accommodations

When teachers refuse to accommodate your disability

onyourgoat answered your question “Anonymous said to realsocialskills: How do you ask for…”

What to do if they refuse to give you the accomodation? I couldn’t ever finish my work because they would refuse to write down things ect

realsocialskills said:

That’s a hard problem.

In my experience, you usually can’t make them write down assignments if they’re not doing it willingly (even with a letter). Sometimes you can, if you’re sufficiently insistent.

I’ve had surprisingly good results with reminding a teacher politely and discretely the first time, reminding them in front of other students the second time, and insisting more bluntly that it’s not ok for them to neglect to do this the third time. I’ve also had this blow up in my face. Your milage may vary. It’s not something I’d wholeheartedly recommend, but it does work sometimes.

Also, if the problem is that they don’t remember (or can’t be bothered to remember), sometimes reminding them by email works. Eg, by sending an email after every class asking them what the assignment is.

Another thing that can help is getting support from other students rather than the teacher. For instance, getting the assignment from a peer who is able to write it down. Or getting other students to also ask in the moment for it to be written down so it doesn’t have to come just from you all the time. (That helps me both in terms of getting what I need, and in not feeling like I’m alone and unreasonably demanding.)

If you are in college, another thing you can do is change classes. If a teacher is not treating you well and is making it impossible to do the work, treating that as a red flag and changing to a different class can make things a lot better. In college, there is often a lot more flexibility to work with people who are willing to accommodate you, and it’s important to learn how to take advantage of that flexibility.

Sometimes treating people with disabilities well means accepting that they are uncomfortable

I run a club for transgender students at my university. One of the newer members disclosed to us that she has asperger’s. Her sensory threshold seems to be extremely low and she seems to get overwhelmed in meetings often. After a meeting, I tried to pull her aside to ask her if there’s any way I could accommodate her better, but she got flustered. I don’t think she knew quite how to phrase what she needed to say in the moment, but I want to make the club more accessible for her. I’ve already spoken with the faculty adviser so we could move to a bigger room with more space. I also want to make sure this member of our club is getting her needs met, but I don’t want to force her out of her shell or put her on the spot while I try to meet her halfway. I’m having a hard time. Do you have any advice for me?

realsocialskills said:

I think the most important thing is not to put pressure on her to talk to you about her disability or access needs.

Sometimes people with disabilities choose to do things that are hard for us. Sometimes being overloaded is the price we pay for participation. It can actually be harder when people get upset about this and see overload as a problem they need to solve. Sometimes that’s just the way things are. Sometimes there’s no immediate solution, and sometimes it’s not the problem we want to work on.

Disability is personal. Coping mechanisms and disability-related choices are deeply personal. Some people with disabilities are fairly open about their specific issues and choices; for others, that’s a topic reserved for close friends. It’s ok if she doesn’t want to have that conversation with you even though she’s often physically uncomfortable or overloaded in the group. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something wrong or that she’s doing something wrong. Sometimes it just means that some things are hard but worth doing anyway.

I’d say back off trying to get her to disclose more things about her needs, and follow her lead. 

The one unilateral access thing I’d advise is that I think it’s important to make sure that she (and other group members) have the option of contacting you by email. If she’s getting too overwhelmed in the moment to tell you things she wants you to know, being able to email you might be really helpful. Don’t make a big deal about it, though, and don’t pressure her to email you about things. Just make email available as an option.

Good luck to both of you.

tl;dr When you’re running a group and people with disabilities seem to be overwhelmed, don’t pressure them to talk about their disability or their access needs. Offer, but don’t pressure. Do make your email address available to group members. This makes it easier for them to tell you things that are hard to say in the moment.

15r14:

annekewrites:

realsocialskills:

I’m a high school student in America. Recently I was called in to talk to a psychologist because the adults at the school noticed I was having problems. I’ve known I was autistic for about two years now, so I was relieved to finally have a chance to get my diagnosis. But I’m scared — what does…

annekewrites said:

My first social work internship was mostly doing educational advocacy services for kids with disabilities.  Here’s what I know, with the disclaimer that I’m in upstate New York and the educational landscape is a bit weird in this state, so check your local info:

- There are two different laws that you might get accommodations under: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), under which you might get an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, under which you might get a “504 plan”.  Generally speaking, an IEP is more extensive than a 504 plan, and is what you need if you need something about the curriculum itself modified. 

- New York also used to offer something called an “IEP Diploma”, which was a high school diploma with extensively modified requirements.  This isn’t offered anymore for a number of reasons.  But even when it was, having an IEP didn’t necessarily mean that you’d get an IEP diploma; standard and even honors diplomas could still be an option.

