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Experience with communicating w/ disability office?


prim*rose
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My 16 year old daughter has Crohn's Disease and needs surgery in a few weeks. She is dual enrolled at the local CC and has accommodations through the disability office. For anyone else in a similar situation, I'm wondering what the procedure is with the school's disability office has for when your child needs a medical absence? Dd let the disability coordinator know she was going to be out for up to 10 days because of her surgery, and the disability coordinator told her to take it up with her professor, and she didn't offer any other guidance or support. Am I wrong in thinking that disability should be coordinating this or maybe doing something a bit more? 


Thank you!

 

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I'm not sure what the policy is at that particular school. At the large university that my oldest attends, the disability office does communicate initially with professors, and meetings are set up at the beginning of each new quarter. If an emergent absence occurs, the office will communicate such with the professor, and I suppose if there was a conflict (supposing, because this hasn't been an issue for my daughter as of yet) the office would advocate for the student.

 

It may be that since this is a planned absence, the best course of action is for your daughter to communicate with the professors directly and make a plan to work around missed work with them. If problems arise, she could go back to the disability office for help.

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Editing because I misread:

 

if a student has accommodations through the DSS office that mention makeup of work because of frequent absences/surgeries etc, the student still has to contact the professors to arrange for the specifics. The DSS office does not dictate how professors have to handle each individual case.

 

ETA: It is impossible for the DSS office to coordinate makeup work, since they do not have enough information about assignments and due dates ad course structure; this has to be up to the individual faculty member.

 

For students absent because of hospitalization or surgery, the Office of Student Affairs can send out a notice to instructors, but that, too, only serves to inform, not dictate the way this is handled.

Edited by regentrude
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I'm not sure what the policy is at that particular school. At the large university that my oldest attends, the disability office does communicate initially with professors, and meetings are set up at the beginning of each new quarter. If an emergent absence occurs, the office will communicate such with the professor, and I suppose if there was a conflict (supposing, because this hasn't been an issue for my daughter as of yet) the office would advocate for the student.

 

It may be that since this is a planned absence, the best course of action is for your daughter to communicate with the professors directly and make a plan to work around missed work with them. If problems arise, she could go back to the disability office for help.

This is interesting. The CC isn't nearly as organized as this. So far, they've only given her the accommodations letter and told her to submit it to the professor. I just wanted to see if this was the norm, since we have nothing to compare it to. Thanks for responding.

 

Editing because I misread:

 

if a student has accommodations through the DSS office that mention makeup of work because of frequent absences/surgeries etc, the student still has to contact the professors to arrange for the specifics. The DSS office does not dictate how professors have to handle each individual case.

 

ETA: It is impossible for the DSS office to coordinate makeup work, since they do not have enough information about assignments and due dates ad course structure; this has to be up to the individual faculty member.

 

For students absent because of hospitalization or surgery, the Office of Student Affairs can send out a notice to instructors, but that, too, only serves to inform, not dictate the way this is handled.

 

Dd's accommodations didn't mention anything about surgery since we were not at that point when she applied for dual enrollment and the accommodations. If only I had a crystal ball and I would've known things would've gotten so bad so fast :( And to be clear, I wasn't thinking that the disability coordinator would help with makeup work, just that it seems they should be the one communicating the prolonged absence to the professor, with my dd following up once initial communication was made. 

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This is interesting. The CC isn't nearly as organized as this. So far, they've only given her the accommodations letter and told her to submit it to the professor. I just wanted to see if this was the norm, since we have nothing to compare it to. Thanks for responding.

 

That's how it works here too--they give a letter to the student at the beginning of each semester, and encourage the student to introduce themselves to the instructor after the first class and hand in the letter. I think they do it that way because it's important for the student to be able to communicate to the instructor, and this breaks the ice and helps that process get started. I think at our school they are encouraging kids to self-advocate as much as possible (and I think overall that's a good thing).

 

I'd have your dd go to the instructor and explain her situation to see what can be done as far as making up the work etc... I kind of think this would fall under the same type of scenario as any type of medical emergency situation, rather than strictly under the disability office. But if it seems an instructor isn't willing to work with her, then I'd have her go back to the disability office to see what can be done. 

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She will need to talk to all her professors to see if she will be able to make up the work. 10 days is a lot of school at the college level.

 

If she's unlikely to be able to pass her classes after so much time off, then talking to the dean of students about a medical withdrawal might be the best course of action.

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If she's unlikely to be able to pass her classes after so much time off, then talking to the dean of students about a medical withdrawal might be the best course of action.

 

About the bolded: it is already late in the semester, and a withdrawal would cause the student to lose all work she has completed and start from scratch.

It would be much better if she could receive an Incomplete instead. It may not be possible, since it may also be too early (policies vary by school), but she should definitely ask. Incomplete is much better than withdrawal.

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At my university, one office handles accommodations for disabilities.  This would include an initial letter for the student to give to the professor at the beginning of the semester outlining the necessary accommodations (extended test time, note taker, enlarged print, etc.)  This letter might also include statements about how the student may have frequent absences or need frequent breaks during class time.  

 

If it became medically necessary for a student to be absent for a prolonged period of time, it would be another office--the Dean of Students, who would send an email to the students professors.  This email would state that the student has provided documentation of medical issues and expects to be out on particular dates.  The email will also state that the the student has been told to contact each professor about making up work.  The letter from the Dean of Students is not necessary--the student can simply contact each professor.  The dean of students does not do anything in the way of assisting with making up the material (such as gathering course material or scheduling makeup exams.)  I have had a couple of cases in which the dean of students has contacted me about a particular students' progress so that the student can be advised appropriately whether an incomplete or a medical withdrawal is prudent.  

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This is all excellent feedback, thank you. 

 

Dd always tries to work a few days ahead because of her Crohn's. Since she found out last week about the surgery, she's managed to work ahead by a full week, and she's going to work the next few weekends before her surgery to get another week ahead. I don't think a medical withdrawal will be necessary, but it's good to know it exists should she ever need it. She will have her laptop at the hospital, and once she's off painkillers, plans to check in with school as much as she is able. 

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Similarly to what others have said, ds's disability services office provides letters for students to give to each of their professors which explain the accommodations they receive. After that it is up to the student to work directly with the teachers. Disability services might help if a teacher wasn't following protocol, but not with initial contacts. Of course, we've never dealt with a surgery situation, but I would assume it would be the same. I would expect her to be able to get an incomplete and receive extra time if she needs it to finish classes. That would be available even to a student without a disability who had to have surgery during a semester.

 

Sorry your dd is having a hard time right now Prim!

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Another thing that it might be helpful for you to know--generally the disability services will provide documentation that a disability exists and enumerate the appropriate accommodations.  However, they do not reveal to the faculty what the disability is because of privacy reasons.  I may get a letter saying that a student has been seen by a doctor, has been hospitalized, etc. but I will not know anything about the details of the illness or hospitalization without the student providing that information to me.  

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