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Neurodiversity; Signs and Assessment Pathways

What is Neurodiversity and Specific Learning Differences?

  • Student experiences
  • Pathways to assessment and diagnosis
  • Getting support
  • Additional supportive resources

Studying medicine, especially accelarated, seems to uncover struggles students have coped with for years - or which they weren't even fully aware of. Sometimes, it turns out that they're Neurodivergent (ND), or have a Specific Learning Difference / Difficulty (SpLD).

In fact, between 2011 and 2021, 24.7% of MB ChB students declared a disability - the most common being 15.4% declaring a Learning Difference (Revell, 2022).

Below are some experiences that led students to seek an assessment - if they're relatable, and you’d like to know more, you can read the assessment pathways listed.

You can also contact the Disability NetworkLink opens in a new window, your PT, or the Student Support Team for pastoral support during the process.

Being Neurodivergent (ND) or Neuroatypical just means your brain functioning deviates from what's socially ‘normal’. It includes SpLDs, neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions, and Learning Disabilities.

A Specific Learning Difference (SpLD) means this 'deviation' concerns how you learn and process new information - such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, and dyscalculia.

Both are umbrella ‘labels’. You don't have to use these words for yourself, but it can help others identify with a community, without specifying their diagnosis. Although, you do not need a diagnosis to identify as ND.

Neuroatypical or Neurodivergent is an individual.

Neurodiverse is a group of people with different types of Neurodiversity.

Student Experiences

Below are quotes and common experiences from students either diagnosed whilst at WMS, or before attending. If they sound familiar, consider if a free ND screening with the Disability Team is appropriate.

This list is just to encourage self-reflection. Having the same experiences doesn't mean you're definitely ND, and there's other 'signs' too.

They're not organised by diagnosis as they can all be present in more than one of them.

"I was taking hours to get through one recorded lecture, far longer than what anyone else needed..."

"I could never finish the checklists"

"It's like time doesn't exist in my head... no matter what alarms or calendars I use"

"I cannot navigate Moodle, even after years and being shown multiple times"

"I have to have things done in a very specific way or it doesn’t get done at all"

"I made new revision notes as I went as it felt more effort to try and find those I had written throughout the year"

"Felt really unorganised, and struggled to keep up... may have been burn out"

"Finding information...remembering all the admin and paperwork tasks... it's all hard"

"I struggled to finish writing in exams, despite writing as fast as possible"

Pathways to assessment, diagnosis, and support

Below is a description of each stage in the NHS and private (via the Disability Team) pathways for ND assessments.

Only ADHD, ASC, and dyspraxia can be assessed via the NHS for adults.

You are strongly advised to discuss this process with your PT, or the Student Support Team. It's a potentially overwhelming journey - especially when you’re already studying. Also, it shows WMS if more help is required.

In summary, it’s just;

  • Request a screening with the Disability Team
  • If they agree it's likely, book and have a formal assessment
  • Tell the Disability Team the results and discuss your support needs
  • Or, just ask your GP!

There’s a lot of extra detail so you can be fully informed, and not get stuck.

You do not need to read all of this at once - it's just to make the whole process plain.

If you encounter any difficulties with the screening or assessment process, contact the WMS Disability Network - we're students, not faculty, and will advise and advocate for you wherever needed.

This information was collected by MBChB student and Disability Network Secretary Charlotte Pemberton in 2022, with grateful contributions from multiple MBChB students. Thank you also to Kirsten Revell, Dr Ellie Powell, Dr Anne-Marie Chilton, and the Disability Team for their input.

If you’d like to discuss any of this content, related topics, or give feedback, please email,, or opens in a new window. If you have new experiences to add, they are sincerely appreciated!