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A special comment to the parents of Special Needs children:

This comment is outside the purview of this Learning Disability page, but it needs to be noted.

For those of you with mentally and physically handicapped children, and who have endured fights with your school district over your child's rights, especially if your child's handicap is severe, remember that school districts are dishonest and duplicitous over programs for your child.

For instance, they pit the parents of mainstreamed and/or mildly handicapped children against those of moderately to severely handicapped children.

In California,and probably elsewhere, districts make it seem that Special Needs Programs take money from the needs and programs of average, gifted, and other mainstreamed children.

This is a lie, and is 180 degrees off the truth.

It is the other way around.

The state earmarks money for the Special Needs children, and sends it to the districts based on their Special Needs figures. THEN the districts begin to figure out ways to take money from the Special Needs programs to put into the general fund.

You need to know this, and to speak up when you hear complaints form others about "taking money form the children who do not have these problems."

If parents balk at having their child's hours or services cut, the district then begins to bully and manipulate, sometimes suing the parents who do not want to revise their child's I.E.P. Other times parents have to sue the district just to keep their child's services. This is criminal. It is not difficult enough to have a handicapped child, then you have to fight the monopoly of our school system to maintain what you were told in the first place was available for your child.

When in doubt, call your county advocate. That person can tell you your rights. If you have to hire an attorney, ask around to find an attorney who is versed in the law about Special Needs. Ask your county advocate how to contact the department in the state government who is in charge of Special Education. If they receive too many complaints from a particular district they will investigate. Districts keep this very quiet, as they keep quiet about the amount of money they sped suing parents. Districts have even been known to get away with telling their school boards that legal information is not available to to them (the school board/employers.)

If this happens to you, call your country advocate, and seek out other parents in the district and learn what they have suffered. I repeat: Especially if you have a moderately or severely handicapped child, you will need to fight constantly for your child's rights with the districts as they try to put that money into programs with more "flash." Remember, 90% of most money in a district goes to administration, including bloated salaries and retirement accounts.

College Preparation for Students with Diagnosed Learning Disabilities


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Hearing from Students

Comments from students with learning disabilities:

  • No one ever discussed it with me, so while I knew I had something that was different about me, I did not know what it was.

  • I was never diagnosed and so never got any help.

  • I was not taught that I could succeed in spite of my education difficulties.

  • My parents allowed me to get away with the excuse that I had learning difficulties, now I am trying to learn to deal with it and play catch up.

  • I don't understand the process I need to follow to get into college and succeed there.

    Self assessment for students with special needs: Am I ready for college?

    How can parents provide the most effective help for their teenagers with academic disabilities?

  • Ask professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, special services professionals, etc. for referrals to well-regarded diagnostic services in your community.

  • Find out your school district's diagnostic requirements for admission to special programs.

  • Most colleges require a current diagnosis (within the last three years) for admission to college learning disabilities programs, ask around for referrals to psychologists who have experience doing these evaluations.

  • Medication:

      • OVER 90% OF THE WORLD'S SUPPLY OF RITALIN (AKA STRATTERA) IS USED IN THE UNITED STATES, and it's being used on children as young as two years of age. In my opinion, this is criminal.

      • Having academic disabilities does not automatically mean your child should be on medication.

      • Do not medicate your child unless advised by a psychologist or psychiatrist, and even then not until that professional has seen your child for, at least, several sessions. Especially do not medicate your child based on the recommendation of a classroom teacher, and do not medicate your child by asking a General Practitioner M.D. to prescribe medications.

      • Do not take recommendations from a teacher as to which physicians will give you a prescription. Only psychologists and psychiatrists are qualified to diagnose your child and make recommendations.

        Ritalin is not supposed to be about a quiet classroom.

      • Putting your teen on medication can have life-changing consequences, either good or bad. Don't do this lightly or without adequate knowledge and understanding.

      • Discuss the medication pros and cons with your teen.

      • Research the drugs used to medicate children and teens, discuss recommended medications with the prescribing physician and be sure you understand any possible side-effects, long-term risks, and the effect of the medication on the brain and brain development, on creativity, appetite, and on mental and emotional well-being.

      • If you do decide to medicate your child, monitor any emotional or behavioral changes, ask your teen his/her opinions.

      • If a teen on medication goes away to college, be sure you have an understanding of his/her commitment for compliance while living away from home.

  • Be sure you have a complete understanding of your teen-ager's learning disabilities.

  • Before you sign your I.E.P., be sure you understand fully what you are signing. If you have questions or concerns, be sure your concerns are fully addressed before you sign.

  • If a district special ed counselor, or other personnel ask you to sign an agreement to alter your I.E.P. in mid-year, or reduce your child's hours, be sure you understand the terms exactly, and agree with them, before you sign.

  • When you ask the school for accommodations for your child's learning disabilities, be sure you have a current evaluation, and that your requests are supported by that evaluation. Your analysis of your child's learning problems does not meet state and federal requirements for special services, or for admittance to special college programs.

