Getting accommodations for college

This is exactly what the psychiatrist told me - I was wondering how many kids are diagnosed as teenagers and she said it is actually very common with very intelligent kids who are able to compensate for their disability because of their smarts. She even diagnoses college kids for the same reason. We caught our son’s because he was missing points for spelling (not counted off for at his old school) on tests where he missed no factual information. I am so thankful we figured it out!


The point about blanking out seems really important.

The family can remain skeptical of the test results and help the daughter understand the scores may not reflect actual ability.

However the “blanking out” deserves the accommodations that the testing would support.

My 9th grade D’s Spanish teacher recently caught some issues with my D and referred her to learning services and we are planning to do a full testing this summer to find out what we are dealing with along with accommodations and services she could be offered at school to help. The learning specialist suspects a visual processing disorder that is affecting her spelling (has always been terrible) and reading comprehension. Our daughter was in speech therapy for a long time and we think that may have masked the issue. I am now wondering, with accommodations could she be in more advanced classes next year than she is currently slated to take? It is clearly important for college admissions that the kids have the highest amount of rigor, but we also don’t want to overwhelm her. Anyone with this experience have any thoughts? She has all B+ and As without accommodations, so we can only assume this will help her and she won’t have to work twice as hard as everyone else.

But why assume the poster is ashamed? I didn’t read that from her post at all. She’s concerned about how her daughter will react to the full details of the report (not the adhd dx of which she’s aware) and is navigating how it will affect her future by disclosing it. She came for advice, and has received excellent advice from you and others but don’t assume that she is ashamed.

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Okay folks, I wrote a long post and one word seems to be drawing attention, “ashamed.” Wrong word perhaps. Sorry. Substitute fear of stigma, fear of labelling (Dad). desire to hide info , desire to avoid discussion, fear of daughter’s self-esteem plunging etc.

If parents can accept the information provided (and in this case info may be less the testing results and more the anxious response to testing) and understand that above board efforts to gain accommodations do not bring negative consequences but instead enhance achievement, then those same attitudes will be conveyed to the daughter.

My point was that we parents need to get our fears and emotions resolved, and educate ourselves, in order to discuss things like this with our kids. Sometimes even a therapist can be helpful.


Also: COVID. We are all pretty slowed down after this past 18 months.

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The child has a 4.1 GPA and is getting “low A’s” and this had the parents worried the child wasn’t performing well enough? And they admit the child has low self esteem and anxiety? I think a healthy start would be to see the child isn’t doing poorly and needs to stop trying to achieve perfection.

I am hoping a psychiatrist could get this child on the right medication. Because if the goal of the ADD meds is to increase test scores, I fear it will be of no help without support for the test anxiety.

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You know your kid best. I could see how seeing shockingly low results would send my son into a complete depressive tailspin that might actually cause him to need to be hospitalized, particularly if she just started struggling and is thinking she will come out of it on her own with a bit of gumption. My suggestion would be that you talk with the testing folks before the conversation that includes your daughter and make sure they are very aware of her current mental health state. My experience is that they are generally used to kids who have been failing/struggling for a long time and often do not get that the information may be shocking and devastating to kids and parents. Make them aware that this will be shocking to her. They may be willing to skip the results altogether and just say things like “the testing we did indicates that your processing speed is greatly effected by anxiety. Here are some common accommodations and strategies that help with that.” Also, be prepared. Physically getting certain ADHD meds is extremely tricky with a kid away at college. Many common ones cannot be filled with an out of state prescription and can only be filled with a paper prescription and only exactly every 30 days. As someone new to this, I find it extremely frustrating.

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Please rethink the concept of “not doing well.” This isn’t a test you can study for. It’s not a test to measure intelligence or competence, necessarily. It’s an evaluation to uncover information.


@compmom Spot on, thank you for clarifying!

The daughter has done well in a competitive school and is clearly intelligent and a hard worker.

The testing seemed to have been affected by anxiety so not sure any results are valid.

ADHD cannot be objectively tested. I am not sure how a neuropsych. evaluated ADHD versus anxiety and depression.