- IEPs and 504 plans are confidential and off-limits to anyone except you, your parents or guardians if you’re under 18 (21 in some situations), and the teachers and other staff who are involved in creating or implementing the IEP or 504 plan.  Depending on what’s in the plan, putting it into effect may make it obvious to others that you have one, but not your diagnosis or the specific reason for the plan.

- This specifically means that colleges won’t know anything you don’t tell them. 

- However, if you do have high school accommodations, I strongly recommend you keep a record of them and when you’re in college you go directly to the college’s disability services office so that stuff is on file BEFORE any kind of problems happen.  Colleges don’t do IEPs as such, but they are covered under Section 504 so you can request “reasonable accommodations” related to a disability.  This applies to classroom as well as residential life.

- As a high school student, especially if this is your first go-around with services, you absolutely should have input into your IEP or 504 Plan.  You also have the right to bring an advocate of your choice into meetings, and sometimes it’s helpful if the advocate is an adult with similar disabilities to your own (I did a lot of this for kids with ADHD, because I’m an adult with ADHD).

- The school needs to accommodate anything you need to effectively participate in the meeting.  I worked with a girl who couldn’t physically go to her IEP meeting for mental health-related reasons, so we set things up so she could Skype in.  If you need to call/Skype/text to participate effectively, they need to be able to accommodate that.

- School districts can be lazy about all of these things.  They often want to put together an accommodation that is close to things they’ve done before even if it’s not really what you need, that is less expensive, that is less “trouble”, or that tries to make you or your parents look like the bad guys.  Don’t buy into it.  It’s their JOB to do what you need to get through school, and it’s the LAW.

15r14 said:

I had an IEP for my entire time in public school in North Carolina, from kindergarten to my senior year in high school— now I’m a sophomore in college.  My disability was vision-related, so it never showed up on my diploma (although if I had taken VI (visually impaired) tutoring classes at my school it would have)— I graduated with a full IB diploma and honors, and I have a friend whose story sounds more similar to yours who did as well.  

My experience with the system was really positive— a lot of that was because my parents were very involved from the very beginning, and really advocated for me (like the poster above mentioned, they often try to paint you as the bad guys).  It sounds like your school is suggesting this, not you/your parents/guardians, so maybe they’ll be less prone to doing stuff like that?  I dunno.  Something that was really tough for me was getting MY needs heard— especially if they were different from what I was “supposed” to need.  Also, in your IEP, you get a “goal” for the next semester, and often my personal goals weren’t the same ones my caseworkers and the administrators at the school wanted to put.  

The only reason a college will learn about this kind of thing is if you take special classes, you write your college admission essay about it, or maybe if you need accommodations on your application?  All universities have offices for students with disabilities, although once you’re in college you have to advocate for your own needs.  (At least, I’ve been to two, and I’ve had to do that at both.)  Everything annekewrites said above about self-advocating in college is exactly right, at least in my experience.  

Discriminating against you in apps is totally illegal, by the way (not that admissions officers aren’t often biased in the worst ways).  

And you were worried your classmates would know— the only time my classmates knew I had accommodations was when I either told them or when my exams were put in front of me (because large-print standardized tests are printed on 15x20 paper, often 50 pages long, and are so heavy you need two desks pushed together— but they were what I needed).  

In my four years of high school, my teachers always accommodated me and took my needs seriously.  You have a different situation, but I hope you have a similarly positive experience.  

EDIT: After you’re 16 it’s illegal to have an IEP meeting without you present (unless you sign a form giving them permission!)— and I know they invited to me to mine even in middle school! 

annekewrites:

I’m a high school student in America. Recently I was called in to talk to a psychologist because the adults at the school noticed I was having problems. I’ve known I was autistic for about two years now, so I was relieved to finally have a chance to get my diagnosis. But I’m scared — what does…

annekewrites said:

My first social work internship was mostly doing educational advocacy services for kids with disabilities.  Here’s what I know, with the disclaimer that I’m in upstate New York and the educational landscape is a bit weird in this state, so check your local info:

- There are two different laws that you might get accommodations under: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), under which you might get an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, under which you might get a “504 plan”.  Generally speaking, an IEP is more extensive than a 504 plan, and is what you need if you need something about the curriculum itself modified. 

- New York also used to offer something called an “IEP Diploma”, which was a high school diploma with extensively modified requirements.  This isn’t offered anymore for a number of reasons.  But even when it was, having an IEP didn’t necessarily mean that you’d get an IEP diploma; standard and even honors diplomas could still be an option.

