Resources for Disabled Students

Students with Mental Health Conditions

(including diagnoses of bipolar, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, autism spectrum, asperger's, etc.)

Students who have conditions that have emotional manifestations that may impact their ability to participate in some academic activities may find the following information useful.

Academics

Mental health conditions and other conditions that affect a person's behavior can signficantly impact an individual's ability to meet the demands of an academic environment.  These conditions, or disabilities, include, but are not limited to: bipolar, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and conditions described as on the autism spectrum. 

Students with these disabilities are expected to meet the same requirements as other students for admission and for graduation. In general, course requirements are not modified as an accommodation. Students must be able to complete course requirements within a reasonable amount of time.  While some leeway may be possible with deadlines, students are expected to complete courses satisfactory as part of the criteria needed for graduation.  Students are encouraged to be aware of the effects their course load may have on their ability to complete them within a semester.  A reduced course load may be indicated if a particular combination of courses produces demands that may not be conducive with the manifestation of a particular disability or condition.

The method to demonstrate mastery of knowledge is commonly at the discretion of instructors. While some courses require this demonstration through papers and projects, students are more likely required to illustrate how much they know through exams. It is possible to accommodate students through different testing environments and formats. Students are not necessarily graded on effort although some instructors may factor this in when determining final grades.

Students who maintain a cumulative 2.0 grade point average (GPA) or above are considered in good standing with the university. Students who fall below a 2.0 cumulative GPA will be placed on probation. Students then have 2 semesters in which to raise their GPA to a 2.0 or better. At the end of two semesters, if a student's GPA is still below a 2.0, he/she will be dismissed from the university. (Petitions for exceptions are possible.)

Advising

Advisors help plan a student's path toward completion of not only the requirements of the major but also those needed for graduation. Not all advisors, however, will be familiar with a student's particular needs concerning a disability. Students are encouraged to discuss with their advisors the impact their condition may have on achieving academic goals and to consult with the RDS Counselor concerning their selection of courses.

The RDS Counselor can provide added insight into what to expect and the possible impact a particular schedule may have on a student.

Individual substitutions for courses are initiated through the department of a student's particular major field of study. (Substitutions are generally not allowed for courses considered essential to a particular major.) Any alteration to a student's course of study must be supported by appropriate disability documentation and negotiated within the student's major department and approved by the department's college. Exceptions for requirements must also be approved by the Provost. Final approval for any substitution or alteration is required by the university's Registrar for graduation purposes, excluding extra time for completion.

Behavioral Expectations

Classes are taught with the expectation that students will attend the majority of sessions.  Some courses may also have requirements related to attendance.  For example, laboratory courses often limit the number of sessions that can be missed and/or made up.  If a particular type of disability impacts a student's ability to attend sessions, the student is strongly encouraged to work with both the instructor and RDS Counselor to see if an appropriate accommodation is possible that would not negatively impact the completion of the course.  Students are expected to provide instructors with a memo from the RDS Counselor that verifies the need for accommodations.

Faculty are provided academic freedom to determine what is and is not required for their particular courses. Each will also have their own teaching style. While minor changes may be requested of a faculty member (e.g. deadlines for assignments), significant changes to course requirements and/or teaching style is generally not considered a reasonable accommodation.Some courses may be taught by a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) who is supervised by a professor. Some accommodations may have to be requested from, or negotiated with, the supervising professor even though many GTA's are given the authority to implement them.

The majority of faculty are more than willing to meet with individual students to enhance the task of mastering course content. However, it is expected that students are primarily responsible for their own learning process. Exams are usually the method used to measure mastery of knowledge.  However, in-class discussion and participation may also be critical for assessing a student's performance and mastery of the course. 

All students are held to the principles governing student conduct.  Although a student's disability may affect how a student behaves, it does not necessarily excuse behavior that is detrimental to the learning environment, especially as it affects other students.  Students are expected to behave in a respectful manner to all individuals on campus.  Those who do not abide by the student conduct guidelines may be referred to a disciplinary hearing.  For more information, please contact the Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services office.

Accommodations

The provision of an accommodation begins only once the need is made known to appropriate university personnel. A student must be considered eligible for an accommodation based on the documented presence of a disability and the significance the limitation has to participating in a course or program.

A student who needs accommodations in courses should first meet with the RDS Counselor. After an assessment of needs, the RDS Counselor will provide the student with a letter that will be given to each faculty member for each course for which an accommodation will be needed. This letter verifies for the faculty member that the accommodation is appropriate for a student's need. A faculty member need not provide an accommodation simply on the word of a student.