Some ADHD meds have a peak and trough phenomenon that can cause dips in mood, and also timing meds to coincide with the need to focus is tough with the less stable schedule of college. There are also meds that stay in the system more consistently.

But first I would make sure that is the problem. And everyone needs to think about the effects of COVID style education and isolation.

This may be the beginning of a journey, but potentially a good one, with the right resources.

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Agree with those saying this is not a test one does “bad” on. I have 2 sons with adhd. I have really come to appreciate that it is not a disability, but truly a difference. Their brains are wired differently than the majority. My son with the strongest adhd just sees the world differently. He is so creative and original. There are benefits to having adhd (ok, as well as drawbacks).

Before he was diagnosed that same son was extremely anxious. Undiagnosed adhd would make most people anxious. You want to do well, but are messing up – are you stupid or lazy? So it’s such a blessing to find out no, you aren’t stupid or lazy at all. And can start figuring out coping techniques.


I really appreciate everybody’s input and opinions. Special thanks to those who understood our situation and offered some very valuable practical tips. I definitely would not have thought of not scheduling classes back-to-back because of extended testing. I definitely feel better about applying for accommodations. However, I would like to clarify a few things. I am not some achievement crazy mom. I am perfectly happy with my daughter’s results at school. But it breaks my heart to see her practice or study for hours and hours and then fail because she freezes, because I do know how well she can do when she is not stressed out. And she is the one who considers it a failure and this is what undermines her self-esteem and makes her anxious, not me. I actually admire her perseverance. She is a fighter. A grumpy one, but she keeps trying even after all those setbacks. I would have given up long time ago. So, when after 15 months of therapy and medication and very little improvement in her mental state, the doctor suggested testing, I agreed, because she was clearly struggling at school and it was a major stress that kept feeding her anxiety and depression. Now, I was under the impression that at least some of the testing would be able to tell us how she is functioning when she is not stressed out. Then I would be able to tell her that even though she has difficulties, she is capable of doing some things well. I did not expect IQ testing and tests that my daughter immediately associated with regular academic testing and freaked out. So, if I am guilty of anything, it is of telling her that it is going to be a different kind of testing. So, she basically got nine hours of testing on how she does when she is extremely anxious. Not very helpful. So, my frustration is really with the way the testing was done. I have way more questions after it then I got answers. And this is why I am on the fence about giving my daughter detailed information about her results. For one thing, I am not sure they are accurate. I have to question a few things on the ADD report, but psychologist is convinced she has ADD. In her opinion, my daughter has generalized anxiety, but it is manageable. So, test anxiety is not even coming up as a possible explanation for her results. So, I can’t tell her that her scores are what they are because she was extremely anxious. Nor can I say yes, these scores are low, but you are intelligent or you are good at other things, because IQ score is not that great either and I did not get an impression from talking to the psychologists that there were any strengths. I know there is got to be some way she was compensating for her weaknesses to end up in the top 13%, but I did not get any explanation on how. And I am not the one with a PhD to figure it out on my own. If the report reflects what the psychologist told me on the phone, then it would do more harm than good at this point to involved my daughter beyond giving her the basic results. And no, I don’t expect ADD medication to be a magic pill. In fact, I am more of anti-medication because of the history of ADD drug abuse in the family and I do know how hard it is to accurately diagnose ADD without the imaging studies. But at this point I am willing to try anything, if there is even a small chance that she does have ADD on top of everything else. The kid herself, by the way, is quite content with the diagnosis, because she convinced herself a while back that she has it. So, it is not about being ashamed or hiding a diagnosis from her either. I am really at the point right now where I am both willing to try anything to help her, but terrified of doing something that will harm her now or in the long run. So, please, don’t judge.

This was a very helpful clarification. Very different from the first post so glad you came back :slight_smile:

I would not trust the test results. An IQ test can also be affected by test anxiety. I don’t see how your daughter could possibly have a low IQ and do so well at a competitive school.

We do not know what medication she has had for anxiety and/or depression. SSRI? No help?
Was school virtual during this time of struggling?

