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Students with SEN at university

(39 Posts)
voilets Sat 19-Dec-15 19:52:12

I would really like to here from mumsnetters who have or have had DC at uni with SEN and who had difficulties but found ways of overcoming them. My DS has struggled with concentration in some lectures and is finding it really hard to make friends on the course. Hence, there is no one to ask about the work.
How did your DC overcome their issues?

TinklyLittleLaugh Sun 20-Dec-15 00:23:13

My DD doesn't have any diagnosed SENs but has always really struggled with learning by listening. She says making loads of notes, even if she doesn't understand them, is the only way she can stay focussed through a lecture. She then goes through the online version of the lecture with her scribble notes and hopefully makes some decent notes.

Her problem with lectures is one of the reasons she chose the course she is doing, which is mostly tutorial and practical based.

potap123 Sun 20-Dec-15 00:30:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ReallyTired Sun 20-Dec-15 00:30:15

I can understand someone going to university if they have a specific learning difficulty like dyslexia. If someone has had more generalised learning difficulties then they should not be at university.

What is the point of a third class degree in a Mickey Mouse subject and a shedload of debt? Having a piece of paper that shows that a student is either lazy as sin or as thick as mince is not going to enchance their job prospects. They would be better off dropping out and doing an apprenticeship.

potap123 Sun 20-Dec-15 00:30:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Russellgroupserf Sun 20-Dec-15 00:37:58

I was involved with students with disabilities in a past role working in higher ed.

Has she declared this to the Universities disability team? She may very well qualify for longer deadlines for submitted work or for extra time in exams.

When it comes to making friends I'm afraid that as in school some students with additional needs do sometimes have a harder time finding friends. Does she have any interests or passions? A University society may be her best bet.

manontheland Sun 20-Dec-15 00:45:41

DD has various SENs and is in her third year at university. She could have had a note taker as this was suggested at her DSA assessment, but she insisted that it would be too embarrassing and it would mark her out as different. She says that a Deaf student on her course does have a note taker (and she doesn't judge her at all) but she tends to keep her disabilities hidden when possible.

DD records her lectures using a dictaphone (funded by DSA) although these days it's become more of a fall-back plan as she doesn't need to listen to the whole thing back. Her approach is quite similar to TinklyLittleLaugh's DD, she takes tons of notes and writes down almost everything otherwise her mind will wander. She also does as much reading as she can beforehand so she isn't encountering the material for the first time during the lecture.

She doesn't have many friends on the course, but there is a FB group where she can post queries (although she still feels reluctant to do that, she feels embarrassed at not understanding things and doesn't want to appear stupid). She often works around the problem by following MOOCs on the same topic, sometimes if she doesn't understand her university lecturer's approach it can be easier to understand a different lecture course in another university entirely!

TinklyLittleLaugh Sun 20-Dec-15 00:48:35

Well you only get to University if you meet the entry requirements ReallyTired. But you can be pretty bright and still struggle with concentrating on lectures. It's to do with things like auditory processing.

rosebiggs Sun 20-Dec-15 00:52:28

Reallytired the op didn't mention general learning difficulties

TinklyLittleLaugh Sun 20-Dec-15 00:56:20

Not trying to derail, but what are your daughter's SENs Man if you don't mind be asking? It sounds like she has similar issues to my DD, and has evolved similar strategies to overcome them. DD has always refused any type of assessment but definitely has some difficulties.

TinklyLittleLaugh Sun 20-Dec-15 01:01:28

Ah just saw your post on my other thread Man which answers my question.

manontheland Sun 20-Dec-15 01:02:18

I posted on your other thread as well Tinkly, she has ASD, dyslexia and MH issues (depression, anxiety, eating disorder). I suspect she has some attention deficit issues as well, but was never diagnosed with anything else.

Assessments can be much easier/cheaper to get at university, it was covered by the university's funding at DD's uni. DD's conditions were all diagnosed at school age, but she had to get reassessed for dyslexia as they needed a diagnosis when she was over 16.

Lancelottie Sun 20-Dec-15 10:29:28

Wish I knew. DS is in the same boat (not helped by refusing to use the tech he does have, i.e. the dictaphone etc, as he finds the thought of standing out even more agonising). He got a resounding zero in some of his end of term exams, is very depressed and really struggling socially. This is a lad who got two A* and an A at A-level, by the way, ReallyTired - he's not quite thick as mince - but he has ASD, OCD and recurrent depression.

Frankly we're just glad to have him home in one piece. Not sure yet if he'll be going back.

His uni doesn't put the lectures online - but I might point him to Man's idea of looking up some from another university!

potap123 Sun 20-Dec-15 10:34:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MultishirkingAgain Sun 20-Dec-15 11:12:48

Does your DS have a ed psych report, and an assessment at his university, with an individualised plan for dealing?

If it's officially assessed, then there will be a plan for reasonable adjustments.