- IEPs and 504 plans are confidential and off-limits to anyone except you, your parents or guardians if you’re under 18 (21 in some situations), and the teachers and other staff who are involved in creating or implementing the IEP or 504 plan.  Depending on what’s in the plan, putting it into effect may make it obvious to others that you have one, but not your diagnosis or the specific reason for the plan.

- This specifically means that colleges won’t know anything you don’t tell them. 

- However, if you do have high school accommodations, I strongly recommend you keep a record of them and when you’re in college you go directly to the college’s disability services office so that stuff is on file BEFORE any kind of problems happen.  Colleges don’t do IEPs as such, but they are covered under Section 504 so you can request “reasonable accommodations” related to a disability.  This applies to classroom as well as residential life.

- As a high school student, especially if this is your first go-around with services, you absolutely should have input into your IEP or 504 Plan.  You also have the right to bring an advocate of your choice into meetings, and sometimes it’s helpful if the advocate is an adult with similar disabilities to your own (I did a lot of this for kids with ADHD, because I’m an adult with ADHD).

- The school needs to accommodate anything you need to effectively participate in the meeting.  I worked with a girl who couldn’t physically go to her IEP meeting for mental health-related reasons, so we set things up so she could Skype in.  If you need to call/Skype/text to participate effectively, they need to be able to accommodate that.

- School districts can be lazy about all of these things.  They often want to put together an accommodation that is close to things they’ve done before even if it’s not really what you need, that is less expensive, that is less “trouble”, or that tries to make you or your parents look like the bad guys.  Don’t buy into it.  It’s their JOB to do what you need to get through school, and it’s the LAW.

PTSD at school

I developed PTSD last year and took time off college, and I’m about to go back for the first time since then. I’ve been auditing classes for a few months now though and I’m suddenly terrified. I can barely read anymore (I can’t focus and it’s often panic inducing). I dissociate in class and sometimes even have highly humiliating episodes in lectures. I never retain anything and it feels futile and I’m afraid I’m gonna flunk out. If you have any advice I would appreciate it so much. Thank you!!
realsocialskills answered:
Since I don’t know you, all I can do is guess - but here are a couple of possibilities that comes to mind:
Do you find evaluation triggering? Like, tests, quizzes, papers, things where you have to prove that you mastered the material? Or knowing that you’re being graded?
If so, I wonder if maybe a full course load might be too much for you right now. Being terrified is exhausting and time consuming. So is dealing with being triggered a lot. That plus a full course load might be taking up more time than you have. 
It might be better to start by only taking one course for credit. That could give you space to work on figuring out what’s triggering and how to deal with it.
Another possibility: If you’re missing material because you dissociate in class, you might be able to get a notetaker as a disability accommodation. Or you might try recording the lectures (which is a disability accommodation you can get even if recording isn’t normally allowed). Similarly, if you find a particular *kind* of assessment triggering, you might be able to arrange a modified form (eg: if taking a quiz in-class causes you to dissociate, you might be able to arrange to do a take-home instead.)
You might also try collaborative note taking:
  • It’s a good strategy for anyone to try who is having trouble paying attention in lecture
  • But it might also be helpful for you if your episodes are the kind someone can help you avert if you see one coming on
  • Because then you’d already be communicating with your notetaking partner, so if you see a problem coming it might give your the opportunity to get help
Another possibility: Are you dealing with a triggering or cognitively incompatible teacher?
  • For some people, teachers who teach in certain ways can be triggering
  • Or can be so hard to understand that they exhaust you in ways that take away the cognitive abilities you need to do school
  • Or can be hostile to you in subtle but intensely destructive ways
  • Or any number of other serious points of incompatibility
  • If you’re having a debilitating reaction to a particular teacher, it’s probably really important to not take classes with that teacher, even if it looks like a good idea on paper

Do any of y'all have suggestions?

