What is university life like if you have a neurological disease? Two students share their inspirin


Charlotte Blackburn-Peer (left) and Anisha Johal (right)

Anisha Johal and Charlotte Blackburn-Peer are both preparing to graduate from Loughborough University next week.

After a difficult year for all of the students, they both overcame additional challenges during their time in college that some of their peers may not even have known about, making graduation a particularly successful one. poignant.

During her childhood, Anisha spent a lot of time in the hospital as she and her brother were diagnosed with rare genetic disorders. She helped take care of her brother who was also diagnosed with autism at a young age, but shortly before entering college Anisha was told she was also autistic which was a huge shock for her.

She was intimidated by the idea of ​​starting college and the challenges she might face as a result of this new diagnosis. She even considered not attending at all, but was determined to join Loughborough University to study a BSc in Economics.

Anisha chose to live at home, but the daily commutes had their own challenges as schedule changes or unusually busy trains made her very anxious. However, she has worked hard to incorporate strategies into her routine to help her deal with these times, including practicing her travel at different times of the day and learning to accept that sometimes things don’t go as planned, and it does not matter.

Socializing in college was also something she was particularly concerned about, so she joined the focus groups set up for new students to interact with people in her class. This introduced her to some of her closest friends and created a support network for her.

The Student Wellbeing and Inclusion team also worked with Anisha to give her the support she needed; they helped her familiarize herself with the campus and made sure that accommodations were in place to facilitate her university experience. These included a dictaphone to record lectures so she could listen to them again, helping her absorb information, and she received support to improve her time management and study skills.

When asked what her advice would be for people with autism, she replied, “Try to engage with support teams at universities. Tell them about your needs and discuss how they can help you.

“The most useful tool for me prior to joining was to request private university tours on days that were not open houses. If someone is hyper aware of their surroundings, this can be helpful for avoid being too stimulated during open days where there are a lot of people and where there can be a lot of noise.

She added, “For current students who are struggling with challenges in their personal lives, my biggest advice would be to access support. No one is ever alone in college and there are so many ways you can be supported.

Charlotte, a sports management graduate, was diagnosed with ADHD, Asperger’s and dyslexia at the age of 15 and was told she would have a hard time even completing her GCSEs, let alone going. at University. However, Charlotte became the first person in her family to enter higher education.

She explained that lectures were quite difficult to follow when she started at Loughborough and found it difficult to express her thoughts in essays. To help her, the University introduced her to a Study Skills Support Worker who helped her navigate all the software she needed and taught her the skills of planning and writing essays, as well. than review and review tactics.

Helen Shaw, Head of Access and Learning for People with Disabilities, said: “Student Well-Being and Inclusion (SWAI) is proud of the path the University has come to support students with disabilities throughout. throughout their university career. It is always a pleasure to see the students we have worked with progress towards graduation and we wish Anisha and Charlotte the best for the future.

Reflecting on her journey, Charlotte said she didn’t feel confident when she started college because her Asperger’s can make it difficult to engage in social situations and she has struggled to adjust to it. university life. The Disability Support Team provided two mentors who were able to discuss any situations Charlotte was struggling with and walk her through it. They also helped her with her ADHD, giving her tips on staying organized and getting the most out of lectures. She joined the women’s football club, which encouraged her to meet other people and ultimately gave her the confidence to be part of the club committee.

For those who might have a combination of neurological conditions like Charlotte but are anxious about going to college, she said: “Loughborough is incredibly supportive of including neurodiverse people. There is a lot of support available and if you feel that the help you are receiving is not working, the University will do everything in its power to facilitate what is right for you.

After graduation, Charlotte will study nursing at King’s College London. She commented: “I am excited and proud of myself. I know that thinking back to me at 16, I would be so surprised and in awe of myself. I am very happy to have graduated and I am excited for the future.

Anisha will also be moving to London to start a graduate program in insurance: “Moving to another city is a very intimidating prospect, but the skills that I have learned adapting to university life will certainly help me tackle the next chapter of my life. . ”


Notes for Editors

Press Release Reference Number: 21/139

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links to industry and unparalleled achievements in sport and its underlying academic disciplines. .

It has been awarded five stars in the independent university rating system QS Stars, named the world’s best university for sports-related subjects in the QS 2020 World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University. Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of each national ranking, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in the UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty UK universities in the Times Higher Education ‘Table of Tables’ and in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of her contribution to the sector, Loughborough received seven Queen’s Anniversary Awards.

The campus of Loughborough University in London is based on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive level education, as well as research and entrepreneurial opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of education and the very latest in modern thinking.


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