  • Pay attention to the non-academic portions of your teen's life to evaluate possible non-academic ramifications of the disability.

  • Be on the lookout for times when your teenager is confused, overwhelmed, or frustrated.

  • Discuss the disability with your teen, and ask how he/she feels about it.

  • Recognize your teen's strengths and encourage growth and activity in those areas.

  • Establish a collaboration effort between home and school so academic expectations are understood and acted on.

  • Gradually, as your child enters the teen years, allow him/her the responsibility for the day-to-day tasks of life and school: getting to school on time, finishing homework, baby-stepping through long term assignments, managing a schedule.

  • Hire qualified LD tutors if you feel your child is falling behind academically. In some places, about half of every class is tutored in some subjects, mainly math. (Don't get me started on the quality of education our children are receiving in most of our the public schools.)

  • Encourage your child to become involved in community service. Not only is this required by many colleges, but it promotes community awareness, sociability, a sense of helping others, and emotional maturity.

  • As a college-bound student with learning disabilities, what are the differences in my rights in high school and those in college?

    Section 504 and Title II protect elementary, secondary and post secondary students from discrimination.

    Section 504 requires a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for all elementary and high school students with disabilities. It also directs the district to identify the students' particular needs and to provide education and services necessary to meet those needs.

    Remember, your learning disability must be supported by an evaluation done within the last three years.

    However, post-secondary schools are not required to provide a free education. Colleges are required to make appropriate academic adjustments as necessary for those with documented disabilities to ensure non-discrimination on this basis.

    Are my admissions standards different than students without learning disabilities?

    You do have to meet an institution's general standards for admissions. This will involve SATs, ACTs, and any other testing requirements, as well as submission of your high school GPA. Always study the web sites of your target schools.

    To see an ideal college program for students with LDs and ADHD, take a look at this site:

    Landmark College

    Can a school deny me admission because I have learning disabilities

    No. You do have to meet their basic requirements for admissions, and any school can deny anyone admission, but colleges cannot deny you admission based on your disability.

    Are there lowered admissions standards for applicants with learning disabilities?

    In most cases, you must first be accepted and enrolled in the school; then you would apply for the special services programs.

    Do I have to tell my prospective colleges I have a learning disability?

    No, you do not have to inform them. However, with acceptance to their programs for students with special learning needs, you have access to an array of services, depending on the level of the programs provided by the school.

    These services can include special tutors, note takers, extra time for exams, special classes, oral exams, LD specialists and other services, depending on the college's Learning Disabilities programs.

    In addition:

  • after your freshman year, you may be allowed early or on-line registration to avoid crowds

  • free photocopying services

  • special study skills classes if you feel you need extra help in writing, research techniques, and/or time management
  • vocabulary support software that checks all your written work, learning the student's style of writing and use of vocabulary to help with the completion of assignments

  • paper copies of lecture notes, overheads and other learning devices used by the instructor or professor

  • Temple Grandin: Autistic, amazing woman

    What about grades and test scores from high school?

    Colleges may make an exception about admission requirements for students who have good GPAs, but low SAT or ACT scores. This is done on an individual case-by-case basis.

    For a detailed explanation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 as it relates to students at U.S. universities, go to Special laws for special students at U.S. Universities.

    Also visit this collection of on-line resources for colleges and university faculty who teach college and university students with disabilities: Special information for faculty, students and parents.

    In addition, you may be interested in the LD Educational Improvement Act of 2004

    A site of interest for students with physical disabilities is this one from the University of California at Berkeley: Access to the Internet for students with special needs

    The College Process

    Review carefully all our pages from the links below, on college applications, admissions, SATs and ACTs.

    If you need special help in high school, beyond the resources offered by your local high school, find special, LD qualified tutors to work with you to boost your academeic performance in ways that are beneficial to you.

    Then follow our link to the additional information you need to apply to college if you have been diagnosed with learning disabilities.

    In your sophomore or junior year you will be thinking about SATs or ACT exams. You will take these your sophomore or junior year, and you can take them in the fall of your senior year. With a diagnosed learning disability you may be able to sign up for an ACT or SAT nonstandard version.

    All About the ACTs

    All about the SATs

    Graduate Record Exam (GRE) for people with disabilities

    Google Link to Scholarships for Special Needs Students, croll down page

    Search Colleges

    Four-year high school calendar specific to extra college prep steps for students with learning disabilities

    SEE ALSO: Calendar for ALL high school seniors

    College Admissions Portfolio

    Extracurricular Activities in high school

    Volunteering in high school

    Are you a high school athlete?


    Admission Sites for all U.S. Public Colleges and Universities

    Applications Essays

    Teacher recommendations

    Campus Visits

    Scholarships for Special-needs students: LD or Physical Handicaps

    Assess yourself: Am I ready for college?

    Learning disabilities four-year high school calendar for college planning

    Campus visits to colleges of interest

    Campus interviews

    Search GOOGLE for more information on Learning Disabilities


    Free Textbooks- Save thousands while in college

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