How to Succeed with Specific Learning Difficulties at College and University: A Review

Dr Rob Hillier, Senior Lecturer and Year One Co-ordinator of BA Graphics at the Norwich University of the Arts, and creator of dyslexia-friendly font Sylexiad, has recently reviewed Amanda Kirby’s new book How to Succeed with Specific Learning Difficulties  at College and University, published next month as part of our Human Horizons series. He has kindly allowed us to reproduce his review in full here on our blog.

Read his review in full below, or click here to read Amanda Kirby’s top tips for starting at university:

With a week to go before the arrival of the undergraduate Year One cohort at Norwich University of the Arts, this book serves as a timely reminder of the challenges facing those students, particularly those with specific learning conditions. Amanda Kirby offers such students (and their parents), some clear and comprehensive advice about coping with what can often be a mystifying, intimidating and daunting experience.

She writes in an uncomplicated and succinct manner offering practical advice across a wide range of potential issues including organisational skills, independent living, study skills, socialising and preparing for the workplace.  Kirby understands her audience well and the breadth of sound advice she offers is impressive. Her writing style is always matter-of-fact and never condescending. This unambiguous delivery is supported by clear texts that often take the form of bullet-pointed lists and a simple page layout design that uses an appropriately large and well-leaded typeface.

The non-linear nature of the lists, the purposefully un-academic tone of the text and the visually friendly and warm typographic style makes the information Kirby has to impart easy to access not only for readers with specific learning conditions, but, I would argue, for all undergraduate starters. I will therefore be recommending the book to my colleagues involved in the NUA peer assisted learning scheme, student support and those academics involved in the delivery of the Year One undergraduate programme.

Many thanks to Dr Hillier for allowing us to reproduce his review here in full.

How to Succeed with Specific Learning Difficulties at College and University is published next month in paperback and as an e-book. Specially designed in a dyslexia-friendly typeface, it contains links to useful resources for students with specific learning difficulties.


Touretteshero at TEDxAlbertopolis

On 23rd September (Monday!) Jessica Thom, author of Welcome to Biscuit Land: A Year in the Life of Touretteshero will be speaking at TEDxAlbertopolis, an independently organised TED event, at the Royal Albert Hall.

The event runs from 2pm-7pm, and will be “an afternoon of inspiring, thought-provoking and entertaining talks exploring how art and science fit together in the modern world”, according to the TEDx website. Take a look at the full list of speakers who will be taking to the stage over the course of what promises to be a fascinating afternoon.

Take a look at Jessica Thom’s recent blog post giving a little more information on what she will be talking about on the day. Her talk, entitled ‘The Alchemy of Chaos’, begins the second session of the day: Making Things Happen.

Book tickets now, before it’s too late! Priced at £25.00 or £15.00 depending on where you’re seated, there is an unreserved seating system in place, encouraging visitors to move around during the breaks to discuss the talks they have been watching.

A video of the talk will be made available online via the TED website after the event.

Welcome to Biscuit Land

Happy First Birthday: Take Home a Souvenir

That’s right! Exactly a year ago today Souvenir Press published its very first blog post. And look how we’ve grown since then. Join us in a trip down memory lane as we count down the five most popular blog posts of the last year – were there any you missed?

What would you like to see more of in the coming year on the Souvenir Press blog? Let us know in the comments below.

5) Chinese New Year: The Year of the Snake

Featuring predictions from the definitive book on Chinese astrology, THE HANDBOOK OF CHINESE HOROSCOPES, seventh edition, by Theodora Lau and Laura Lau. The book contains predictions that will take you right through to 2014. Find out what the rest of the Year of the Snake has in store for you. (Read more…)

4) Happy Birthday to Martin Luther King, Jr.

From January this year, celebrating what would have been the 84th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, leader of the Black Civil Rights movement in America. His book STRIDE TOWARD FREEDOM, published as part of the Independent Voices series by Souvenir Press, was described by King as  “the chronicle of 50,000 Negroes who took to heart the principles of non-violence, who learned to fight for their rights with the weapon of love, and who, in the process, acquired a new estimate of their own human worth.” (Read more…)

3) Bum Fodder: An Absorbing History of Toilet Paper

Did you miss the official publication day for BUM FODDER by Richard Smyth? Find out  how loo roll was used in espionage, how it relates to corn on the cob, and what mussels have got to do with it. Richard Smyth answers the questions you never thought to ask about the product we can’t live without. (Read more…)

=1) Telling Tales in Latin: A Review

Stephen Addis, a retired Classics teacher with 36 years’ experience of teaching Classics in state and independent schools, reviews TELLING TALES IN LATIN by Lorna Robinson.
“A new and exciting Latin course… It is one of the best Latin course books currently available and will undoubtedly prove to be a great success, particularly with younger children.” (Read more…)

