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Calming Tea

Using accommodations in college?? How hard is it?

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So many of you may have seen my post on the other thread about my dd finishing her learning eval and that she has received her Dx and we are now documenting the accommodations she is receiving at the co-op and at home.  

So....about using accommodations in college.  I think basically I'm totally freaked out!

My dd has a significant disability in visual memory, so she can't spell.  So her accommodations request asks for use of a computer, time and a half, and use spellcheck for all graded assignments, and if possible a room where she can be alone, so she can read aloud to herself as needed.  

This sounds exhausting 😞 The idea of having to talk to each and every prof, each and every semester, and then to have to go about getting a proctor for each and every quiz and test?  Does hte prof send the tests and exams and quizzes to the proctor? Is the proctor center open all the time, or will she have to call them and schedule every quiz and exam? How about pop quizzes?  She's supposed to receive a notice?  How will that work?

I guess, to me it almost seems like unless the student is extremely motivated and self sufficient it's going to be so hard, and so frustrating, or maybe it's more streamlined than I thought???

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Usually at colleges, you get a standard "Disability sheet" and either hand it to each professor or it is emailed out automatically. 

There is usually a "testing center" for proctored quizzes and tests with extra time, and it is the professor's responsibility to send them the tests. It is not usually the responsibility of the student to arrange proctors, and frankly if it is I would transfer to a school that took accessibility more seriously. For pop quizzes, I do them at the end of class; I have my students with accommodations leave when I hand out the quiz, and then they will have the rest of the day (or the next day, if it is a late class) to go over there and take the quiz. Sometimes, people choose to just take them in the regular classroom and stay late; this is up to them. Sometimes, for a private room, you need to schedule. You definitely need to schedule if you require a scribe or a reader. But to just take a test, you do not. There's usually a couple of large rooms where people take tests for all different kinds of classes, and a few private rooms. At my current college, we have a couple of private rooms and one "quiet room" which has a cap on the students. 

Your dd MAY run into a professor who is not enthusiastic about the accommodations. She will probably get a feel for this when she hands the sheet over -- there's usually a small meeting so that you can discuss how best to make the accommodations work. I have had some people who had professors say pretty rotten things to them, like "well boy I bet EVERYONE would like extra time". But it is rare, I assure you. Quite honestly, if she runs into someone like this, I'd drop the class and take it with someone else.

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You have layers there. One is whether the student is willing to use their accommodations. On a college campus, it's totally about self-advocacy. If she choses not to use what they offer, it won't happen. Two, schools vary in what they will make happen. The more significant her needs, the more important it will be to choose carefully. My dd chose a smaller university that had recently made a MAJOR investment in improving their disability offerings. They took out an entire floor in a building, made it a big deal. At her school it's totally seamless. She got set up with her paperwork at the beginning and they notify every prof and help her set up testing, services, etc. They gave her an advisor for EF support who met with her every week her first year to help her stay on track, and that person is still available now for problem solving. She never has ANY issues using her accommodations, because that person in that office goes to bat for her. She's had weird things come up that were specific to a class, and that person is right there helping her problem solve, boom. 

That's like your most awesome kind of experience. Then contrast that with maybe a more faded back experience (the university has an office but they're strained and strapped) or even a school that doesn't take gov't funds, doesn't comply with ADA laws (which are actually what you're appealing to when you ask for the accommodations), etc. The experiences can vary. 

So you want to be in a situation where she's going to get the level of attention and support she needs to succeed. Might mean a small college in a big university or might mean a smaller university. That choice will be the biggest piece.

As far as dorm accommodations, those are a bit different. Those are medical accommodations, at least where dd is, and they're harder to get. Again, talk with the schools. They're going to make you ZERO promises upfront probably. We had to bring medical notes and fill out forms for dorm acccommodations and we've had to renew those forms each year. That's more hoops. I don't *know* if they will give you a single room because she wants to read aloud. They're going to ask if there's ANY OTHER WAY for that need to be met. That's definitely what they'll be asking. So if she's able to go to a private room in the library or a study location and do that or wear headphones or use audio, they're gonna turn that down in a hot minute. They are also legally allowed to *charge* you for the upgraded dorm accommodation if they do give it to you. Our university doesn't (right now, so far), but they could. 

