I am the world’s most unorganized person. There I said it. I’m ditzy, I forget appointments, I sleep through my alarm, I turn up to seminars having done the wrong reading; the list could go on but in summary my life is fairly chaotic the majority of the time. Organised chaos is how I am going to phrase this. Good spin isn’t it? See normally at home if I’m unorganised it doesn’t matter too much because I know my Mum will stop it all from going too horribly wrong, however here on my own in the big bad world everything really does just go to pot sometimes. I guess I could put it down to being dyslexic?
For those of you who don’t know dyslexia is a learning disability that 10% of the population suffer from. It varies from person to person but ‘the general underlying characteristic is that (1) your short-term memory is not as efficient as that of a non-dyslexic; (2) your speed of processing information is slower. Simply put it takes you much longer to process and remember information. The memory and processing difficulties mean your phonological knowledge – knowing how groups of letters represent sound and the ability to put these together accurately – is not as developed. This results in reading and writing not being as automatic of fluent for you and comprehension of text is affected and spelling may also be erratic. The same difficulties that affect reading and writing also affect organisation skills ’ [JANET GODWIN, Studying with Dyslexia]. *
*HAHA to the ‘spelling may be erratic’ – I once found 8 different ways to spell squirrel on one page. Everyone I tell this story too finds this shocking i found so many combinations of 8 letters; however I am more concerned with what I was writing about that required me to say squirrel 8 different times?*
I got that quote from this little book Santa brought me the Christmas before my A-Levels – I think he was trying to tell me to get my butt in gear and start sorting my work out. Basically the advice on combating disorganisation is not to trust your memory as a planner. You have to write everything down, have a weekly planner so you know where to be, when to be there, what to have done beforehand and what to bring with you. Then you need a semester planner that informs you when you have to have your coursework in so you can plan you studies around this. Finally you need a daily planner filled with to-do lists, memos on where to be at what time, random thoughts that come to you throughout the day; you can write anything down really.
Thankfully in this modern era of the smartphone I can just jot everything down on my iPhone for the daily tasks. I have a massive wall calendar to remind me when assignments are due in and when tests are. I also bought myself a homework diary – yes like we used to use in school – in which I write myself a daily reading task I have to get down and any lectures/appointments I have – thankfully my schedule is pretty repetitive week-in-week-out so it’s not too difficult. However my memory is awful so if I don’t write something down immediately I forget it within 10mins. So when I go and make appointments with my tutors/lecturers I forget any advice they have given me unless I write it down, which I struggle to do fast enough to keep up with the conversation we are having. Such a conundrum isn’t it.
So happy as a clam I struggled along my first term, wallowing away in my room occasionally that, quite frankly, my studies were going to pot. Finally after sitting through the January exams I went ‘hmmm maybe I should get some help?’ I knew about the AccessAbility centre in the Library, but having sat through 1hour study skills lessons every week since I was diagnosed at 13, I decided to give it a miss. Rethinking that decision I made an appointment with Rachel. I feel like it might be taking it too far to call her a life-saver but I definitely would have crashed and burned by now if not for her. She helped me sort through my un-organized chaos – to make it now into it organized chaos – and helped me with my reading comprehension. You see I was reading the chapters set but I would get to the bottom of a page and realise although I had read the words none of it had sunk in, rather annoying because it means you have to re-read the page which results in the reading taking about 3 times longer than it should. The next appointment she suggested I took a recording of any meetings I went to so if I forgot I could just play it back later to help with the memory. Our last meeting we helped plan my semester around my assignments and I feel very calm now, which means there’s less running round like a headless chicken and more zen-breathing and getting things done.
I would be lying if I said there wasn’t still running around, but I like to compare myself to a chicken with a head rather than the headless one. I run with a purpose. Example: Thursday morning, roll over in bed ‘mmm so relaxing… wait a minute… I shouldn’t be relaxed at 07.00… my alarm isn’t irritating me… AHHHHHH My alarm didn’t go off!!!!’ at this point it was 10.25 and I had a presentation to give in my seminar group at 11.00. Frantically changing and grabbing my bag – hoping everything is in there (helpful tip – pack your bag the night before, yes I sound like a Mum but it’s a saviour in the morning) – sprint down the stairs 2 at a time, past a housemate who starts ‘hey, how are…’ to which I reply ‘CAN”T TALK! ALARM DIDN’T DO OFF!’ Over my shoulder as I sprint out the front door to the bus stop.
Basically the general gist of this blog is just how useful the AccessAbility department is if you need them. When I applied for this blogger position they were asked ‘Why do you think you would be good for this job?’ I thought because I do Hockey and Rowing I can tell you about my experiences in sports societies, I’m a vegetarian so I can tell you all the good veggie food and I’m also a coeliac – I can’t eat gluten, Leicester Uni is the only UK university to have coeliac accredited meals – so I can tell you how to find gluten-free food. Finally I also figured as more and more people are becoming aware of learning disabilities nowadays I could also tell you all about the services available. English was never my favourite subject at school, I hate writing, my handwriting is a mess – I now type for exams – and I never could spell or form grammatical sentences/paragraphs. But for some reason – probably because I never shut up – I quite enjoy this format, so I’m trying to say go get some support and don’t write off anything wordy just because you have dyslexia and figure out what works best for you and your dyslexia – because no two people are the same.