=1) The Book by Alan Watts

Appearing on Desert Island Discs last November, John Lloyd (writer and television producer, best known for his work on Blackadder and QI) chose THE BOOK: ON THE TABOO AGAINST KNOWING WHO YOU ARE by Alan Watts as the book he would take with him to a desert island. He described it as: “The best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about.” (Read more…)

Author Corner: Amanda Kirby’s top tips for starting at university

Read more posts in our Author Corner

Professor Amanda Kirby’s new book, How to Succeed with Specific Learning Difficulties at College and University is published next month as part of the Souvenir Press Human Horizons series, and is the ultimate resource for new students with learning difficulties. It offers advice on tailoring your study methods to suit you, links to loads of helpful online resources and apps, and contains tips for living independently, covering everything from cooking to meeting new people.

In short: your one-stop guide to starting at college and university.

But for now you can have a read of her guest blog, new in our Author Corner, giving you ten (OK, eleven) top tips for starting college and university.

Read on for Amanda Kirby’s guest blog, or click here to read a sample of her new book How to Succeed with Specific Learning Difficulties at College and University.

Amanda Kirby’s 10 top tips for starting at college or university with Specific Learning Difficulties

  1. Be prepared.
    This can seem too easy to say and quite hard to do. The more you know about your college or university before you start there then the easier it will be to settle down, make friends and get the most from your course, and the experience of studying where you have chosen. This means finding out what support is available if you recognise you have had some difficulties with learning, or with communicating.
  2. Contact student services- ask what help is available.
    You usually need some documentation to say what your learning difficulties are. If you don’t have this then they should be able to organise an assessment for you, but you may have to pay something for this. They can offer help with assignments, study skills , exam provision etc.
  3. Be as organised as you can be.
    Find out what you need to do in the first few days of your arrival. Read any information sent to you. It has been usually designed to be as helpful as possible. If you are not sure contact the college and ask what is expected of you and what do you need to bring with you.
  4. Sort out your finances.
    You will probably need a bank account in university. Make an initial plan of your spending for the term. If you are not sure how to do this then ask your parents or someone who can help you with budgeting. Planning ahead can minimise large overdrafts and years of debts.
  5. Get your kit together.
    If you are moving to university, then you will need some basic kit to take with you such as stuff for work e.g. laptop, paper for printer, notebook and stuff for your room and kitchen. However different halls of residences will have different rules e.g. bedding (not all universities require this), pots and pans, kettle etc. Use colour coding to help you find things easily e.g. different folders for different topics.
  6. Be prepared to talk (and listen) to new people- the first few days is a crucial time to make friends.
    Everyone is new and nearly everyone will be nervous. Try to smile. Ask people about themselves at the same time giving something away about yourself e.g. “ Hi, I am John from Cardiff, and am studying medicine, where do you come from?”
  7. Don’t stay in your room if you are in a hall of residence.
    Have your door open, have some tea, coffee, biscuits and some beer/wine (if you drink alcohol) that you can offer others.
  8. Get to know the area.
    Find out where and when the buses run; where the local ATM is; the pub and sports facilities.
  9. Go to any sessions on using the library and study skills that are offered
    These can be of enormous help and often will give you a big advantage when having to write a first assignment.
  10. Ask for help- don’t wait till things go wrong.
    If you are struggling emotionally or with work, discuss this with parents, or go to see student services.

And one extra tip for you:

Most of all have fun! But remember: while college and university is a great opportunity to learn all sorts of things about yourself it is also about getting a qualification.

Introducing: Simply Gluten Free by Rita Greer

Rita Greer, the doyenne of special diet cooking, follows up Wheat-free Cooking with a brand new gluten-free kitchen bible: Simply Gluten Free: Rita Greer’s Helpful Kitchen Handbook.

One of Britain’s leading health writers, with decades of practical experience in special diet cookery, Rita Greer has created specially for this book a 100% gluten-free flour blend. Bread out of bounds? Not any more! You’ll love the special section with recipes for exciting gluten- and wheat-free breads to bake at home!

Simply Gluten Free contains recipes for every occasion, from everyday meals to food for celebrations, as well as cakes, biscuits and breads. Every recipe has a ‘healthiness’ rating out of five, making it easy to make a gluten-free diet part of a healthy lifestyle. Rita Greer even offers advice on organising and maintaining a gluten-free kitchen, to avoid contamination if, for example, only one member of your family requires a gluten-free diet.

