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RESOURCES / ACCOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES (USA) FOR STUDENTS WITH AD/HD

Michele Novotni, Ph.D.

Wayne Counselling Center
Wayne, USA
 

In response to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, colleges which receive Federal funding have resources of some type to support students with learning differences--including AD/HD. However, not all resources are equal in their supportive value.

To Begin the Process:

In general, the department assigned to provide learning support reviews documentation submitted with each student and discusses accommodations. Documentation requirements for students with ADHD usually include an evaluation by a psychiatrist, neurologist, licensed psychologist, or a Comprehensive Evaluation Report (CER) by a certified school psychologist containing current information (no more than 3 years old). The documentation should include a clearly stated diagnosis of ADHD, a  description of the symptoms that meet the criteria for the diagnosis, instruments used to make the diagnosis and current medication, dosages and frequencies. This report should also include recommendations for academic accommodations as well as an explanation as to the reason for the recommendation.

Together you and the college personnel establish a list of appropriate adjustments to request from the college or your professors in order to accommodate your specific learning difficulties. With your written consent, the department contacts your professors each semester with a letter which identifies you as eligible for the academic adjustments
listed. It's your responsibility to seek out the supports you need as soon as you get to college or as soon as you realize that you need supports. You can always meet with the department and make adjustments to your accommodations as needed.


Pieces of the Puzzle

1. Special department.
Ease of connecting and accessing services,
Requirements - number of staff, degrees, special training in ADHD, experience.
Number of students currently being served,  description of services including tone.

The college's information can provide clues as to the availability and support of students with learning differences (i.e.: Services for Students with Learning Disabilities by the State System of Higher Education, Social Equity Office for the fourteen PA State colleges).


2. Academic Support.
Coaching, tutors, writing assistance.
Qualifications range from paid professional with specialized training and experience, to paid students, to volunteers. Some colleges provide these services at no additional expense, others charge for the services.  Coaching is not generally available.

3. Counselling.
Individual and group counselling are often available to provide emotional support as well as problem solving support. Therapists  vary in their qualifications, degrees, experience and training. Individual and group counselling can range from a set number of sessions (i.e.. 10) for the duration of your college experience to unlimited counselling sessions for all four years at no additional cost.


4. Workshops.
Some colleges provide regular workshops on a variety of topics to support students with learning differences.

5. Medication management.
Some colleges will prescribe and monitor medications to help manage ADHD others will not. (NOTE: In Australia it is necessary to see a registered psychiatrist for diagnosis and prescribing of medications)

6. Technology.
Books on tape may be very useful as well as alternatively formatted texts.
Software programs such as Inspiration can help with writing assignments.
There is even a computer that will "read aloud" from text to help auditory learners Xerox/Kurzweil Personal Reader or voice activated computers for written assignments. Colleges vary in the accessibility of these resources.

7. Staff development training.
Commitment of the college to staff development training in working with students with learning differences.

Accommodations

The purpose of accommodations are to provide support such that the result would be the minimization of the effects of any disability resulting in optimal opportunities for success-to level the playing field. Responsibilities for such an approach are shared equally between the individual student and the college.

There is a need for accurate and timely communication.. Accommodations are highly prescriptive and individual due to the need to match learning difficulties to specific accommodations. Not one size fits all. And not more is better. Some accommodations need to be provided by the school and some are things that you can do on your own.


Test Accommodations:

Flexible scheduling
Time extension, testing duration, successive administrations, multiple days

Flexible setting
Individual administration, small-group administration, adaptive or special equipment at the regular testing session, or at a separate location

Revised test format
Large print editions, changes in presentation in terms of line or item spacing, changes in space for answers

Revised text directions
Rewriting or reformatting directions, emphasizing key words in directions, reading standard directions

Use of aides
To interpret or respond to test items special equipment such as auditory tape of test items, masks to cover portion of the test, markers, magnification devices, proctor assistance/readers, equipment to record responses such as a tape recorder or lap top computer, scribes or computational aids.