After struggling and learning to manage my ADHD, Dyslexia and processing disorder growing up, I was worried that Northwestern might overwhelm me. I could not have been more wrong. Having a learning difference (LD) at Northwestern has only proved to be a positive experience.

I, like other students with learning differences, receive accommodations through Accessible NU. The staff at Accessible NU know every student that comes in that office by name. They are a team of allies who work to help every student succeed.

I can be forgetful sometimes, yet Accessible NU helps keep me on track. They send out emails to students who receive services, remind them to register for accommodations for the current quarter classes, and follow up later in the quarter to request alternate settings or other assistance for final exams.

I was concerned about working with my professors to determine my accommodations. I’ve discovered that professors want to work with the students to understand what works and succeed. Professors seem to have the same goal as myself: have the testing and learning services taken care of so we can focus on learning the class material.

Classes such as CSD 370-0 “Introduction to Learning Disabilities” have helped reduced the stigma around campus toward learning disabilities. Many of the various student publications such as the Daily Northwestern and North by Northwestern have written articles helping increase awareness and decrease stigma for students who have been diagnosed with LD’s and ADHD.

I’ve found the Northwestern community incredibly accepting and welcoming to learning differences.  Multiple student organizations exist for students with LDs. I’ve even found a community within a group of students with LDs and ADHD who go and mentor local middle school students with similar learning challenges.

At Northwestern, I am inspired by others with learning differences and the people who do not let them slow them down. A close friend of mine has dyslexia. After his first year he received a language grant for the summer.  This fall, he’ll be studying Arabic in Morocco.  Despite his language processing challenges, he has been able to thrive at Northwestern.

While ADHD and dyslexia still impact my learning, Northwestern has made it a lot easier for other students and myself to have a level playing field. We can focus on learning in the classroom. There is a team of allies here at Northwestern to support students as well as a community of different thinkers. I am proud to be part of this community.

– Post written by Ryan Rebecca Albelda, MEAS ’19

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