The transition from high school to post-secondary education is always a difficult time. There are so many things to consider! Should I go to college or university? What do I want to choose as my career? Will I get in to the program that I desire? Are my marks high enough? Do I qualify for scholarships? Should I stay at home or go to school out of town? …the list goes on.
These decisions become increasingly more difficult when you have been faced with the additional challenge of have a learning disability.
I have been witness to the many issues that arise when a student makes their way from the comforts of secondary school to the “real world” of post-secondary life. Both of my sons have been going through this trying and uneasy time lately. My oldest is in his second year of university and is coming to the realization that, although he has not wanted to disclose his learning challenges, it is necessary to accept the assistance offered in order for him to meet his full potential.
A little background…My oldest son has Executive Functioning Disorder. He has difficulties with transition, set-shifting, time management, task initiation and various other aspects of managing time, space and emotion. He has never taken full advantage of the assistance that could be offered to him because he works hard and tried to overcome his challenges without the aid of others. He has always been successful with his efforts and has definitely met with success. However, the challenges that University offer can sometimes overwhelm. He is feeling this pressure now (as most university students would agree) and has succumbed to the realization that the assistance that he qualifies for would definitely be beneficial in helping him meet his life goals. Thankfully, the University is very prepared for students that attend and have learning challenges. This year we have learned the following:
- Consult with Disabilities Services at the University (or College) to see what you are qualified to receive for assistance. They are amply prepared to provide whatever accommodations are necessary in order for their students to meet with success.
- Make sure you have a recent psychological report. Disabilities Services requires recent information on the student’s level of functioning, strengths and needs in order to provide appropriate accommodations.
- Advocate! Help your son/daughter (or yourself!) to speak up and ask for the assistance necessary in order to meet with success. They will not come to you (as in elementary and high school) to help give you what you need.
Both Colleges and Universities are excellent at accommodations and meeting the needs of students that require different learning methods and/or styles – you just have to ask.
A recent Psychological report is necessary to make sure information is up to date and relevant to the student’s current level of need and functioning. You must decide whether the need is for a regular psychoeducational report or a more extensive neuropsychological report. In our case, since my son has Executive Functioning issues, he was in need of a current neuropsychological report to give a more accurate reading of his abilities and adaptive functioning as an adult.
If there is a financial need (for example, if you are not covered through health benefits), the University is often willing to assist in that manner as well. Again, self-advocacy is key in acquiring the help you need. Disabilities Services is always willing to lead you in the right direction regarding accessing the assistance necessary to meet with success.