When your student has narrowed down the list of the preferred post-secondary institutions, a good next step is to visit their websites and look up “Disability Services.” Typically, there is a form to download to apply for accommodations. This will give you an idea of what documentation is needed for accommodations once the student has decided to attend that institution.
The documentation can be as simple as having the treating “Qualified Medical Professional” fill out a form of several pages, noting medications, treatment history, and discussing how the medical or mental health diagnosis impacts daily life. The student will probably need to schedule an office visit with the Physician, Psychologist or Counselor to get this form completed. Currently a mental health diagnosis accounts for about 30 percent of requests for accommodations. If the student is seeking accommodations as a student with a Learning Disability there may be other requirements, depending on the university or college.
If the student had a 504 plan or an IEP (Individual Education Plan) in the K- 12 setting, an evaluation was part of the process to document the need for those services/supports. The Office of Disability Services will want a copy of the ETR (Evaluation Testing Report) that was done by the high school. Check your records for copies of any private evaluations that might have been done in the past. Provide a copy of the IEP or 504 plan to the Office of Disability Services. At that point, speak with someone in Disability Services to determine whether the IEP, 504 plan, ETR or private evaluation are sufficient to apply for accommodations. They may say that the evaluation is too old to document a Learning Disability, and an updated evaluation using adult norms may be needed. That means a Psychologist needs to administer the adult form of certain tests.
Before thinking that this evaluation will be hopelessly expensive, have a conversation with your contact in Disability Services. They might suggest contacting your public school district to see if the School Psychologist could administer the adult version of some standardized assessment. They may tell you that Psychological Services at the university provides a significant discount to admitted students for an updated evaluation.
The requirements for documentation seem to vary from university to university. Any post-secondary institution will provide accommodations, with the appropriate documents to support that request. The Office of Disability Services will also be helpful in suggesting other accommodations that might provide additional support at their institution.
Always talk with Disability Services before falling into despair about the cost of a new evaluation or assuming that you need extensive documents to support the request for accommodations. As a matriculating student, the university wants to see the student on the campus attending classes!
Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at .