The Guide for Students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

A learning disorder or difficulty in following the curriculum should never become a barrier for students who want to learn and succeed. Yet, not many know about available resources or how to get the most out of a special situation. People living with dyslexia find it especially challenging as their condition affects their ability to read, spell, or interpret words, symbols, and letters in daily life. While it does not affect a person's intelligence or ability to process information per se, it introduces major learning challenges as every text must be recognized without distortion.

The same can be said about another condition called dysgraphia, a person's inability to write coherently due to neurological disorder or related brain condition. A reason why these two learning disabilities are often linked together is a strong sense of disorientation and a necessity of additional help. 

According to statistics, about 15% of people have dyslexia, which is equal to thirty million adult people where most have not been diagnosed or are aware of their condition. If one takes special education and learning disability rates among students, about eighty percent relate to dyslexia. In its turn, the dysgraphia studies remain largely under-researched, yet about 5-20% of students are affected where 75% of students are male with predominantly procedural memory challenges and correct task performing issues. 

Dyslexia can be compared to Dyscalculia, which also requires additional research since calculation or Math-related difficulties are not always a sign of a learning disability. Turning to the National Center for Education Statistics survey, we see that about 11% of undergraduate American students have reported learning disabilities of some kind, which is equal to more than 200,000 students that require additional help and guidance as they learn and overcome cognitive challenges. 

Problems Faced by Students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia in College

First of all, it should be noted that dyslexia and dysgraphia do not affect a student's mental ability to communicate. In certain cases, college students may have both conditions, yet they are distinct and require separate kinds of classroom or on-campus help. 

  • The students with dyslexia find it hard to finish any written assignments, and it may take them longer to complete tests. 
  • Their handwriting can become rather messy as their levels of brain tension and anxiety increase during an examination. 
  • Taking notes easily turns into a challenging experience as dyslexic students take longer to process information. 
  • Various spelling challenges may lead to an additional necessity of time to correct specific formatting mistakes. 
  • A dyslexic student may unintentionally miss certain rules or details; thus, human assistance will be required. 

It should be noted that Dysgraphia mainly involves learning difficulties with organizing and expressing thoughts or ideas in a written form, while dyslexia also affects spelling and speaking. It includes isolation of sounds or matching them to letters.

  • Students suffering from dysgraphia also take longer to write something down. 
  • Dysgraphia may lead to frequent grammar or spelling mistakes. 
  • Perception of a written text may cause an increased brain tension, thus leading to anxiety and fatigue. 
  • Lack or presence of extra spacing and run-on sentences. 

Helpful Tips for Students with Dyslexia & Dysgraphia 

Dyslexia Tips 

Dysgraphia Tips 

Use different color codes to help yourself identify how letters represent sounds, so you can decode words as you hear them or when listening to an audio recording.  

Combine various occupational therapies aimed at the development of motor skills, visual perception, and dexterity. You can highlight information or use simple writing exercises. 

Join one-on-one instruction courses or opt for studying in a small group. 

Always take a short break before proofreading your writing or working with an assignment.

Ask your college counselor about curriculum programs that use a multisensory approach. It lets you learn with the help of audio/visual connection. It is especially vital in the cases with Auditory Processing Deficit. 

Create a special checklist for editing purposes that will include spelling, grammar, clarity of ideas, or sentence length checks.  

Use various speech-to-text tools to train yourself. 

You can turn to graphic cards or digital organizers. 

Use audio versions of school books to help yourself perceive information in a better way. 

Use special mobile apps like Ghotit Real Writer that will proofread, spellcheck, edit, and pronounce the text for you.

Alternatively, you can try out Grammarly for spelling and grammar checks. 

Train yourself with the use of tactile materials to write down words, be it beads, glitter glue, or any objects that can help you form the words. 

Join various tutoring courses at college that stand for additional learning disability support. 

Most importantly, remember that as a student with dyslexia or dysgraphia, you have a legal right to access the simplified lecture and your professor's written notes, which will eliminate the need for a stressful note-taking process in a noisy environment.

