Parent Resources & Information

“I am the advocate, the only one who understands her/him. How will she/he get help if I’m not involved?”

Your daughter/son is now a young adult attending college. Educational support services are different, and special education laws no longer apply the same way as they did in secondary schools. Do you know the difference?

High School Special Education
  • IDEA, Section 504 and ADA
  • Entitled to public education
  • Public educational access provided to everyone
  • Schools seek out and identify students with disabilities 
  • IEP or 504 Plan
  • Everyone involved with the student knows the plan
  • Parents may act as advocates
  • Student is placed in an appropriate environment
  • School may provide other therapy or personal care attendants
  • Subject waivers or test substitution may be provided
College Disability Services
  • Section 504 and ADA but not IDEA
  • No entitlement but civil rights requiring the individual request services
  • Must be “otherwise qualified” student
  • Students must self-identify and provide appropriate documentation
  • There is no plan, no team involvement and accommodations must be “reasonable” 
  • Students must initiate contact with the university and request accommodations 
  • Students self-advocate
  • Every class has full inclusion
  • Students are responsible for their own personal care and equipment
  • Students must meet graduation requirements with or without accommodations and academic standards must be preserved
Your sons/daughters are legally responsible for the decisions they make and the actions they take. Faculty and staff may not legally share certain information with you (e.g., grades) about your young adult.

This is a big change for you and for your young adult.
Are you and your son/daughter prepared?

Changing from advocate to support system:

Parents can teach self-advocacy and avoid the “helplessness” (I don’t know what to do) syndrome.

Cooperate and support your young adult’s problem solving skills, encourage action that will enhance your young adult’s educational experience and reinforce the idea that your young adult is responsible for his/her actions.

Know what services are available (Center for Disability Resources, Residents’ Life, Health and Counseling Services, Academic Departments). Encourage your young adult to contact the appropriate services and practice self-advocacy. Practice self-control and refrain from making that initial contact yourself.

Your son/daughter is now legally considered as an adult.

You can respect your daughter/son by avoiding direct interference in educational concerns but providing them with some one who listens to their concerns and supports a well thought out decision.

There are no IEPS in higher education and no team planning meetings.

Your son/daughter should assemble a file of legible copies of all relevant documentation.

Your daughter/son should know how to contact the service provider at the university.

Your son/daughter should be familiar with the assessment results, appropriate accommodations, and their individual learning styles.

Your daughter/son should be able to answer the following questions:
  • What are my learning strengths?
  • Can I take notes, read a textbook and study based on my learning strengths?
  • What accommodations worked well for me?
  • What assistive technology can I use that will assist my learning?
Young adults should have self-advocacy skills so that they feel comfortable when they need to request accommodations from professors.

Parents Checklist

To make transition to university life easier, my son/daughter can independently engage in the following activities of daily living:

Personal hygiene
Showering, dressing, grooming, washing clothes

Sleeping and eating habits
Learn to use the e card, respond to an alarm clock, avoid interrupting others sleep

Get to appointments and class on time, return phone calls in a timely manner, keep a planner/organizer/PDA

Go to class, meetings and appointments with instructors

Money management
Using an ATM card, checking account and banking

Tending to a minor illness
Take medication on schedule, how to contact professional/medical personnel when needed and can explain disability /diagnosis and what accommodations are needed

Getting along with others in communal living
Work with others to resolve conflicts, know who is the resident assistant for dorm and respect other’s things

Educational access
Can explain disability/diagnosis and what accommodations are needed
Self-advocate and work with the service provider to receive reasonable accommodations

Study skills and learning strategies
Time management, test taking, notetaking, textbook reading, research, vocabulary development, memory skills, stress management

Good luck this year!