Students who have documentation of a condition that affects a major life activity are eligible to receive accommodations from Student Disability Services.
Students with learning disabilities including language processing disorders and dyslexia, may have had long term difficulty in reading, writing, spelling, and/or mathematical concepts. Their verbal skills may far exceed their reading, writing, or spelling skills. At the same time, their skills in math, problem solving etc. may dominate their ability to verbally express themselves. Students with any form of language or imaging processing disorder require time to process information and need some “think time” to respond to a question, retrieve information, or solve a problem. They can have difficulty recalling and integrating information presented in only one format – only orally, or only in writing – and benefit from multiple presentation formats for new information. They also benefit from hands-on learning opportunities.
In an academic setting, such students may begin new projects with great energy yet have difficulty sustaining attention and following through on instructions or completing a task; often have memory difficulties which cause a higher incident of missed appointments and misplaced objects ; may interrupt in order to obtain immediate information and blurt out answers before questions have been completed due to a fear of losing track of ideas or the flow of conversation; they may appear restless or seem not to listen when spoken to directly because their brains can actively work on several ideas at once; these differences in brain function also often result in active and creative minds that bring positive energy to group work; see possible solutions to problems that more linear thinkers will not see; and may be able to mentally visualize complex processes.
Students may not be aware that there are accommodations and study strategies available for those aspects of their disability that are interfering with their academic progress.
When you suspect a student may have a learning or language/image processing disability:
- Speak to the student in private about your concerns, without referencing a disability which has not been disclosed to you.
- Make sure students talk to professors and GTA’s about their situation.
- Refer the student to Student Disability Services (906) 487-2212; if they are anxious refer them to Counseling and Wellness Services.
- Acknowledge the difficulties the student is experiencing.
- Be sensitive that low self-esteem and previous negative academic experiences may be associated with the disability.
- Be aware that Student Disability Services may need to contact the faculty member and/or GTA to follow up on accommodations.
- Be aware that all disabilities need appropriate documentation before the student is eligible for some services offered through Student Disability Services.
- Ask the student if they are disabled; do ask if they are experiencing challenges with some aspect of the class or the assignment they are working on.
- Assume the student knows s/he may qualify for assistance from Disability Services.
- Assume the student wants to receive assistance from Disability Services.
- Pressure the student to acknowledge his/her disability.
- Speak to the student in a derogatory manner.
This page was adapted with permission from material developed by the University of California, Santa Barbara.