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Accesibility at uni

I recently started University. I chose to study History and Classical Philology in Madrid.

I always wondered if uni would be like high school, or better or worse in terms of understanding differences. My high school was ableistic so I barely got support there. For that, I should have been way more affected than I am. Now I look back, I would have benefitted a lot from some measures that other pupils got.

It turned out that a lot of people (7) in my uni class (being us only 28 in total) did need some support for different challenges they faced. We found the diversity office and I thought that this was the moment to start advocating for my needs. My uni is far away from home and from people who know me, so I didn’t worry much. Then I contacted the office stating that I’d need some supports to do my best, and they nicely registered me in their office. All I had to send was my diagnosis, my ID, my uni registration, and if someone has it, their disability card (which I don’t have but I plan on getting soon)

We set up an appointment to which I arrived late (I didn’t know where the office was and believe me, my uni is so big that I got lost) And there, they basically asked me what my difficulties were. I told them about my sound sensitivity and my bad writing (my motor skills in general are really poor) and my frequent meltdowns. I bet they got it and we came up with some amazing measures that I am now finding very beneficial. Now that our next term is around the corner, I’m going to discuss another measure I may need.

The good thing about all this is that I didn’t find these people ableistic (which I was expecting to be honest) They praised my communication ability but never said things like “But you don’t look autistic”. Praising my abilities is not something that makes me angry, because that way I know I’m improving over time (they wouldn’t have been able to say so 2 years ago!) and because although they highlighted my abilities, they didn’t overlook my struggles, and that’s so awesome!

I strongly encourage students with any kind of diagnosis to contact their university disability services. I don’t know how it works in other places outside Spain (or even beyond my university) but you can search for something like “Disability services [your university’s name]” on the internet.

If someone is also studying in Madrid, you can always contact me and I can try to help you.

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