Do you think you might have a learning disability but are not sure what to do?
Should you feel you have a particular difficulty with learning which may be the result of a learning disability, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or a psychiatric disability, several matters should be considered. It is important that you have as much background information as possible to assist you in enhancing your educational experience. Although Allegheny does not offer a special curriculum or “structured” program for students with disabilities, support services/accommodations are available.
Though Student Disability Services does not provide psycho-educational testing for students with disabilities, this may be used as a guide to find out if you should be tested and where you can go to receive these services.
Questions and Answers
Before you decide to be evaluated for a learning disability, ADHD, or a psychiatric disability, there are a few questions you should consider:
Why do you think you have a learning disability, ADHD, or a psychiatric disability?
Have you noticed particular learning difficulties or difficulty paying attention? When did your difficulties start? Did someone refer you to SDS for testing? You will want to know what troubles you are having academically and be able to explain them to the person who evaluates you.
Did you qualify for or receive special education services while in high school, or prior to attending Allegheny?
If you received accommodations for a disability in high school, it is likely you were evaluated for a disability. It is wise to check with your high school or your family members to see if there is an evaluation report of a disability on file for you somewhere. This can save you time and money. However, simply being evaluated for a disability in high school will not necessarily make you eligible for disability services in college.
Your documentation must meet the following criteria:
- clearly state the diagnosed disability or disabilities
- describe the functional limitations resulting from the disability or disabilities
- be age-appropriate–describing how the disability or disabilities currently affect the student in an educational setting
- be comprehensive–including complete educational, developmental, and medical history relevant to the disability for which accommodations are being requested
- include a list of all test instruments used in the evaluation report and relevant subtest scores used to document the stated disability (this requirement does not apply to physical or sensory disabilities of a permanent or unchanging nature)
- describe the specific accommodations requested
- adequately support each of the requested accommodations
- be typed or printed on official letterhead and be signed by an evaluator qualified to make the diagnosis (include information about license or certification and area of specialization).
You and the professional doing the testing should refer to the nationally developed guidelines relative to learning disability, ADHD, and psychiatric disability testing. See our documentation guidelines.
If your evaluation report does not meet all of these criteria, it may be necessary for you to obtain another evaluation. It is a good idea to sit down with SDS staff to discuss your documentation and your options for being retested.
Options for Testing
In the K-12 education system, the school was responsible for identifying students with disabilities and ensuring they receive evaluations for learning disabilities and ADD. However, in college it is the student’s responsibility to provide documentation of a disability, which is determined by a qualified licensed professional.
Neither SDS nor the Counseling Center provide such testing; however, there are alternatives that should be considered. SDS has no formal relationship with these outside agencies. Therefore, the scheduling of appointments, the fee structure, etc. are to be determined between the client and the agency.
Private Psychologist: This is often the quickest option. A resource to aid in locating private testing services is the yellow pages. Information can be found under “psychologist.” This type of testing may be covered under some insurance policies, so be sure to examine specific policies or contact your insurance agent and/or your medical doctor for a referral. SDScould make referrals to local psychologists who are experienced with testing college-age students.
Pennsylvania Vocational Rehabilitation: This agency has offices throughout the state and serves persons with disabilities. If you suspect you have a disability, check with a VR office for an assessment of your eligibility for services. Their evaluations of your eligibility for client services are free, but scheduling may be difficult.
Things to keep in mind when deciding on a testing option:
- Will your insurance (or your parents’ insurance) pay for this?
- Have you compared costs of psychologists in the area?
- Have you checked to see if there is any previous record of a disability on file?
- Do you need a medical referral for testing?
- Are adult measures being used in your evaluation?
- Did you bring Allegheny’s documentation guidelines with you to the testing center?