College Students with Learning Disabilities
At Northwest College Support, we can serve students with specific learning disabilities, or as we prefer to call them, learning differences. A student with a learning difference at Northwest College Support has the ability to take college courses and learn the skills of being an independent young adult just like all of the students at NWCS. A learning difference does not mean that the student is not intelligent. On the contrary, students at NWCS with learning differences can have areas of strong intelligence. However, these students often need to adopt specialized strategies in collegiate environments in order to achieve academic success as well successfully launch into independence. Examples of specific learning differences of students who come to NWCS are:
- Reading disability, or dyslexia
- Dysgraphia or difficulties surrounding writing tasks, grammar, spelling, or handwriting
- Dyscalculia or difficulties with number-related concepts, math reasoning, or memorization of math facts
Learning Differences at Northwest College Support
Students who come to NWCS with a learning disability diagnosis may have faced significant challenges within academic settings. These students may also have faced executive functioning challenges, difficulty with social relationships, and the struggles with the daily living skills needed for young adulthood as a result of the way the individual learns and processes information.These issues lead students with learning differences to struggle in a collegiate environment even though these individuals are not intellectually impaired. These issues create significant barriers and complications when it comes time to launch into independent adulthood.
Forming a relationship with a therapist is important for students with a learning difference. For example, it is well documented that students with ADHD can improve the ability to focus and hold attention through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based therapies. The primary goals of a therapist working with a student diagnosed with learning difference is working through issues of shame and low self-esteem. A student with a learning difference may wish to process the anxiety they may face as a result of their struggles with their learning difference. Our therapists are licensed counselors and social workers with experience in a wide range of psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues.
At Northwest College Support, our team sees students with learning differences receive significant benefits from Educational Coaching. Educational Coaches help the student organize and learn to improve self-organization over time. Educational Coaching helps a student remain consistent. The relationship with the Educational Coach is one of support aimed at helping students utilize strengths to overcome areas of challenge. Our Educational Coaches do not teach a specific subject, but rather a framework to learn and organize. Through learning how to better study and organize, students have a greater chance at academic success. Typically, a plan would start with a higher amount of coaching at the beginning of the term, and then decrease as the term progresses. The goal of educational coaching is for students to learn to internalize the skills they are being taught, and become good self-managers by the end of the semester.
Importantly, Educational Coaches at Northwest College Support can assist our students in setting up academic accommodations through their college institution. Educational Coaches not only teach the process of how to set up academic accommodations at a college, but also help the student to figure out how their accommodations can best work for that student. Depending on the student’s documented learning disability, academic accommodations can include:
- Extra time on tests and sometimes extra time on assignments
- Testing in quiet environments
- Preferential seating
- Recorded lectures
- Note takers or scribes
- Audio-formatted text books
- Priority registration
Students with learning differences can also struggle a collegiate environment due to challenges occurring outside of the classroom. At Northwest College Support, these challenges are addressed through a supportive relationship with a Life Coach. Life Coaches work with a student to aid in the process of making good choices, and following through on day-to-day tasks. Students with learning differences may need assistance in areas such as maintaining a clean living environment, healthy eating, regular exercise, and keeping to a weekly schedule.