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Preparing for College or University: Making a Smooth Transition for Students with Learning Problems or Disabilities

Arranging supports for young adults attending college and university in the fall is often far from our minds on a sunny June day!  However, planning now is important for the start to a successful year in September.

The laws that regulate post-secondary are quite different than those for high-schools, and each college and university is unique in the documentation requirements for supports. Get in contact early with the Student Support office from your college or university to find out specifically what information will be required, and what services are available.  A convenient list is provided at this link

Universities and colleges often require recent, and very specific, documentation for proof of a disability and appropriate accommodations.  The level of proof needed is often higher than that in a high-school setting. An IEP / IPRC from secondary school may be sufficient for temporary accommodations at the start of the year, but a psychoeducational assessment within the last 2-3 years (depending on the post-secondary institutution) will often be required for accommodations related to a Learning Disability, ADHD, or other neurodevelopmental or mental-health conditions. Recent documents by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (e.g. )  balance the duty for all places of education and employment to accommodate disability, with the need to put proper accommodation in place informed by current functional limitation assessment.

Fortunately, part- or most- of the cost of a psychoeducational assessment can often be reimbursed by a workplace benefits program, just like physiotherapist or dental care.  There are also other programs that may be able to assist when your employer doesn’t provide coverage (e.g.  

Academic accommodations (such as extended time on projects, access to lecture notes, quiet environment and assistive technology for exams) are only one way a student may receive assistance.  Other supports are often available such as summer transition or orientation programs, appointments with a learning strategist, peer mentoring, tutoring services and academic supports, and other health and counselling resources.

Because each college and university is different, please contact your institution for specific information on what is available, and the documentation required.

Dr. David Armstrong is a Clinical Psychologist who works at the Kanata Psychology and Counselling Centre. If you are interested in seeing Dr. Armstrong to get more information about psychoeducational assessments, please call (613) 435-2729 or e-mail to book an appointment. Dr. Armstrong also works in Kemptville at  Armstrong Psychological Services where he can be reached at (613) 258-2231
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