Living accommodations (where, with whom, how noisy, etc.) definitely impact her success and will have to be thought through. On paper my dd qualifies for a single occupancy dorm room and we have enough paper trail (from three separate professionals across disciplines) that we could probably have pushed for it. The university wanted us to balance that with the benefit to emotional health of feeling connected and the learning experience of living with someone. That isn't the right answer for everyone, but so far she has made it work. The university has bent over backwards to give her "ghost" roommates, people who basically disappear. Two years in a row she has had ghosts, like nursing students, introverts, people who don't bring others into the room. So that roommate selection can also make a big difference if it goes that way.

I started teaching my dd as soon as she got her paper trail (7th, I forget) about the RIGHTNESS OF USING HER ACCOMMODATIONS and how important it was to self-advocate and stand up for the rightness of them. We began online classes where she would use them and know she was using them and know why. I never had boo from her about wanting to try the university without accommodations, and once we got through the initial enrollment stuff (where I did some fighting too), she has taken over and done everything. Even when the school is trying to be pretty accommodating, there's still stuff that has to be done, the self-advocacy.

Quizzes and tests. Well usually everything is on the syllabus. This isn't high school. My dd has the RIGHT to take EVERYTHING in the limited distraction environment with extended time, but she just finds out what will be happening and sorts out at the beginning what her plan is. I don't really know day to day how she does that. I *think* she talks with her support person in the disability office and they tell the prof what will be happening. I'm not sure. So some classes have quizzes that she really can't do without the extended time and some quizzes she can. It just varies by the class. I don't think she wobbles or looks at the paper and walks out though. It's all planned out ahead with her person and agreed to and taken care of for her. Same thing with finals, everything is scheduled. But this is a big office that's handling it a lot now and is doing a good job. She was doing 300 level humanities classes her freshman year, so there was a lot of writing that meant she NEEDED that extended time and limited distraction to write.

She must be pretty self-confident, because she has never seemed awkward about it. I think she made friends with other people in her boat and just normalized it. That's part of what's making it work for her, that where she is it's common enough that it's no big deal.

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I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER NOW!

My dd has on her recommendations to use an individual room, but my guess is she won't really need it except in the case of Science.  So if the recommendations say individual room, does she HAVE to use that accommodation?  

This way she could just use the drop in proctoring service 🙂

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your advice!

Can we call ahead of time and see if hte school has the type of drop in proctoring service she would need? Like, before she applies?

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2 minutes ago, Calming Tea said:

Can we call ahead of time and see if hte school has the type of drop in proctoring service she would need? Like, before she applies?

You want to visit a variety of schools so you start to get a difference. Tell them upfront that your dd has SLDs and that you'd like to visit their student services and see what they offer. They should be able to take you to that department, and you'll start to see the differences very quickly. 

Just my two cents, but I think kids get a sense of whether the place is some place they could function, like the total package. 

Kids change their majors quite a bit, usually 3 times (national average) before graduating, lol. Is she going to do some DE? That would be a good way to get her feet wet. Remember, any student who is DE, even online, is eligible legally to the SAME SERVICES they would have access to on-campus. So if you take say the Politics and American Culture class from Cedarville online (good class, dd loved it), she can get her feet wet. You can see on Cedarville's website what they offer for support services. Then you'll also get cynical and realize places are saying they have stuff and aren't maybe offering it in a functional way or that maybe the quality of the offerings vary or whatever. She'll have more of a sense of what she needs to function.

For instance, say she needs writing assistance for her papers. Will it be peer tutors (lower quality feedback, sorry) or a 24-hour professional service with people with grad degrees? There's going to be a lot of variety there. Dd took online classes (DE) from several places, so she started to get opinionated.

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Peter Pan, if you'd be comfy emailing me the name of your dd's college I'd love to look into it! We're going to have to change gears here in what she's looking for.

So far I have High POint in NC, they have a coach the entire freshman year, and a lot of things like that where they believe in life skills as part of the college experience, not just academics.  Looks awesome, although I haven't spoken with them yet regarding how they handle disabilities.

My dd doesn't have any medical disabilities, but my ds does so we are in the thick of that whole thing with allergies, and I did a lot of research ahead of time which helped.

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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

You want to visit a variety of schools so you start to get a difference. Tell them upfront that your dd has SLDs and that you'd like to visit their student services and see what they offer. They should be able to take you to that department, and you'll start to see the differences very quickly. 

Just my two cents, but I think kids get a sense of whether the place is some place they could function, like the total package. 

Kids change their majors quite a bit, usually 3 times (national average) before graduating, lol. Is she going to do some DE? That would be a good way to get her feet wet. Remember, any student who is DE, even online, is eligible legally to the SAME SERVICES they would have access to on-campus. So if you take say the Politics and American Culture class from Cedarville online (good class, dd loved it), she can get her feet wet. You can see on Cedarville's website what they offer for support services. Then you'll also get cynical and realize places are saying they have stuff and aren't maybe offering it in a functional way or that maybe the quality of the offerings vary or whatever. She'll have more of a sense of what she needs to function.

