​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Frequently Asked Questions​

I'm having a lot of trouble in my classe​s and I think I have a Learning Disability. What should I do?​

















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I'm having a lot of trouble in​ my classes and I think I have a Learning Disability. What should I do?

There are many reasons for low achievement, including poor study habits, limited skills,
lack of past learning opportunities, psycho/emotional problems, stress, lack of time or motivation,
limited effort, etc. Another cause could be a learning disability. Before you assume it's a learning
disability (unless you have been diagnosed in the past), please do some "self-evaluation" and
try some of the following:

  1. Develop your study skills! Take our Study Strategy Classes​ or Counseling 20.
  2. Evaluate the time and effort you put into your college classes. You should be spending 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour spent in class. That's a minimum of 24 hours per week of study time for 12 units.
  3. Get rid of stress. Get help if personal problems are interfering. 
  4. Read more about learning disabilities​ and attention deficit disorder​ to see if these are the types of problems you're having.

If none of these help, come to our office at MC 75 for more information or to make an appointment with a learning specialist.

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I think I may have Attention Deficit​. What should I do?
There are many reasons for a feeling of inability to concentrate, or a feeling of lack of
"focus" - Attention Deficit Disorder has very specific criteria for diagnosis and some very
specific, long-term characteristics. (For more information on Attention Deficit Disorder, click What is ADHD?). The Learning Disabilities Program may not make a diagnosis of Attention Deficit, but we can refer you to community resources for this.

If you are concerned about your academic success, please do some "self-evaluation" by reading, researching this website, following some of the Helpful Links, and trying some of the following):

  1. Develop better study skills! Take our Study St​rategy Classes or Counseling 20 
  2. Evaluate the time and effort you put into your college classes. Remember: 24 hours outside of class for every 12 units.
  3. Get rid of stress. Get help if personal problems are interfering. 
  4. Read more about learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder on these pages to see if these are the type of problems you're having.

If none of these help, call our office to make an appointment with a Specialist.

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Can I just take a test​ to find out if I have a Learning Disability?

In order to determine eligibility for our services as a student with learning disabilities, make an appointment with a Learning Disabilities Specialist. If the specialist agrees the assessment is appropriate, we will refer you to one of our assessment workshops. If not, we will make other suggestions or referrals for you to consider.
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Determining eligibility for our services consists of cognitive and achievement testing, observation, informal tests of study skills and student behaviors, and one-on-one interviews. We also want students to become aware of their personal profile of strengths and weaknesses and to be able to advocate for themselves as adults with a learning disability. This workshop provides the necessary information and tools to do this.

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How can I get extra time on my tests?
After you have been assessed, and it is determined that you are eligible for services as
a student with learning disabilities, the Learning Disabilities Specialist will make recommendations
for accommodations based on your profile of strengths and weaknesses. Extra time on tests
is often recommended for students with learning disabilities to compensate for such things as
slow reading rate, lack of writing fluency, the need to proofread answers, coping with
anxiety, etc.

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I was tested when I was younger and was put in some special classes. I'm having
problems with my college coursework.  What should I do?
You should make an appointment with an LD Specialist so that we can determine the
nature of your learning difficulties and if appropriate, start using the services we provide. 

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I was in Resource classes in high school. How can I continue to get the help I need?
Make an appointment with a Learning Specialist. Bring in any documentation you may have, ​particularly your "Three Year Evaluation" from high school. You may need to be re-tested, but we can decide that based on the information you provide. If services are needed immediately, we will try to arrange that.

For other students, we highly recommend our Study Strategy Classes to learn more about study skills and how to compensate for your particular learning style.

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How do you diagnose​ a learning disability? What is an assessment for a learning disability?
This evaluation is achieved in an 8-week assessment workshop. During this time, both academic and thinking skills are assessed. The assessment is achieved through a process of one-on-one cognitive and achievement testing, informal inventories of learning and study skills, interviews, observation and larger group activities. The Learning Disabilities Specialist interprets the test results and makes individual recommendations for compensatory strategies and appropriate accommodations.

Test results are compared to guidelines provided by the State of California, in accordance
with federal mandates, to determine whether a student qualifies for ongoing support services
as a student with learning disabilities.

