Anonymous said to realsocialskills:How do you ask for accomendations when you don’t have a go-to reason to explain why you need it? I don’t know if I’m disabled (I find info about disablities completely inaccessible to me, though i’ve wondered from seeing people talk about things i’ve also experienced) but I do know I can’t learn in certain ways, or process information that’s presented in certain ways, and that I’m prone to sensory overload. people act like i’m being overdemanding when I bring it up. am i? if not, what do I do?realsocialskills said:I’ve been there, a lot. I was only diagnosed after college, even though I’ve always been disabled. I was just as impaired before diagnosis; being without a label didn’t magically create abilities. So I’ve spent a lot of time negotiating accommodations informally.I’ve found that what works best is to give a very simple version of the problem, and to ask for something specific. This can make accommodating you seem like a straightforward thing to do.For instance: “This is hard for me to read. Is there an electronic copy?” works much better than ”I’m autistic and I have visual tracking issues and executive dysfunction and I need a different format.”Or: “Noisy College Hall is big and crowded. I never understand anything there. Can we have class in the usual room instead of moving?”Or: “I don’t understand the assignment when it’s said verbally. Can you email me the details?”tl;dr You don’t have to go into great diagnostic detail when you’re negotiating with a teacher directly. You can start by describing the problem and a solution you think would work. This doesn’t always work, but it’s the most effective approach I know of for this situation.Does anyone else want to weigh in? What’s worked for you when you’ve needed to ask a teacher for accommodations?
It can vary a lot from one teacher to another. I’ve had some professors be totally willing to accommodate me, provided with only the slightest information. Ex: I told a professor that I find clamor overwhelming and upsetting, and I was given permission for my group to work in the hallway whenever we did small group work, to minimize noise. This permission extended for two years, without me having to bring it up more than once.
Or, I mentioned once to my adviser (with whom I had multiple classes most semesters for five years) that I have anxiety problems, and that some subject matter is triggering for me (I did not mention what, or why). Hence forth, he was completely okay with me discretely stepping out into the hall to calm down whenever I needed to.
Then again, I had a professor adamantly refuse to give me any accommodation or assistance when I explained to her that being verbally told complex assignments in a loud and chaotic environment didn’t work for me at all. She insisted that there was no possible way that could ever be difficult for anyone, and that there was no way she could write down, type up, or even slowly repeat the assignments. She refused to answer my questions, and refused to allow me to wear headphones while working. (It was a studio art class, at a school where having headphones on to work in the studio is common.) I was penalized for having multiple panic attacks every single class.
I think, if a professor is going to be helpful at all, the best way to go about asking is to stay after class or visit their office during their office hours, and explain as briefly but specifically as possible what accommodations you are requesting. Professors who are kind and decent people will probably be willing to help. But not everyone can be convinced, no matter what you tell them, or how you frame the request.