Even your best students may have academic challenges from time to time. Occasionally the student may have more persistent learning issues. How can you approach a student who is struggling without mentioning a disability?
If you suspect a student might have a diagnosed disability and it is interfering with their success in your course, approach the student as you would any student who is struggling but does not seem to have a disability:
- Make the student aware of the relevant support services:
- If it is a first year student, consider that they may be experiencing common difficulties in adjusting to the new environment. Talk about what specific types of support might help the student adapt more readily and feel more comfortable.
- If you have a sense that the student’s abilities exceed what their grades reflect, talk about how they prepare for class, studies, etc. Ask: “How did you do things in high school? Did you have extra time on exams? What kinds of strategies or help did you use? Did you receive any additional academic support in high school?” This will encourage the student who has a documented disability to disclose it. Do not ask directly if they have a disability. Only the student can come forward with this information, we cannot ask directly. Our primary goal is to let students know that support is available, and then it is up to them to come forward.
Students who have not been diagnosed with a disability, but who tell you they believe they may have one, should go to LSS for an initial information session