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Support at Uni (or maybe, I should say support IN GENERAL)

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:53 pm
by C
Hi guys

Some of you have noticed I haven't been around a lot lately (I don't think I have anyway, but maybe it's just me...) I have really been trying to focus on my Uni work and getting everything done on time. I have also been working an eighteen and a half hour week this term with my two part time jobs. I'm finding it hard to 'fit everything in' and have even been stressed and snapping at the little schoolchildren I look after recently (so unlike me, and so unfair... it's not their fault!!!) As I have some mild ADHD tendencies I find it hard to concentrate (always have done) but also have times when I 'hyperfocus.' As these are usually at night, the end result is me typically being up until 2 or 3 am listening to my dictophone, doing essays, assignments and just 'getting everything done.' I break up for Christmas this week and feel overwhelmed with the amount of work we have been set for the holiday (although I should have more time then as the school I work at are also on a break). My famiyl complain that I never see them (!) and I should take breaks when working... they don't seem to understand that taking a break means I'll probably get distracted and not return to my work! My organization is appalling at the moment - far worse than it seemed to be last term. I haven't tidied my bedroom in at least two months, I still have outstanding Christmas presents and a haircut to book and - most importantly - forgot ALL the material I needed for the practical lab class I did today. If it was just my material this would not be so bad but I had to recode something as part of it for a friend so I left her stuff behind too! It actually worked out as worse for her as she had a lot of my stuff, she just made up a load of stuff to be recoded in the end! I felt awful about it, even though she said she didn't mind and was really nice about it (she's really chilled out and laid back about her work anyway, so the chances are she really didn't care! But still, it really inconvienced her).

We had the lab session from 3-6 which is just such a bad time for me to concentrate. Overall, my marks are good but in the session we had to calculate formulas and things (we recently did an interview and had to statistically analyze it). I really struggle with this... a few weeks ago, concerned about my progress in statistics and the practical elements of the course, I went to the disabled officer for the psychology faculty to ask for some support, but she wasn't much help. She only took over the role in September, and, while being a nice enough woman really does not have a clue! I mentioned that on my educational psychologists report last year, the ed psyc had reccommended one-to-one stats help but she said that would not be possible. After halfway through the discussion she said soemthing like 'so you think your dyslexia is getting in the way of this?' I patiently reminded her it was dyspraxia I had (I have no dyslexic symptoms whatsoever.) I just babbled on and on, thinking that, as a psychologist as well as tutor, she might be interested. She said she's mention something to my stats workshop tutor who also happens to be the proctor for my labs.

My stats workshop tutor is a research student, only a few years older than I. She researches autism, so I thought she may be understanding and helpful. She talked with me about my worries a little bit and, upon hearing I got an A2 in stats last year asked me if it was an anxiety thing rather than lack of ability. Maybe it is when it comes to stats but when it comes to labs I'm really slow. I asked her for help today and she said something like 'Now you have to divide this into... then taek the avergae of... then multiply this...' and all the words filled my head at the same time and I just couldn't concentrate. I replied with a puzzled 'what?' She turned to the girl sitting next to me and said to her 'you help Charlotte' then walked off. In the end the two girls sitting next to me (one of whom was the girl whose work I had forgotton) did it all for me.

Technically, as long as my write up is okay it doesn't really matter that I'm slow at labs, it's just embarrassing and frustrating. I don't want to keep nagging people for help and they are right... an A2 is a good grade. But stats is harder this year and stats and labs are now two separate modules - stats now being entirely based on overally exam marks (last year, stats and labs was a combined module and the lab reports counted for 40% so I made sure my write up was good). last year I had two really good teachers helping me with it. One of them (she can't have been much older than me either) had a bit of a soft spot for me and used to just sit by me and go through it slowly, time and time again until I'd got it. I never felt embarrassed to ask her for help and she was telling me about how she is foreign and when she did her undergrad degree she got frustrated as she was slower than the other students. She doesn't teach the second year and I really miss her...

