Getting accommodations for college

I need advice from people who have been there, done that about the situation with my D21. She has weighted GPA of 4.18 (unweighted 3.8), top 13 % at a rather competitive school district, only 2 Bs in the 4 years of high school, very few on-level classes (until this year), has about 1 semester worth of credits from AP and dual credit classes. No accommodations at school. Applied to four colleges, got accepted to all of them, couple of them with decent merit aid. So, looking pretty good on paper. I always thought of her as a bright kid, but not necessarily performing at her best due to test anxiety and some not ideal study habits. In my mind her low As were a result of doing really well on daily work and long-term assignments and not so well on tests. Well, this past year has really been a struggle for her. Depression, anxiety and pretty much the whole set of symptoms from ADHD check list. So, we did the psychological evaluation to determine whether those ADHD symptoms were due to ADHD or depression/anxiety. Well, judging by the results of the testing, this kid should not even be going to college. If this evaluation were a part of her admission application, I don’t think she would have gotten into any of the colleges. Honestly, I expected them to use at least some tests to see how she functions under the normal circumstances. I already knew that she blanks out in a testing situation, which is what she did. Now we have a report that basically says that she has very low scores in quite a few areas essential for college. The psychologist recommends pretty extensive accommodations for college (2x testing time, not being called on in class, testing center, etc.). I generally agree that she will need help in college and we are going to try ADD medication, but I am really apprehensive about submitting this evaluation report to the college, because her scores are so low. My husband is also concerned about her getting labeled and this report being part of her permanent record and affecting her in the future. And her self-esteem is already very low, even without knowing the scores, though she knows she did not do well. So, for those of you who have been through this. Do we have a reason to be concerned? Is disability services office supposed to use it just for determining accommodations and keep it confidential otherwise or can it come up in any other circumstances? Did you share the evaluation report with your minor child? I am not sure she needs to see it at this point, but in two months she will have a right to review it anyway. I apologize if my questions seem naïve, but I have zero experience in this. Thank you in advance!

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My son repeated his neuropsych testing his senior year. It was great to discuss the suggestions on how to approach learning. Did they not include the child in the discussion of the results? I cant imagine not sharing this news with a person who is almost 18.

My son has documented learning disabilities and has since he was in K. He barely passed high school. Hes at a tech college and getting A’s and B’s with no accommodations. My son refuses to give the disability office his report and ask for accommodations and since he is an adult I can’t force him.

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@Alikath Sent you a PM :slight_smile:

Sorry, posted a mess without editing.

@2plustrio We have not had the final report meeting yet, but she knows she did not do well. I just don’t know if at this point she needs or wants to know exactly how badly. I am afraid that in her current state of mind she will see it in terms of “I am stupid”, not in terms of “this is how I do when I am not getting any treatment for ADD and on the verge of a panic attack”. I don’t know if there is anything in this report that will reassure her. I am supposed to get a copy before the meeting, so I guess I’ll get a better idea of whether to share it with her or not.

This year has been particularly hard on many high schoolers. It sounds as if there is quite a disconnect between your description of your kid and the evaluation. I would not accept the evaluation at face value and talk to your kid. Maybe a second opinion is warranted. I do worry about the test anxiety and would look into that some more. But the college acceptances are hers and she worked hard for them. She should be proud of her potential. I guess what I’m saying is don’t get stuck on diagnosis and work with your kid to build up her self worth. She might surprise you.

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So why did you even get her tested if you won’t share the results with her and only plan to throw meds at her? Sorry, but this seems like a poor approach. You are focusing on the wrong areas of the report.

She needs to hear from them how the results of this will help her moving forward and that’s what these people are trained to do. You don’t just give them the report and walk away.

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So my daughter has ADD, and has issues with anxiety as well.

Her ADD diagnosis is pretty recent, so she only started requesting accommodations recently. They were extremely helpful to her, and reduced her stress and anxiety level substantially.

My recommendation - she should get every single accommodation that the doctor recommends.

These are medical records, and are covered by HIPPA - I do not think that the college can put them on any record which they will share with potential employers or grad school.

Furthermore, she is protected by ADA from any action that the college wishes to take which will disadvantage her because of her ADHD.

As I understand it, the college disabilities office will simply tell the dean of students which accommodations are required by your daughter, and the college will provide them.

There is no need for her to suffer, get even more stressed, increase her risk of depression, because she is afraid of how she will be affected by being “labeled” as ADHD/ADD.

As for sharing it with your daughter - do so, and talk about it with her. There are books and articles about ADHD, ways to live with it, etc. It is a feature of her personality, and is only a problem because the world is geared towards neurotypical people. She needs to learn how to navigate this world, and she cannot do so if she is unaware of what is going on with her.

A huge problem for people with undiagnosed ADD/ADHD is that they feel that they are being lazy, not putting effort into being focused, and overall, are a lot less smart than they actually are. It is far easier to deal with the idea that one has ADD than to go around beating oneself up because you think that you are being lazy or not putting enough effort into planning or focusing on work.

