Category Archives: Learning Disabilities

Canadian University Program Provides Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Acadia University offers a program for students with disabilities to experience college in the University setting.  (Kings County News, March 19, 2014)

Axcess Acadia allows learning-disabled students to succeed at university by taking an audit program that is not available elsewhere in Nova Scotia.

According to Dr. Lynn Aylward, the program, which is in its second year, was inspired by similar programs in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Dr. Cynthia Bruce of Kentville prepared an initial study validating the concept.

“We looked at their programs and thought we should definitely do that,” Aylward said. “It fit in all kinds of ways because it mixes the community together. That’s the way we live.”

Axcess Acadia students can graduate with a certificate of completion in arts, science, professional studies and interdisciplinary studies.

The program is designed for students who self-identify as having a disability – intellectual, developmental or learning – that would not meet the current admission criteria set by the university.

Read more here.

Podcast: College Admission and Special Ed Students

Education Talk Radio on Blog Talk Radio has an archived show from August, 2013 on how a college in New York and public school districts collaborate on transitioning special education students to college.

COLLEGE ADMISSION & SPECIAL ED STUDENTS 08/01 by educationtalkradiotoo | Education Podcasts.

Facing, and Accepting, the Disability Lion

Many Advisors in college disability resource centers (DRC) we have visited have shared that students with learning disabilities will often not seek services when first entering college because they want to see how they do without any type of support.

Understandable.  You turn 18.  You graduate from high school.  You’ve had an IEP or 504 for years with accommodations to help you get through assignments and tests.  For the past 8 months you have been able to advocate for yourself. You’ve been accepted to your college of choice, you have been oriented to the DRC there.  You feel you are ready to face the lion all by yourself, without any kind of support.

But by the end of your first college semester you find yourself wondering if you can really do this.  Although you are working very hard – staying up late at night, participating in study groups, having some of your new friends help you out – you can’t meet deadlines, your anxiety at test time takes over, and you end up with either very low or failing grades.  You realize you need help.

A blog post in Diverse Issues in Education describes this exact situation and what colleges are doing to ramp up services for students with learning disabilities.

Endowed with a newfound freshman’s hunger for independence, Alix Generous thought she could conquer college without seeking help for the learning disabilities she had dealt with since she was 11.

She was wrong.

In her first year at the College of Charleston, Generous decided against using the school’s assistance programs for students with dyslexia and other disorders, even though she had relied on such help throughout her childhood.

“I was like, ‘Now I’m 18 and can do what I want.’ I definitely had that attitude. But a lot of it also was ignorance,” said Generous, who grew up in Maryland.

“It totally screwed me up,” she said. “In the easiest classes, like Intro to Theater, I got a C.”

Generous finally started accepting extra help, and her grades improved. She later transferred to the University of Vermont, where she is now a junior. She gives talks about her experiences to audiences across the country.

But tens of thousands of other college students keep their learning disabilities a secret.

Now some colleges and universities are focusing more attention on getting reluctant learning-disabled students to disclose their conditions before they run into severe problems in the classroom — and bring down those schools’ increasingly important graduation rates.

Just a quarter of students who received help for their disabilities in high school acknowledge in college that they need the same assistance, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

And while 94 percent of high school students with learning disabilities get some kind of help, just 17 percent of learning-disabled college students do.

Read more here.

College Offers Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities

Posted in theBismark Tribune, January 19, 2014

After struggling through classes at Bismarck State College, Kaela Surface sought out an alternative type of education at Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla., a school specifically geared toward students with learning disabilities.

Surface was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and a math learning disability when she was about 4 years old.

….Beacon College has an enrollment of 190 students.

“Seventy-six percent of our students graduate with a BA degree within four years of admission,” Shelly Chandler, vice president of academic affairs at Beacon College, said. “We offer an education specially geared toward students with learning disabilities because we have a student-centered learning model with lots of support services.”

Some learning services offered at Beacon College are learning specialists, life coaches, occupational therapists, mental health counselors, math specialists and peer tutors.

Requirements for admission into Beacon are a regular high school diploma or GED, the ability to do college work as evidenced by IQ and achievement testing and a documented learning disability or ADHD.

Read the entire article here.

Doing the Math: How Prepared are College-Bound Students With Disabilities?

This spring 2013 study was conducted by Adam D. King, masters student in the Utah State University Transition Specialist Program.

In the process of moving through secondary grades towards high school graduation, many students with mild disabilities (e.g., specific learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, emotional disturbance) fall behind their peers without disabilities in math achievement (Powell, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2013; Wagner, Newman, Cameto, & Levine, 2006). This gap in math achievement places students with mild disabilities at a disadvantage when it comes to entering postsecondary education. Over half of all students with specific learning disabilities enter higher education (e.g., applied technology colleges, community colleges, universities), but only about one-fourth of them are awarded diplomas (compared to 54% of peers without disabilities).

The gap in math achievement is likely caused by several factors. First, many students are well behind grade level expectations when they are evaluated for special education eligibility. Second, special education teachers themselves are often not specialists in math assessment and instruction. Third, special instruction is often delivered in resource rooms which may reduce opportunities of both teachers and students from interacting in the general education classroom and understanding the high math expectations. Fourth, limitations in funding have eliminated qualified teacher and paraprofessional positions critical to provision of intensive, individualized instruction (Strawser & Miller, 2001).

We wanted to determine the extent to which students with mild disabilities were ready for college math, but by investigating teacher perception rather than test scores. Teacher perceptions are important because they have a powerful influence over what is taught in the classroom and how. We conducted a survey to find out the extent to which resource classroom special education teachers in high schools perceived students with mild disabilities (those who had postsecondary education goals) to be prepared for math at the college level. “College” was defined as either two or four-year post-secondary institutions. We also wanted to find out what resource teachers perceived as barriers to math preparedness and what they suggested as possible solutions.

Continue reading here.

College Living Experience Increases Student Participation In Its CLE Career Development Program By 27%

PR Newswire post , October 30, 2013

 College Living Experience (CLE), a national organization founded to help students with special learning needs achieve post-secondary education and independent-living skills, today announced that over the two-year academic period from 2011 to 2013, students participating in the CLE Career Development Program has increased 27% from 45 to 57 students.  An equal number of local businesses in Austin, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Denver, Colorado; Monterey, California; and Rockville, Maryland currently offer CLE students work experience in industries that include animal services and zoos, health services, museums, public libraries, hospitality, arts and theater, non-profits, and retail, just to highlight a few.

The CLE Career Development Program helps students with autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s syndrome, non-verbal learning disorders and other learning disabilities pursue experience related to employment.  College Living Experience teaches students the full range of skills necessary to search, apply and interview for a position, including how to develop a cover letter and resume, how to network to identify job opportunities, and how to interview with a prospective employer.  While pursuing post-secondary education through CLE, students can consider volunteer placement, job shadowing, or internships that can potentially lead to part-time and full-time employment.

Stephanie Martin, president of CLE, commented, “People with disabilities represent the largest untapped labor pool in the U.S.  Our primary goal at with the CLE Career Development Program is to help students acquire valuable work skills while gaining confidence in the work environment.  We also aim to educate businesses on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and the significant contributions these employees can make for the company.  We are delighted to see so many of our students and local businesses working together to learn from each other.”

Continue reading here.