Learning and Attentional Disorders
Students who desire accommodations from the Office of Student Disability Services on the basis of a diagnosed learning disorder (LD) or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are required to submit documentation to verify need and eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Protection under these civil rights statutes is based on documentation of a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as learning. A diagnosis of a disorder/condition/syndrome in and of itself does not automatically qualify an individual for accommodations under the ADA.
Since Rhodes’ goal is to provide reasonable and appropriate support services for students with disabilities, you are required to provide current and comprehensive documentation of your disorder justifying a need for accommodation. We’ve provided the following guidelines to assure that your documentation is appropriate to verify eligibility and supportive of your request for reasonable accommodations, academic adjustments and auxiliary aids on the basis of a learning or attentional disorder.
Qualifications of the Evaluator. Professionals conducting assessments, rendering diagnoses of learning and attentional disabilities, and making recommendations for appropriate accommodations must be qualified to do so. The assessment must have been conducted or formally supervised and cosigned by a physician, licensed clinical psychologist, or one who holds a doctorate in neuropsychology, clinical psychology, educational psychology, or other appropriate specialty. Such evaluators are required to have been:
- Trained in psychiatric, psychological, neuropsychological and/or psychoeducational assessment;
- Have at least three years experience in the evaluation of students with learning disorders, ADHD, or psychiatric disabilities; and
- Be competent in working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations. The diagnostician should be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student.
Currency of Documentation. The provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student’s disorder on his/her academic performance. Therefore, it is in the student’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation relevant to the student’s learning environment. In most cases, this means testing that has been conducted within the past three years. If the documentation is outdated or inadequate in scope or content, it may be necessary to update the evaluation report or to request clarification or further information.
Comprehensive Documentation. A single test, an individualized education program (IEP) or a 504 plan are not considered sufficient for the purpose of diagnosis. The following elements must be included in the evaluator’s report in order for a student to be considered for appropriate accommodations:
- Specific DSM-IV-TR diagnosis and level of severity
- Past and present symptoms that meet the DSM-IV-TR criteria for diagnosis
- Date of diagnosis
- Approximate duration of disorder (with a diagnosis of ADHD, some evidence of early impairment during childhood should be provided)
- Clinical history
- Description of past disability services or accommodations received
- A clinical summary of procedures and instruments used to make the diagnosis, to include a diagnostic interview and testing in the following areas:
1. Aptitude: A complete intellectual assessment with all subtests and standard scores reported.
2. Academic Achievement: A comprehensive academic achievement battery is essential with all subtests and standard scores reported for those subtests administered. The battery must include current levels of academic functioning in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics, and oral and written language.
3. Information Processing: Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short- and long-term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning and motor ability) should be addressed.
4. Behavioral rating scale.
See: Tests for Assessing Learning and Attentional Disorders in Adults
- A summary of evaluation results, including standardized scores.
- Medical history relating to current use of medication and the impact of the medication on the student’s ability to meet the demands of the academic program.
- Statement of current impact and limitations on student’s academic performance with description of how these limitations were assessed and a description of any discrepancies between aptitude and achievement.
- An interpretive summary based on a comprehensive evaluative process, to include demonstration of the evaluator’s having ruled out alternative explanations for demonstrated symptoms as a result of psychological or medical disorders or non-cognitive factors.
- Recommendations for academic accommodations to compensate for the disorder. Each recommended accommodation must include a rationale.
- The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator. Information about license or certification as well as the area of specialization, employment, and state or province in which the individual practices should be clearly stated in the documentation. Please also include address, phone number and fax.
All reports must be typed on official letterhead. The evaluator must also sign and date all materials. By doing so, the evaluator certifies that he/she has conducted or formally supervised and co-signed the diagnostic assessment of the student and that their credentials meet the requirements listed above.
Further assessment and/or documentation by an appropriate professional may be required if other disabling conditions are indicated. If psychiatric or physical disabilities are involved, please refer to the documentation guidelines for those specific disabilities.
Determinations of reasonable and appropriate accommodations are made by Rhodes’ Disability Support Committee and are based on the documentation information, evaluation of the documentation by an outside professional, the student’s request for accommodations, and the tasks required for the student’s courses as defined by individual faculty members. Accommodations are always individually determined.