Part of being neurodivergent means figuring out how to navigate your environment to suit you best.
One of the hardest things I learned at UBC was the way everyone else studied, which, for the most part did not work for me. I could not compare my study methods to those of others or try out what they did with enough success for their tips and tricks to be viable. Through trial and error I ended up finding ways of studying that worked for me and my neurodivergent framework. I have shared them below in the hopes that they might help others too.
One of the biggest challenges I face when studying is sound sensitivity. I easily get overwhelmed and find it hard to focus when I am exposed to too many varying sounds. I find I study best when I am in complete silence or when I am listening to a curated playlist of songs that I know well enough that I can tune them out. Noise-canceling headphones are an ultimate plus for my focus. Frequently, I play the same song over and over again for the entire time I am studying
For me, true over-ear, noise cancelling headphones were too expensive, so I got earbuds instead. Noise-canceling earbuds was the best choice I made during my academic career. Not only did they help me when I was studying, but they also helped me with combatting living with roommates and their noise levels.
While I did feel left out and slightly resentful that others found it so easy to study in groups, that kind of setting simply doesn’t work for me. I found that while studying alone was momentarily isolating, it was better to be in a quiet space, or at least a space whereI could control the noise levels If you live with roommates and find your own room too noisy, try some of the bookable IKBLC bookable study rooms or use a silent study room.
One of the aspects that I found most difficult during in-person classes was sharing the space with others. If you are like me, and have a hard time focusing on the lecturer when someone else is moving or making noise, I recommend sitting in the front row of the classroom. It seemed a bit awkward at first, but sitting there made it easier for me to focus on the class content being presented, instead of focussing on the person sitting two rows in front of me who would not stop playing with their hair.
One of the biggest things that helped me improve my performance in my classes was to get registered with the Centre for Accessibility. There my particular needs were especially taken into account. Due to my noise sensitivity issues, I was able to get a private silent room to take my exams in after I registered with the student service. This allowed me to have an environment where I could concentrate and perform to the best of my ability on my exams. Plus, other students don’t have to know where you are taking exams if you don’t want them to, for whatever reason. You can simply state that you’re taking the exam at a different time due to a scheduling conflict.