University disability services underused - News

University disability services underused

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Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 8:55 pm | Updated: 12:02 am, Wed Feb 26, 2014.

Learning disorders present major challenges to students achieving their goals, whether academic or professional. But many students with learning disabilities don’t seek help.

Benjamin Cornwell, Disability Services director and assistant dean of students, said statistics from the federal government show 9 to 11 percent of college students have a disability, and at the University about 1500 students are registered with Disability Services.

Based on the student headcount from the Office of Budget and Planning and the federal averages, about 5 percent of University students are registered with Disability Services. This leaves a gap of approximately 1500 students who have a disability, but do not choose to register.

James Perry, marine biology freshman, is one of those students. He said he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder when he was 7 or 8 years old and had accommodations when he attended high school, but he doesn’t currently seek help from Disability Services.

Perry said he feels he does not need the extra time on tests or a quiet room to take them in. He said his study skills and ability to handle school improved since high school.

“If I ever encounter a situation where I need extra time, I’d definitely do it,” Perry said.

In addition, Perry said he would rather deal with any potential issues on his own. He said he might be alienated from his friends if he got accommodations others did not.

Cornwell said the feeling of being different Perry described is the most common reason he’s heard from students for not registering with Disability Services.

Some students with disabilities automatically received help in K-12 education or were forced to by their parents, Cornwell said. He said the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act makes sure students in K-12 education get the help they need. IDEA does not apply to post-secondary education, meaning students have to take it upon themselves to provide the proper paperwork and register, he said.

To the approximately 1500 unregistered students with disabilities, Cornwell said he encourages them to register. He said students will not be identified as having a disability in class, and Disability Services does not share their information except when there is a legitimate need to know.

“It’s not going to be like K-12, where the teacher made you feel different in front of your classmates,” Cornwell said.

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