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SMC|Student Services|Disability Resources|Learning Disabilities FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Learning Disabilities FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

 

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

I think I may have Attention Deficit Disorder. What should I do?

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

How can I get extra time on my tests?

I was tested when I was younger and put in some special classes. I'm having
problems with my college coursework.  What should I do?

I was in Resource classes in high school. How can I continue to get the help I need?

How do you "diagnose" a learning disability? (What is "assessment"?)

Do I have to be a student at SMC? (and other administrative "issues"...)

If I do have a learning disability, what happens next?

Are the  test results and personal information confidential?

What services does the Learning Disabilities Program offer to students who are
eligible?

How can I compensate for my Learning Disability if I have one?

What are "accommodations"?

Can I get tutoring?

What are the Study Strategy Classes offered by the LD Program?

How often or how long do I receive services if I'm eligible?

What about when I transfer to a four-year school?

I have been diagnosed with a psychological disability, but I also think I have
learning problems. What should I do?

Are there any evening services?

What about Summer and Winter sessions?

 

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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/week study time for 
         12 units!  Think about it...)
     3. Get rid of stress. Get help if personal problems are interfering. 
     4. Read more about learning disabilities and attention deficit on 
         these   pages to see if these are the type of problems you're having

If none of these help, come to our office in 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. (See section on 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"
(read, research this website, follow some of the 
"Helpful Links", and try some of the following):

     1. Develop better study skills! Take our Study Strategy 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 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?

     Sorry..wish it was that "easy"! In order to determine eligibility for our services as a learning
disabled student, make an appointment with a Learning Disabilities Specialist. If we think 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.
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 learning disabled adults. 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 learning disabled student, 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, for 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. There is an 8  week "Success Strategies Workshop" for incoming
freshmen who are learning disabled. It is given in Fall only, but is highly recommended.
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 "assessment"?)
    
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 on-going support services
as a learning disabled student.

 Students must demonstrate:

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

For more information:       Learning Disabilities Checklist
                                        What is a Learning Disability?

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Do I have to be a student at SMC? (and other administrative "issues"...)
    
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, but you must
take the initiative! We won't know you need us unless you stay in contact!

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Are the test results and personal information confidential?
     ABSOLUTELY!

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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 skills 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. 
                 Click here for information on Compensatory Strategies

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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?
    
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 here for more detailed 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 during 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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