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Advice for StudentsStudying

Getting diagnosed with dyslexia at Cardiff University

14 February 2023
Photo by Rob Hobson on Unsplash
Photo by Rob Hobson on Unsplash

Dyslexia affects up to 1 in 10 people in the UK but, despite how common it is, there can be a pattern of academic gaslighting which can be applied to students with learning disabilities due to a lack of funding. In the face of the negligence of specific learning needs, it is increasingly important for those with a specific learning need to feel seen. It has been found that there is a connection between dyslexia, stress and anxiety resulting from mounting frustration and limited academic success despite attempts to improve.


My educational history

Despite being on the dyslexia pathway, having prism glasses and having fluctuating grades as a child, my difficulties were never addressed in secondary school when all the steps taken towards a dyslexia diagnosis were dismissed on account of my (relatively) good grades at the time. My confidence dropped, it was difficult to improve, even with maximum effort, and it felt as if there was a ceiling blocking me from reaching the top grades. This is a very common problem. This is a problem with funding for diagnosis and teacher training, with 74% of teachers not feeling satisfied with their teacher training on identifying and teaching children with dyslexia. However, a lot can be said for a desperate meeting my mum had (behind my back because I lacked the confidence to even think I had dyslexia) with my Year 10 tutor when I achieved barely passing grades in my mocks. Her concerns were never addressed, and I was moved to a new, less experienced tutor for my final year of GCSEs. Suffice it to say that I achieved far below my initially-predicted grades. 

Cardiff and my dyslexia diagnosis 

Thankfully, in my last months at my Sixth Form college, my teachers supported me with achieving extra time in exams and helping me improve my grades in the wake of Covid. They supported me in rebuilding my confidence in learning. Finally, I moved to Cardiff University where I decided it was finally time to find out for myself. I was at last faced with only non-judgemental support and guidance. I was told my options in a clear way, and although the process took a while, I was kept well up-to-date. Where I had previously been ignored, my experiences were validated in a way that has allowed me to work on ways of working with my dyslexia to excel in my degree. You can find information on the diagnostic process here.  

A key moment in my memory was when I was told that I was, in fact, dyslexic. Sitting in the Centre for Student Life, utterly confused. This was something that I had always repressed, so it was a shock to find out that my family’s suspicions were true and that it wasn’t just me. Since my diagnosis, I have been learning about how my dyslexia may have impacted me in school and how I can adapt my learning while working towards my degree. 

A view from the Centre for Student Life balcony

The importance for those who have learning difficulties to feel seen

After my experience in secondary school, it was incredible to have my experiences validated when I moved on to Sixth Form college. This helped me slowly gain confidence in education. Furthering this, the recognition, validation and support that I have received at Cardiff University has given me the opportunity to fully enjoy my education without feeling held back by my abilities; they even gave me this writing job. Helping me tear down the ceiling on my abilities that I had previously been confined to while being told that it wasn’t there. This really highlights the importance of feeling seen when it comes to people with specific learning needs, which Cardiff strives to improve

If you believe that you are dyslexic, do not worry. There are many successful people with dyslexia such as Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, Steve Jobs and more. Given the right support, with guidance from Cardiff University, there is no reason why your opportunities should be limited.