College, Disabilities, and Success

#84 Unraveling the Mystery of Disability Documentation

October 05, 2022 Mickie Hayes Season 2 Episode 84
College, Disabilities, and Success
#84 Unraveling the Mystery of Disability Documentation
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever wondered if your student's IEP, 504 Plan, or old testing results will be enough documentation to arrange accommodations in college?  In today's episode, you will gain insight into what colleges expect, what documentation is ideal, and how some documentation may not provide the accommodations your child might be expecting. You will learn when it may be necessary to update documentation and what to look for in new evaluations.

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Mickie  0:00  
I had a request from a listener to talk about documentation. So today's episode is specifically for parents and teachers who are trying to untangle the whole complicated issue of documentation. I think sometimes one of the hardest things to understand is what kind of documentation you can expect to need that goes with you from high school to college. And so that's one of the questions we're going to answer today. And we're also going to talk about why documentation is so complicated and what kinds of things that colleges are going to be looking for with documentation. So welcome to Mickey teaches college disabilities and success episode 84. unraveling the mystery of documentation, by Mickie Hayes. The opinions in this podcast are my own, but please reach out to your college physician or legal services for additional information.

Mickie  0:59  
The first thing I'd like to do is go back to when your child was first identified with a disability, I'm going to use the learning disability as my example today. But in reality it documentation is for any disability that your child may have. But I want to pick learning disability today, because that is sometimes the most complicated to understand, because it's usual diagnosis depends on a psychological evaluation, or a neuro psych evaluation, or a battery of tests. Now, let's assume your child was diagnosed at some point during the elementary school years, or even middle school or even high school for that matter. But elementary school years in middle school years are the most common times for kids to get picked up as having a learning disability. And they have at some point in their life been given a psychological evaluation or a neuro psych evaluation to determine the level of learning disability that they are dealing with. Now, most school districts will re assess the disability every three years. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to retest for the level of disability every three years, it just means that they're going to look at the documentation that they have. And check off yes, this person still needs to be in disability services, they still need to be getting accommodations, they are still considered an individual with a learning disability. And so the documentation that they established in the beginning follows with them and is continued to be used without any new numbers or new data. At least that's been my experience. When I've looked at documentation that students have brought from elementary school, if they can even get their hands on it. Sometimes it's really even difficult to find, but what they usually end up with is something very old, that was done when they were very young. And that documentation was used in the K 12 system to determine accommodations and modifications for students as they progress through the years. Now sometimes students decide they want to get reevaluated during their high school years, because they think that having no documentation is going to help them get accommodations at the college. But here's the thing, when you had a psychological evaluation done in the K 12 system, when you were young, they used something called Child norms. And child norms are the numbers that they use when they do their testing to compare your child with other children of the same nobility. And that is exactly what you need in the K 12 system when you're dealing with a child. But once you're in high school, if you get reevaluated in high school, the first thing that I want to tell you is you should make sure that the evaluator is using adult norms, because here's the thing, if they say that the documentation that you brought in is too old, and they can't use it, it's because that documentation probably was used with child norms. And obviously, it was used when they were a child. But now because they are an adult in college, they want documentation with adult norms. So depending on when your child is reevaluated will depend on the kind of norms that they use when they do the testing. So you want to make sure if you're getting any new testing done, that they are using adult norms. Now, when your child heads to college, they are under the ADA. And under the ADA. individual colleges can determine their own guidelines, they're all going to accommodate your child with a disability, they have to by law - that's required under the ADA. But what they accept as documentation will vary from one college to the next. So when you do the college visits during high school, finding out the kind of documentation that you're going to need for accommodations for your child is very, very important, because that's going to tell you it's going to give you a hint anyway if the documentation that you have is sufficient for the college or if they're going to need something new and improved. Now some colleges want something within the last few years, so that may be the case. So if you get it done too early in high school It could be too old. That's why those questions are so important when you go to see and talk to Disability Services at the college's just how old is too old? For the documentation? Are they going to need updates at all? If that psychological evaluation or neuro-psych evaluation was done with adult norms, Will that be okay? That's when you start to look at how old is too old. And usually, once they have adult norms, they'll usually be pretty good about taking that documentation. But I can't say that for sure. Because every college is going to do their own thing. So the takeaway from this is, if you want the most significant accommodations at college, you're going to need the best documentation in most cases. Now, how about the IEP? Can you bring the IEP or the 504 plan that your child had in high school over to the college of your choice and get accommodations with that paperwork? Well, let's talk about the IEP first, back in the day, colleges didn't even want to see an IEP, they're just they just weren't interested. But recently, within the last few years, more and more colleges are willing to accept an IEP as evidence of a learning disability. However, an IEP because they don't say much on them does not usually have a diagnosis. And it does not usually have data, it does not give the individual a lot of insight into the best accommodations for the child. Because here's what's happens in the K 12 system. Once you have the IEP, they can accommodate you in any subject you need. So if you need reading, they can accommodate reading, if you need math, they can do math, wherever the child needs the services, they're going to do it based on the fact that they have an IEP once you get into college, though, they look more specifically at the neuro-psych scores to see if you have data for dyslexia. For example, do you need accommodations in reading? Do you need a reader? Do you need a scribe? Do you need some sort of software access? All of the things that deal with the skill of reading are something that would be documented in the psychological evaluation?

