Testing and Evaluations for Accommodations and what is offered at College
Most Colleges and Universities do not take 504 or IEP plan documentation to grant accommodations. Every school offers accommodations afforded under the law known as the ADA act. Depending on the school—you can look at our Supportive College Database towards the end of the summer—what the office, which assists in transitioning the student with disabilities, is called varies. Most schools have some name with the word Accessibility attached to it. Some schools have very detailed information on their websites, whereas others have hardly any.
However, regardless of the size of the office or its name, all need to have documentation, depending on the disability or disabilities. A fully psychological or neurological or psychiatric report with testing results and what accommodations are suggested must be provided. Typically, this testing must be current. Under the law, the testing must be updated every three years.
I strongly urge all parents to have the testing done the summer before junior year in high school. The testing often takes 1-2 days of time, and typically results take approximately 3-6 weeks to be written up. The next cycle of testing needs to done the summer between freshman and sophomore year in college, and then the final testing needs to take place the spring before graduating college. Under the law, students need not have any more testing after the age of 21. I, however, strongly urge students to get that final set of testing done before graduating, as many might want to go on to graduate school a year or two after college. You will not be granted any testing accommodations if your diagnoses is not current. So, getting one final set of tests in before college ends is highly recommended.
Depending on the diagnosis, the testing and reporting can cost upwards from $2000 to $7000. This is a lot of money. Students in private schools have no choice in terms of payment for testing—their parents must pay for this. However, some insurance plans afford reimbursement to parents depending on the testing. Psychiatric, neurological, and psychological evaluations can be reimbursed by some plans. Educational testing is typically not reimbursed by any insurance plan.
In most public school systems, in the secondary level, there is usually a school psychologist and often a school psychiatrist (usually for an entire school system or segment of the school system), and the testing can be done through those avenues. These tests are typically not billed out to parents but absorbed as part of the educational costs of the school system. Pretty much no college does testing as part of its costs, so testing done during college is almost always paid for directly by parents. Some exceptions exist for schools that are primarily defined as learning disabled schools, which do testing as part of the process for evaluation during school.
If you want an assessment of what your testing shows and what accommodations you might ask for but could be granted, which are not detailed in the reports, contact us! We can offer insight based on the results to have you ask for inclusion before you send off the reports to any college.
Now is the time, for those with any disability going off to college, to contact the office responsible for accessibility to be processed into that school’s system. Typically the ADA Coordinator will schedule a meeting with the student and review all the documentation. Some schools will allow for the meeting to take place via Skype if traveling is too prohibitive. From that meeting, various departments are made aware of the incoming student. Accommodations are put into place.
Most schools will offer accommodations under that law, but very few schools will offer modifications. Many secondary schools give students modifications, such as reduced course load, delays in deadlines, etc. Most colleges will not support anything not outlined under the evaluation and accommodated under the law. Secondary schools have allowed for such modifications as a means of support but these are not afforded under the law.
However, there are several different areas of support offered by most colleges including: academic, peer, psychological, technological, residential and learning.
Academic: This includes early registration for courses, one-on-one academic advising meetings up to once or twice a week for the entire first year or beyond, help to find writing, tutoring, and resources within the school to help with any academic advancement. Help to provide use of platforms that capture lectures in written format or podcasts, etc. Advising on courses, teaches and also coordination for other support services to help achieve academically.
Peer: Most schools have peer mentors, peer tutors, and peer counselors who are assigned or buddy up with students to be there for assistance in navigating the school, exam week, etc. Some schools offer peer note takers who help students keep up with classes.
Psychological: Students who are coming with diagnoses requiring emotional support are usually introduced to a Counselor at the campus for continuation or as an adjunct to support counseling done at home. ALL students usually have access to psychological counselors and are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the service, as any student can find his or herself overwhelmed during school.
Technological: There are amazing tools for students to help learn. Livescribe™ pens are a note-taking and recording device that has truly been life changing for many students with ADHD and Executive Function delays. There are numerous Apps that help the students to manage time. Depending on the evaluation, there are also technological tools that assist dyslexics with notes, assist with reading, and math apps that translate information into language or language into math. The world of technological assists for all kinds of disabilities is dynamic and every year, more and more offerings are available.
Residential: Physically disabled students are offered residence accommodations that enable access to classes. Some schools have support people to room with or nearby to help with access. Support animals are usually taken on a case by case basis. Many schools provide quiet dorms or dorms in which no alcohol or tobacco products are allowed.
Learning: In terms of Learning Skills and assistance with Learning disabilities, the differences in support systems vary by school. Some schools are enormously accommodating and supportive of various learning challenges such as dysgraphia, dyslexia and auditory processing disorder. Other schools are more proactive in encouraging self-advocacy with learning skills. All colleges want students to grow up and learn how to self-advocate in terms of learning disorders. The student will have to go out in life and be able to verbalize and self-advocate for the support necessary to navigate work, graduate schools or any other field of interest. In this regard, colleges are a little less hand-holding than many secondary schools.
So those who are about to enter college for the first time and who need support for a disability or diagnoses, now is the time to contact the college and get introduced as to what you will be working with and who to go to for support when you arrive. Many offer a summer session, a weekend or an extra day during orientation after you have been welcomed into the Accessibility Services office of the school.
This is an exciting time for you, and there are tremendous supporters waiting to welcome you to college! So start the process now, if you have not already done so!