What Colleges, Services, or Websites Exist to Support Students with Disabilities?
We received this question during our “Options After High School for Children with Disruptive Behaviors” webinar. The answer is a complicated, “It depends,” but here are a few thoughts so you are not starting from zero.
Step 1. High School Academic Advisors or Counselors
Start with your child’s school’s academic advisor or counselor. As with most things, some advisors are better than others. We have seen very talented advisors look at a child’s field of interest (marine biology) and recommend one university over another because one program is heavy in math (the child’s weakness) while the other focuses on science (the child’s strength). A good advisor has access to the data from your child’s high school and may be able to use that information to guide them to academic programs that play to your child’s strengths.
Step 2. Options Fairs
The Options Fairs offer students with special needs and their families the opportunity to meet with colleges, universities, and agencies that can provide services after high school. These fairs cover areas such as: Educational Options, Employment Assistance, Vocational Programs, Government Programs, Health Services, Legal Resources, Recreational Services, Referral Sources, Residential Programs, and Transportation Services. All of these can be helpful when setting up the safety net for your young adult with learning and/or emotional disabilities.
Many areas have fairs now that are geared toward both college options and vocational options so that students can learn more about each. A Google search of “Options Fair” provided a list of several in our area. Including one that is occurring this coming April 11th in Lake County (Illinois). Similar events happen around the country.
Step 3. Google What You Specifically Need
A quick Google search can provide fruitful information, so you are not starting from zero. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- 20 colleges for students with special needs. I mentioned SIUC and Arizona in the webinar, which both coincidently are on this list.
- List of “value” colleges for students with disabilities.
This also depends on what your child’s special needs are. For example, some schools have special programs specifically for dyslexia. Doing a Google search for schools that cater to the specific disability might really narrow the list quickly.
It is unlikely that any college is going to tout their services for students with disruptive behavioral issues. They don’t put that in the glossy brochures, but there are colleges that are known for recognizing the importance of student mental health and have support services available for a variety of mental health needs.
Step 4. Call the Colleges on Your Shortlist
After you narrow the list a bit. I would call the schools and ask to speak to the “Office for Students with Disabilities”. Each college will have a different name for it, but every college will know what you are asking for. That office will be able to talk through exactly what they offer and don’t offer. Make sure you ask if there are additional costs for any of the services/programs they offer.
Step 5. Educational Consultants
I don’t have one that I can specifically recommend, but again a Google search of “college educational consultants for students with disabilities” offers many options to consider.
Educational consultants visit and evaluate many schools, colleges, and programs annually. They have a deep understanding of each school’s strengths, including student-teacher ratio, staff credentials, availability of learning aids, etc. This allows them to provide their firsthand knowledge about college options. Educational consultants also may suggest other appropriate academic and vocational alternatives, if your child is not college bound.
This is typically a service one pays for and again would depend on your child’s specific disability. If your child had a very rare or complex disability, it may be helpful to search for a consultant that specializes in that disability as they would be more likely to deeply understand the options available.
Step 6. Know Your Child’s Rights
Your postsecondary school may require you to follow reasonable procedures to request an academic adjustment. You are responsible for knowing and following those procedures. I would make sure to ask about anything you need to do in advance to make sure that accommodations are in place (i.e. testing/retesting, evaluations, etc.). It is important to note that neither your high school or the college is financially responsible for the completion of required evaluations and testing. This will likely be an out of pocket expense. Each state has a vocational rehabilitation agency which may be able to provide an evaluation at no cost to you if you are eligible for services through your state vocational rehabilitation agency. Colleges are not allowed to ask as to whether an applicant for admission has a disability. In college it is the student’s responsibility to make his or her emotional or learning disability known and to request academic adjustments. This should be done in a timely manner. A student may choose to make his or her needs known to key college personnel (dean, professor, service coordinator) on an individual basis. For more information on the Rights of Students with Hidden Disabilities, the US Department of Education is an excellent resource. Unlike K-12, post-secondary schools are not required to provide a free and appropriate education. They are however required to provide appropriate academic adjustments so as not to discriminate based on disability. This is an important difference. If your child was receiving services through their K-12 education at a public school, many of those services may not be offered (or offered for a fee) through the school.
Step 7. Review the Policies
If your child has a disruptive behavior disorder, it is important to note that many colleges and universities have disruptive behavior policies. They often do not tolerate any student who clearly obstructs or disrupts the academic environment this can include examples like:
Violent Behavior including any assault, with or without weapons, behavior that is interpreted as being potentially violent (e.g., throwing chairs, pounding on things, or destroying property), or specific threats to inflict physical harm (e.g., a threat to shoot a named individual).