Of course, if your DS does not engage, or doesn't have a worked through, approved plan & documentation for reasonable accommodation/adjustment, then there's very little that can be done, unless there are individual tutors willing to give him a bit of an extra hand along the way, and some leeway. But if we do, frankly, it can be unfair to other students, unless there are documented reasons.

If DC are not prepared to engage with the processes & support that universities provide - well, it's a life lesson, I suppose. But not the most productive one, sadly.

winetintedglasses Sun 20-Dec-15 11:21:35

I'm at uni now, first year, started in September. I'm also profoundly deaf so I have an interpreter and a notetaker. I know what he means by not wanting to draw attention to the fact he's different but he is. And he'll only succeed in HIS degree if he engages with all of the support. For the first couple of weeks I tried to sit near the back of the lecture hall so no one would know. Couldn't see the interpreter, and couldn't hear any of the lecture and realised I wasn't paying 9k a year to not learn. Now I sit in front of the interpreter and next to the notetaker so I can understand everything. It is hard having additional difficulties at uni, but at the end of the day, the support is there if he asks.

winetintedglasses Sun 20-Dec-15 11:25:52

And yes, it has been hard making friends especially with a communication/language barrier, and I went back to education as a mature student. My course isn't a particularly interactive one either. He can either try and spot someone like himself, or try and sit repeatedly next to the same people and just ask simple questions to build up an acquaintance "is this the right book/did you enjoy this last week" etc

ReallyTired Sun 20-Dec-15 13:18:51

" This is a lad who got two A* and an A at A-level, by the way, ReallyTired - he's not quite thick as mince - but he has ASD, OCD and recurrent depression."

It sounds like he is extremely ill rather than stupid. However he comes out with a third class degree it will not help his employment prospects. A third class degree can be more harmful than no degree.

There is a whole world out there. Going to university is not compulsory and people can return to education in later life. The open university has some surperb learning materials as well as being cheaper than traditional universities. There are apprenticeships as well.

www.notgoingtouni.co.uk

voilets Sun 20-Dec-15 13:28:30

Interesting feedback.

He does have DSA. He does meet his personal tutor and a mentor who are really helpful. He does watch recorded lectures.

Course is really hard so very steep learning curve. He also has amazing A level results. Met non- SEN student who said first year on similar course was very hard.

Has friends, socialises, a house arranged for next year - just no friends on the course which is affecting his self esteem. We're hoping he joins a related society when he returns and that his course will set up a buddy- not convinced they really want to help with social issues; am fearful, highbrow course ,not interested in problems.

Also he has to pass course - if not, we hope he can switch to a related course in the areas he does well. Know so little about this - that I am constantly worried with the what ifs...

MultishirkingAgain Sun 20-Dec-15 13:29:28

Although I loved being at university (and stayed there) I agree with ReallyTired - university is not for everybody, and it's not the be all, and end all.

If a student isn't up to participation & study, for whatever reason they shouldn't be there. It's a waste of everybody's time and precious resources. I wish parents & students would really think about this.

MultishirkingAgain Sun 20-Dec-15 13:31:33

Cross-posted. I didn't have friends on my actual course - well, of course I was friendly with loads of people I studied with. But my deep friendships, lasting to this day 30 years later, are with housemates & friends from the main student society I spent a lot of time with (and an activity that helped me get my first job). Not my course so much.

This is normal.

MultishirkingAgain Sun 20-Dec-15 13:35:05

But seriously - you expect tutors to help students with their social lives? Am a bit shock at that. WE suggest to our students they set up a buddy system for incoming 1st years; we encourage them to work collaboratively by setting up small (3-4 people) reading groups in our 1st year modules, but then - really it's not our business or our job to "help with social issues" beyond the personal tutoring system, which exists to -rightly - direct students to expert sources of help for non-academic matters which impinge on their academic work.

Maybe he's just not ready for university.

tabulahrasa Sun 20-Dec-15 13:42:43

Helping students with certain disabilities that affect things like social communication is something that universities do...it's an adjustment for the disability because it does affect outcomes of students.

Not tutors in fairness, but it is something they usually have in place.

MultishirkingAgain Sun 20-Dec-15 13:45:28

Exactly tabulahrasa - it's not necessarily something that his course would do. Student services (known by various names) could help, but only if students take up offers & opportunities. It's that which is so frustrating - when students won't take the help offered, and then parents/students become distressed about the situation.

voilets Sun 20-Dec-15 14:40:11

Sad at some responses. It reveals ignorance.

What the student with SEN and parents do is find ways of solving problems so they can participate.

My Ds has asked about buddys and reading/study groups to help him work with others- they say they do not do this on their course- told just make friends. We are now trying a different route.

Actually, social communication is a well established SEN area of knowledge - yes, I do expect them to make reasonable adjustments. They may not - so we need to work with our son to help him find ways himself.

Negativity is not what I need - I sense it at this top uni. I am in education - I have a can do approach for all of my students. I do what I can. I will not expect uni to cater for all his problems - I hope a helping hand at start is offered.

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