For instance, say she needs writing assistance for her papers. Will it be peer tutors (lower quality feedback, sorry) or a 24-hour professional service with people with grad degrees? There's going to be a lot of variety there. Dd took online classes (DE) from several places, so she started to get opinionated.

 

I was thinking my dd would get more experience with the local CC, and the disabilities coordinator did email me back and say they do offer services (but only to people who qualify) to Dual Enrollment just like regular students, and he offered to meet with us. But, that would only be exactly one DE place, not several, and if it was a bad experience, I am afraid it would sour her.  On the other hand, we did already meet a lot of people at that CC and they serve a more underpriviledged population so they're used to helping kids a LOT.  ANd adults, and all in between so I would hope they'd be cool about disabilities too.

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At my son's college, he had to contact every professor during the first week of class and he was responsible for scheduling his exams at the testing center and making sure the professor knew to send the exam over.

That wasn't the biggest problem though.  The biggest problem was that he had no way to contact the professor if he had questions during the exam.  Also, occasionally a professor would give hints or other information to the class as they were taking the exam that would help with some aspect of the exam.  My son would never be given that information.

He finally stopped using his accommodations because of all this, and his GPA took a huge hit.  He has many, many classes where he has over 100% on the homework, lab work, and projects, but he gets a C in the class because of the exams.  It's ridiculous.

Edited by EKS
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Yes, in-person is good!! My dd always prefers in-person classes to online, because with in-person you have more herd effect to keep you on track. Our cc is doing porn in the freshman english, so no way in the world was I putting her in there. I would have had to use a tech college and that was, well it would transfer but I wanted the credits to say university. 

The other great thing about doing DE is you get to do career testing. If she hasn't done that yet, might be enlightening. I told dd I wouldn't let her choose between schools until she had that testing. She had a big spread between the schools she wanted, and the testing helped her realize that what we were telling her (that she had multiple areas of strength and should develop them) was true. So yeah, once you enroll for DE you'll have access to their career counseling too.

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Oh yeah that's a great idea. My dd definitely has a dream and it's wonderful but parts of it are going to be very hard...it would be nice to get some testing just in case her mind would be open to other ideas!    And, same here, my dd does a million times better with in person classes.

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Are there any lists or rankings of schools that actually take this stuff seriously?  And have the means to implement it well?  

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Son met with the uni's DSS in May, a week following high school graduation.  He presented all the required documentation and didn't have any issues receiving testing in isolation with extended time and a keyboard, spellchecker, Smart Pen, and graph paper usage.  He meets with the DSS and all profs at the beginning of the semester.  He also communicates with the profs ahead of testing, and they provide a testing slip two days prior to the test date.  He carries the testing slip to the DSS office where he takes the examinations.  During the 1st semester, DS periodically met with the DSS office for EF but has quit that.  (That irritates me....I can't say how much that bugs me.)  Anyhoo...  After the parent orientation, I nearly yanked DS from the school prior to starting because of some comments I heard made about technology in the classroom.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and everything has worked thus far.

Overall, the process has gone far better than we ever imagined.  My only beef is that he is a diagnosed dysgraphic and yet takes his own notes.  DS uses his own Echo Smart Pen; however, the school supplies those to students who need them as well as the replacement ink cartridges and USB cable to download son's Echo Smart Pen to his laptop. The school will revisit the notetaker accommodation if DS starts to seriously struggle and at his request.  In the meantime, son is getting by.

Housing...Read about the accommodated housing request and place it early.  Son's uni charges double the room rate for that particular accommodation.

 

Edited by Heathermomster
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7 minutes ago, Lawyer&Mom said:

Are there any lists or rankings of schools that actually take this stuff seriously?  And have the means to implement it well?  

I found one....

I thought it was super helpful scroll down to number 4

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1 hour ago, Lawyer&Mom said:

Are there any lists or rankings of schools that actually take this stuff seriously?  And have the means to implement it well?  

There was nothing about son's uni website that suggested they accommodated well.  I don't know how other uni's work, but son's school expected the parents with their students to be on their game and they absolutely do not actively promote their services outside of a link on their website.  DSS was given a brief mention during orientation, and they have a blurb in the student handbook.  Eta:  The ADA is Federal Law. Son’s school has the resources set aside for sudents; however, the school isn’t selling the DSS office as a reason to attend the uni.

