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Documentation and Evaluations

Medical Conditions

Students with Learning Disabilities

Documentation

An assessment for learning disabilities should be current (within the last three years) and validate the need for services based on the individual's current level of functioning in the educational setting. The report of the comprehensive evaluation should reflect the incorporation of a diagnostic interview, assessment of aptitude, academic achievement and information processing, clinical interpretation and diagnoses. A school plan, such as an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 plan is not sufficient documentation.    

Diagnostic Interview

An evaluation report should include the summary of a comprehensive diagnostic interview. Learning disabilities are commonly manifested during childhood, but are not always formally diagnosed. Relevant information regarding the student's academic history and learning processes in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education should be investigated. The diagnostic interview may include: a description of the problem(s) being presented; developmental, medical, psychological, and employment histories; family history (including primary language of the home and the student's current level of English fluency); and a discussion of dual diagnosis where indicated.   

Assessment

The diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder should be made by a professional such as a psychiatrist, educational psychologist, neurologist, or a combination of such professionals who have expertise in diagnosing Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder in adults, as well as other psychiatric disorders which might resemble symptoms of ADHD. In addition, it is important that the diagnostician be able to screen for learning disabilities or other co-existing condition.

The neuropsychological or psycho-educational evaluation for the diagnosis of a specific learning disability must provide clear and specific evidence that a learning disability does or does not exist. The assessment, and any resulting diagnoses, should be based on a comprehensive evaluation that does not rely on any one test or subtest. Evidence of a substantial limitation to learning must be provided. The domains to be addressed must include the following:

  • Aptitude : A complete intellectual assessment with all subtests and standard scores reported.
  • Academic achievement : A comprehensive academic achievement battery is essential with all subtests and standard scores reported for those subtests administered. The battery should include current levels of academic functioning in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics, and oral and written language.
  • Information processing : Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long-term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning and motor ability) should be assessed.
Test Scores

Standard scores and percentiles should be provided for all normed measures. The data should logically reflect a substantial limitation to learning for which the student is requesting accommodation. The test findings should document both the nature and severity of the learning disability. The particular profile of the student’s strengths and weaknesses must be shown to relate to functional limitations that may necessitate accommodations. The tests should be reliable, valid, and standardized for the use with an adolescent/adult population.  

Specific Diagnosis

It is important to rule out alternative explanations for problems in learning such as emotional, attention-oriented, or motivational problems that may be interfering with learning, but do not constitute a learning disability. The diagnostician is encouraged to use direct language in the diagnosis and documentation of a learning disability, for example DSM terminology. If the data indicates that a learning disability is not present, then the evaluator should state that conclusion in the report.

Clinical Summary

A well-written diagnostic summary based on the comprehensive evaluation process is a necessary component of the report. The clinical summary should include:

  • Demonstration of the evaluator's having ruled out alternative explanations for academic problems.
  • Indication of how patterns in the student's cognitive ability, achievement, and information processing reflect the presence of a learning disability.
  • Assessment of the substantial limitation to learning or other major life activity presented by the learning disability and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.
  • Justification as to why specific accommodations are needed and how they address the academic needs associated with the specific disability. 
Suggestions for College Students with Learning Disabilities

1. Take advantage of the accommodations and support services offered by the Disability Services Coordinator.   

2. Become knowledgeable and comfortable with describing your disability so you can advocate for yourself with professors. Be sure to inform your professors of your needs early in the semester so they can accommodate you appropriately. A current semester Confidential Information Sheet (CIS) is required to make this request.   

3. Inform your academic advisor that you have a learning disability. Your advisor is in a better position to help you if he or she is aware that you have special needs. You should plan a carefully balanced load so that you aren't overloaded with courses requiring heavy reading, large quantities of memorization and/or extensive writing. Your schedule should also consider any needs for extended exam time. 

4. Keep one calendar with all relevant dates, assignments, and appointments. Do not try to keep a schedule in your head. Help with organization skills is available from the Disability Services Coordinator, or through the course GNST 101, Methods of Inquiry.   

5. Establish a set time and place to study. Estimate ahead of time how long a given class assignment will take. Generally plan on two hours of study time outside of class for every hour of class. Build in study breaks; fatigue is a big time waster.   

6. Sit toward the front of the classroom. This will minimize distractions and help you focus on the instructor.   

7. If you have questions about course material or trouble structuring an assignment, do not hesitate to talk to your professors, preferably during their scheduled office hours. It is important that you seek help as soon as you need it so you don't fall behind. Individual department tutorial services may also be available.  

8. If you don't understand, ask for rephrasing rather than repetition and for examples or applications.   

9. Participate in class discussions. This will get you involved, and if your professor gives extra credit for participation, it can bring up your grade if you have trouble with tests.   

10. Attend all review sessions that are offered by your professors. If you learn well by studying with others, join or start a study group to discuss and review material for your courses. You can share notes, ask each other questions, and work out problems as a group.   

11. Index cards are good aids for memorization of terms and facts. Use them like flash cards, writing the key word on the front of the card and the definition or fact on the back. After you've learned them, return to them later to review for tests. 

Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders

Procedure

According to the DSM IV, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity, which is more frequent and severe than is typically observed among individuals at a comparable level of development. The DSM IV delineates three types including the type primarily characterized by inattention, the type primarily characterized by hyperactivity-impulsivity, or the “combined type” in which symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity are present.  

Documentation

An assessment for ADHD should be current (within the last three years) and include the following:

1. A list of the questionnaires, interviews, and observations used to identify the ADHD behaviors. A summary of this information should provide information regarding the onset, longevity, and severity of the symptoms.

2. A complete evaluation, based on the use of age appropriate instruments, incorporating an assessment of cognitive ability, information processing, achievement, and other relevant areas such as variables of attention &/or continuous performance. The report must contain both raw data and the interpretation of this data along with the exact DSM IV diagnoses.

3. Information concerning co-morbidity, or co-existing conditions that may be identified.

4. Medication history and current recommendation regarding medication.

5. A description of the impact of the ADHD on the educational setting including functional limitations.

6. A list of appropriate accommodations.   

Diagnostician

The diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder should be made by a professional such as a psychiatrist, educational psychologist, neurologist, or a combination of such professionals who have expertise in diagnosing Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder in adults, as well as other psychiatric disorders which might resemble symptoms of ADHD. In addition, it is important that the diagnostician be able to screen for learning disabilities or other co-existing condition.   

Disability Verification for Medical Conditions

Certification of Psychological Disability

 

Evaluation

Evaluations are not completed at the college. Therefore, an individual with a disability who wishes to receive accommodations for the disability is required to arrange and pay for testing on his/her own, if not already done.

Additional questions may be directed to the Disabilities Services Coordinator at 301-696-3421 or reis@hood.edu