10 Ways You Can Aid College Students With Learning Disabilities
Education The following are 10 key areas of support that can help this population transition successfully to college and careers.
Executive functioning and scheduling. Each student should work to develop organizational and follow through strategies for his/her academic schedule. By working in small groups and using visual prompts to support these skills, young adults can learn how to succeed into their college classes, the workplace and daily life.
Scheduling tutorials and study groups. Individual and group tutoring sessions that meet throughout the week keep students on track. Routine, personalized support helps students to build a competency in writing and math required in college classes and beyond. Consistently attending tutoring sessions brings stability and the ability to predict and plan for challenges. This also helps students avoid last-minute cramming and “all-nighters.”
Social competency. The social learning difference is the most abstract of all learning differences. Students need to interpret what others are thinking and feeling by assuming another’s perspective. Interpreting facial expressions can be especially a challenge for individuals on the autism spectrum, and appreciating alternative perspectives can be a challenge for students with ADHD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. By participating in small group sessions to discuss perspectives and practice real-life social situations, students can gain explicit training in social learning. They can work on essential skills including reciprocal conversation, eye contact and spatial awareness.
Sensory integration. Students with processing delays or attention deficits benefit from having a holistic understanding of their sensory issues and a key sense of the environmental factors that affect their performance. Finding the best seat in their classroom, identifying distraction-free environments, preparing for sensory triggers such as heat, cold, or noise can help students be calm and receptive for the start of class.
Internships. Internship placement serves as a bridge for a student’s transition from college to work and directly supports development of the skills necessary for real world success. Counselors, educational therapists and teachers can help students by assessing their interests and by matching their skills and goals to fit new opportunities.
Community service. This activity allows students to network with non-profit professionals. Through community service, students gain a sense of accomplishment, exposure to diverse fields and people, and achieve personal growth by contributing their time to help others.
Wellness. A healthy lifestyle can help a person both reduce stress and elevate their level of healthy functioning. Awareness and a practice of exercise and a good diet increases energy and promotes positive social behaviors.
Reframing. Reframing is a practice that helps students connect the dots between behavior and emotion. Reframing is a themed pro-social activity that aid students’ self understanding and provides daily structure to their lives.
Relationship development. Students with learning differences may have had limited exposure to intimacy and healthy relationship development. Many students with learning differences need basic instruction in common strategies such as initiating friendships and conversations, and learning how and when to be intimate.
Individual therapy. Therapy is a critical component for students with learning differences who need support with social, anxiety, and sensory issues. Each student arrives at college with a unique set of challenges. Many come to college without a sense of how to ask a teacher for help, work in a group, or develop typical college friendships. Individual counseling utilizing cognitive behavior therapy strategies can be very effective in assisting students to deal with their emotions and to independently solve problems. As the number of students being diagnosed with learning differences increases, post-secondary institutions need to develop curricula and supports that provide them with a variety of comprehensive and individualized services so they can transition successfully to adulthood.