Office of Disability Services helps nearly 4% of student population

It took three years for Haley Schlotman to work up the nerve to walk into the Office of Disability Services.

It wasn’t that she was embarrassed; she just wasn’t sure if Attention Deficit Disorder was a serious enough disorder that she should go.

“I always knew about [ODS] because my mom was always trying to get me to go,” Schlotman said. “I didn’t want to receive a service that I didn’t necessarily need. A lot of people have ADD, and a lot of people just go to the doctor to get Adderall. I guess I just didn’t want to be seen as one of those people.”

She said she is glad she took the step, though. She was diagnosed with ADD around age seven and now, in her junior year of college, she has become weary of the struggle to stay focused.

“I actually did go in last Friday because I have to take a standardized test to get into the college of education,” she said. “When it comes down to a timed test when you’re in a room full of people, say for instance, the math lab, it’s extremely distracting, and I already have a tough time concentrating.”

Schlotman is just one of many students struggling with a learning disorder. Judy Thorpe, director of ODS, said 3.7 percent of enrolled students at the University have registered for their services, many of whom suffer from ADD or ADHD.

“We carefully review documentation and then meet with each student to plan accommodations on a case-by-case basis,” Thorpe said.

Thorpe said accommodations are based strictly on the student’s needs. Common services include testing accommodations like extended time, reduced-distraction testing and scribes or readers for exams as well as books in alternative formats, note takers, real-time and a verbatim written transcript of what is presented orally in class and captioned videos.

Thorpe stressed the importance of confidentiality for ODS students. Even the student’s professors are not told the specifics of their learning disability since, Thorpe said, it is ODS’ job to make the accommodations.

“There are legal and ethical reasons why we do not disclose a student’s diagnosis to faculty members,” Thorpe said. “Students are told if they choose to disclose to professors, it is their decision, but they are not required to do so, and faculty members should not ask. Faculty members are not inhibited in their ability to adequately accommodate students since part of our expertise is in determining what accommodations will help remediate specific limitations the student experiences as a result of the disability.”

Joseph Wood, an English professor, said he’s worked with several ODS students while at the University and found it to be an easy task.

“I have dealt with Disability Services and always, always, they’ve been very good in communicating with me and monitoring students,” Wood said. “In my case, most of the time, I am giving students extra time. On rarer occasions, I follow the protocol to get them a note taker. It’s never affected me one bit in my class, and those students almost always fall within the class average.”

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