed these things, but I was always told I never tried hard enough. My parents saw that I was working hard but that I was getting frustrated with myself. All these things combined made me think I might have learning difficulties.
Then, at my first college course when I was 18, they said they agreed with my suspicions but couldn’t diagnose me. My GP said the exact same thing. My college still managed to give me their version of the test, along with minimal support. But because they didn’t have Educational Psychologists, they couldn’t officially diagnose me. However, they recognised that I must definitely have some learning difficulties.
When did you decide to reach out to the Inclusion Centre at RGU?
Once I was accepted onto the course at RGU, I immediately got in contact with the Inclusion Centre. This was before the term even started. I was lucky to be on a college course that facilitated our transition to university. My class asked if we could have a talk with the Admissions staff at RGU to ask them some questions. I asked them about the support available at the university for students who might have additional needs and they gave me the contact details of the Inclusion Centre.
I reached out to the team at the centre to explain my situation and ask how I could get some support. They immediately suggested to test me for a diagnosis.
How did your dyslexia tests with the Inclusion Centre go?
I did everything on Zoom because we were all studying from home at the time. The Educational Psychologist made me write and read a lot of different things. For example, I had to write down and read made-up words, or write the same sentence over and over again in a set amount of time to see if I would make any mistakes. Once I was done, I sent everything back and I later received a long report with my diagnosis.
It was a relief to finally be diagnosed with dyslexia, because it meant that I wasn’t just lazy. I’m trying really hard, but my brain just works differently. It was very affirming to go through this experience.
What support did you get after your diagnosis?
I was able to get software on my computer, as well as a printer to print out PowerPoint presentations of my lectures and take notes easily. I got a lot of overlays and extra time in exams if needed. There is also someone that can help me read my essays to check my spelling.
All this support has helped me greatly. It allowed me to accomplish more things. I’m not sure I could do that with just the help from my friends and family.
What message do you have for RGU students with learning difficulties?
You can do well at university and the support is out there. I’ve heard some people on my course say that they might have some learning difficulties, but they haven’t taken the initiative to get diagnosed and get the support they need. You have to be a little bit proactive and reach out. It’s always better to get help as soon as possible as it takes some time to put arrangements in place.
I think the umbrella project will help with that. The person sitting next to you in class might seem academically good, but they might need some extra help to achieve that. That’s why it’s important to showcase the array of learning difficulties that people can have so that more students reach out for help in the future.
RGU installed 25 multi-coloured umbrellas on campus as part of a project ran by Aberdeen Inspired in partnership with the ADHD Foundation to raise awareness of the “umbrella” term of neurodiversity. They are located near the Inclusion Centre, which provides support for students with dyslexia, sensory and mobility impairments, mental health difficulties, medical conditions, autism spectrum disorders and temporary impairments. They can provide dyslexia screening and evaluation, in-house assessment of needs, guidance to apply for the Disabled Students’ Allowance, exam arrangements and more. Visit the RGU website for more information.