My daughter is finalizing her college list. She is dyslexic and has extra time and writing support accommodations. With very hard work she has done very well in a rigorous curriculum (AP classes, high GPA), however the structure and support really help her manage. Looking to see any positive or negative experiences and general advice about the following colleges for dyslexia support/services: George Washington, Georgetown, Cornell, Richmond, UVA, Tufts, Brown, Lehigh, Boston University, U Chicago, McGill, Middlebury, Wash U St. Louis. Everyone says they offer help, but want to see what that means from the parent/student perspective. Thank you!
My information is dated as my gifted dyslexic son graduated six(?) years ago and my daughter with ADHD maybe three years ago. . But, I’d guess institutional culture probably changes slowly. You are correct that all of of the schools give lip service to working with kids with different learning styles and to kids with disabilities, but for the most part it is just lip service. And, the professors have to cooperate and may or may not.
The most important thing is to find an environment that works. For my son, that was looking for schools that have minimal distribution requirements and Brown and Amherst were great on that score. Dartmouth and Williams pretty good. Columbia and Tufts not so good. Princeton and I’d guess Chicago have distribution requirements that make courses with 400 pages of reading a week unavoidable. At schools with minimal requirements, your D could take one course per semester (or none) with extensive reading requirements.
Second, can your daughter handle foreign languages? My son could not Some schools have language requirements that were hard to avoid meeting. Would have been fatal for my son. Others like Tufts required one to take several “culture” courses if one was not going to take a language.
Third, you can’t get much information from the schools before your kid is admitted. Afterwards, you can ask to work on a specific program before your D would choose to go. Then you will see that some schools aren’t able to do what is needed and others are. My son might have gone to Dartmouth but it was clear that at the time, it was like pulling teeth to get them to make accommodations that other schools would willingly make. Some schools will tell you that your kid has to accept and then they’ll go through the process to see what kind of accommodations they would provide. I told them he wouldn’t go there unless he knew and they relented – but even that was a bad sign.
Canadian schools tend to be heavily weighted to big classes and grades based solely on exams (this changes as you get into your major). But, if that format is not good for your daughter, I’d find out if McGill is that way (I have nieces and nephews who went there and I believe so, but I’d check).
I am not sure what level of school you are looking at. My dyslexic child attended a SUNY school and graduated with honors this year. In HS, he made it through 2 years of Latin but only because the course was heavy on history and culture - he placed gold in the National Latin exam a couple of times but didn’t do as well on the declensions. In college, he took ASL at the local community college over the summer for credit. He earned A’s but they didn’t transfer.
The disability services office at his school was very good and proactive. He was given a scribe for note-taking for every class. As he got into more advanced classes, he was allowed to have them hire his friends to do the note taking because he knew who took good notes. He got extra time as well for in class essays and tests.
I think the key was selecting a school where he was at the upper level of its admission standards. Being one of the smarter kids, even though dyslexic, helped his confidence.
Good luck to you and your D.
At all of these schools, the student will need to self-advocate and ask for accommodations. Some students can be hesitant to ask for help.
You are correct. It was a bit easier for my son because my H, his dad, is severely dyslexic but managed to become a successful attorney and talented writer. My son knows that an LD doesn’t mean that you aren’t smart, which is an issue that many kids with LD’s do struggle with and it impacts them wanting to seek out help.
I went with my son to orientation and we made an appointment to meet with the disability services person so my son knew who to go see when school began. The first semester, I sent him a long email with instructions on what to say and ask for . He followed my directions. After that, he didn’t need me anymore.
I also practiced with him at home, taking turns as the student and a professor and the disability services person. I acted as a sympathetic teacher, as one who was disdainful of students who needed accommodations and as one who had no clue. My son encountered all 3 types during his time at school, with the disdainful being either those who don’t believe in LD’s or those who didn’t think students with LD’s belonged in their classes. S said that the role playing helped him so much that we actually did it for job interviews and class presentations.
@Counselmom, it is indeed true that a kid with LDs at any of these schools will need to advocate for him/herself. But, at least in the public HS ShawSon attended and the private HS that ShawD attended, self-advocacy was needed as well. So, I worked with both kids on how to advocate and how to respond to problems. We worked on how to write emails – I would first write an an email and go over the email with the kid and later do the reverse. I didn’t do the roleplaying that @techmom99 did, but that sounds great.
You also have to do a lot of coordination if you are granted an accommodation of extra time on tests or tests in quiet environments. Although the Disabilities Services Office will send out a notification to each professor, in all cases, my son and daughter had to contact each professor before each class to arrange the logistics. If they forgot, they might not be able to receive the accommodation.
My son’s college was great. They proactively offered him note-takers for his classes and readers or scribes if he needed them. The note-takers were a big help. Sometimes when he was totally exhausted (reading/writing would fatigue him), he found the readers valuable. These were often kids in his classes or friends in his classes. The quid pro quo for them in addition to pay from the school was that ShawSon typically understood the subject better than they did and could help them with their problem sets. I think they had a Kurzweil system for reading and some books could be read that way, although he didn’t really like that so much. I suspect that there is vastly superior screen reading technology now. I think his grad school gave him extra time and note-takers but no other accommodations.
@GratefulGirl, the good news from all this is that it can be navigated successfully. Both of my kids did incredibly well in school, attended fabulous grad schools and now love their jobs.
Thanks @shawbridge @Counselmom @techmom99 D is a great self advocate. For her it’s more the writing than the reading. It’s been very hard to get info re actual services particularly during COVID. Trying to get some recon before ED/EA as that has some sway in both her decisions and in the colleges so want to be as educated as possible before making app decisions.
Was going to contact their services offices and see if they have kids that do chats like an info session. Wouldn’t that be a great thing. Thanks much and pls don’t hesitate to say more if you think of it.