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ACCOMMODATIONS AT COLLEGE
What Every Parent (and Student) Should Know
Forest Alliance Coaching
If your child needs to have accommodations in college you need to know that it is not about having an IEP or 504 Plan. It doesn’t matter if the student has received IEP services since Kindergarten and has been receiving accommodations for over 12 years. Without the right documents there may be no accommodations in college.
Here’s what you need to have for most colleges (please make sure you check directly with the Disability Service Center of the college of your choice for accurate forms and documents):
- A recent (meaning no older than 3 years) comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation consisting of:
▪ Standardized Assessments: Cognitive (IQ); Achievement; and Other Assessments that validate the disability (ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Asperger’s, NLD…). It is very important that ALL test scores are reported, this means ALL subtest scores too. Many colleges do not accept a report that states “Below Average…” in place of actual scores. Furthermore, when rating scales (Conner’s/BRIEF…) are used in the report all scores need to be reported but also narratives explaining the results.
▪ A specific statement of diagnosis and DSM diagnostic code (especially for ADHD). The diagnosis of “Dyslexia” instead of “Specific Learning Disability in Reading” provides more accurate accommodations.
▪ Academic limitations resulting from the disability. Explicit statements using the data to explain the diagnosis and the academic limitations. This is especially important if a student is bright but still needs extended time. They may see that the student has a high IQ and think the student doesn’t need extended time, so the data needs to be used to explain how the disability creates an impairment academically (thinking, learning, concentrating, reading, writing, math…).
▪ Recommendations for Accommodations with data and explanations supporting the rational for these accommodations.
2. A copy of a recent IEP, 504 Plan, and Multifactored Evaluation if available.
3. Some colleges also have their own Professional Verification Form that is to be filled out by the professional who diagnosed or is treating the student. This form will have basic student information but will also require the professional to fill out questions regarding the DSM diagnosis, date of diagnosis, symptoms that meet the criteria for the diagnosis (with test scores), explanation of the functional limitations academically as a result of the diagnosis, recommendations for academic accommodations and rationale for these recommendations, and professional credentials (signature, licensure number, phone number…)
If you child is on an IEP make sure that a FULL psycho-educational evaluation is completed in their Junior or Senior year (usually during the re-evaluation process). Make sure it is written with the details listed above and with a specific diagnosis. You must be careful here though because the school district may see this new data and reduce the IEP to a 504 or eliminate it completely. During both of these cases the report will not be supportive of specific accommodations and the college will not provide accommodations. If you child only has a 504 Plan they will need to have this evaluation completed. You can ask the school but remember that it may not be written with the exact details the college is looking for. Furthermore, school psychologists do not clinically diagnosis (for more details on this topic see the notes:https://www.facebook.com/notes/forest-alliance-coaching/difference-between-a-diagnostic-evaluation-and-a-school-evaluation/414387178639145).
Finally, you also have to understand a few other things about accommodations in college. First, if your child is 18 years or older your child must advocate for themselves. As an adult the college does not want to communicate with you, it is up to the student to make contact. Second, students must be the ones who request services. It is up to the student to self-identify. Third, most colleges want to help all students be successful so when interested in going to a college speak with someone in disability services so you will know exactly what is needed to receive accommodations.
*Note: Thanks Jill Grandstaff Lam
Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org