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College and the Accommodation Process: "5 Simple Steps"


I’ve provided a few fun (albeit somewhat terrifying) facts that many parents are not aware of when their kid(s) head off to the land of higher education.


FUN FACT #1:

Don’t bother trying to call or email anyone at the school.


If your student is 18, the school won't typically respond. I’ve even had a student write a group email giving permission for the college to communicate with parents (or me) and STILL got ghosted.


FUN FACT #2:

If your kid had an IEP or 504 in high school, that doesn't mean they get that support in college.

That document is obsolete in college. Instead, your kid will need to use the information from their IEP or 504 to set themselves up with the accessibility office (sometimes called the disabilities office). Each school has its own protocol and some are easier than others. Typically, getting “set up” means having your kid with the ADHD-brain follow the school’s multi-step accommodation protocol. Can’t you just TASTE the irony here?


Below, I've provided a the "5 Simple Steps" a student needs to follow if they attend the University of New Hampshire, Durham.


Step One:

Find the web page for the Accessibility Office.

Don't bother looking under academics. Instead, navigate through these 6 steps:

  • Student Life

  • Student Support

  • Scroll down to More Info

  • Click on UNH Students

  • Scroll down to Academics

  • Go to Student Accessibilities Services (SAS).

Or, now (as of Fall 2022) there's another, even quicker path to the page! Just type "Student Accessibilities" into the search bar.

 

Step Two

Fill out the SAS Intake Form.

2a: In order to do this, your ADHD-brained kid will need to enter their student username and password and the form will pop up. Hopefully, they remember their password. I'm sure they probably have a file in Google with all that information, right? If not, they'll need to spend some time either finding their login information or set up a new username and password.


2b: They'll also need to budget enough time to begin and finish the process because, as the website states:


“Please complete the form in one sitting; glitches can occur if it is open for too long or if you leave and come back”.


Sweet. No problem. I'm sure your student has given themselves plenty of time to get this done! They've always been wicked good at time management.

 

Step Three

Send their provider a request to fill out the "provider verification form".


3a: Find the form online. Your ADHD-brained kid will need to look through the SAS guidelines pretty carefully in order to find it.


3b: Find out who their provider is/was and their email address (or fax number, HA!). Be sure that it's a current provider though, they don't like the ones from the past!

3c: Email them the necessary form.


Let's hope for a few things here. First, that their provider checks their email often. Second, that they aren't on vacation. Third, that they're familiar with the accommodations that will be helpful. And, finally that they don't have any executive function issues of their own and submit the form in a timely manner!

 

Step Four

Schedule an appointment to meet with an SAS advisor.


4a: Email the SAS. Your ADHD-brained kid likely has his or her school schedule memorized by now right? You know, so they'll know exactly when they're available for a meeting.


4b: Wait for the advisor to return the email. Don't worry though, I'm sure your student checks email regularly and will be persistent in following up if they don't hear back. Oh, wait, what's that that kids say about email? Something about how it's "for old people". Ug.


4c: Put the confirmed appointment on their calendar. Ha! OK, at the very least, let's hope they put a reminder on their phone.


4d: Go to the appointment. During this appointment, (if they remember to go to it) your ADHD kid will advocate for themself by having a conversation about their disability and learning style. They'll provide a detailed description of what's worked for them in the past and what they believe will work for them now. I'm sure they've had this conversion so many times, they won't even need to prepare, right?


4e: Wait for the accommodations to be approved. Yep, you guessed it. It will be sent in an email. Hopefully, everything that your student requested is offered. If not, they'll need to go back and try again.

 

Step Five

Submit their accommodation letter(s).


5a: Once your ADHD-brain kid (hopefully) receives their accommodation letter, they’ll need to submit it to each of their professors via a program called “Clock Work”.



5b: To do this, they’ll need to log into the program (fingers crossed that they remember that username and password)!


5c: Then, they’ll follow the prompts to submit accommodations for each course. They can choose to write individual letters to each professor or just send the same one to everyone. What do you think they'll choose? I mean, I know what I would have chosen when I was in college. One letter!


5d: Finally, after submitting their letters, the SAS recommends setting appointments with each of their professors to discuss their accommodations and how they will be implemented. That shouldn’t take long though because they probably have all their professor’s email addresses saved, right? And they definitely won't avoid setting an appointment to, you know, go tell more strangers about what they need to level the playing field.

 

This part isn't considered a step, but it really should be. The University gives the advice that your student should speak to their professors:


“far enough in advance so as to give reasonable notice to ensure that accommodations are put into place.”

This is because even if your student follows through with all of the steps they don't actually get to use the accommodations if they don't seek out their professors ahead of time.


5 simple steps, right? Oh, I forgot to mention that they may need to do this at the beginning of each semester because their needs may have changed.


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