I have a disability so when I first started uni, I gave careful thought to things. Here are my tips for other students with disabilities who are preparing to leave home.
For many, leaving home can be daunting: fending for yourself, making important choices and becoming almost completely independent. Be it if you are moving in to your own home, living with a partner, or going to university, leaving the family home can be a challenge. But add on top of that being disabled, then leaving your parents’ house can be all the more terrifying.
As a disabled youth you tend to have to think more carefully about things. For one person spontaneously spending the night away from home is just a quick text to your parents, to a disabled person it is making sure you have your medications, you have enough equipment and all your treatments are with you, making sure you actually can sleep in the place assigned to you. Spontaneity and disabilities, added to the antics and excitement of being young, can sometimes end up not being a good look. So when you add moving out and being in charge of your own healthcare into the equation it can sometimes lead to a rough patch until you find your feet.
For many, the first time they leave the family home will be university. Whether you are moving in to halls or renting somewhere, chances are that you will be in a new place away from your family. If you are like me, and your primary caregiver is a family member, you should always try to learn the things they do for you before leaving – whether it's so you can do them for yourself or teach someone else to do it for you. This might consist of administrating medication, physiotherapy or breathing techniques it is always important to know what they do to help you so you can help yourself. It will be a lot harder to learn over the phone at three in the morning when you don't know what to do...
Tips if you're off to university as a disabled student
- Talk to your university before you start classes to set up an action plan in case of a medical episode or you are taken to hospital, or even just to make them aware of your condition.
- Put the campus nurse's number in to your phone. It also might not be a bad idea to meet with them so they are also aware of your medical condition and needs. It's easier to do this in person or over the phone rather than paper or email.
- If you are in halls you should probably make one or two of the people you share a kitchen or floor with aware of your condition, what could happen and how they can help so you and the people around you are safe.
- Finally, for anyone leaving home, don't be afraid to call. We all struggle sometimes and if you need someone – for a medical reason or you just miss home – I'm sure they wouldn't mind hearing your voice and knowing you still need them. After all, they are your family and all they want is the best for you, disabled or not.
I am a disabled and dyslexic student and wear that as a badge of honour. This meant I had some reservations about coming to university but I knew the ARU Cambridge campus was somewhere that I wanted to be after the Open Days really calmed my nerves. Now, I'm on the committee for the Philosophy Society and I have found that attending Phil-Soc has helped me so much with moving to a new city. I lived in student halls, but intend to move out to get the full 'student experience'.
BA (Hons) Philosophy student
Support for students with disabilities
Our Disability and Dyslexia Support Service offers information, advice and specialist support to students with disabilities, including mental health difficulties, ongoing medical conditions and specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia. We'll support you before you start your course, and while you're studying with us.
All students at ARU have access to a range of health and wellbeing services.
If, like Ella, you're considering living in University accommodation, you can let us know about any physical or mental health concerns or disabilities when you apply for accommodation.