Edited by Heathermomster
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1 hour ago, Calming Tea said:

 

My dd has on her recommendations to use an individual room, but my guess is she won't really need it except in the case of Science.  So if the recommendations say individual room, does she HAVE to use that accommodation? ?

In our experience -- No.

DS20 has about ten recommended accommodations. He's only ever really needed or asked for one of them. 

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Accommodations in college have been so easy. Much easier than our high school. The college has a Student Disability Services office, and they take care of everything. All my son has to do is notify his teachers each semester that he gets accommodations and send them the link to his file. He then coordinates with the woman assigned to him in the Disability office to schedule his tests with her. All of his teachers for the past three years have also been extremely helpful.  

And wanted to add that no my son does not ask for all the accommodations he qualifies for. For example, he could have a note taker but that has not been necessary as pretty much every teacher always has the class notes/slides/outline available on-line. 

Edited by Mom-ninja.
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1 hour ago, Calming Tea said:

 

I was thinking my dd would get more experience with the local CC, and the disabilities coordinator did email me back and say they do offer services (but only to people who qualify) to Dual Enrollment just like regular students, and he offered to meet with us. But, that would only be exactly one DE place, not several, and if it was a bad experience, I am afraid it would sour her.  On the other hand, we did already meet a lot of people at that CC and they serve a more underpriviledged population so they're used to helping kids a LOT.  ANd adults, and all in between so I would hope they'd be cool about disabilities too.

 

Just to be sure you know that in NC your dd could take classes at any of the CC's, not just the one that is most local.  So you could try others if you don't like the first one.  In fact, I plan to enroll my younger son at both Alamance and Durham Tech for this coming fall.  I asked at Alamance if it would be legit to take classes at Durham Tech, too, and was told it was not a problem.    You just have to enroll at both schools.  Easy Peasy. 

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No place that I have worked has required students to use the accommodation. Even if I have sent a student's test to the center, I am legally required to have enough in the room that if s/he has a last minute change of mind, the test is available in the classroom. 

Talking with the DSS office or whatever they call it will probably be a good idea. 

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That’s a good point serenade.

we are in CA but still have access to three CC within reasonable driving distance so worth thinking about ! 

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There's a book Colleges that Change Lives, but that's not a guarantee either.

One of dd's accommodations involves getting notes/outlines and even discussion questions ahead of time. That's something where it can vary with the university. Where she's at a lot of the profs tend to put powerpoints or outlines or something up ahead of time, and that gives her a chance to pre-read and pre-load the info. I don't know that every single class is doing that (honestly I'm so busy i'm not keeping up), but she has said it's enough classes that it makes a difference. And that seems to be sort of the culture at that school that that's common. She's able to see syllabii ahead of time and decide which class sections will be a better fit, etc. 

I think in some ways Heathermomster's ds is a stronger student. Like it just seems like he's doing really well. My dd has had plenty of scrapes and pickles, things like getting sick, getting a concussion. She gets really tired from the auditory processing, though that's doing better with the filter. The sensory wears on her. So I think it's the overall picture and your student has to know themselves and stay in the dorms and visit and go okay I could function here or no I can't function in this. Dd visited the university enough to know what she had to have to function there.

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I shudder to think about DS being a strong student because I am never satisfied with his effort.  He’s been using apps and accommodations for a long time now. DS uses an iPad and Mac laptop with the Notability app, audio text books, and Grammarly.  DH and I provide those tools, not the university.

Son’s school uses an online program called Canvas where all classroom assignments, grades, syllabi, and powerpoint presentations are kept.  The ppts are written with a ton of color, which makes printing them nearly impossible and difficult to read when printed in gray scale.   

Edited by Heathermomster
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8 minutes ago, Heathermomster said:

Son’s school uses an online program called Canvas where all classroom assignments, grades, syllabi, and powerpoint presentations are kept.

Yes, I'm not sure what the software is, but that's what they've got, some kind of system like that. I don't know if it's common to all schools now and just a normal thing? Dunno. It's definitely helpful.

Dd is stuck on an ipad right now waiting for her drowned, fried, beleaguered macbook to get repaired. She pulled a stupid one and used her laptop without a surge protector and it started a cascade of problems. Been in the repair shop two weeks now, sigh.

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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

Yes, I'm not sure what the software is, but that's what they've got, some kind of system like that. I don't know if it's common to all schools now and just a normal thing? Dunno. It's definitely helpful.