Disruptive Behavior including yelling, using profanity, waving arms or fists, verbally abusing others, and refusing reasonable requests.
Threatening Behavior includes physical movement short of actual contact/injury (e.g., moving closer aggressively), oral or written threats to persons or property (“You better watch yourself” or “I’m going to get you”) as well as implicit threats (“I’ll make you sorry” or “We are not through”).
If disruptive behaviors have occurred at high school, it is important to understand how a potential college or university would respond if your child displayed these same behaviors while attending.
Step 8. Vocational Rehabilitation Services
If academics beyond high school is not in your young adult’s future, your state’s vocational rehabilitation office helps people with disabilities prepare for, obtain, and maintain employment. These programs are designed for each individual’s needs. Typically, your child may be eligible for services if the VR agency determines that they meet the following criteria:
- Your young adult has a physical or mental disability. The VR agency must verify the disability through reviewing assessments and evaluations.
- Their disability prevents them from obtaining and maintaining a job.
- They require vocational rehabilitation services to obtain or maintain a job that matches their strengths, abilities, capabilities, and interests.
The agency’s services may include assessment, guidance, training, rehabilitation technology, independent living, and other supportive services.
Step 9. Look for Scholarships
Grants and scholarships exist for students with disabilities. These are often specific to they type of disability the young adult has. Some must be obtained while the student is still in high school while others can be obtained during college. A few examples of disability scholarships include:
- Autism Scholarships
- Scholarships for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired
- General Scholarships for People with Disabilities
- Blind, Low Vision, Visually Impaired Scholarships
The DoIt website through the University of Washington provides an excellent list of scholarships for students with a variety of disabilities and provides links to additional lists for even more options. We have also received a recommendation from one of our readers that CouponFollow has developed this helpful list of financial resources and discounts for students with disabilities. It is important to note that scholarships are often based on merit. The term “grants” might be more fruitful as you search for a student who has not excelled academically.
Start Figuring Out a Plan Early (if possible)
Alternative Teaching’s specific area of expertise is focused on supporting the parents of children with disruptive behavioral issues up to age 18 and the purpose of the webinar was to help parents start thinking about the options for the transition. If your child is still has time before graduation, our in-home behavior management training program can be help address the behavioral concerns before they graduate. Over the course of 6 months, a behavioral consultant will come to your home (in person or via internet) to teach you a modularized behavior management strategy that will help you address behavioral issues.
Whether your family has recently started experiencing disruptive behaviors or your family has been living with severe behaviors for years, we can help.
The benefits the family receives includes:
In home sessions
- This means what it says, we come right to your home.
- There is no need to fight to get your child to sessions.
- There is no need to worry about child care for other children in the home.
- Travel time to and from the home for each of the 10 sessions is included
10 sessions over a six-month period
- Each session, parents learn a specific skill.
- By the end of the program parents will have the tools and knowledge to address any behavioral issue ranging from defiance to violence. This is not never-ending therapy.
- Behavioral improvements can be expected within the first two weeks after starting the program.
Unlimited phone support for the family for the full six months
- Call any time your child is having behavioral issues and we will walk you through the program until the issue is resolved.
- Our goal is to pick up the phone when you call. If that is not possible, our policy is to return all calls and texts within 4 hours.
- Unlimited phone support allows you to call anytime you have a question or concern. No need to wait until your next session to ask questions. In fact, the more you call, the faster you will learn, the less you will need to call.
A customized treatment framework based on the needs of your family
- Since our program provides skills to the parents, it can be used with all the children in the home.
- Behavior problems affect all family members, even the ones that aren’t having problems. We teach parents and caregivers how to get back in charge of the home and provide a safe environment for everyone.
- Over time, you will be empowered to address your child’s behavioral issues without external assistance.
- We can’t guarantee that our program will work for you, but we guarantee the program. You will be able to try the program for up to 30 days to determine if it is effective for your family. If you decide not to continue with the program, you will never receive an invoice.
- What makes a situation scary is not when a child has behavioral problems, but when the adults don’t know what to do about it. We will teach you how to address these behaviors effectively and with confidence.
One fixed price
- All contact is included in the cost.
- No charge for canceled appointments, after all, life happens.
- We don’t have an hourly rate and you will never be rushed during your appointment. We stay until all your questions are answered and all of your concerns are addressed.
- No hidden fees.
The total fee for this six-month program is $3,900.
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