Mickie  7:06  
How about math? Do you need formula cards? Do you need calculators? What accommodations might you need in math? Well, I don't know. Because I would have to look at your data on your report to find out if you even show a math disability. So when you're looking at the neuro psych evaluation, or the psychological evaluation, either one, they're basically covered the same tests, one does a little more than the other, but they both provide what the disability services would need to make a decision. And they would both show, if you had a math disability, or reading disability, memory issues, whatever kind of accommodations you're going to need for college would be clearly evident based on the results of the psychological evaluation, that information is not in an IEP. So most colleges want to have a way to justify the accommodations because remember, they are accommodating for equal access, they are not accommodating for success, they want you to be successful, but the K 12 system accommodated for success. That's why they could modify things and change things up in the college system. They can't do that in the college system. There's no modifications, no changing things around, they're going to give you accommodations to level out the playing field, and the accommodations that they give you are based on the documentation that you provide. So I hope that made sense. Now. The other thing is the 504 plan and 504 plans you have to be very careful of and look at the 504 plan closely. When I was reading 504 plans at the college most of them came through with a diagnosis of other health impaired Oh, h i n o h i does not tell me as a disability service person at the college, it wouldn't tell me what I need to know because it does not identify what the disability is. So sometimes 504 plans can't even be used at the college basically, because they don't identify what the disability is. So as you're doing the 504 plans with the K 12 teachers and supervisors and meetings and things like that when you're doing those plans at the meetings, you need to talk about what the diagnosis is on that 504 plan if you want any hopes of taking it and using it at college. And again, the same thing goes back to the issue of how old is this? How clear is it? What does it show IEPs or 504 plans don't tell much and so they might be good for basic accommodations may be extended time for tests, taking your test and or distraction reduced environment. But when you start looking into readers and note takers and assistive technology and all kinds of things like this, you may have trouble selling that one because there's nothing there to show the need because the colleges are looking to find the need. They're not trying to not give you things they're not trying to not accommodate you but they need to have a need to explain the justification for that action now other disabilities like ADHD, for example, that can generally be accommodated through a medical doctor. And through a letter from the doctor, sometimes there's an evaluation that goes with that. Sometimes there's test data that goes with it. But in most cases, things that are mental health diagnoses or physical diagnoses, things like that, usually a letter from the doctor that is explaining the disability explaining the issue, and preferably explaining the needs and the accommodations that would be best would help the Disability Services at the college better know how to help your child. But the best thing that you can do is when you do those college visits during your sophomore year, junior year, senior year, when you're in high school, and you go out to the college visits, that's the time to stop by the Disability Services to find out exactly how they can best help your child and what kind of documentation they will require in order to best serve your child. And if you think that you need to have updated LD testing done, or an updated neuro psych done, or an updated psychological evaluation is done, you need to talk to Disability Services at the college of your choice to find out number one, do they want that, in other words,

