Academic Accommodations for Students with Learning Differences and Learning Disabilities in College
Anyone who has spent time in a classroom can attest that the one thing everyone has in common is that they learn differently. Whether a student is diagnosed with a disability or not, learning is a process unique to each individual. For many people, they have learned how to accommodate their diverse learning needs, but for some people they need more formal academic accommodations. Characteristics, such as difficulty with working memory, challenges with processing speed, ADHD or other executive functioning challenges, dyslexia, Asperger’s syndrome, or autism spectrum disorder, can all necessitate official academic accommodations in college.
The traditional college classroom is much different than a high school classroom. The responsibility of learning falls much more heavily on students, and thus, professors are less likely to provide a multi-modal approach to their pedagogy. Therefore, learning differences can make it difficult for students to get the information they need or demonstrate their knowledge effectively. Indeed, a professor who provides most of the information in class through required readings and gives examinations that rely heavily on writing, can greatly impact students with language-based learning differences, even if they are capable of comprehending the material.
Fortunately, to be in compliance with Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), colleges must provide students with reasonable accommodations. These accommodations are not meant to make college easier, they are meant to level the playing field so that a student’s disability doesn’t impact their ability to learn and be successful. Common college accommodations are:
- extended time on exams
- being provided with written notes in class
- separate testing locations
- recorded lectures
These accommodations can be accessed through most college’s disability service offices for students with documented disabilities.
At Mansfield Hall, we work with students and families to recommend accommodations based on each student’s individual learning profile to increase their chances for success – although the final arbiter of this decision is always the college.
We work with students to not only help them understand the accommodations they need, but the characteristics that these accommodations are addressing. We then accompany students to meet with their disability service counselor to help students advocate for the appropriate accommodations. We work with schools and colleges to be sure these accommodations are being accessed and are successfully addressing a student’s needs.
Please contact Mansfield Hall to learn more about how we can help college students effectively advocate for, and effectively use, their academic accommodations.