Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's Like Starting Over

Later today my son and husband are meeting with the director of the Office for Students with Disabilities. The purpose of the meeting is two-fold: The first is to discuss the grade that my son received from the professor who could not figure out how to accommodate his disability for the sewing assignment (although she came up with a solution for the building segment of the class). The second and probably more important goal is to develop a plan going forward.

After his most recent evaluation, the recommendations included academic support, extended testing time, use of a computer for as much work as possible, and wait time, to allow him to formulate his answers before an oral response. I believe that just letting his professors know that there is a disability takes some of the pressure off my son. One of the hallmarks of NLD (and AS) is difficulty with pragmatic language; and there is little more pragmatic that informing your teachers of a learning disability. So it’s really a catch-22: you need to communicate your disability to your professors, but your disability is difficulty communicating.

I’m not sure exactly how all this will play out, but I see it as a fresh start for my son. If the director gives him some kind of letter for his teachers, my son can decide when and whether he needs it as an explanation and appeal for help. I can imagine certain circumstances where he might need some support, possibly in initiating group work or some kind of presentation that might requires artistic work (a poster or graph).

The OSD has a “carrot” for encouraging students who might need support to actually seek it. They can register for classes before the broad student body. Having gotten shut out of the Composition course he wanted and shunted into an 8 AM section, I’m pretty sure my son would love never having to take an early class again!


Barbara said...

at my son's college he was able to take his IEP to the Disabilities office and they crafted a letter which spelled out all the accompodations that he requires. He then took the letter to each of his professors who will provide him with all the accomdations he requires.
For the first time in his life, he has had to advocate for himself and go through the process of gaining these accomodations. Last semester he wasn't very successful and he needed me to assist him, but so far this semester he's been independant in this regard.

PatK said...

They have a similar system at my son's school. However, at the college level, professors are not required to accommodate a disability that would fundamentally alter the intended learning outcome of a course.