Advising High School Student with Disabilities

Students receiving special education and related services need to take a variety of preparatory steps in order to have real choices and viable options in senior year. This is a check list for parents, counselors, teachers, program coordinators, and students themselves to consider well before senior year decision time.


PERSONAL and SKILL DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENT (parent, counselor, teacher, and student)Encourage the student to develop work-related skills and interests in case it is decided to delay entrance to college and work for a year or two. This may involve taking some vocational courses. Make sure the student’s knowledge of study skills is adequate. In addition to high school assistance, consider special study classes/programs offered at community colleges, private agencies, or individual tutoring.Help the student to increase independent living skills. The student needs to be able to do laundry, cleaning, and some cooking, manage a checking account and transportation systems; and plan leisure activities. Encourage part-time jobs or volunteer positions. These offer opportunities to improve social skills and give experience about work situations and job expectations.ASSESSMENTS, RECORDS, COURSE OPTIONS In HIGH SCHOOL
(parent, counselor, student )

Request the high school to provide a vocational assessment, preferably while the student is in 7th and/or 9th grades.

Plan a four-year selection of college prep courses sufficient to allow the choice to enter college.

Contact the local Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency before graduation. VR offers a variety of services to eligible LD students such as vocational assessment, job placement, pre-employment training, etc.

Make sure psychological testing is up-to-date. P.L.94-142 mandates that each student be reevaluated every three years, and more frequently if needed. The college admission and placement processes will require results of tests taken, usually, within three years of the time of application.

Obtain all special testing records before high school graduation. They may be needed for later applications to college or Vocational Rehabilitation services, and some school systems destroy these records after graduation.

(parent, counselor, teacher, student )

Consult with advisors to understand fully how much support or special help the student is receiving. The level of LD services needed in college should be based on a realistic picture of what accommodations have been needed for success in high school.

Challenge the student to evaluate whether he or she has high motivation to put in the long hours needed to accomplish college level work. Is there a career goal? Is college the best transition or training for employment and independence? If so…

Decide whether to arrange for special testing conditions for the PSAT, SAT and/or ACT. Options include extended testing time, readers, cassettes, and sometimes different test locations.

Consider community colleges, technical or proprietary schools, specialized on-campus programs that include a vocational training component, as well as colleges with support services.
Contact the Office for Special Student Services or the Disabled Student Service Office of colleges being considered before applications are submitted. Be sure what types of accommodations and services are available. Do they match those needed by the student in high school? Is there an LD specialist on staff? How many LD students attend? What documentation is required? Are there other
pre-admissions requirements such as a letter of recommendation from a high school LD advisor?

(parents and advisors with student )

The student should make a copy of each application form. The copy should be used as a worksheet to collect the needed information. The material should then be typed onto the original form and sent to the college.

Visit colleges, while they are in session, before making a definite choice. Consider the community around the college, cost, student activities, programs offered, as well as LD services provided.

Consider enrolling in a summer orientation session for admitted LD students at the selected college . Or, take one course in a regular summer session. Getting acclimated to the campus and knowing about support service systems builds the student’s confidence.

Search for a summer study skills course designed for people with learning disabilities. Collect advice on how to be organized for studying on the college.


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