Disclosure of disability upon application

<p>My son will be disclosing he has Asperger's syndrome upon application, he has to explain why he took an additional year of high school(and it is not due to grades-he is ranked 3rd in his class,98.75 average-other reasons he made the choice)</p>

<p>Anyone else's child disclose and how did it go? I guess he is going to let the cards fall where they may, he also has been doing research at a national laboratory the past two summers. </p>

<p>Just curious how admissions view this, more as a detriment, or do they appreciate honesty?</p>

<p>I did and there were no issues that i encountered.</p>

<p>My son has low vision and we disclosed it and had no problem. (I’ve heard that he should) spin it as a challenge overcome - not that it’s solved, but that he’s successfully dealt with it and what he’s learned in the process.</p>

<p>We’ve dealt with this issue a few times. My advice is included in the thread: <a href=“http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/learning-differences-challenges-ld-adhd/777301-tell-not-tell-question.html[/url]”>http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/learning-differences-challenges-ld-adhd/777301-tell-not-tell-question.html</a> and maybe threads in the Learning Differences and Challenges section.</p>

<p>I think simple frankness is a good route. “Despite a problem with X, I did Y, Z, and P.” Don’t make it look like S is some kind of superstar, but mention it in passing in the most direct and simple way possible - i.e. “After being diagnosed with Problem X, I took a year off to come to terms with the situation. I realized that I could…did research…etc.”</p>

<p>My son talked about his Aspergers and the obstacles he had overcome in his admission essay. He didn’t want to go to a school that would reject him on this basis. He had excellent grades and test scores and was accepted with good academic scholarships at all schools that he applied at. We did however look for schools that we thought would be more a acommodating and he applied to only a select few schools.</p>

<p>I have thought about this a fair bit as I have had two kids with LDs apply to college. </p>

<p>If your son is applying to the highest tier colleges, I wouldn’t disclose unless I had to. Adcoms are always looking for arbitrary reasons to reject. I would, upon acceptance, meet in person with the head of disabilities services as I described in the link in post #4. With the first kid, we had to disclose given what he did for HS. But, I made sure that his teachers referenced the fact that he not only did incredibly well but that this was even more impressive given his LDs, which clearly did not impede him from success at the highest level. We asked the Deputy Superintendent of Schools, who had set up his partial-homeschooling plan with me and had observed him advocate with the head of the English department, about how effective he was at understanding what he needed and advocating for it (and she gushed on about him more generally).</p>

<p>All has worked in both cases. He was admitted to a number of top-ranked schools and his final choice was based upon how the head of disabilities services at the two schools (and a Dean in one case) said that they would accommodate him. He’s been exceedingly happy there – he works very hard and has a stellar record. Incidentally, a friend of his from our town graduated as what appears to be valedictorian (though they don’t call it that) and he exhibits many Asperger’s behaviors (misses social cues, hyper-focused, perfectionist, …) and is off to a prestigious grad school. He doesn’t ask for or get accommodations as far as I know.</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice, it is encouraging. My son did not take a year off, it was decided back in 9th grade he would stay an extra year. He is has been taking just his five major subjects, plus resource room and a study hall. He became overwhelmed when he didn’t have a study hall, especially when teachers gave multiple tests in one day and it was difficult to get his extended time for them. This strategy has worked well and he maintains a 98-100 average in all his classes. The additional year will allow him to take the electives he missed , plus additional AP courses, and some more time to work on daily living and social skills.</p>

<p>We’ve visited the disability offices at the colleges he is considering. I know they offer a reduced course load as an accommadation, perhaps taking classes over the summer to make up for it.</p>

<p>I read the thread " learning differences and challenges". I agree some of the more selective colleges might be a bit too stressfull and competitive, he is trying to find colleges with good engineering programs but accommodating as well. (most of the ivies do not have strong engineering programs-which is fine for him)</p>

<p>My son has been impressed by some of the directors of disability services. We’ve spoken to housing and counseling services at some also. </p>

<p>Unfortunately he has to disclose since it will be apparent on his transcript. His guidance counselor feels that he shouldn’t attend a college that doesn’t want him there. He is also going to discuss the extra year in his recommendation as well.</p>

<p>My son will explain in the additional info section of the common app-I guess just straightforward, versus the first essay which has to be engaging and creative?</p>

<p>I think each situation is different. Your son attended 5 years of high school so would need to explain why. With other students there may not be anything apparent on the transcript other than a RR class (resource room) and those kids may not need to say anything. In my son’s case the GC will disclose it and S will say nothing in his essays. Really the “getting in” part is just a tiny portion, the kids need to go somewhere where they can be successful and if they need a modified schedule it can be arranged. Op, in your case I’m wondering if your S plans to continue taking less than a full load…in this case the finances might be even more important than to disclose or not to disclose.</p>