Dd is stuck on an ipad right now waiting for her drowned, fried, beleaguered macbook to get repaired. She pulled a stupid one and used her laptop without a surge protector and it started a cascade of problems. Been in the repair shop two weeks now, sigh.

My DD is using an iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard for her school work.  Google docs is amazing.

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13 minutes ago, Heathermomster said:

Google docs is amazing.

Ooo, that's smart! I think the trouble was she had everything on her macbook pro and was used to it. But if you started off that way, yeah that would totally work. And I'm impressed that your dd is typing docs!! I'm working with ds on typing, sigh. He can do the single finger pec pretty nicely now for 3 vowels and 5 consonants on the home row of the Dvorak layout. But if I suggest he even once try using his four fingers properly for the consonants, like even just one time through, he gets really stressed. It seems something with his fingers and using them individually like that is still hard, sigh. So this may be a long. road.

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15 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Ooo, that's smart! I think the trouble was she had everything on her macbook pro and was used to it. But if you started off that way, yeah that would totally work. And I'm impressed that your dd is typing docs!! I'm working with ds on typing, sigh. He can do the single finger pec pretty nicely now for 3 vowels and 5 consonants on the home row of the Dvorak layout. But if I suggest he even once try using his four fingers properly for the consonants, like even just one time through, he gets really stressed. It seems something with his fingers and using them individually like that is still hard, sigh. So this may be a long. road.

I need to get her a better keyboard.  She is learning to type and mainly answers science/history questions and cleans up her Inspiration outlines.  We share docs and can edit together on two devices (hers and mine).  DD wants a full sized violin, so I told her we’d get her one once she was typing with minimal mistakes.  We’re still negotiating the particulars, but I expect her to be typing by December (mid 6th grade).  She finally has full automaticity with cursive and no longer complains about handwriting pain but still prefers the keyboard.  She will use speech to text, but STT introduces many mistakes.  

Typing on an iPad is not ideal, but it works in a pinch and is light weight.  DS loves the iPad Pro pencil with Notability and uses it to annotate PDFs that he downloads from JSTOR.  

Edited by Heathermomster
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College accommodations are great - if they implemented.  Just because the paperwork says to do xyz, that doesn't necessarily mean it will happen.  I know, the laws, etc., but once they hit college the rules get murky at best.  There is an organization who is working on getting legislation passed that will better protect and get/keep the accommodations needed for the college level because it is well documented that colleges just don't do what they should be doing for kids who need that extra help.  The thinking is that there are plenty of kids to fill the spot so why spend more to help one.  ;-( 

Starting at the CC level was definitely a plus for us.  While I had been the advocate over the years, my ds was able to learn to speak for himself and I was close by to help/encourage him to find his voice and advocate for himself.  It was recommended in his first years that he meet each professor before the start of the semester and introduce himself, present the MOA (his accommodations) and answer any questions.  This was very helpful as he embarked upon the college world.  I'll never forget the professor that asked my ds why he was taking a speech class since he struggled to hear and couldn't easily understand the spoken word.  He got an A in the course and made some awesome speeches!  The CC counselor was absolutely wonderful.  The only learning curve with that experience was learning what "note taker" meant.  Most people think the school provides this service - but that is not the case.  The student has to find a fellow student who is willing to share their notes with them, or use special paper that copies it on to another paper, email them, something to get them the notes.  Only when the student is unable to find someone will the professor step in and ask fellow students to fulfill this request.  Overall, there has to be a better way!

He is now finishing up at the big university and the disability office has been a struggle since day one.  He was actually told by a counselor that he "needed to listen better."  Geez, I sure bet he would if he could!  His hearing loss was also compared to a counselor's elderly mother's hearing loss that occurred because she's old.  Yeah, right!!!! Between my ds' provider and me, we finally found the right trigger words that resulted in getting the accommodations he needed approved and implemented but it shouldn't have been this hard and there is way more room for improvement.  The most disappointing thing we learned is that they are training many future sign interpreters to help the deaf/hard of hearing, but they do a pretty crappy job of helping their hearing impaired students.

It will take some time but your dd will find her voice and she'll use the accommodations as needed.  Sometimes the student finds they don't need them all the time, etc. but as long as they are on the list, they are there to use as needed.  Be prepared for a very worn out kiddo as they adjust to the new environment.  Don't rush it.  Prepare to take a little longer to accomplish the degree if necessary.  These students get stronger over time but they need a wealth of patience, understanding and lots of love! 

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I apologize for not mentioning this sooner.  DS was given the option to use a program called Sonocent.  Apparently, the program did not work very well, so DS opted not to use it.

Edited by Heathermomster
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