General Suggestions for Advising Students with Disabilities
Many students with disabilities have become dependent on others (parents, resource teachers) to make decisions for them. Many of them do not understand their own needs. Explain to them that one of the goals of the college is to teach students to become independent. (Reinforce to them that, the research of a course and the decision-making is their responsibility.)
If a student has met with the Learning Support Specialist, they have received specific information regarding the campus and available support services. To give sound advice, you will need to understand the student’s accommodations and how they affect the student in the academic environment. At this point, the best source of information about this is the student. Below are some ways to initiate a discussion with a student.
When advising students with disabilities, you should treat them as you would any other student. Work with the student as an individual by becoming familiar with their goals, skills, weaknesses, and levels of readiness for college academics. Many times students with disabilities have unrealistic career choices or may not have been given the opportunity for career exploration. When this is the case you may want to suggest that the student visit Career Services for some career counseling.
- Some students may have limited mobility. For example, a student may not be able to take a class in Anderson be in Clark in time for his/her next class.
- Some students with disabilities depend on attendants to get ready and to reach the college. Early morning classes may not be possible.
Some suggested guidelines that you may use when advising students with disabilities who have self identified their disabilities are as follows:
- Remind the student to balance their course load. They must be honest with themselves and know their strengths and weaknesses.
- Have the student find out about course requirements before enrolling in a class that may prove to be extra challenging for them because of their disability.
- Advise the student to make a preliminary survey of courses between semesters and other breaks.
- If the student requires an alternate format for a book, have him/her check with the instructor or campus store for a book list in advance to allow sufficient time to order the books before classes begin. The more time the better.
- If the student has a learning disability related to reading, have him/her take into consideration the reading load for each individual class and plan accordingly.
- Remind the student to be aware of workshops and course specific assistance offered through the Loft.
- Remind the students that during the semester they need to assess how they are doing in each course. They should meet with their instructors if they have concerns.
- Make sure that the students are aware of deadlines and have them mark their calendars with the last day to add, drop, or withdraw from classes.
- Remind the students that if they need help with laying out a time schedule for test taking and assignments, to bring their syllabi to the Loft. The staff will assist them with a time schedule.
- If the student has mobility impairment and he/she has a class that requires an internship or field experience off campus, we need to make sure that the site is accessible.
- Remind the student not to wait until a small issue becomes a large problem before consulting with their instructor or the LSS. (BE PROACTIVE!)
- Remember that for successful advising the student must be involved in their own planning and self management.