Mickie  11:16  
if you're gonna go through all this, and your child's going to be tested, and you may be putting out money for private testing at this point, I don't know. But if you're going to go through all this, you want them to actually need what you're going to have at the end. So it's kind of like working backwards at this point, talk to the college, find out what they recommend you do and then follow their advice, because according to the ADA, every college is going to be doing its own thing. Some colleges are very, very strict about that. And some colleges are kind of laid back and they take a lot more because that's how they operate. The colleges are interested in getting a clearer picture of the disability and the more information you could provide to them about your disability, the better things will be and the easier it will be for the college to make the determination of the accommodations. Now they look at the psychological or neurological evaluate evaluation as primary information, but there's also a lot of other information that you can provide for them. According to the ADA. Examples of documentation could include recommendations of qualified professionals proof of past testing accommodations, observations by educators results of psycho educational or other professional evaluations, an applicant's history of diagnosis and an act and an applicant's statement of his or her history regarding testing accommodations, so anything that you could provide in writing will help to encourage the accommodations that you need. So if you do not have the acceptable psychological evaluation, or neuropsychological evaluation that the college would like as best possible documentation, there may be other forms that you can provide to support your demonstration of need. Now, if you're going to get new psychological testing done, that can be an expensive proposition. When you get a chance. If you want to know a little bit more about that, head to the episode that I did on the GED test, check out episode number 67, dyslexia testing for college and GED documentation. Because that episode, the GED website has some really good resources across the whole United States of places where you can get a psychological evaluation done for a very good price. And it's worth checking it out. Because honestly, testing for a learning disability and having a psychological evaluation done can range anywhere from a few $100 to several $1,000. And there's no way to tell if one is going to be better than the other until you talk to the person doing the testing and find out exactly what they're going to do on the tests, what tests are going to use. And if they're going to do a write up. And basically you have to do a little bit of homework to find out if what you're getting for your money is worth it because you might not need to spend a ton of money on it. Again, it depends on what the colleges tell you they want and what the person doing the testing tells you they're going to do. And if you have a situation where you don't think the person the child that you're testing is going to qualify for learning disability paying more isn't necessarily going to solve your problem. And even though they may not have new, updated documentation, they still may be able to qualify as having once had a learning disability and at least get some basic accommodations through their college. This all comes down to asking the right questions and doing your homework ahead of time where your child plans to go to college. You've heard me say it before, not all colleges are created equal and not all colleges are going to accept the same things sometimes with colleges. Now the larger colleges have satellite campuses at some of the state colleges or community colleges so that you can get your degree without having to travel far away. But even on that same campus, because you're dealing with two different colleges, you could get two totally different answers for the documentation that they accept every college decides its own parameters and guidelines. And even though they're both located on the same physical site doesn't mean they're going to accept the same documentation. As odd as that seems that is true. I hope that helped and answered your questions that you might have about documentation. Now, when you go to these college visits, I do have a short ebook with about 30 questions that you can ask when you go to those meetings, questions that you should be clear about and know the answers to before your child starts college. So if you get a chance, check out insights from a disability specialist with over 30 questions that hopefully you'll know the answers to either before you go to your meeting, or by the time you finish with your meeting with Disability Services. And that link for that free eBook will be in today's show notes as well. In the meantime, if you have any questions, stop by my website, I'm at Mickey,

Mickie  16:08  
M I C K i e, or send me an email at Mickie And I'll be more than happy to answer your questions. And again, thank you to the gentleman who requested this topic. And if you have any other suggestions for future podcasts, please feel free. There's a quick form you can fill out with just your name and email address and the topic that you suggest and I will get back to you as soon as I can. But that form is on my website. So thank you very much for your time today. And I hope things work out well for your child heading to college, take care and have a great rest of the day. Bye. Information contained throughout this podcast has been gleaned from my own personal experiences, but to ensure accuracy, please contact the Disability Services at the college of your choice to have first-hand information and the most up-to-date policies and procedures followed for your particular institution of higher education. The content in any of these podcasts is not intended as a substitute for information from legal educational or medical professionals. Always seek the advice of your attorney or qualified health care provider with any questions you may have with regard to legal educational or medical concerns.

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