Different types of disabilities

Here is a brief description of some of the disabilities among students at KI who apply for educational support. For these students, an accessible teaching is of extra importance.

Specific reading and writing difficulties/dyslexia

Students with specific reading and writing difficulties/dyslexia have a reduced reading and writing ability due to a hereditary predisposition. There are large individual variations and have no connection to intelligence. The difficulties can be reinforced during stressful situations. It is common to have more than one diagnosis such as also ADHD.

Neuropsychiatric disability

There are diverse types of neuropsychiatric diagnoses such as ADHD, ADD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (AST). The symptoms of these diagnoses are very individual but there are a few core symptoms. The core symptoms of ADHD are difficulties with attention, impulsivity, and overactivity. In ADD, the core symptoms are problems with attention, impulsivity, and a lower activity level than normal. Common to all autism spectrum disorders are limitations in social communication and social interaction, and limiting and repetitive patterns in behaviours, interests, and activities. Students with neuropsychiatric disabilities often have difficulty shielding sounds and other impressions, which can make it exceedingly difficult to focus on a task for a long time. It is common to have more than one diagnosis such as also dyslexia. In neuropsychiatric conditions, there is also an increased risk of mental illness.

Mental illness

Mental illness is a concept that manifests itself in a variety of ways. The symptoms are often long-lasting and recurrent. Some examples are obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, self-harming behaviour and eating disorders. Anxiety syndrome, e.g., generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder cause conditions including anxiety and worry, increased depression, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and tension symptoms, which can affect the ability to function in the study situation. Fatigue syndrome affects the student both mentally and physically. Symptoms may include body aches, depression, deficient performance, memory- and concentration difficulties. Depression affects thoughts and feelings and physical well-being. Sleeping problems, lack of energy, poor memory, concentration and thinking ability can make it difficult for the student to study.

Other disabilities among students at KI

Neurological diseases, movement, vision, and hearing impairments are other examples of disabilities that can affect the study situation. Injuries can give rise to chronic pain conditions that affect attention and concentration. Medication can lead to fatigue. In neurological disease the symptoms can go on and off and the student may need to be on sick leave from their studies for a period. The student may have chronic pain, which can make it difficult to sit down and concentrate for an entire lecture or examination. Concentration can also be affected by diabetes as blood sugar rises or falls, and sugar levels can be affected by stress, for example during examination.

Speech impairment

In speech impairment the planning of speech motions or the execution of the utterance is affected and can make it difficult for the student to participate in discussions, oral exams, and presentations. Stuttering involves interruptions in the normal flow of speech. The stuttering may or may not be a problem for the person stuttering, and the conversation partner cannot assess the degree of the stuttering or the bother. Some may avoid stuttering by being quiet, exchanging words, or avoiding certain situations.

Hearing loss and sound environment

For those with a hard-of-hearing, it is extra demanding to listen, as it requires greater concentration. As a student, it is extra important to have (quiet) breaks for recovery.

Anything that supports communication can mean relief and increased audibility, such as the possibility to see the face of the speaker, text to what is being said and reduced background noise of all kinds. The sound environment can be absolutely decisive for whether a student should be able to listen for a longer period of time.

What about hearing aid? A hearing aid amplifies the sounds we can hear. All sounds, even those that disturb. It does not fill in sound frequencies for which we lack hearing. This means that the deficiencies in hearing remain, but that weak parts have become stronger. The hearing aid is good, but often does not provide adequate hearing.

Why microphone? How does a hearing loop work?

What does it sound like? Try the sound environment simulator!


Read more about accessible teaching.

Viktoria Hansson

Coordinator for students with functional variations
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