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Handwriting is very difficult for me and now that I am a graduate student I need to do a lot of writing. What type of accommodation would you recommend to help me?

Access to a keyboard and/or a speech-to-text program like Dragon Naturally Speaking may be effective solutions, but using speech-to-text may not be possible for note-taking during class.  It should be very helpful for writing papers, though.  You can find out more about Dragon at http://www.nuance.com/dragon/index.htm. You can also check your computer’s list of accessible programs; most have a speech-to-text program already installed on your computer that you don’t have to pay for.

For note-taking in class, you may want to check out the “Live Scribe” pen, which allows you to take notes, draw pictures, and digitally record what the teacher is saying – all at the same time.  It also instantly syncs with your laptop so you have a digital version of what you’ve written.   For more information, go to https://www.livescribe.com/en-us/.

There’s also an app called “AudioNote” that does much the same thing and is much cheaper.  See http://luminantsoftware.com/iphone/audionote.html.

One last idea is to use a graphic organizer approach to writing reports, papers, etc.  For more information about various types of graphic organizers and resources, see https://ldaamerica.org/graphic-organizers/

I am in a professional program and suffer from ADHD. I did not initially report my condition to my school. I am now subject to academic dismissal on the grounds that I didn’t take earlier steps to prevent academic problems. I have the documentation. Is there legal action that I can take so that I am not dismissed?

No, there is no legal action you can take at this point. Schools are required to provide “reasonable” accommodations upon request.  If you didn’t request any accommodations, they’re not responsible for the academic problems you had when you chose not to request any assistance.  So, they can’t undo the work and/or tests you’ve completed in the past that have made you subject to dismissal.

That said, you can take your current documentation to the Student Support Services (or ADA office) office at your school and see what steps you may be able to take to request and receive accommodations at the school in the event that you are allowed to re-do assignments and/or tests to improve your enrollment status.

I struggle with reading and memorization and was diagnosed with Dyslexia and ADD. I take medication which really seems to help. I want to go back to school but my training program has a policy that states that some medications can’t be used while training. Can I get an exception? How do I approach this situation to ensure I am not discriminated?

Take a copy of your evaluation documentation to the school’s ADA office (sometimes called Student Support Services), along with a letter from your doctor that explains what medication you’re taking and how that medication will help you meet the program goals without interfering with any of the required tasks during training.  If all your paperwork is current – probably needs to be within the last 3 years – then you may be able to get an exception from the school for taking the medication.

However, if your training program is part of a military organization, you may not be able to receive an exemption.  The Armed Forces are not required to grant accommodations, such as extended test time, on the qualifying test. Further, military regulations provide that academic skills deficits that interfere with school or work after the age of 12 may be a cause for rejection for service in the Armed Forces. These regulations also provide that current use of medication, such as Ritalin or Dexedrine, to improve academic skills is disqualifying for military service.

Do I have a right to be reinstated to my nursing program after failing if it is discovered that I have a learning disability?

You do not have the right to be automatically reinstated to any program if you were ineligible due to test scores, etc. that were impacted by an undiagnosed learning disability.  What you can do, however, is meet with a counselor at the program to review your learning disability evaluation and determine whether or not you may be able to enroll again, this time with instructional and testing accommodations.  You will most likely have to re-take any classes and tests that you previously did not pass.  Different schools have different policies regarding reinstatement, so this is something you’ll have to work out with the specific program in which you were enrolled.

If I know I have a learning disability how do I get through college without feeling defeated?

The first step is to choose your college carefully, making sure that there is a good support system in place for students with learning disabilities.  The student services support office should work with you to make arrangements for effective and appropriate instructional and testing accommodations throughout your college experience.

There are many articles about this and other information about how to succeed in college as a person with a learning disability at https://ldaamerica.org/category/post-secondary-options/.

Is it possible to get exemption from taking a foreign language class if I have a diagnosed learning disability?

According to Robin L. Schwarz’s article, Learning Disabilities and Foreign Language Learning, “Policies on waivers from foreign language requirements vary enormously. Every school has its own set of requirements. Some require full documentation of a learning disability with findings pointing to the deficits which are associated with foreign language learning problems; others might require a score on the Modern Language Aptitude Test ( MLAT).

Unfortunately for the LD student, many schools, especially colleges, may require evidence of having attempted a foreign language and failed…Students and families asking schools for accommodation on this issue need to be well-versed themselves and prepared to provide literature or at least reference to literature that will inform the school of this problem. Even better, when possible, parents or adult students should discuss the problem with a school before enrolling, to be sure that the problem can be dealt with.”