- The rate of attrition among tertiary students with dyslexia is higher than non-dyslexic students
- Tertiary students urged to explore the support services available that will allow them to pursue their academic goals
- Dyslexia is not a problem with intelligence, rather it is a neurobiological disability that is characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and spelling and decoding abilities
With an influx of higher education students being diagnosed with dyslexia and other learning difficulties, this Dyslexia Awareness Month Charles Sturt aims to shine the spotlight on resources available for these students and others considering a higher education to achieve their academic goals.
The University also aims to dispel myths that dyslexia is a vision problem. Instead, people with dyslexia face challenges recognising, spelling and decoding words.
According to Dr Rahul Ganguly, Course Director-Post Graduate Studies (Education) and HDR Pathways, in the Charles Sturt University School of Education dyslexia is not a problem with intelligence.
“People with dyslexia have a typical IQ and can be academically gifted. It is just that their brains process language differently than those without the disability,” Dr Ganguly said.
“Despite its biological basis, dyslexia can’t be diagnosed with a simple blood test or brain scan. Rather, diagnosis is made based on clinical reviews of an individual's history, teacher reports, academic records, and responses to interventions,” Dr Ganguly said.
“Challenges faced often include learning letters, the correct order of letters, overlooking small words in text, and mispronunciation of words. Additionally, research has found that individuals with dyslexia were at increased risk of negative outcomes in emotional, social, educational, and occupational domains.
“Dyslexia symptoms are more apparent in the first two years of school, usually when the children start to read. However, children can demonstrate symptoms of dyslexia by the age of three years, or even earlier. Also, dyslexia can go undiagnosed for years or even decades.
“Often children compensate for their dyslexia in their early schooling, but the complexity of their learning environment at the tertiary level becomes much greater.
"Research has found there is a high level of attrition among dyslexic students especially in the first year of university study."
Charles Sturt first-year Bachelor of Paramedicine student in the School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences Mr Andrew Ware said he would not have attempted university if it were not for the assistance provided from Charles Sturt Disability Services.
“As a dyslexic student, I’m very grateful for the assistance I’ve received through the Charles Sturt University Disability Service. I’ve achieved more than I ever thought was possible thanks to the adjustments in resources that have been made available to me,” Mr Ware said.
Reasonable adjustments for students with learning difficulties at Charles Sturt vary, depending on the independent need of the student. Some of the reasonable adjustments that may be provided for a student with dyslexia include:
- Provision of a reader and/or scribe for their exams
- Extra time in their exams
- Extensions for assessments
- Notetaking support for lectures
Students may also use various technological supports to assist with their courses, such as:
- Notetaking software
- Text to speech software to assist with reading
- Grammar and spelling software
- Dictation software
- Pen readers
Mr Ware was thankful for the professionalism demonstrated by each of his scribes at Charles Sturt.
“Initially I thought having a scribe would be embarrassing but I couldn’t have been more wrong. All my scribes have been extremely professional making my university education a great experience,” he said.
Mr Ware said it was the learning challenges he encountered at school due to his dyslexia and ADHD that lead to him withdrawing at the age of 15 to pursue a career in construction for the decade that followed.
“My sister and mum are also dyslexic, and it was my sister who told me that disability support services enabled her to pursue a university education, after which I started looking into my options,” he said.
“After achieving higher marks than I was expecting from a bridging course at another university that gave me an ATAR, I had the confidence to aim higher, so I applied to the Bachelor of Paramedicine at Charles Sturt.”
Mr Ware sung the praises of disability support services across the university sector but also believes it is an area that needs constant development to continue to meet the needs of students with learning challenges.
He encourages those considering higher education to seek opportunities that may be available for people with dyslexia and other learning difficulties to achieve their career goals.
Students with learning disabilities are encouraged to contact Charles Sturt Disability Services to discuss reasonable adjustments that may be available and outlined on a Study Access Plan to support their studies.
To make an appointment to speak with the Charles Sturt Disability Service, email firstname.lastname@example.org