Next term I am going to cut down on my days at the school. My timetable will change as well so I'll have to see what days I can realistically do and work from there. Also, I was thinking of making an appointment to see the ed pscy who assessed me in November 2006. I know it's been a year since she saw me but I'd really like so advice. At the moment I am getting extra time in exams and the use of a computer and I am doing well so I don't know if I'm making a big deal; over nothing... it's the day to day things that get to me. People see the 'A' grade but they don't see that Ive been up night after night neglecting literally everything else to get it! I thought my dyspraxia was mild but my assessment last year put my performance skills in the bottom 4th percentile! And it's not like I have great verbal skills to compensate either, they're only average. I know lots of you on here get more help than I do... i struggle to cross the road sometimes because I can't judge how far away the cars are. Over time this has built up and made me anxious. I am bad in big groups of people because I can't integrate everything they are saying and form my response quickly. I can't tell my right foot from my left foot. I find cleaning my room difficult. Sometimes I 'zone out' completely to everything around me. Other times I just want to be left alone in quiet. How am I going to cope with all this when I have to go out into the 'real world' and get a 9-5 job? I look so normal, in many respects I act so normal but I'm different. I know this is slightly off topic but I want to know your views. Should I see if I can see the ed pscy again or not? And am I just worrying over nothing about stats and labs?

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:36 pm
by Thirteen-thirty-seven
First of all, I think two part-time jobs is too much for any full-time student. Do you really need the money badly? If you are struggling financially, could you apply to a hardship fund, rather than exhausting yourself?

'Now you have to divide this into... then taek the avergae of... then multiply this...' and all the words filled my head at the same time and I just couldn't concentrate. I replied with a puzzled 'what?' She turned to the girl sitting next to me and said to her 'you help Charlotte' then walked off. In the end the two girls sitting next to me (one of whom was the girl whose work I had forgotton) did it all for me.


Next time, ask her to write it down for you, or show you on a piece of paper. That might help.

One of them (she can't have been much older than me either) had a bit of a soft spot for me and used to just sit by me and go through it slowly, time and time again until I'd got it. I never felt embarrassed to ask her for help and she was telling me about how she is foreign and when she did her undergrad degree she got frustrated as she was slower than the other students. She doesn't teach the second year and I really miss her...


Could you email her and ask her to contact your current tutors and explain your problems to them? They might help.

People see the 'A' grade but they don't see that Ive been up night after night neglecting literally everything else to get it!


I know how that feels. If its any consolation, take comfort in the fact that you know you worked harder and deserve the grades more.

I thought my dyspraxia was mild but my assessment last year put my performance skills in the bottom 4th percentile!


I know EXACTLY how that feels. I have been through pretty much the same thing. What surprises me is that you're not getting much support, even after this diagnosis, with organisation etc.

How am I going to cope with all this when I have to go out into the 'real world' and get a 9-5 job? I look so normal, in many respects I act so normal but I'm different


I worry about the same thing, but worrying isn't a solution. There are books and people you can go to for coping strategies - your Ed Psych and parents should be able to help. But sitting and worrying solves nothing.

Try to get more sleep, even if it must be during the day. It may help you to concetrate.

I think counselling could help you deal with stress. Have you contatced your University's counselling service.

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:16 pm
by Cartouche
Hmm, well, I don't think I can offer better advice than that...sleep and counselling ought to help. Two part-term jobs makes life too difficult, but I can understand this financially...

What you said about grades and efforts reminded me of one of my own problems...when I get my A grade, I don't feel that I earned it. I feel I didn't try hard enough. This is despite usually having spent 50 hours on the thing, probably about 10 times as much as your average student. I miss out on sleep, and socialising, and my diet goes out the window, but I still feel as if I'm not trying hard enough. I'm thankful that I have people around me to remind me that I have actually earned my grades...

PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:00 pm
by parnassus
*Hugs*

Your post has cheered me up too! Sometimes just knowing that I'm not the only one with these difficulties has a good effect on me.

I have a question for you. I'm thinking of applying to take a conversion course in psychology, accredited by the BPS, that would prepare me for clinical training. My one fear is the maths involved. I have dyscalculia, as you already know, and I managed to get a C grade at GCSE with three hours of extra maths coaching each week. (I used to miss PE to go to the special needs department for it, and quite frankly I don't know which was the worst fate.) Do you think a dyscalculic person would be able to cope with the statistical component of a psychology course?

I have to run now - church time. I will pray for you and your lab work while I'm there.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:33 pm
by C
Thanks for your replies.