Students must demonstrate:

  • Average to above-average intelligence
  • Severe processing deficit
  • Severe aptitude-achievement discrepancy
  • Measured academic achievement
  • Functional limitations

For more information please refer to the following links:

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Do I have to be a student at SMC to go through the assessment workshop? (and other administrative queries)
Because this is a support program for SMC students, it is required that you be enrolled in a regular college class in order to take the assessment workshop​. There is no unit value for this workshop. (Exception: In the Summer and Winter Session, you are not required to be enrolled in another class in order to take the assessment workshop.)

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If I do have a learning disability, what happens next?
You will meet with your Learning Specialist who will make suggestions for improving your academic performance. It is your responsibility to keep in contact with the program and to make appointments to update your progress or brainstorm compensatory strategies with your Contact Instructor. You should be enrolled in one of our study strategies workshops each semester and should continue to strive to understand your unique learning style and to develop successful strategies. You have access to all of the services we offer, so keep in contact with us when you are enrolled into courses at SMC.

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Are the test results and personal information confidential?
 Yes.

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What services does the Learning Disabilities Program offer to students who are eligible?
Click here for the support services we offer.

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How can I compensate for my Learning Disability if I have one?
There are many ways to compensate for your learning disability. The first step is to become
very knowledgeable about your particular deficits and the strengths you can use to compensate
for them. Take advantage of the study strategy classes we offer and take Counseling 20​. Both will help you become a more efficient learner and a better college student. The LD study strategy classes
are filled with ideas of how an LD student can compensate for their difficulties and become
more successful. 

ClickCompensatory Strategies for more information on strategies to compensate for any difficulties and become more successful.

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What are "accommodations"?
Accommodation refers to ways in which the program or instruction can be modified to promote success of the LD student. Program modifications can include things such as priority registration, course substitutions, and limited units. Instructional modifications include taped textbooks, note takers, extended time on exams, use of a computer, ​​calculators, spell checkers, taping lectures, assistive technology, etc.

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Can I get tutoring?
Yes, if it's recommended in your "Student Educational Contract". Our philosophy is aimed at student success through independence based on self-awareness and strategy training; however, we recognize that quite often math (and certain other subjects) require one-on-one instruction. If a need arises, see your Contact Instructor. Also, remember that the college provides widespread opportunities for tutoring.

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What are the Study Strategy Classes offered by the LD Program?
These are 8-week workshops that focus on topics like textbook reading, note taking, listening comprehension, memory, test-taking, phonics, math and writing strategies, etc. Click study strategy classes​ for more information. 
      

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How often or how long do I receive services if I'm eligible?
Our support services are available to you for as long as you're at SMC and as often as you ​need them. The important thing to remember is that you must stay in contact with us so that we can work together to insure your success. Students who benefit most from our services ​usually take the majority of our workshops, take advantage of the accommodations we recommend, stay in contact with their LD specialist, and use the drop-in study labs. They also continue to expand their self-awareness and knowledge of learning disabilities and become increasingly responsible for their own learning and success.

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What about when I transfer to a four-year school?
Four year colleges offer services to LD students and generally accept the California community college testing and eligibility criteria; however, they may require additional testing or documentation in some cases. When you get ready to transfer, check with us to be certain your testing is up-to-date. At your request, we will copy all relevant information for you to pick up and  send with your application. A good resource is The Princeton Review's "K & W Guide to Colleges for the Learning Disabled Student" or Peterson's Guide to colleges with Programs for Learning Disabled Students.

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I have been diagnosed with a psychological disability, but I also think I have learning problems. What should I do?
If you have documentation of your psychological disability, bring it to the Disabled Students Center and meet with a counselor. You can receive many services and accommodations similar to those offered by the LD program. It is often quite difficult to assess for learning disabilities when there are "competing" factors or issues, so we don't usually advise it. 

It would be wise to take
Counseling 20 to focus on how best to study.

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Are there any evening services?
Unfortunately, these are more limited than ​daytime hours. If you have been assessed, we are able to help you with accommodations for your evening classes and can offer test proctoring. Contact a Learning Specialist to discuss your options.

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What about Summer and Winter sessions?
In Summer and Winter Session we offer Assessment Workshops, some tutoring, test proctoring, and other limited services.

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