<p>I agree his disability has to be disclosed by his guidance counselor, but that may be enough. I don’t know if it is necessary to write a “Hey, I have aspergers and look at what I’ve achieved essay.” Guidance will do that for him and his grades speak for themselves.</p>

<p>Instead, his essays should reveal something about him that is special and can be a selling point. If his asperger’s has shaped him in a way that makes him accomplish things others cannot or see the world in a unique way, then I would make that the focus of the essay. In other words, show not say.</p>

<p>Here’s what I mean: when I was three I was intrigued by the patterns in numbers. I would sit for hours…Now as a teenager I see that I can apply that special skill to … I have become a member of mathletes and not only have I been able to be challenged mathematically, but I have formed close friendships and have taken on the responsibilites of joining the board of the club.</p>

<p>The above shows a child who is withdrawn but bright and very focused…who has grown to use his math skills as part of a team. Things like that make for a great essay topic.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>ArtSue, prior to acceptance, the DSO folks will say all the right, politically correct words but they can’t and won’t commit to anything. After acceptance, you need to meet with the schools under consideration to get them to commit to what they actually will do for your son if he accepts. Some will try to evade commitment and you may need to let them know that a decision to attend would be contingent upon what kind of accommodations they are willing to commit to (pardon dangling participle). </p>

<p>ShawSon’s choice was shifted from first choice school (School 1) to School 2 based upon these post-acceptance conversations. I was speaking to a former client, whom I knew to be an avid alum of School 1 (an Ivy), about something else and mentioned our experience. I told him that ShawSon had chosen School 2 largely because of our conversation with the head of disabilities services. Unbeknownst to me, said client is on the board of the school and was very disappointed that they were losing strong kids because of what the DSO was willing to do and how they interacted with us. He asked me if I would have a teleconference with some other trustees/directors (don’t recall their title). Although I was willing, life was too busy for us all so there was no follow-up.</p>

<p>My daughter has several health issues which she did not write about at all on her application, but she did give permission to the guidance counselor to mention that she had health issues that had caused her to miss days, weeks and even months of school (but she kept up at home and graduated on time). I don’t think she wanted to present an application with these health issues as part of her identity-and that was fine. </p>

<p>The guidance counselor in your son’s case can explain the extra year with or without specifying Asperger’s, up to your son. If the GC is writing an explanation for that extra year, that frees your son up to write what he wants, which may or may not include the fact that he has Asperger’s.</p>

<p>Dealing with the disabilities office is entirely separate from admissions, of course, and you can do that before and after applying or acceptance. We read websites, but did not have contact until after acceptance.</p>

<p>Theoretically, a student has a right to go anywhere that he or she gets in, and has a right to do his or her best work with accommodations that level the playing field. Picking schools based on how receptive their disabilities office functions can be easier, but it also helps advance the cause of this particular kind of “diversity,” to pick a school on the same basis as anyone else and then do a little trailblazing with the disabilities office. Then again, schools do vary in their policies (some have incompletes, others don’t for instance) so it does make sense to go with schools that fit in that way. </p>

<p>You may be aware that the level of accommodations at the college level is different than the level required at the high school level (which is compulsory; my own feeling is that college is now almost compulsory too, but that is the legal reason for the difference). Colleges will use the term “reasonable accommodations.”</p>

<p>We came to view the disabilities office as the “guard dog for the curricululm”- a term we may have encountered here on CC. They want to make sure that their curriculum and standards are not watered down or affected in any way that lasts beyond the student, and setting precedents is something they want to avoid. At the very least, they need to make it hard enough to get accommodations so that when they are granted, they are really needed. This seems reasonable to us.</p>

<p>If you are willing to go through the hoops needed for the disabilities office bureaucracy, we have found colleges to be sufficiently accommodating, and even, sometimes, humane and understanding.</p>

<p>Generally, the disabilities office will give your son a letter for all of his professors, saying he is registered with the office and with the accommodations granted in list form. The letter will not specify what the disability actually is. Your son will be responsible for interacting with the disabilities office, with deans and with professors. He will be expected to give the letter to each professor and discuss what he needs. Professors have discretion on various matters relating to all this, especially excused absences and extended time on assignments. Reduced course load can be an option, but not always without a lot of documentation from MD’s, therapists and so on, and financial aid may or may not be provided for the extra time spent on campus.</p>

<p>It can help to find out what the disabilities office wants, and then write letters with lists of accommodations for the MD’s to sign, yourself.</p>

<p>This is way more than what you asked for, but I hope it is helpful. Good luck!</p>

<p>Generally, a disibility office will reqire papperwork stating what the issue is and a letter from your doctor.</p>

<p>If it helps any, my accomodations are:</p>

<p>Single room
digital recorder
Extended testing time
testing in different room
permission to leave class whenever is neccisarry.</p>

<p>My son is not going to mention Asperger’s in any of his essays. He doesn’t want to. But he’s fine with it being mentioned in his counselor’s recommendation. He has no accomodations but will be taking a study skills class this year which is more like a study hall. He won’t be seeking accomodations at college but I am paying close attention to the support that’s available to the general student population, not just those who are registered with the disabilities office.</p>

