Advising students with disabilities presents many challenges to the college advisor. However, skilled advising can go a long way towards ensuring the success of a student with a disability. To effectively advise a student with a disability requires a thorough understanding of the student’s goals as well as the student’s disability, the barriers the institution may have inadvertently created, and the resources the college provides that can be used to assist the student in pursuing his or her educational aspirations.
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To be successful, those responsible for advising students with disabilities must look beyond what would be considered the normal scope and range of advising office responsibilities. This requires flexibility, coordination, and a willingness to step outside prescribed administrative roles.
Increasing numbers of high school graduates with learning disabilities are enrolling in colleges and universities each year. A learning disability may be manifested by deficits in the student’s reading ability (dyslexia), speech ability (dyspraxia), writing ability (dysgraphia) or math ability (dyscalculia). A student with a learning disability may also have difficulty with sustained attention, time management, and/or social skills. Some students think that when they transition to college they will “outgrow” their learning disabilities and be able to handle their studies on their own. Individuals do not outgrow a learning disability, although they may develop a host of strategies for compensating for the disability. Still, these students find that when they transition to college they continue to need academic accommodations.