So hiding her diagnosis or her report from her is doing her no favors.

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@2plustrio For one thing, I don’t know what this report is going to look like and how detailed it is. Like I said, I am a complete novice. May be it will be written in such a way that it would be perfectly appropriate to share with her. Second, I don’t see the benefit for her to know that let’s say she is scoring in the bottom 10%. She is emotionally fragile, we are just getting to the point where her depression is more or less under control and she has a tendency to get fixated on numbers. I am just afraid that this kind of information is going to be devastating to her. Nobody is hiding her diagnosis from her, but for some people too much information is not always a good thing and this is the kid who almost got herself to the point of an eating disorder just by looking at her growth charts.

@teleia That’s exactly my concern. I may be in denial stage, but there’s a huge disconnect between her current scores and how she has been doing at school (until this year) and 12 years worse of school assessments. I don’t want to damage her self esteem even more by giving her information that can be interpreted in different ways.

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The report should include discussion of a student’s strengths, not just weaknesses.

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Your daughter does well in school. If the report diagnoses correctly, which it may not (these tests can be affected by things like anxiety), then your daughter has been compensating during high school to an extraordinary degree- without accommodations or medications. I would go by her actual performance when thinking about how college may go.

However, since she has been struggling in a variety of ways, accommodations would seem to be an important way to help her and enhance her experience at school. Extra time, extensions, testing in a separate room, single room, reduced course load and other accommodations “level the playing field” and allow students to perform at the level of their ability.

In the schools we have experienced, the disabilities office gives the student letters to give to professors. The letters will not have a diagnosis and often won’t list the accommodations. Instead the student talks with the professor. Also in our experience, it is not the disabilities office that is most helpful, but often a dean, advisor and professionals like MD or therapist.

There is actually no test for ADHD so I would retain some skepticism. There is a questionnaire and sometimes testing for focus and attention but in such artificial circumstances that our neuropsych. pretty much disregarded. Be careful with meds. She has gotten along without so far but how stressful has that been? Make sure to see a really good psychiatrist who specializes in ADHD to make sure of the diagnosis and get the right med for her.

We think of testing more as a way to learn how a kid learns, and how best to help them learn. So learning style, and accommodations. One of my kids has ADHD, slow processing and a learning disability but I view her as extremely bright and original- if given the time to perform.

I felt very concerned when I read your post because it seems as if you are ashamed of these test results and view them as a test of intelligence. Clearly your daughter is very intelligent. There is no need to hide any challenges, or be embarrassed or afraid that a college would reject of label her if they knew.

I would possibly reconsider test results for anyone who is depressed or anxious. Both can slow down mental processing. Also COVID has had a huge effect on mental health.

I really hope you can educate yourself because I fear your own attitudes and feelings are going to be the main factor in her having a negative response to the testing. She should be included in the discussion, congratulated for her achievements despite some challenges, and reassured that she can continue to do well.

We don’t know the particulars of the testing so it is otherwise hard to comment. But work on your own shame so you don’t communicate it to her. She can still do fine and with accommodations maybe doing fine will not be as stressful for her.

ps make sure the neuropsych. provides a list of accommodations needed

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I really liked your advice to the OP until your comment “work on your own shame” - very judgmental and unhelpful in my opinion.

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@compmom

Exactly this.

I too read high anxiety from both mom and daughter and I’m concerned about a parent with no experience with this type of testing seemed to want to force testing on the child then hide it and give her false hope that adhd meds will somehow get her back to top As. I see doing that as only increasing her anxiety.

I’m not anti med. My son was put on adhd meds at 5. We combined that with extensive support in school and out of school therapies.

Your daughter didn’t “perform low” on these tests. It seems these tests proved she does have high test taking anxiety. The person giving the results should frame this as how good it is to know how her brain works and that there isn’t anything wrong with her intelligence, she just needs to support how her own brain works. Knowing the results would give her power.

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First off, breathe! This really is not as bad as you think it is right now. It’s perhaps bad timing, with little time to adjust before the fall. She absolutely needs to see the results. The ADA offices are not allowed to speak with you (even if she is 17), without her permission, and honestly they prefer to speak with the students. She needs to contact them NOW and schedule a meeting with the ADA office. She will need to send them the report, and they will discuss it with her. This should be done before she registers for classes. College accommodations require self advocacy. They will work with her to create the accommodations plan, but she will be the one who provides her professors with the plan. Professors/Instructors are human. They will forget to add the time, and she will probably need to email them before each test. Sometimes she’ll log into the test, and the extra time wont be there; she’ll need to be comfortable approaching her professors to let them know. Sometimes it may mean having to reschedule it. How are her self-advocacy skills?

