Path to Higher Education For People With Learning Disabilities

People diagnosed with invisible disability such as ADHD, dyslexia, and any other type of learning disability are finding it difficult to pass through the education system like the general population
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September 27, 2016 by dccinc
Learning Disabilities

Photo courtesy of Matt Cardy

People diagnosed with invisible disability such as ADHD, dyslexia, and any other type of learning disability are finding it difficult to pass through the education system like the general population. This is mainly due to the high cost as well as the lack of preparation going into college and university. A recent article in The Atlantic by Laura Castaneda shines light on the what students with learning disabilities have to go through in order to complete their education. There is support available in the form of Disability Tax Credit and Child Disability Tax Credit however many colleges and universities are now providing extra help for students with learning disabilities. Take a read at this excerpt from the article:

Students with LDs, which also are referred to as “invisible disabilities,” are finding that college is within reach. More schools are providing better services to students with conditions ranging from ADHD to Autism Spectrum Disorders to target a growing market. And although the stigma attached to various conditions still exists, advocacy groups have helped reduce some of it, making it easier for students to seek support. But as with “typical” students, finding the right college “fit” is just as important—perhaps more so—for anyone who learns differently.

Help and support for students with learning disabilities

As you can see, there is definitely help available for students with learning disabilities. Learning disability is something that is hard for people to understand and realize what the person suffering from it is going through. It not only affects the person suffering from it but also the ones who surround them and are part of their lives. This next excerpt from the article give a great perspective on what it’s like to be someone with a learning disability.

Brain-based learning and attention issues such as ADHD and dyslexia affect an estimated one in five children in the U.S., according to The National Center for Learning Disabilities. That means their parents, educators and therapists, and eventually, their employers, are affected as well. LDs stem from neurological differences in brain structure and function that “affect a person’s ability to receive, store, process, retrieve, or communicate information.” The most common types affect reading, math, and written expression, and include ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and associated disorders such as auditory or visual processing deficits, executive function deficits, and nonverbal learning disabilities.

As you can see, people suffering from learning disabilities are in desperate need for extra support in order to complete their education. One big issue people suffering from learning disabilities is that the support provided usually is at the high school level and then in college, the amount of help and support provided drops drastically. This makes it very hard for someone suffering from learning disability to transition from high school to college or university. This next excerpt from the article discusses the issue further.

The reasons for the lower graduation rate include added costs and trouble satisfying the documentation requirements. In the K-12 system, for example, schools are required to test students and offer appropriate accommodations for free. At the college level, schools are not required to provide specially designed instruction to accommodate students with disabilities. But college students may be eligible for academic adjustments, program modifications, and extra services, usually for an additional fee. Students also must self-identify as disabled, and documentation of their disability must be provided.

This means, it becomes a very hard transition from high school into college which eventually leads to low graduation rate for people with learning disabilities. One concept talked about in the article is about “transition planning.” This means, preparing kids right from middle school in order to get them ready for college.

That means that “transition planning” for students with LDs who want to go to college has to start much earlier—in middle school, said Ernie Rose, a professor of special education and educational leadership at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles. “Students have to prepare for the kind of academic rigor that’s required at two- and four-year colleges,” he said.

Middle school courses bridge to more demanding courses in high school, where the stakes get even higher. Students must take the right classes, especially in core subjects such as math, science, and, if possible, foreign language, said Joseph Madaus, the director of the Center for Postsecondary Education and Disability and the associate dean of the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. “Decisions made in the ninth and 10th grade related to course selection will have a significant impact on a student’s preparation and eligibility for college admission,” he said.

Therefore, despite the amount of support available, it is also upto the kids as well as their parents to start early in getting ready for higher education. College and universities will provide the support needed but at the end of the day, it is up to the student and their parents or caregivers to make sure they are able to deal with the rigor of higher education.

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