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Needing advice with disability (ASD, dyscalculia) + Highers at college

I am 17 and have autism and dyscalculia. I struggle a lot with learning difficulties, am graduating high school in 4 months and feel confused. My guidance counselor is arranging help for me with the college so I can continue getting support while I am there. The covid lockdowns affected my mental health a lot. I excel at literature-based courses as something just clicks in my brain. Anything with numbers or logic I have the capability of a 5 year old at. I can’t read the time or tie my shoes. I’ve dropped maths this year and planning to do it in college with additional 1:1 support. In 4th year, I wanted to pick STEM subjects like Physics and Chemistry but I really struggled the year before and couldn’t do it. During the covid lockdowns, my mental health suffered to a degree where I could not function in day-to-day life. Trying to adjust back to school was difficult.

I was prescribed propranolol medication which I took for two years post-lockdown. The isolation led to the disruption of my routine, and trying to function without a routine is very difficult. I sat one exam in S4 due to the constant stress and pressure which worsened my mental health. I achieved an A with top marks in the country. If there were no covid lockdowns, then I would have attained many more qualifications during my time at high school. I am a hard-working and dedicated student. My dyscalculia prevented me from progressing with my maths skills in high school as I lacked support pre-diagnosis. By the time I was diagnosed, I’m in mid-term S6 and had dropped maths to do modern studies. I am a carer for my younger brother also, who is severely autistic and non-verbal. Trying to study at home was made very difficult due to his behavioural issues. In spite of these challenges, I have overcame them and willing to take the next step.

Has anyone had experience doing their Higher qualifications at college? I am wanting to try and do more at college after school but I am unsure how it works. I’ve read other posts that it’s common for adults to go back and get their Highers again, and that the classes are longer than in school. It seems like a much better environment for me. I need to go to university locally due to the living costs and health support, so it is between Dundee, Abertay and St. Andrews. The requirements for those universities are a minimum of two A’s and two B’s. My initial plan was to go for Edinburgh University but the living costs of the city and strict grade requirements (seriously who tf post-covid is going to achieve 5 A’s in a row, at Higher level, in 5th high school year? Is that even possible?) so ruled it out. Whereas local universities don’t specifiy when you need to achieve qualifications so long as you have them. I only have one Higher so far with a projected B in Higher History and an A in NPA Level 6 Psychology. Also doing National 5 Modern Studies but I plan on speaking to my teacher about that since there’s no real point in doing it as Higher History/Psych. Is my main focus. National 5 is a surplus and doesn't mean much. I need to build up on my Highers so I can have strong credentials and applications.

I feel as if I am behind in life, I worry about the future a lot. I turn 18 soon and have zero clue on how to function as an adult. Everyone else grew up beisdes me. I thought everything would fall into place but the past few years have been a blur. It annoys me how they pretend as covid never happened. Trying to overcome these learning difficulties is a challenge. I feel like a complete idiot, no matter how hard I try I am stuck looping in the same place.

My health has not been good lately. Due for a health checkup on Wednesday. I am trying my best to change things and make up for the time lost over lockdown. Arranged to go to the gym with a trainer and balancing my time better with my schedule. Lowered my screen time down to an hour a day, doing daily journaling. One of the maths teacher gave me analog time worksheets to do in my spare time to practice. My goal for the end of the year is to learn to read time properly. I started learning how to cook my own meals too. It’s little steps. Right now, my main focus from now until April is my exams. I have private study so I will spend now until the end of the week creating a schedule and balancing my time.

I worry a lot about money. My parents rely on benefits and I don’t want to be in a position where I struggle financially. My dyscalculia interferes with shopping a lot, I try to be smart with my shopping but I spend way too much every time. £30 on snacks and some toiletries. Psychology is a niche and doesn’t have a very big job market, but the jobs you do get pay well and can be jobs for life. My teacher said you can earn around £40k a year as a school counsellor, which is a lot of money where I live. I’m not a smart person but I want to make the most of my life and earn a good living in a job I enjoy.

My future plan so far is:

S6 year: Achieve a B in Higher History and an A in NPA level 6 Psychology

College: Complete HNC Level 7 Social Sciences, then continue with Highers if needed (Maths, Biology, and Chemistry) to bolster my Highers up to 5.

University: Apply for a local university in three years.

What should I do in the meantime to make sure I do well? Also, do colleges provide support for dyscalculia when doing Maths-related subjects? Please let me know, thank you. 🙂
Hi… it sounds like you are going through a lot. Have you considered getting support through DSA? They offer laptops, printer allowance, software plus training and human support in the form of a specialist Study Skills or/and Mentor who supports you through the duration of your course.

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