June 24, 2018

Surviving college with a disability

The average college student takes approximately 14 credit hours a semester and can maintain it without any problems, but people with disabilities cannot. I am one of those people. I have been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety. I might be on the autism spectrum as well, but I have been diagnosed different ways by different doctors. My parents told me I have been “hard to diagnose.”

I did not know what to expect or what I wanted to do with my life during my first semester of college. My anxiety was getting the best of me. I have always been worried or have been overwhelmed about what is to come in the future. When I stepped onto campus and saw  the students greeting freshmen at the Loretto-Hilton Theater, I was really nervous and felt like I could not do it. Then, I just ran and sat down in the theater. I felt like a wimp after going through that greeting. I then listened to the opening presentation and did everything else but the spirit activities toward the end of orientation.

After the orientation came the big time: classes. I started off my college career taking 14 credit hours. In this time period of the first half of the semester, I withdrew from two of my classes. One of the withdrawals came from having a professor that was hard to communicate with and who put questions on quizzes and tests that the class had not taught. The second one was due to threatening, mean and strict teaching strategies I could not follow or get any help with. I approached my academic counselor, and she thought taking nine credit hours a semester will really help me, as well as getting professors she knew were good.

I followed all her strategies and I ended up having more success my second semester   than my first one. I did not drop any classes and I established friendships with many people instead of being the shy, anxious person I was. This most recent semester, I decided to major in Sports Communication and start writing for The Journal.

I got here by starting off with accomodations from the Academic Resource Center and the American Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator. I also referred those accommodations and my disabilities to many of my professors, and they were very nice and able to help me with whatever I needed.

If I can give advice to someone like me or has more difficulty with their disability, I would say go to the Academic Resource Center and get accomodations. These accommodations really helped me and can help others succeed in college, and eventually, life. Another thing that should be accounted for is to get professors that fit different learning styles of different people with disabilities including autism, ADHD, etc. These are the professors that people get along with and know how to help students succeed.

The next thing is to make sure to have plenty of friends. Friends help you get to know campus better along with what professors they recommend and which ones they do not recommend. that person should also learn how to accept change. Accepting change is hard, but over time it can make people feel better about themselves and their future. Last but not least, make the most of college. Making the most of college is a big thing. Whether it is joining clubs, attending campus activities or even working on campus, making the most of college is a big step in life and a huge part to success. Being a person with autism, I learned how to do all these things and learned how to be included more at Webster University as a student and a friend. I am not the shy person I used to be and plan not to be for the rest of my college career.

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