<p>compmom, I think that may be from me: In <a href=“http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/812458-student-sues-princeton-over-learning-disability-accommodations-12.html[/url]”>http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/812458-student-sues-princeton-over-learning-disability-accommodations-12.html</a>, I said about one of the Ivy Schools, “The Dean for Disabilities Services really serves as a guard whose job is to block the untoward advances of undergraduates who are trying to circumvent the one and only true education.”</p>

<p>I don’t think essays that say, “I have a disability and I’ve triumphed over adversity and overcome it by getting good grades” are necessarily winners, though they can work if the kid has somehow been transformed, per uskoolfish’s example, to develop some special skill/talent/passion that is somehow cool/intriguing/impressive.</p>

<p>The OP’s child is in Resource Room and Study hall. Doesn’t Resource Room on the transcript (or similar title, our state title is “Basic Skills”) automatically disclose? I have mentally struggled with this question, because I think that it does. The only students in our Basic Skills/Resource Room are identified students with an IEP/504.</p>

<p>D is an incoming sophomore and I have been/am on the fence regarding disclosure. The Director of Admissions at her #1 current choice told me that no, they don’t want or need disclosure at the admissions level. This is a school with which I am somewhat familiar and quite comfortable I have had several discussions with the Disabilities office. I am confident they will take all steps to assist these students in succeeding.</p>

<p>But…many student with an IEP/504 will have some “different” looking items–fewer classes, Resource Room, etc. It seems as if disclosure would fill in some gaps and provide additional info to a time-starved ap reader.</p>

<p>I’m pretty sure this question will be causing me even more stress in the next two years. Our GC/Res. Room people aren’t much help. They told me she “must” disclose because her SAT/ACT would definitely be flagged. Yeah, um…they aren’t quite up to date!</p>

<p>Thanks compmom. My son will be having a re-evaluation by his psychiatrist for documentation for college, so perhaps a reduced course load will be under recommendations. The disability offices at a few colleges recommended he try to take a normal course load but that he
had some time before the final drop date to withdraw from a class.
He currently has extended time, a copy of notes daily, and access to bookshare for his regular and AP classes. He used to get frustrated taking notes in 6-8th grades. We found out he had CAPD which impacted his ability to listen and take notes a the same time as well as his reading speed. Copy of notes has been key to reducing his frustration,and I had to push him to utilize bookshare, but now he realizes it makes reading thirty pages a night much easier.
We have also asked about audio taping lectures in addition to,or in lieu of a copy of notes , such as the use of a smart pen. Unfortunately he cannot utilize this technology in a public school, but they said it shouldn’t be a problem in most classrooms in college.</p>

<p>We have attended conferences at Yale regarding the transition from high school to college for students on the spectrum. In particular we have listened to challenges students face from Dr. Lorraine Wolf, Director of Disabilty Services at BU and Jane Thiefeld Brown, Director of Disability Services for the Law School at U Conn. “Reasonable accommodations” was discussed as well as the maintenance of academic integrity of classes. Even if a student has a disability which allows for the use of a word processor, it may not be allowed in the Department of Education for example if the student is expected to be able to spell words in becoming a teacher.</p>

<p>So basic course requirements may override a student’s accommodations in certain cases, which we are aware of. Thanks for the heads up.</p>

<p>I am an MD and am virtually certain that my younger son, who will soon be starting his sophomore year in college as a Physics major, has Aspbergers Syndrome. While he is fairly high functioning he has shown the classic symptoms for years. During his freshman year and next he has and will continue to live in a small condomineum we bought near the University. He shares the condo with my older son who will be starting his senior year as a Geology major.</p>

<p>The distressing thing is that unless he has figured it out himself my son does not even know he has the condition let alone the university. He of course receives no support from DSO since they are unaware of his condition. He did pretty well academically last year and on a number of occasions astonished his Math, Physics and Computer Science professors with some of the things he accomplished. However, he was not always consistent and there were some lapses in his performance that I believe could have been prevented if he had adequate support from DSO.</p>

<p>I told my wife that he probably has Aspbergers Syndrome a number of years ago. She is from Japan and was adamant that my son not be formally evaluated and he and any school’s he would attend should not be informed. I think it is some sort of a culture/shame issue. I did tell my older son since they are living together and I am not sure his younger one could manage without his support.</p>

<p>If it were up to me I would inform the university and ask for reasonable accomodations so that he can reach his full potential. Unfortunately, it is not a decision I can make unilaterally.</p>

<p>Shawbridge, your “guard” turned into my"guard dog," an image which I must have felt fit the situation back then!</p>

<p>Which brings me to say one other thing: things tend to get better after the first year. The school, dean, and especially the department/professors of the student’s major, get to know the student and various accommodations have been tried, or discarded, or added, for the new situation of college.</p>