When I went to my college orientation, the lunch period included a campus resource fair at which we could pick up brochures and speak to representatives of various campus services. One person I spoke with was from Disability Services and she told me that to initiate the process I needed to submit a letter from a licensed professional that documents my disability.
Based on my diagnosis and some thoughts I provided about potential challenges, Sadie wrote this letter and yesterday I met with Annie in the Disability Services office. She asked me a long series of questions about my diagnosis and treatment, previous college attempts, and work. At one point she said, “You’ll probably say no, but have you ever worked with Vocational Rehab?” I surprised her by saying yes. Not only did they help me get my current job, but last week I had a meeting to reapply for services to assist with college.
Annie explained possible accommodations and we settled on two: preferred seating in the front row and permission to tape record lectures. I felt that additional accommodations for exams would be unnecessary, as I would already be minimizing distractions by sitting in the front.
I had to sign a form acknowledging that I would not share the lecture recordings with anyone else and that I would delete them within two weeks after the course ends. Annie gave me a letter to present to professors to notify them of these accommodations.
The form I received for my records also indicates suggested resources. She listed the Counseling and Wellness Center as well as meeting regularly with professors.
At any time I can meet with her again to discuss possible adjustments if something isn’t helping or I run into an additional problem we didn’t accommodate for. Each semester after I schedule classes, I have to go online and request an updated letter.
Today Annie e-mailed me a copy of the Disability Services handbook. It discusses a variety of possible accommodations and I found one that I’m considering requesting. There is an option to schedule classes early to ensure getting the desired sections. Given my driving anxiety it would be very helpful to guarantee minimal trips to campus.
If you are attending college and have any type of disability, physical or mental, please contact your school’s Disability Services office. Don’t assume that your diagnosis won’t qualify you for accommodations that would help. I was able to get accommodations to compensate for distractibility despite not having an ADHD diagnosis. It is based more on the challenges you identify than on the label you’ve been given.