Vicky, to answer your question the statistics element of my course is the only one of my modules that is open book for all examinations (I don't know about the conversion course but I'd imagine it would be the same). This was great for me - last year I went through everything really slowly, and all the formulas I had to know I wrote down verbally, step-by-step so they made sense to me. In fact, I actually think that because I was so thorough I had a better understnading of the topic in the end, rather than just rushing through it (thinking I'd have my notes in the exam so I'd be okay) and not really caring. Although I personally had to retake maths to get a C at GCSE, I got an A2 that year and I plan on doing the same this year... I do not, however, have dyscalculia. I don't think it will be easy for you but I think you are definitely capable of it. If somebody had told me a year ago that I'd get an A on a statistics module I wouldn't have believed them! Another thing I'd like to add is that not all of statistics is about maths anyway, a lot of it involves words, rather than numbers, for example formulating hypotheses for fictional expetriments etc. And with your dyscalculia, you may be entitled to extra tuition with the stats (wish I was, lol!). Hope that helped.

Esther, thank-you for your kind words. I don't really have the part time jobs for the money, I have them because I enjoy them! They're both childcare jobs, one in a school and one helping with the children next door and I suppose the latter some wouldn't call a 'job' at all. Anyway, the baby next door is nearly eleven months old now, and, as I have two 6pm and one 7pm finish next semester me and the mother have agrred I'll only help for one night from them on. She goes to yoga as well that night and it's nice for her to get out. With the job at the school, well, I've said I'll let them know what days I can do. i think just two mornings, rather than two mornings plus an afternoon which is what I was doing before is realyl my limit. If I cut the afternoon out I'll have one extra afternoon to study.

Regarding emailing my old stats teacher, funnily enough, I think if I did email her she'd do all she could to help (I alrady sent her an email in October thanking her for all the help she gave me last year and she sent me a really nice one back) but I really don't think it's her place to help me again, her job title is to teach the first year psychology and I don't feel right doing it. I did, however, email the disabled students officer regarding to be referred back to the educational psychologist who assessed me last year. I should have done it ages ago - I'm going to ask her some tips for daily living and things. I'm sure she'll be a lot better than that psychology woman who clearly has not got a clue!!!

It was my last day at Uni on Friday so have the long Christmas break now (Just the exams to revise for, grr!) And I found out I got an A3 on a lab report so am really pleased! I may be useless in the class but at least my write up is good!!! :D

PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 11:31 am
by Cartouche
My Dad is the school Statistics expert. Thanks to him, I'm slightly biased in favour of the subject, but I will say that, aside from those huge tables you get with some exercises, Stats is the most verbal of the mathematical subjects. It has a lot of benefits for other subjects to, such as Geography and Sociology, both of which have Stats modules at A2 (I think).

PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 7:27 pm
by C
I have now booked an appointment with the ed. psyc. I will mention my problems with prioritising work load, anxiety problems when out and about (because of lack of spatial awareness and depth perception) and concerns about learning to drive. Part of me doesn't know whether I am making a big deal about nothing - I mean I'm getting good grades, after all. But I do really want some assistance with the practical day to day things and I think the ed psyc may be able to help... I do think it's ironic that I'm doing a psychology degree myself, I make an interesting case study!

PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 7:59 pm
by Thirteen-thirty-seven
*hugs* I hope all goes well.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:46 pm
by C
Well I saw the ed pscy yesterday and I found her to be very helpful (way better than that disabled students co-ordinator who told me she had yet to see a copy of my diagnostic assessment and then refered to my dyspraxia as dyslexia!) I started writing a few things down for the ed pscy to have a look at, which gradually grew until it was three pages long! I told her how the assessment last year had changed my life - at the time I thought for the worst but I now think for the better. And I added that I was doing really well at University but I was having sensory issues and they were panicking me. Also, last year after the assessment she mentioned that I may in fact have non-verbal learning disorder in addition to my dyspraxia as she was alarmed by how poorly I performed on the performance sub set of the IQ test she gave me (for those of you that don't know, full scale IQ is composed of tasks involving verbal knowledge such as vocabularly, which is the verbal IQ scale, and tasks involving spatial skills, which is performance IQ. My verbal IQ is 104. My performance IQ is 73. This 31 point descripency is shared by .7% of other adults my age). And I also mentioned other things on the piece of writing that I gave her that I do that I don't tell anybody because they're too... well, too odd. Like the fact that when diagnosed with dyspraxia, they also specified ADHD tendencies and sometimes late at night I find my brain feels like it will burst because I have too many thoughts inside. And I constantly find myself pacing up and down and sometimes rocking back and forth a bit. And I seem to need 'sameness' at all times to keep me happy and changes to my routine and new things unsettle me a bit.

