Some General Guidelines for Parents of Students with Disabilities
Please click on the below links for more information on subject area.
Independent Living Skills
General Collegiate Things to Know
Early on in the process it’s important that your student makes contact with Disability Services or other support services. The laws are different once a person becomes an adult; therefore, what the University is able to reveal to a parent without a release becomes limited.
Also Disability Services wants to know who your child is and establish a good working relationship with them early on!
Services your child has received at high school and what they receive at college may not be the same thing. The University has a responsibility to provide what is both reasonable and effective accommodation under the ADA, not what is preferred or even what has been provided in the past. We are invested in the success of our students. We are also not required to identify students with disabilities, provide testing for these students, lower academic standards or modify core programs requirements. We take the responsibility of providing access, while still maintaining academic integrity for all students very seriously.
You can assist your child with obtaining the appropriate documentation and information to Disability Services. Appropriate documentation needs to be received prior to a student receiving academic accommodations.
It is also important that your child understands what his/her documentation means and how his disability affects her/his academic functioning. Students will need to be able to speak about accommodations with both staff and professors. They will also need to be able to follow policies and procedures set by Disability Services in a timely manner.
It is your child's right not to accept services. Although, both parents and staff may have strong feelings about a student's use of accommodations, it is the student's legal right to decide not to use them. We cannot require that a student use accommodations.
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Independent Living Skills:
Academic skills are not the only thing that a student needs for success in college. Here are just some of things that your student should be able to do independently:
Personal hygiene: Can they do laundry, take showers, do dishes, and wear appropriate clothing? Do they have an awareness of how their hygiene affects others.
Organize their own time to complete projects: This may include use of a paper or electronic organizational systems. A strategy of "waiting until the last minute and then asking for an extension" often will not work in college, even if it’s been allowable in high school.
Awareness of study capabilities: How do they study the best? Do they know where they do the best learning? How long are they able to study for before they are distracted? Are they able to set aside time for studying and stick to it? Do they need help with certain subjects? math? If so, what kind?
Problem Solving: Do they know where to go to ask for help? Do they know how to look up information in academic catalogs or on the internet for information they need instead of having you do this for them?
Speaking of the internet...we are a lap-top campus. Is your student able to turn off his phone, iPod, email, instant messaging and still focus in class on homework? They should be able to turn themselves "off" at times, especially when studying or in class.
Interactions with others: We take our commitment to living as a community seriously. From residence life living to interacting with professors, students need to be encouraged to work through problems with others effectively. Work with them on how to approach things respectfully and to make appointments with others to have reasonable discussions. They also need to understand that at times, they may not get "their way", but compromise is an important skill to learn as well.
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Parents of student's with disabilities may be used to advocating on behalf of their son or daughter for most of that child's life. At the collegiate level, the role the advocate for students with disabilities should now be transferred to your son or daughter. You may know your student, but they are ultimately the person with the disability and the person that has to live with both the challenges and the success that college may bring.
Your best role as an advocate is to listen to your child, provide loving support, and to help encourage them to be an independent adult.
One important thing to note: contacting professors or administrators on behalf of your child is usually a "no-no". Remember, you may not know the whole story of why your student is doing poorly (have they not been going to class?) Professors are generally unable to share information about an adult student with parents. We have also found that parent's contact with professors rarely helps; it often only makes the situation more defensive. There is usually a much better result when the student has a discussion with a professor on their own.
Help your child to learn to advocate for themselves by helping them problem solve their next steps. Helpful phrases include "what do you think you should do next?" or providing positive reinforcement when they do advocate on their own and handle situations successfully.
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General Collegiate Things To Know For Parents:
Allow your child some time to be without you. In today's world of technology, it is not uncommon for students to be talking with parents at least or sometimes several times, each day. Schedule a bi-weekly phone call time or email limit per day allows for some space.
You/your student are not paying for the degree; you are paying for the education. This means students are not guaranteed a grade just for showing up or "trying hard". Sometimes they may have to re-take a class if they truly did not understand the material or did not do it in a timely manner; both of these can be important. Although this may seem costly or "unfair"; students really do need to understand what they are learning and how to complete things in a timely way, regardless of disability, to progress successfully in college.
Don't step in immediately to solve a child's problem. Roommate issues? Problems with a professor? Difficulty studying? For almost any issue that a student has on campus, there is a place to go to determine what to do next with these issues. Sometimes, there also may be no satisfactory resolution to a problem. Your child needs to understand how to accept this and learn from the situation if this is the case.
If your student is in trouble academically or otherwise, chances are they've known they are struggling. Helping your son or daughter evaluate where they currently are and what next may be more helpful than trying to figure out a quick fix or having them remain in a situation that is truly not a good fit for them.
Call Disability Services with questions or concerns, but understand that we may be limited in what we can share. Also understand that Disability Service does support and advocate for students, but that we also have a role in ensuring that the University is complying with the law, not providing accommodations that are outside the scope of reasonable, providing preferential treatment to students with disabilities or conflict with core elements of program requirements
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