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TRENDS IN GETTING HELP FOR OLDER STUDENTS

by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

In recent years there has been more help available for students beyond elementary, junior high school, and now into high school or beyond. Two specific areas are more frequent of late.

High school students (usually juniors or seniors) prepping for the SAT exam as part of their college admissions efforts, can seek accommodations if they can substantiate a learning disability, ADHD, or other psychological condition that impacts their test-taking abilities and academic performance. Extended time, a quieter environment, use of assistive technology, and other adjustments are available if an extensive application is completed. A student must provide a thorough history, formalized testing results, a definitive diagnosis, and specific recommendations from a qualified professional. All of this must be complete, rigorous, and comprehensive, including previous IEP’s, testing results, and other relevant data. While the SAT organization is being fair and responsive to students with special needs, they are also being careful to avoid students who might try to exploit the system without deserving such flexibility. The application for accommodations must be completed several weeks before the test date, so that planning ahead is necessary. More information is available at their website: <www.collegeboard.org >

In a similar vein, many colleges and universities now have support services for students with special needs, often identified as Disabled Student Services or some similar name. Depending on the particular college, support services, tutoring, study skill tutorials, assistive technology, and more can be offered. Some accommodations for some classes may be available as well, with some kind of certification needed to substantiate that the student does indeed have special needs. Each college has its own requirements and services offered; some of the services are quite extensive as at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles) or El Camino Community College (Torrance). Programs vary a great deal, depending on the resources committed by the college. Contacting the services office directly by phone or online may provide more information.

The point is that recognition of special needs is extending beyond early educational programs and into early adulthood. More support than ever before is available, for the savvy and more assertive student. Dr. Solomon can provide the evaluations and documentation needed for such accommodations (See articles on Psychological Testing, Learning Disabilities, ADHD).


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