She read through my report nodding and when she finished reading she told me that what I had was characteristic of non-verbal learning disorder as well as dyspraxia. I had mentioned in my writing that in the past my social difficulties have been so great I've wondered if maybe I had asperger syndrome a little bit but don't any more as I'm sociable and caring.

The ed psyc told me that, although there typically is a higher verbal than performance IQ in dyspraxia, there is not typically a deficit in all of the performance sub tests. My excellent memory on the digit span task was also uncharacteristic of someone with dyspraxia, who typically have short term memory problems. She explained that non verbal disorder was on the extremely high functioning end of the autistic spectrum. I took offense at that a bit as I've seen both high and low functioning autistic people and to me I am nothing like that. But then she started talking to me about things like going to parties and past social relationships and it all seemed to fit together somehow. I explained that when I was younger I was really imaginative but it all had to be on my terms. I hate going to parties and I had thought that was to do with introversion but then she asked me why I hate them and I replied something like 'It's because I don't really get what I have to do... everybody seems to be laughing and chatting and I feel like I should join in but part of me doesn't know how and part of me doesn't want to anyway'. I told her I find it difficult to form friendships and that I'd never had a boyfriend because 'I don't want him to touch my shoulders.' I added that I have a sister who's nearly seventeen and I find it weird when she has her friends round and they all talk in weird voices and I just don't 'get' her world at all and find her as odd as she finds me. I receited a story about sitting in a lecture hall once and a lecturer had spelt something slightly wrong and it really agitated me.

The ed psyc explained that people with autism generally have poor verbal ability (verbal IQ) but their spatial skills (performance IQ) are a lot better. With me, the opposite pattern was seen. I also DON'T lack a theory of mind (or being able to infer the mental states of other people). I have always been highly empathetic and caring and things like hugging children and having them hug me I don't mind at all. There is also typically a triad of impairments in autism - social interaction, communication and imagination and I don't lack imagination at all but I do have problems with social interaction and apparently that's good enough. In some ways, I disagree with the diagnosis in that I look at people with even asperger syndrome and I think 'that's not me.' But then I look at the 'normal' world and think that too... so I'm somewhere in between... but I have decided that, whatever I am, it is not on the autistic spectrum. It just causes difficulties socially, but that doesn't make me autistic...

One problem I have with all this is that some of you on here who are purely dyspraxic also claim to have social difficulties. The ed psyc told me that the social difficulties in people with dyspraxia are typically caused by a lack of low self-esteem or concerns about low motor ability. Another thing is that it seems so weird to consider myself on the 'autistic spectrum' when I'm such a sociable person in so many ways. I have a VERY strong theory of mind, always have done. I've always cared for people and been empathetic and I have two part time jobs involving caring for children - highly socially demanding. I can make small talk with ease and can usually make good eye contact without thinking about it, unless I'm very tired in which case it is cognitive effort. Above all, I'm on a psychology course and psychology is all about people! And maybe the problems with social interaction are

She reccommended exercise to help with the ADHD and the pacing. We also agreed for her to update my assessment report including the ADHD and non verbal learning disorder. To help my anxiety, she recommended cognitive behavioural therapy. She will put this in the report and I will go to my GP and get refered.

I came out of her office yesterday feeling really, really happy about everything. I realize now that when I went to see the disabled students co-ordinator about stats I really half wanted to say all I'd said to the ed psyc but I took one look at the disabled students co-ordinator woman and knew she wouldn't understand if I did. I told my mum about it all this evening (she's the first person I've told) and for a while my heart sank a bit because she said things like 'well I do that' and 'oh everybody does this' and I thought maybe she didn't understand. And then I went to my room and paced around a bit and wondered if I'd done the right thing after all in including non verbal disorder in my report because what if I don't have it? And then I started to think, well if I don't have it and it panics me when my bus is five minutes late or when my timetable changes slightly does that make me slightly insane? Or is it just a ocmbination of dyspraxia and ADHD that makes me do it? But anyway my mum's done some internet research now and she says she thinks it sounds like me and anyway she loves me whatever and I'm glad I've told her, although I don't think I'll tell many people.

Whew, that felt good to get out! Sorry if I've offended anyone in this post, haven't meant too. Just a bit confused about everything. Confused, but relieved in a way that I'll get cognitive behavioural therapy and me and the ed psyc had a good chat and she seemed to understand a lot and that's the main thing.