Before writing a single word of this article I checked my phone, went on Facebook, made a snack, read an unrelated article (which led to more unrelated articles), scrolled through various social media feeds, and stared blankly out the window for a while.
I have written and rewritten the opening paragraph for this article, as I have done for countless papers, essays, and articles in the past. My inability to focus on a single task makes homework an everyday struggle in university.
I have Attention Deficit Disorder, commonly known as ADD. However, I was not formally diagnosed with ADD until I arrived at Trent in 2012 – a month shy of my 24th birthday.
According to Dr. Mark H. Thomas, a physician at the University of Alabama student health center, the transition to university often leads to a wave of new students being diagnosed with a learning disability who had previously gone undetected. In a New York Times article, he writes how students “may have had symptoms for years but they’ve never been identified because they were smart enough to get by, but in the less-structured college environment, where parents aren’t around to wake them and teachers pay less attention to individual students, these once high-achieving students suffer.”
The transition into university life is difficult for most students, but for individuals with ADD or other learning disabilities, university poses a plethora of academic, medical, and personal challenges.
Author and columnist Tara Parker-Pope stated that “college students with ADD are at a greater risk for academic and psychological difficulties, and have lower grade-point averages, than peers without the problem.”
Consequently, it is especially important for new students with a learning disability (or students who suspect they may have an undiagnosed disability) to acquaint themselves with the services Trent has to offer.
The Student Wellness Centre, located in Blackburn Hall, consists of the Counselling Centre, Health Services, and Student Accessibility Services (SAS). As a student with ADD and an anxiety disorder, the Wellness Centre has been crucial to my success at Trent.
I offer you a breakdown of these departments:
Here, professional counsellors will work with students on an individual basis to help with personal concerns that interfere with academic performance and emotional well-being. Services are offered to students who are struggling with a wide variety of difficulties, such as abuse, addiction, stress or anxiety, difficulties with sleep, depression, loss or grief, motivation, relationships, self-esteem, sexuality, and weight.
Trent’s own in-house doctor’s office offers services such as mental health assessments, prescription medication, wellness counselling (such as nutrition, weight, smoking cessation, et cetera), and referrals (such as dentists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and other specialists).
Student Accessibility Services (SAS)
Many services are offered through SAS, including academic coaching, student wellness workshops, note-taking services, adaptive and assistive technology (which presents information in a way that makes it more accessible to the user), as well as test/exam accommodations (which are based on the individual’s ability-related needs).
If you or someone you know is silently struggling or could benefit from the professional support system offered through Trent, I urge you to drop by the Student Wellness Centre or book an appointment online.
As Maté said in his book Scattered Minds, “I can do this with half my brain tied behind my back.”
But you don’t have to.