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How To Thrive With A Learning Disability/ADHD At UMass Amherst

These are just a few tips and tricks to help you get by if you are someone or a friend of someone struggling with any kind of LD/ADHD at the University of Massachusetts.

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1. Before anything, and I mean anything, contact Disability Services!!

For a majority of those with a LD/ADHD here, Disability Services will be a good place to go to start getting yourself properly situated and accommodated for classes. The hardest part is getting yourself there and making the appointment. But be aware!!! Once you meet with them it may take a few weeks if not longer for your paperwork to be processed. They will help inform you on how to request accommodations and alert your teacher of any extra needs you may have. Just be patient. You can reach them at 413.545.0892. Their address is at 161 Whitmore,181 Presidents Drive, University of Massachusetts

2. How to register with Disability Services

You will need to complete the online intake form and submit documentation indicating your diagnosis of the disability. Then DS will be in contact with you to set up an appointment with a Consumer Manager who will help you with making accommodations. The accommodations you receive are made on a case by case basis. Even if you do not anticipate needing accommodations, they still encourage you to register with DS.

3. Organize Yourself

Gotta do it. Purchase a planner. You need to help your brain stay organized!!! It will save you!! Also, print out your syllabus for all the classes to keep up with the future due dates.

4. Don't get swallowed up by the insanely large campus community

It seems intimidating at first, going to a college alongside 28,000 other students on a campus that could take over a half hour to cross from one side to the other. It wont take long to adjust. Just be patient and before you know it campus will appear a lot smaller and not as overwhelming as it initially may seem.

5. Try to snag a seat near the front of the lecture halls

I know a lot of the time it may seem more convenient to sit towards the back and be able to use your cell phone or talk to your friends, but believe me when I tell you that sitting in the front will help a great amount with getting yourself to focus on the professor.

6. Read the emails from Disability Services

You will get these throughout the semester and it is important to read them or at least skim it to make sure you are keeping up with deadlines for appointments to schedule tests, and other relevant info that you need to be updated on.

7. Go to your professor or TA's office hours

There are so many reasons as to why this is a great thing to do. You can start to build relationships with the professors that you otherwise wouldn't be able to in the big lectures, and they can get to know you on a personal level. This can help you big time with getting your questions from class answered to a tee if you fall behind. It shows the professors that you are motivated and want to do well.

8. Record the lectures

This is a new thing that I have been doing in classes that the teacher talks way too fast and I cant keep up, or I have trouble focusing in the environment that I am in. I don't want to miss anything important that is said in lecture, so recording it and playing it back not only saves me when taking notes, but it helps to refresh my mind before a test.

You can just download a free recorder on your laptop.

More Information about being technically aloud to use this as a resource can be found here

9. Take advantage of Du Bois

The amazing giant library. There are 26 floors of knowledge, study carrels, comfy colorful chairs, the Procrastination Station, and buzzing students. On the lower level, definitely take advantage of the Learning Commons and the Writing Center. On the 10th floor visit the Learning Resource Center. There are so many places whether the quiet study floors or the small rooms you can have all to yourself, this is a place to get work done and out of the way.

10. Visit the Learning Resource Center

Via umass.edu

The Learning Resource Center (LRC) offers University of Massachusetts Amherst students a peer-supported environment to meet academic challenges. Tutors, Supplemental Instruction Leaders, and ExSEL Leaders are students trained to assist their peers in achieving academic success. All throughout the day they offer help in most of your classes.

11. The Assistive Technology Center(ATC)

Via library.umass.edu

This is a special room in the basement of the library (in the learning commons)just for DS students/faculty. It is designed to assist you in technology support. This is a collaborative resource made up of UMass Amherst IT, DS, and the UMass libraries.

12. Check your class websites everyday

If you are prone to forgetting due dates and getting distracted when the teacher is telling you what they want for the next class, checking your class website on Moodle will save you.

13. Keep up with the reading

I have made this mistake time, and time again. If you get too behind on the reading, you will be a stress ball of nerves until all of it gets completed because usually half of the time you will be tested on it. Don't take any chances. Especially if it takes you a long time to read.

14. Convert your textbooks to audio files

This is a great tool to use if you have a hard time reading a lot at one sitting. Voice dream reader is a awesome option, even though you have to pay for it, you can choose different voices.

More information is on the DS page called alternative formats for text

The Assistive Technologies Center will help you with this too!!

15. Use speech --> Text dictation

This is another great tool to use especially when it comes to writing papers. If you feel like you can get your thoughts out easier by talking through it, instead of staring at a blank screen this will help you big time. Most computers allow you to do it.

If you check out "system preferences" and then "accessibility" for all apple computers it should be found there.

16. Learning Specialists

Via umass.edu

These people are grad students that are trained with the most recent tools to help with you LD. For example, they can help you understand your notes and check for spelling that you may have missed. They are there to be a person to read over your papers, give you feedback and help you organize your thoughts and aid you in translating it to paper.

More info on this can be found here

17. Scholarships!

Oh money you say?? You can apply for scholarships that are only for DS students. Some of them include the "Making a Difference" scholarship, the "Keep the Faith" scholarship and the James M. Begin Endowment Fund.

18. Consider joining Eye to Eye!

Eye to Eye is a great way to get involved here at UMass. If you like working with kids, playing with arts and crafts, or love volunteering this would be a great opportunity for you to check out!! It is so worth it.

P.S. It looks great on a resume

Click on the link to get more information about the program.

19. Stay Positive

Just remember to smile everyday and don't let your LD/ADHD define who you are and take over when you are swamped with schoolwork. It can get overwhelming at times but just remember to take a step back and look how far you've come and how much more you can accomplish. UMass is very understanding of LD's and all of my professors have respected my accommodations. Just remember that even though you may feel like the only person in a huge lecture that has a harder time with learning or may just learn differently, that you are most definitely not alone.

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