How Colleges Approach Students With Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

Even though there are major learning differences that must be taken into consideration when dealing with dyslexic students versus those who have dysgraphia, most measures taken at the American universities are usually the same since they fall under the category of general learning disabilities. Without a doubt, the list of these supporting initiatives will vary between educational institutions, yet in most cases, they will include: 

  • Adjustment of an individual course instruction that will use anything from multisensory learning to private tutoring courses.
  • Alternative or simplified coursework types and examination materials.
  • Additional use of special software or audio aid to help learners.
  • Various On-Campus support to reduce the levels of stress and increase student's accommodation.
  • Classroom accommodation, like creating special study zones closer to the professor, so there are fewer distractions.
  • An increased amount of time to complete writing assignments, team projects, or visual presentations.
  • An allowance to avoid specific writing tasks or following the standard requirements. 

Of course, this is not a complete list of what may be offered. It depends on a program that will be met at any school in question. Unfortunately, as the reports confirm, only about 17% of university students that face either one of the learning disabilities turn to existing learning assistance resources and take advantage of what a particular school offers. 

15 Best Colleges for Students with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

  1. California State Long Beach University. It is a known fact that people with dyslexia and dysgraphia often possess high creativity skills and intelligence. It has been confirmed by Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Leonardo da Vinci, Tom Cruise, and Richard Branson among others. Long State Beach University offers free learning support, accommodations, and dyslexia-friendly mentoring.
  2. University of the Ozarks, Arkansas. A private university in Clarksville, Arkansas, which may be not as famous as the likes of MIT or Berkeley, yet it offers one of the best coordination services for dyslexic students or those who need dysgraphia-related help. Their Jones Learning Center includes private testing, dictating text, recording books on tape, help in math, and providing the lecture notes copy written by an assigned specialist. 
  3. Muskingum University. It offers a special PLUS program, which is specifically aimed at students with learning disabilities. The major difference here is that this institution is already adjusted to learning requirements and has various support levels, depending on the complexity of a case. You can choose tutoring, counseling, or intensive levels, which will try out certain learning methods to help you choose what works best. 
  4. Berkeley University of California. Speaking of the famous institutions, there is a Disabled Students' Program (DSP) that is still quite demanding, so one should take it with a grain of salt to succeed. Nevertheless, the DSP is quite good and offers various accommodation features or technical aid to help the learners. It may be the most famous, yet there are more dyslexia-centered options that are no worse. 
  5. The University of the Pacific. Here the services for persons with learning disabilities are provided according to U.S. legislation, which guarantees full support and participation in any university program regardless of complexity. Be it dyslexia, ADHD, anything related to Visual Processing Deficit challenges, or psychological disorders related to dysgraphia, a student receives full support and accommodation according to the university's available resources. 
  6. Eastern Kentucky University. Project SUCCESS is perfect proof that students with dyslexia or dysgraphia can learn and achieve academic success. Academic coaching, individual approach to every case, group training, social support, and divergent learning style; it offers services that include assistive reading and writing, which is especially good for note-taking purposes. 
  7. Beacon College. Those who seek peace and dream of a college that is especially aimed at dysfunctional learning challenges, there is Beacon College. It will let you take advantage of extensive academic support and learn among those who understand you and work hard to make things function well. In this case, you will not only have healthcare professionals and trained professors but those who know how to approach your challenges beyond their daily professor's lives. 
  8. Nicholls State University. Offering a specialized dyslexia program for college students, it works along with Louisiana's Center for Dyslexia, so it is also a good chance to learn in a new way and receive personal advising, accommodation, and access to the latest technologies that are not available for the general public.  
  9. The University of Santa Cruz. Another excellent example of a premier university that has trained personnel that helps with lecture recordings, note-taking, writing assistance, and provides AI-aided computer programs for personal use. It also has a great Dyslexia support group with related events and group coaching. 
  10. Westminster College. Their Learning Differences Program (LDP) is an ideal setting for dyslexic students as well as those who face dysgraphia challenges. It works with the help of a special goal setting and progress monitoring benchmarks that help students move forward and choose resources that fit their individual needs. 
  11. Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. It offers special academic coaching for students with dyscalculia, dyslexia, ADHD, and dysgraphia among other disorders. Their excellent peer mentoring and subject-specific assistance is truly exemplary. It even has a course called "Reading and Learning Strategies for Learning Disabilities Students" which can be joined for free by those who want to learn more about their condition. 
  12. Mills College Support Services. Creating a dyslexia-friendly workflow, this college aims at small classes, individual guidance, and increased accessibility. It is an example of a small but good approach to a dyslexic education. 
  13. Stanford University's Schwab Learning Center. While this university did not make it to the learning disorders lists, it has updated its policy and now offers high-quality assistance and private tutoring. Their learner variability program is aimed at creating a special workplace environment. With a different learner profile, they aim at individuality that allows freedom and customization. 
  14. Marshall University. The famous H-E-L-P program offered by this university has made it one of the best academic resources for social, psychological, and educational hubs for dyslexic students or those who face any related learning challenges. It includes more than additional academic tutoring by allowing students to choose what they would like to learn and help them work out the methods to gain confidence. 
  15. The University of Arizona. The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques department has earned a good reputation nationwide as the best dyslexia/dysgraphia college course in the United States. Moreover, since its foundation in 1980, it remains one of the oldest institutions to study the subject and provide alternative learning methods. 

