As part of Cerebral Palsy Awareness month, Ciara shares her helpful guide to help you through your time at college.
Hello, my name is Ciara McCarthy, and I am a college student with cerebral palsy, autism, and profound hearing loss. For a cerebral palsy month, I compiled tips to help guide you through your time at college as someone with cerebral palsy.
I began at college in the autumn of 2022, and these are things I found helpful in navigating my way through college.
Attend the Open Days of the college you’re going to.
- It can be helpful to familiarise the surroundings and to communicate with lecturers and support staff. Often these open days have useful information about the course you’re attending, and you can ask questions
Get to know student advisors or support staff who will help you through college.
- They can reassure you about your anxieties or support needs. Their job is to support you throughout your course. If you have specific accommodations, they ensure that you have them. The earlier you reach out to them, the quicker your Disabled Student Allowance can be processed.
Ask for a tour around the college.
- This helped me visualise where the nearest lifts and classes were. You can get tours on open days; however, the person that supports you can have a personal one so that you feel more comfortable attending college.
Sit with people in the class.
- As someone bullied for having cerebral palsy, it can be scary talking to new people all over again. Still, I have met incredible friends in my class; sometimes, overcoming your anxieties can help.
- Societies are a fantastic way to make friends outside of class. There are various interest-based and community-based societies. I joined the disabled students’ network, and it’s so much fun.
Don’t be embarrassed to use mobility aids.
- If they help you, then use them as they are designed to support you. Please don’t focus on anyone else; it’s what supports you and keeps you safe.
Contact your guidance or support teacher if you’re scared about transitioning from secondary school to college. You deserve to have a smooth and safe transition tailored to your needs.
This is my personal experience at college, and it will not apply to everyone, but I hope this gives you some reassurance for your journey to college.