Anybody experience of studying at University with severe short term memory issues

My daughter has just returned to University after finishing rehab for a benign tumour which was discovered in February this year. She has been remarkable in her determination but has gone back against advice as rehab wanted her to wait at least a year. She is finding it really tough and her disabled students Assessment was delayed and won't take place until end Novemenber too late for this term really.

She is really struggling as she keeps getting lost in the town and her planning and memory issues mean she is not the student she was before. This is personally devastating for her and puts additional pressure on her attempts to do her work.

The University have been quite good but just done seem to get that her memory issues mean she needs more than an hour extra in an exam!

It would be so good if anyone out there has studied and overcome/ found strategies that work who could share these? I

I am hoping to do my own research and put together some packs for the university and possibly other Universities so they can better understand the difficulties students may face.

6 Replies

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  • Hi Jane,

    I am sure you have probably done this already buthave you spoken with Student Support Services? It seems to me that your daughter is in need of additional support; in lectures and perhaps with daily living activities. If your daughter is in receipt of any allowances, she may be eligible for equipment to help her too. I have worked in Student Support for a number of years (just taken early retirement) so if I can help don't hesitate. Can your daughter study on reduced hours?

  • Thanks I actually manage student support in a University so know a fair bit ...different when it is about your own daughter though ( has really helped me understand the difficulties students with such needs face) yes we have spoken to Student Support and they are being good but the DSA Assessment which will provide the additional support is not till end of September...they have given her 25% extra time in exams with half an hour rest but I think this is insufficient . They won't consider prompts as they say they have to protect academic integrity but prompts do not have to put this at risk...how can an extra half an hour help someone who struggles with planning and has difficulty retrieving memories? They are not offering an alternative assessment either. I have asked about heir DDA responsibility to provide reasonable adjustments but hat for them is extra time!

  • Hey, I had my stroke in my second year of university. I've repeated the year twice now, I was so desperate to get back to my life, but fighting through was (and continues to be) very difficult.

    I ended up splitting my work into two years, cutting my workload in half, which really helped. I think going back is important anyway, it gets the brain working again.

  • Oh, and a Dictaphone. Get a Dictaphone :)

  • Thanks she has been given a dictaphone but funds it hard to use..any other things that have worked for you...how have you managed exams?

  • I didn't know I had memory problems from a TBI when I did my degree. As with O and A levels, I either scraped through or failed my exams (except multiple choices, where I was generally fine) which caused some puzzlement to the teaching staff but was put down to under-confidence. I had exactly the same problems when I joined the RAF. I was lucky enough to have retained adequate reasoning ability and visual memory and this allowed to get by. The verbal and prospective memory deficits, however, significantly affected, and continue to affect, my ability to function as effectively as I should.

    The biggest factor that I believe to be necessary is to work out a minimal system to allow your daughter to organize her work and life and then, and most importantly, ensure that she the system so that it becomes a much a reflex as possible. She may need a lot of help and observation to help with this, as it very difficult to both get information down and to keep track of where and how to record it and I certainly fail miserably in this respect - but I received no help at all in this respect and all I have ever really habitualized is getting it wrong, making things up on the fly and being thoroughly disorganized. :-/

    I did find the very simple Olympus dictaphone quite good. The act of recording improved my retention rate slightly and typing tasks into Outlook helped keep track of them when I would otherwise have forgotten all about then. However, my current work and life situation doesn't allow me to use it anymore and the demands of work meant that, being non-habitualized, the system failed as it was too much of a cognitive overload to remember to use.

    It would have been good to find a way to make the dictaphone part of my life ...

    Some people have been lucky enough to get systems to work for them, but I have found it impossible to do this by myself. I don't have the insight into what I am doing, and not doing, to be able to habitualize a system. Given the demands of university, I believe your daughter may have similar difficulties and I recommend that she receives help getting her system to work; simply having people telling me what to do doesn't help .. I believe it needs actual observation, intervention and fine tuning to get it to work well.

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