Not sure of her intended major, but 2x will take a lot of testing time (imagine 4 hours per class during testing weeks); that needs to be taken into account in scheduling the time of classes along with the number of credits. She will need one or two large blocks of free time during the week, unless she intends to test in the evening. Keep in mind testing windows may be in the evenings; she will need to arrange appropriate testing times for her, which may be different times/days from her classmates.
Please understand that ADHD meds do not usually work correctly right away; it takes time to adjust dosages, try different brands, etc. I would recommend finding an ADHD academic coach and/or CBT who can help her work on skills she can implement over the summer. The important thing to remember is ADHD is not a reflection of intelligence; it is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Difficulty adjusting to a diagnosis can be helped with a good therapist. Many colleges offer Academic Success Centers, academic coaching, EF coaching, therapists, physicians to manage adhd meds and other resources; the ADA office will be able to direct you to resources available at her school. I will say I’m personally a bit leery of a +100% accommodation, but I’ve rarely seen them except for visually impaired, even for kids with low gaf scores (many current college aged were scored before Whodas). Some extra time is good, but depending on the student, too much can flare OCD if that’s an issue as well. Good luck!

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We had a neuropsych test done on our son sophomore year of high school. We did not share the results (ADHD) because we didn’t want him labeled (or labeling himself) and he was doing okay in school. He started struggling a bit the middle of senior year, so we told him then and he tried meds but didn’t like them and decided why start so late in his senior year. I am very sorry we didn’t address this as soon as we knew the results, and that we didn’t share everything with him from the beginning. He just finished freshman year of college and is on academic probation. His self esteem plummeted, and his anxiety skyrocketed. Unfortunately he didn’t share any of this with us, though our D knew about it and respected his request not to tell us. Towards the end of the year, he did a ton of ADHD research and now realizes the whys behind his poor performance. We are working with several medical professionals, and he has started ADHD meds again, as well as a very low dose anti-anxiety/antidepressant. He is so bright that he was able to make it through high school without needing any accommodations, but once he hit college (with a tough major: engineering) he couldn’t continue doing well without more support. We tried to help, but it was too little too late. Anyway, long story short, I would recommend sharing all the results with your daughter, consider medications, and send the paperwork to student support services so she can get cleared for accommodations. She may not end up using some or any of them, but she will at least have them at her disposal should she need them.

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We parents communicate our own feelings about things, both verbally and non-verbally. The OP wants to help her child. My comments were to help the child. A person does not have to be ashamed of shame either. Some people find comments like this helpful, and some don’t.

Many parents, including myself, go to therapy ourselves to help us deal with our kids’ challenges, to better respond to their situation and help obtain the best possible outcome for the kid and the family. I think the OP could benefit from someone to help them adjust to new information. and get some of the information that they seek.

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Please work hard to rethink the use of the words “performed badly” on these evaluative tests.

They are information. Just that.

If your child had a broken leg and went for an x-ray you wouldn’t say they performed badly on the x-ray, you’d have information about where the break is and how severe and that would help you understand what the next right step is.

Reframe. That will help you and her.

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Neuropsych evaluations can often reveal relative weaknesses. Clearly your daughter has strengths that have helped her thus far in high school. The bottom 15 percent number can be considered a relative weakness in comparison to other areas of strength. It’s helpful for both of you to understand how to address and accommodate the areas of weakness. My son has relatively low processing speed and working memory, while his other areas are much stronger. This means that being put on the spot in class is anxiety provoking because he needs more time to process the question and process his answer. He has also developed study habits to deal with the memory issue.

Extended time is a critical accommodation and a tool to her your daughter to maximize her potential. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and this is the reframing work that everyone is mentioning. My other son wears glasses and his vision is in the bottom percentiles. He knows he needs the glasses to see and we praise him for how good he looks and how well he can read when he wears his glasses :slight_smile: People learn in different ways and that’s a good thing! Your daughter is wonderful just the way she is and a neuropsych report is not a value judgement… it’s just information that will help her in the future :slight_smile:

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Don’t worry about submitting the paperwork. I would do it ASAP as they will need to evaluate what support she needs and any additional information. She will not get accommodations until it is approved. My son is a high stats kid who has a learning disability - similar rigor, high test scores, 1 B in high school. His intelligence (and likely your daughters) hid this until middle school and honestly had he not switched schools I doubt it would have ever been picked up.

We had a consultation with the disability resource coordinator at our school and she encouraged him to ask for every accommodation that could possibly be needed in college (priority registration, note taking, access to audio textbooks, extra time). The only accommodation he had in high school was extra time and he used it very sporadically and only in English or History. Regardless, she said it is much better to get accommodations you don’t need or use (like note taking) vs trying to go back and get them later. The priority registration is absolutely key if you have extra time so you don’t schedule classes that don’t allow for extra time during a classroom test without missing your next class.

Her low scores are likely due to her blanking out during the evaluation testing which is why she needs the accommodations.

The disability services office is confidential and they keep the information submitted confidential.

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