Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post was written by Alexander, our Community Education intern, who is a 22-year-old psychology student.
Throughout most of my life I’ve stressed over my academics. Academia for me has always been a source of worry. I know that a lot of that worry comes from one place in my life, at a young age I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disorder, characterised by difficulties in reading, writing and many other facets of cognitive functioning. As you could imagine, this learning disorder has affected my ability to perform in school from primary all the way to my undergraduate degree. But in recent time I have come to understand that alongside the negative impacts, my dyslexia can impact my experience of learning in positive ways.
Having dyslexia or a similar learning disorder whilst studying at university impacts many aspects of the experience. But foremost is the impact it can have on your mental wellbeing. Regardless of dyslexia, I have been impacted throughout my life with anxiety. But with dyslexia, it can exacerbate this anxiety in an academic setting. Even simple tasks like going through a weekly reading for a class can be daunting, I often feel as if, because of how long they take for me to read through I am always behind my peers. Just like myself, many other dyslexic students can relate to these feelings, dyslexia often invoked feelings of inferiority, anxiety, stress, and doubts about one’s abilities (Doikou-Avlidou, 2015). Assignments are much the same, because it takes me longer to process information, I know I need to put in that extra mile. Other students with dyslexia at university may relate to this, as due to the extra time and work required for studying, this may mean that extracurricular activities have to be rearranged (Rowan, 2014). Dyslexia can sometimes be overwhelming, as I notice myself procrastinating or worrying about my academic performance, rather than acknowledging the work that I have done.
But recently, I’ve come to recognise that dyslexia isn’t the be all and end all. I know after the three years I’ve spent in my BA of psychology that if I put the effort in, I can achieve just as well as others. Although I’m not the best processor, I know I have strengths in other places. I can pick up concepts easily, I have good analytical reasoning and my dyslexia has never seemed to effect this. As well, it was incredibly important for my anxiety to seek help within the university. I didn’t realise until a year after I started, that as a dyslexic student, I had access to academic help. I found I could get extra time in exams, which lightened the load immensely. Knowing that there are avenues to help myself and that an understanding of my disorder exists from university staff was immensely relieving. In essence, although a learning disorder like dyslexia can create obstacles to learning in a traditional system, that isn’t the end of the story. Just because you’re dyslexic, doesn’t mean that you’re unable to achieve. With the right support, mindset and work ethic you can do just as well as someone who doesn’t experience the disorder. Dyslexia isn’t a life sentence, it’s just another opportunity to push yourself more than others might have to and interpret the world through a different lens.
Rowan, L. (2014). University transition experiences of four students with dyslexia in New Zealand. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 19(2) 129-136 https://doi.org/10.1080/19404158.2014.923478
Doikou-Avlidou, M. (2015). The educational, social and emotional experiences of students with dyslexia: The perspective of postsecondary education students. International Journal of Special Education, 30(1) 132-145.