With my son in his Junior year in high school and contemplating college, and Michaela at 15 yrs of age, I find myself concerned with the question if college is a realistic possibility for her. Over the summer, she was tested again to see the level of developmental delays. This time, the results showed learning disabilities in addition to her developmental delays. After much research, I have found that college is still a reality for students with learning disabilities.
Having a child with numerous health issues, a parent soon learns that they need to be their child’s #1 advocate when it comes to schooling. You may be lucky enough to find a handful of school personnel that are truly dedicated to your child’s education, but that is not enough. As a parent, you have to be on top of occurrences within your child’s education at all times. If not, you will find that over time, things begin to fall through the cracks.
Our plan for our daughter was to home school her in the middle school years (7-8th grade), but at the end of her 8th grade year, she informed us that she would like to continue to home school. I never envisioned myself teaching her throughout her high school years and being enrolled in a private, Christian home schooling program that doesn’t recognize disabilities, nor provide for an IEP, which complicates matters if she is to finish her high school education through this program.
In my research, I found that there are many colleges available in the US for learning disabilities, but attending one of these colleges as a disabled student doesn’t mean a simple registration process. The colleges require documentation, documentation, and more documentation!
In order to attend college, you will need to provide all IEP and 504 plan records from their high school years, along with all testing done regarding their learning or developmental delays. To start off, you will need to secure a 504 plan for your child’s college years. Of course, if you are home schooling your child, you will not have an IEP and will need the documentation from your doctor to support the learning disability that your child has been diagnosed with.
In making the choice of which college is best for your child, be sure to visit and talk with the administration and staff. Prepare a list of questions prior to your visit. Make sure each question is answered to your satisfaction. If time allows, talk to some of the students that are enrolled at the college you are visiting. You can learn so much through the eyes of a young adult.
In most cases, there will be several colleges that your child will apply to. When filling out the application, do not hide your child’s disability. Talk with the administration of each college and discuss your child’s grades, how their disability directly affects their learning, and what alternatives have you found to improve your child’s learning process. Not only will this provide open lines of communication between you and the college administration, but any special programs designed within the college for learning disabilities will be shared with you, including financial aid.
Let’s face it, assisting your child to find the best college to suit him/her is frustrating in itself. Finding one for a child with learning disabilities is hair-raising, but with the help of educated administration staff, your road can be less bumpy than if you try to do it all by yourself.
When I began to write this post, I found an overwhelming amount of information on the internet, some of which I am sharing below. If your child has entered high school, or is finishing up his/her 8th grade, it’s not too soon to begin to begin to check out the different colleges that offer courses for learning disabilities and to develop a course of action.
Amazon.com also has an array of books on the market that address college for students with learning disabilities.
If you are a parent of a child with learning disabilities that is already enrolled in college, what challenges did you face during the application process? What obstacles did you find that your child had to overcome during their year(s) in college?