As the parent of a student with a disability, you are probably beginning to think about college for your child. Up to this point, you may have been the primary advocate for services for your child. You attended their IEP meetings and worked closely with teachers to assure your child’s success. Now, graduation is near (or here!) and you need to learn more about how to access programs and services at the college level. But you need to know: once your child graduates from high school, the rules all change!
Students with disabilities that have been accommodated in high school will experience changes in the way they receive those accommodations in college. As the parent, and most likely your child’s advocate in high school, you’ll find that college confidentiality rules dictate that the student is now in control and responsible for their own accommodations. In high school, your child may have worked with a team including you, the teacher, and other support personnel who determined the accommodations your child would receive. The school then took the responsibility for implementing the accommodations and directed your child to take full advantage of the accommodations provided, with little or no prompting from you or your child.
Parents often expect the college will play the same role as the high school did to encourage the student to comply with what is needed for their success. That is not the case. The LBC Disability Services Office provides the support needed, but the student is now expected to take full responsibility for their needs. On the college level, the student, as an adult, must be responsible for their own advocacy. The student is responsible for providing acceptable documentation at college and is expected to meet with the Director of Disability Services to discuss the types of accommodations suggested by the documentation and to discuss what the student prefers to receive.
Based on a signed agreement, Disability Services will provide the student with a document that can be shown to their professors as they prefer. The student must disclose to professors, in a timely manner, to receive the appropriate accommodations when needed. For example, a student must tell their professor that they will take their exams in the Academic Mentoring Services (AMS) center before the day of the exam.
The DS office offers accommodations to assist the student with a disability. AMS assists with general tutoring in all subjects, time management, organization, and study skills. It is up to the student to take advantage of these DS office accommodations and academic supports. This includes the student’s responsibility to make and keep DS appointments and/or tutoring sessions.
How can I ensure my child can make it on their own?
Parents of students with learning disabilities, ADHD, or other disabilities may have taken a very big role in their child’s academic success to this point. They took responsibility to organize the student, making sure they were in the right place at the right time, setting up an appropriate place and time for the student to study, and assisting with homework. Obviously, the parent’s role changes dramatically when a student moves into a college dormitory away from home.
This new housing arrangement may cause some anxiety. While the student most likely will experiment with their boundaries during this transition time, here is a list of suggestions for parents to help the student succeed in college.
- Make sure your child has a supply of needed medications. Remind them of the importance of taking the medicine as prescribed.
- Provide your child with a planner they can carry with them or a digital organizer. Sit down with them before leaving home to enter classes and/or work schedule in the planner.
- Communicate often. Ask about classes, upcoming projects, class attendance, study spaces, etc. Avoid nagging, but demonstrate interest in their success. Encourage them and affirm good decisions. Talk about relationships, and be alert for signs of depression or potential problems that could sidetrack them. Ask about sleep, exercise, and eating habits.
You will find good information about transition to post-secondary education at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Feel free to contact the Disability Services Office about any questions/concerns you have for your child. We will be happy to talk with you.