Name: RachelImage of blogger Rachel

Studying: Politics and Philosophy 

Year: 3

I was diagnosed with dyspraxia in 2015 at the age of 20, which was a fairly late (but welcome) diagnosis after I had just dropped out of first year after struggling to cope. My mental health conditions were a huge contributing factor in this- I would feel overwhelmed with anxiety, feeling too low to begin any work or do anything productive. These diagnoses impact on how I study massively- I struggle to concentrate and coordinate my thoughts and academic work, organise and motivate myself to attend Uni, appointments and meet deadlines. This along with a huge volume of reading you would expect from a humanities course caused my Irlen syndrome (visual stress) to affect my academic work significantly for the first time.

Since receiving support from the DDSS I have begun to use assistive technology to help build strategies for coping with both my SpLD and my Mental Health- my favourite free apps to use are xMind and ssOverlay. xMind is a mind-mapping tool that allows me to create flexible, visual learning tools that I can come back to after study breaks and rearrange or edit without losing my train of thought. It also allows me to create a ‘bigger picture’ or an overview of subjects which has been invaluable for me with my visual learning style and difficulty sustaining links in my head. It also has some nice pre-set themes so you don’t spend your precious cramming time choosing the ‘perfect’ colour coordination for each topic. ssOverlay is one that I use pretty much constantly but is most important when I’m tired or have a high volume of reading to do. I have been prescribed pink lenses, (literally rose tinted spectacles, ironically enough) but I didn’t fancy wearing them, and they’re extremely expensive so instead I just tint my PC and mobile devices screens to peach and turn the brightness down to tone down the auras, nausea and headaches. I also use a number of mental health apps and I’m excited to talk about my experiences and review software so other people can find strategies that support their own learning process too!

Some of my blogs include:

Think Pacifica could help you to manage your stress and live happier

Mindfulness and relaxation apps – part 1

Combatting procrastination and the Pomodoro technique -Productivity series, part 5

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