Why not take a look at one of the recipes taken from Simply Gluten Free. Not long ago Rita dropped some of her gingersnap biscuits in to the Souvenir Press office, and they were gone within minutes! They were so tasty that we wanted to share the recipe with you, to give you an idea of what sort of goodies you could find within the pages of this gluten-free gem.

(Click to enlarge)

Simply Gluten Free - Rita Greer's Gingersnaps recipe

Simply Gluten Free by Rita Greer is now available in paperback and e-book.

Author Corner: Ray Axford on Archery Anatomy

Read more posts in our Author Corner.

Ray Axford is the author of Archery Anatomyan introduction to techniques for improved archery performance. This unique book explains the science behind the sport, looking at how the muscles, tendons, bones and joints work together during archery. It combines clear, accurate drawings and diagrams with explanatory text to make an invaluable contribution to the overall improvement of performance standards in archery.

Ray Axford shares the story of how this book came to be. From contributing to archery’s National Coaching Manual, and lectures on the subject, he developed the manuscript for one of the most informative and enduring books on the subject, constantly reprinted (and with yet another reprint coming 2014) and sold all across the globe.

Found and Read in the Most Unlikely Places
Archery Anatomy by Ray Axford

At its launch Archery Anatomy was sent to as many archery specialist shops as possible and, on the whole, accepted by the majority for what it was; an illustrated explanation of how the structures of both the human body and the modern high performance bow work most effectively together.  However one dealer phoned me to say;

“It won’t sell you know? It’s all about bones muscles and mechanics, and no one wants to read about bones muscles and mechanics?”

In some ways he was correct of course, some people could be put off if the book was advertised as being about the use and positioning of the muscles and bones of the body in archery practice. Fortunately many others worldwide see things somewhat differently and continue to benefit considerably from it to this day.  Based upon the muscular-skeletal construction of the human body and mechanically on the laws of physics, the information contained is unlikely to ever change unless something really catastrophic occurs to the world to alter either or both?  Although one of very few criticisms did suggest that the book was:-

“Out of date and no longer applicable…”

I suppose the foundations for Archery Anatomy was laid during the early 1980s, when someone at the governing body for archery thought it a good idea if some instruction on how the muscles and bones of the shoulder girdle should be used when drawing the bow, was introduced.  As a result, what was then called Unit 5 came into being and yours truly one of the first to lecture on the subject in Southern England.  My knowledge on the subject grew; I started keeping more detailed notes, did a quantity of analytical drawings to help clarify certain points and eventually had a large bundle of technical papers that I jokingly referred to as my manuscript for a textbook.

At first slightly intimidated by knowing that some of my workshops contained doctors and nurses in the audience, I later realised from their comments, that far from making a fool of myself I was in fact helping them with their own knowledge of anatomy etc.  Egged-on by friends and colleagues I was eventually persuaded to have my notes published in the form of a book. I selected Souvenir Press from a copy of ‘The Writers Yearbook’, because the name appealed to me, then sent the whole unedited bundle of original text and illustrations to them.  That was it I thought!  I’d done my bit, I’d sent the whole thing to a publisher, either it would be published or it wouldn’t.

Neither knowing nor caring, at that time, about double line spacing, one inch margins or the fact that one submits a synopsis first and never sends original drawings, it was a bit of a shock to be asked if I’d submitted it elsewhere and offered a contract by Souvenir Press.

Bit embarrassing if the truth be told, I’d never expected that! Never thought for one moment that anyone would actually read the original, have it vetted by some of my peers and want to put it into print; let alone several years later have it published in Spanish!  A lovely friendly and exceptional lady at Souvenir suggested a different order of illustrations and text, corrected numerous grammatical errors, learnt a few bits of archery jargon herself and between us and another close lady friend, who did a total re-type in double line spacing etc, whilst also learning much about this Core Olympic Sport.

Archery Anatomy hit the archery world in 1995, since when it has sold steadily mainly abroad, has been reprinted numerous times and can occasionally be found in some unlikely places for unusual reasons. In many doctors surgeries, primary school libraries, technical colleges, physiotherapists and would you believe it, I’ve even seen it in a Solicitors office. Why?  I don’t really know, but it may be that both anatomically and mechanically I managed to pitch it at just the right level for anyone to understand; neither too advanced nor too basic.

Archery, although being the oldest sporting activity employing a machine in the world, is not the most popular of pastimes despite the London 2012 Olympics and films such as ‘Brave’. As such, Archery Anatomy will never make me a millionaire or the world’s most popular author, but it’s a nice honest little earner.

Now! Had I taken-up Golf on the other hand, then…………oh well, never mind.

Archery Anatomy