Neurodiversity Support at the University of Surrey

Hello everyone,

I hope your holiday is going well. Today I wanted to talk about Neurodiversity support at the University of Surrey.

I have been diagnosed with ADHD in Cyprus this year (a very late diagnosis, I know). It was such a relief to receive my diagnosis as it has been agitating me for my entire life and finally my certain behaviours started to make sense to me. “What’s wrong with me?” “Why can’t I sit still when everyone can?”, “Why do I always have to fight the urge to act impulsively?”. These questions played like a broken record in my head before getting a diagnosis. I hated the minor heart attack I experienced every time a deadline was getting closer and closer.

I graduated high school with a certificate of Merit, but I can’t say it has been easy for me. I always had to fight the urge to procrastinate until stress triggered the adrenaline. The adrenaline boost was kicking me into action every time. I was stressing out and it was leaving me emotionally and physically drained. After getting a diagnosis, I started taking methylphenidate. It was like a blind person had started seeing for the first time. My psychiatrist wrote a letter for the university in English, and I booked an appointment with Neurodiversity support.

I have to say the process was very straightforward and quick which was a huge relief for my Neurodivergent brain. I had a 30-minute appointment with the adviser. He talked me through the process of registration, I signed a few papers and he registered me as an ALS student. As an ALS student, you get 25% more time on exams and access to recordings of the lectures, workshops and tutorials which was already a part of hybrid education. I have found hybrid education has been better for my learning because I can take exams whenever I want, whenever I feel ready during the day of the exam with minimal distractions. I have always found it hard to concentrate in a room full of people. The Neurodiversity support team also mentioned whenever I would have face to face exams, I would be put into a smaller room with either 3 people or alone so I can achieve my full performance.

I took my first test with extra time this semester and I must say it was so good because every time I take a test, I am always afraid of running out of time as I have to check all the questions before I begin the exam, so I know what is coming. I was finally able to achieve my full performance in the exam. Getting a diagnosis in the UK is quite lengthy because of how high the demand is for NHS services, especially during Covid, more so than in Cyprus. So, my advice is to get your diagnosis in Cyprus before coming to the UK as these adjustments will require you to show the adviser an official letter from a psychiatrist. 

In conclusion, I am so grateful for all the support there is for Neurodivergent students at the University of Surrey. I know it is hard to live as a Neurodivergent in a society that expects you to mask your differences and behave. Even though we might be taking medication it doesn’t cure our differences, as pills don’t teach skills but the extra support the University provides pushes students to achieve their best performance.