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Disabilities and exams

We have helped an individual who has an unseen disability regarding extra help and support during their time at school and University.  We have pointed them in the right direction to get extra time for their exams and suggested a mentor should they need it.  We have provided a partial list of qualifying disabilities for extra support at University.

A letter arrived by email today. It came from a South African relative of one of the people at the Scafell Pike event, and said:

“Xxxxx, my grandson, may have a problem regarding time needed to complete exams. Would you please send me details about relevant disabilities, so that we can see whether Xxxxxx needs extra time in his exams.”

Our Reply:

“You will need to do two things:

1. Speak to the school Disability Office.

2. Consult a psychiatrist (not a psychologist) for a diagnosis that conforms with the WHO (World Health Organisation) definitions of disability, and the legal definition of disability in South Africa.

Disabilities that impair the ability to do exams include dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, depression, panic attacks, amanuensis, Attention Deficit Disorder, blindness, and many more. I have Bipolar Affective Disorder, which affects memory, concentration and co-ordination. The net effect is that I do things slowly. My writing speed has been measured to be in the bottom one percent of people, as compared to matric scholars.

Assistance comes in a wide range of ways. A mentor or personal assistant, special equipment (eg hearing aids), copies of class notes (offered to me because I do not take notes from the blackboard fast enough), special teaching methods, and extra time in exams.

I also suggest that you contact the Stellenbosch University student councelling service. They measured my ability to perform, and found it sub standard. They did not know why, but gave me extra time anyway. A few years later I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

I strongly suggest that both you and the boy’s mother Google 2e, or "Twice exceptional" kids. These kids are often seen as bright (and lazy, or in temporary difficulties) and the perception is that they will turn out all right in the end. Just give them time. But, in truth, valuable time and opportunity are lost.

Please keep in touch and let me know if Good4you can help in any other ways.