The List of Relevant Scholarships 

  • ACF Robby Baker Memorial Award. An amount of 1,000 can be awarded to those dyslexic U.S. residents who plan to attend non-profit or any public education institute with at least a 2.0 GPA. Technical schools are in priority. The application deadline is 4/17/2021. 
  • Pine Cone Foundation Scholarship. An award of $3,500 is aimed at those learning disability students who would like to attend California's community colleges. The amount is distributed over three years' time. A documented medical condition is required. The deadline is 4/1/2021. 
  • The Anne Ford Scholarship Award. It is a $10,000 assistance for a 4-year course to any graduating high-school student with dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia condition among others. A 3.0 GPA is recommended. The application deadline is 11/12/2020. 
  • Disability Care Center Scholarships. There is no deadline per se, which allows any student with dyslexia to receive two $500 scholarships by entering one's college education. The students who study special education are also eligible for relevant help. 
  • Joseph James Morelli Scholarships. It ranges between $500 and $2500 awards given to those students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia who would like to make a career in science, engineering, math (STEM), physics, data science, or technology. No deadlines for this scholarship. 
  • Karina Eide Memorial College Award. A total of sixteen awards are given annually to dyslexic students attending college, university, or vocational school. An amount of $2,500 covers a 2-year or 4-year period. The next application period starts in January 2021. 
  • Google Lime Scholarship. Ever thought about an engineering internship at Google Inc or studying in California's best technical facility? This $10,000 award offers just that! If you are a promising student studying computer science or engineering, this is your chance to make the most! You have to provide an audio, visual, or written resume with a recommendation letter. The applications start in January-March 2021. 

Resources for Students With Dyslexia and Dysgraphia

  • U.S. Department of Justice and Civil Rights. Learn more about your legal rights and read through Americans with Disabilities Act if you face any challenges.
  • Yale University Dyslexia Planning. A great resource for dyslexic/dysgraphic students (and parents) who plan to attend college. 
  • International Dyslexia Association. A list of helpful resources, tips, news, academic suggestions, and free assistance software downloads. 
  • Understanding Dysgraphia Challenges. Learn more about dysgraphia and get professional assistance when seeking for medical help by browsing through this guide. 
  • The Dyslexia Resource. It offers a scientific approach to people with dyslexia by letting them participate and share their experiences. 
  • Books for Dyslexia. Find specialized books for dyslexic people based on genre, subject, age category, and more. It also offers several reading training materials. 
  • Reading Horizons. Help for adult learners with dyslexia and dysgraphia, using custom learning materials and special software solutions. Additional employment resources, consulting, and psychological help available as well. 

FAQ

How can I write a personal statement, being dyslexic? 

Write it the way you can. It is your thought that matters, not the way it is written! Think over an idea and write down a list of words that motivate you. Then continue by creating a paragraph for each idea. 

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Are there ways to check my grammar in an essay if I have dysgraphia challenges? 

Of course! You can use free extensions for your web browser. You can use applications like Dragon Dictation, which is a great speech recognition tool. It will help to transpose your words into text. Next, you can check it with Grammarly to get rid of any grammar or spelling issues. 

Are there services that provide explanations of the cryptic lecture notes or offer an alternative for dyslexic students? 

If your college has not provided much, but you know the topic, you should consult the local disability service and ask for a recording of the lecture notes. If it is not available, it is possible to provide information in bullet-points that will help you to see what the college professor is asking for. As a dyslexic student, you have a right to receive additional course or lecture information in a suitable format before you submit an assignment. Consult your local disability service at college for more information and never leave such a case unattended since you have a legal right for help! 

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