[GJ] Great Post About ASD Diagnostic Process!

girljanitor:

realsocialskills:

I don’t really know how to say this the best way, but apparently I “might” have Aspergers. I had been having some trouble at college, and the woman we spoke to at disabilities services said that “clearly, something isn’t connecting here.” But instead of getting me diagnosed or anything, everyone just kind of ignored it after that? The whole thing was really confusing. I don’t want to claim disability if I don’t have one, but I might have one, but I might not. I just don’t really know what to do
realsocialskills said:
That’s a hard place to be. It can be really hard when you think you might have a disability but you’re not sure. Especially when it’s a developmental disability and you are only starting to realize in adulthood that you might have it.
Several things I think help in this situation:
Take the problems you are having seriously:
  • You are having trouble, and that matters
  • You are not faking it
  • You are not being appropriative
  • It’s ok not to be sure exactly what’s going on
  • It’s important to take your needs seriously and to work on figuring out what would help
  • Keep in mind that whatever is going on, your needs matter
Whether or not you’re autistic, things written by and for autistic people might help you:
  • It’s ok to use them whether or not you’re autistic
  • The point is to do things that help you understand yourself and function well in the world, and that will involve learning from a lot of people
  • People with different kinds of disabilities and differences have substantially overlapping experiences, and it’s ok and important to learn from one another’s communities 
  • One thing that might be particularly helpful is a guide the Autistic Self Advocacy Network made called Navigating College. It has a lot of really helpful practical suggestions
  • It’s probably a good idea to look at stuff written by and for people with other kinds of disabilities too (particularly ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and depression, but a surprising number of things end up being helpful to know about cross-disability)

It helps to identify specific things you’re having trouble with, for instance:

  • Are you having trouble reading?
  • Are you having trouble paying attention?
  • Do you get stuck trying to figure out what you should be doing?
  • Are you forgetting to eat?
  • Are you having sensory problems?
  • Is handwriting difficult for you?
  • Are you having trouble speaking, or processing speech quickly enough to participate in conversations?
  • Is it hard for you to navigate and get yourself to where you need to be?
  • Do you have problems planning projects?
  • Other things?

It’s helpful to identify the specific things you’re having trouble with, for several reasons:

  • There is a lot that people know about how to help with specific problems.
  • For instance, if reading is an issue for you, changing the font, using audio books, or using ebooks rather than print books might help.
  • Knowing a diagnostic label can be very helpful, especially in identifying people similar to you who might understand
  • But it’s even more important to figure out what you’re having trouble with in practical terms, and what can help
  • The tests doctors and specialists use to diagnose learning disabilities tend to paint a very broad brush, and they don’t necessarily give you great information on what exactly is going on or what would help
  • The more specific you can be about what’s going on, the more likely it is that people will be able to help you

If you’re in college, seeking formal evaluation and diagnosis is probably a good idea:

  • It is far easier to get schools to make accommodations if you have a diagnosis
  • There are a lot of fairly standard modifications that schools are used to making, but which they are generally only willing to make if a doctor recommends that they do so
  • And whether or not you disclose to individual professors is still your choice
  • There are downsides to diagnosis, but the advantages probably outweigh them in your situation

Don’t wait for diagnosis, though:

  • Diagnosis is a tool, not a solution
  • It can help you, but it won’t make things go away
  • There are problems you can solve now
  • And diagnosis is more helpful if you already know some things that would help you, because often doctors won’t think to put things in their report unless you suggest them
  • Working on living with a disability or even just a difference is a lifelong process.
  • And ultimately, you have to figure out for yourself how to manage that, and you shouldn’t wait for anyone’s permission

Don’t worry about being appropraitive or falsely claiming disability:

  • Whatever is going on, your problems are real and you should take them seriously
  • It’s ok to suspect that you might have an autism spectrum disorder and be wrong; that doesn’t hurt anyone
  • Figuring things out has to start somewhere, and it’s ok if you have to think through several possibilities to get the right words for yourself
  • The important thing is that you figure out what is going on and what can help you
  • That can be really difficult and scary, but it also makes life a lot better

Good luck. You’re in a scary place, but it’s possible to figure things out and get through this. You will be ok.

girljanitor said:

I’m so happy to see this post on my dash right now.

ALL of this is so good and important, but especially the bolded!!!! The most important part of any diagnostic process, whether entirely self-directed or with the help of a community, medical professionals or social workers, is the way you think about yourself and your own processes of living.

I think something that gets lost when people discuss diagnosis is that every diagnostic process is at least partially self-directed. If you don’t tell the doctor your symptoms, the process can’t get started anyways.

I agree that paper diagnosis could be an important tool for this student, because navigating college is difficult for everyone; doubly so for people with disabilities, and TRIPLY so for people with undiagnosed disabilities!!! Whether you decide to use self-help and community resources or to go through the diagnostic process with a psychiatrist or psychologist, understanding and exploring what kinds of changes could maximize your success and happiness will be very valuable.

As an addendum: I work in Disability Services at a college, and if anyone has any questions about what kind of accommodations are usually available and what kind of documentation is required to receive them, I’m always willing to answer them!