Doesn’t sound like this psychologist targeted the testing to specific problems. That is a lot of testing! Can you seek a second opinion, maybe not for testing but for discussion? Maybe an ADHD clinic? We found a great program at a hospital research unit.

We ended up seeing several providers for evaluation for one kid and they were all different. The first one was way way off.

One tip: one of mine has test anxiety and made sure to major in an area that mostly involved papers, not tests. Maybe that would help.
So now I can see the crux of the problem: your daughter may need accommodations and the key to those is the testing, which would seem to be off base and possibly unnecessarily affect her view of her abilities. The only solution I can think of is to get a psychiatrist involved (again, someone who specializes in ADHD) and use that evaluation to get accommodations and not the neuropsych. results.

Her current therapist can also attest to her struggles with anxiety and depression, including test anxiety, and that professional can also advocate for accommodations,

If accommodations are based on the neuropsych. results your daughter will not only HAVE to read the report but meet about it and negotiate with professors based on that info.

Again, would move on from the neuropsych. eval. and get a second opinion that can be used for accommodations., as well as use any professionals who currently provide help to her and understand the struggle.


I’ll definitely look into asking somebody else at least for filling out ADD form and getting a second opinion. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of time and the doctor she’s is seeing now is not a psychiatrist, but adolescent medicine with focus on mental health. She is very knowledgeable and thorough though and I do trust her, but not sure if she’ll be willing to fill out the forms since she knows there is an evaluation done by a person from the same office. My concern is that with the new diagnosis and no history of accommodations at school college will want an official evaluation. But won’t hurt to try. As far as medications, I think we finally found a combo that works for depression, but my daughter was only on one anxiety medication for a short time and stopped taking it because of the side effects. So, we are still trying to find something for anxiety, even though at this point that’s the problem that seems to be getting worse. But her doctor wants her to try just one new medication at a time, so again, we are trying to beat the clock.

I don’t suppose there is any chance of a deferral? The time crunch is tough.

Did these issues get worse during COVID? Has her school been virtual?

I am going to PM you.

My S has his own ADD-inattentive/anxiety challenges which are different from your D’s (he wanted to take the SAT!) but he’s really benefited from ratcheting up the self care and self advocacy. I understand the requests at the university need to be student initiated so have your D get comfortable (or pushing through the discomfort) asking for things, if she’s not already. I realize this is ‘soft’ advice but I sympathize with our kids that need to grind harder, and I hope they put similar energy into caring for themselves as well. Be sure your D finds some activities this summer that refresh and recharge. I’m pulling for you both!


Both doctor and me mentioned the idea of a gap year, but my daughter is very strongly against it. And even if she thought it was a good idea, social isolation played a huge role in where we are at now. And with all of her friends going away to college, she would feel isolated and left behind and I am really concerned it will bring the depression back. So, it’s like trying to decide which of the bad options is the least bad one. COVID definitely played a role in it. My husband said when it first started that she would be the one affected the most because she is such a social creature in the family of introverts that she absolutely needs to be with other people. I think isolation is what jumpstarted the whole process. School was virtual last year and hybrid this year with two days in person, but our ISD was so concerned with making sure that everybody got the same learning environment that the kids who were in person got to sit in class watching teachers do Zoom for those at home with almost no interaction. So, pretty soon in person kids stopped showing up. And my daughter is the kind of kid who needs paper textbook and taking notes on paper, all of which was banned this year. So, yes, the learning environment contributed too. Hopefully, in person classes will get her back on track.

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This side of the COVID story- for young and old- is only starting to come out. The isolation has gone on a long long time in teenage years, The virtual learning process is also really hard for many-so abstract and impersonal.

I can understand that a gap year would leave her feeling left behind, especially if used for therapy and treatment. I hope that some semblance of normalcy can help.

I cannot imagine doing the transition to college right after COVID restrictions are eased. So many of us are having a hard time adjusting, even without that transition. Sympathies to such a young person dealing with this. Life must feel so out of control.


Your daughters intelligence is evidenced by her achievements in face of her difficulties not her IQ score. My guess is if you asked her psychologist for an explanation they would say that the IQ score was negatively impacted by her condition…