This UK Disability History Month, our volunteer writer Luke Trower comes to you with an insight into what life is like for disabled students at university.
Hi, I’m Luke, a first-year GC&I student. I also did my Art Foundation at Loughborough.
I have Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), a condition on the Autistic Spectrum. This has made settling into university life a challenge but being at Loughborough has helped me to develop as a person.
It used to be that I could never function by myself. Moving into halls, I hated the kitchen and laundry, the machines always had so many buttons different to the ones I had at home – it was very confusing and stressful trying to work everything out. Sharing a kitchen was also something new and was sometimes a challenge when having to accept that people do things differently to me.
In time though, I learnt to accept these things. As someone who thrives on routine, I almost was able to predict when these problems were going to arise and was able to think of things that I could do myself to help overcome them.
Before Loughborough, my social life was always secondary; sacrificed for anything else that came up. I have found though that societies have been beneficial, as due to my AS it is hard for me to maintain conversations with people who do not share my interests.
I am a member of several societies, including Tabletop Society and Macmillan Volunteers Society; but for disabled students reading this, I would strongly recommend the Disability Support Network (DSN). This is a group of students with disabilities, raising awareness for disabilities, who also meet up for a coffee and a chat every now and again. The DSN is there to help you at Loughborough and the advice that they give me allows me to overcome many problems, because the other students have been in the same position as me.
Most of all, as cheesy as it sounds, Loughborough has helped me to gain confidence. This can be seen through the things I have already talked about, but for someone with AS I am thinking about this on a more fundamental level. The ability for me to interact with other people in the world in something that used to be a very real challenge and could make me anxious, but thanks to Loughborough it is now much easier.
Loughborough has truly helped me gain valuable life skills, but I know that I still have a long way to go and have a lot to learn. I know that being here though will keep me moving forward.
Featured image by: Luke Trower