A student who does not request accommodations prior to receiving an unsatisfactory grade on an exam, or for a course, will not have that grade "forgiven" after the fact, regardless of whether or not an accommodation was needed. Students can take the course again and request a "repeat/delete" procedure that would substitute the second grade for the first, providing the second grade is higher. The deleted grade will not be included in calculating the student's overall GPA.

In addition, while faculty play a major role in the accommodative process, not all may be familiar with how best to accommodate a student with mental health conditions or other neurological disabilities. Therefore, the student is responsible for initiating the accommodative process as well as for participating in determining what would be the most appropriate and reasonable accommodation.An accommodation cannot alter the fundamental nature of a course or program, nor is it to produce an undue administrative burden.

There are no guarantees that a student will receive exactly the accommodation requested. Accommodations are provided that give effective access to the academic environment and for which resources are available.

Therapeutic Support

The CSU Health Network, comprised of both physical and mental health services, is available to help students with mental health conditions.  If a student is unable to access therapeutic support in the community or his or her mental health practitioner is not in the immediate community, a student may be able to receive such services from the staff of the CSU Health Network.  For more information, contact the CSU Health Network.

Extra Time

Students with mental health or other neurological conditions may need extra time to complete assignments and/or exams within a semester. This is considered a reasonable request that is negotiated with individual instructors. However, unlimited time is not considered a reasonable accommodation.

Some students may also find it necessary to take longer in completing course requirements for a particular major. While eight (8) semesters is considered optimal for completion of a degree, students often find it necessary to extend their student status in order to balance the demands of the courses with the effects of their particular condition. Decreased course loads per semester are often recommended, especially during the first two years, so that students have the opportunity to adjust to the pace of university study. It is also helpful when a student has to take a course that has the potential to exacerbate the manifestations of his/her condition.  Specific combinations of courses, too, can have a detrimental impact on students. Since some courses are not taught every semester, it may require students an extra semester or two to ensure all courses are completed as successfully as possible.

Extra time may be an appropriate accommodation for taking exams and quizzes. Students may be eligible for time and a half or double time, depending upon their individual need. This determination is made by the RDS Counselor after interviewing a student and evaluating appropriate documentation.

RDS Support

Students with mental health or other neurological conditions must have appropriate documentation on file with RDS before they will be considered eligible for accommodations. This documentation must be from someone qualified to diagnose the disability and who is not related to the student.

Documentation should describe the student's strengths, as well as weaknesses, caused by the disability. Suggestions concerning accommodations are helpful.  Some mental health conditions may have recent diagnoses and the accommodations may not be apparent.  As a student acclimates to the academic environment and demands, it is hoped that the student and RDS Counselor are able to discover what works.

Before any accommodation is implemented by RDS, a student must first meet with the RDS Counselor for an intake and assessment interview. At this time, she will suggest appropriate services that might be useful as accommodations. These services include, but are not limited to: priority registration, alternative testing, and note-taking support. (See General Information for more details.)

Students are also encouraged to meet regularly with the RDS Counselor if so desired. Assistance is available with advising (in consultation with academic advisors), study strategies, and problem-solving as well as providing guidance in dealing with day to day issues of student life. Appropriate referrals will also be made if a particular concern is outside the purview of RDS.

RDS will assist students in locating other appropriate services on campus and in the Fort Collins community as needed. If you have further questions concerning CSU and the accommodations that are available to you as a student, please contact RDS.

Miscellaneous

The following resources have also proven helpful for students with disabilities. (See General Information for additional resources.)

Tutoring

While tutoring is not considered an accommodation, it may be helpful for students with mental health issue. Peer tutoring is usually available from a variety of sources. Some tutoring is provided as group study while other tutoring may be one-on-one.

Tutoring offered by specific departments is generally free. Private tutors may also be found through academic departments for a fee. Some tutoring programs are sponsored directly by the university. The following resources are used most often by students with any type of disability:

• The Academic Advancement Center (AAC) provides one-on-one tutoring for most undergraduate subjects. Students must meet the AAC specific criteria to be eligible.
• The Mathematics Department provides free walk-in tutoring for specific courses especially related to the Individual Mathematics Program (IMP).
• The College of Natural Science provides free group tutoring for courses related to chemistry, biology, and other natural sciences.
RDS may also have available information and resources for more specific needs related to tutoring. (See General Information for details.)

The Writing Center

Students who would like help with their writing skills may go to the Writing Center located in C104 Aylesworth, (970) 491-0222. This is a free tutoring service for students who have work "in progress" only. The Writing Center does not provide proofreading support. Walk-in appointments are welcome during the Center's open hours.

Study Skills

Students are encouraged to seek out effective study strategies. Information designed to assess and/or improve study skills may be available through the Academic Advancement Center, through the Residence Hall system and through the Learning Assistance Program. For more information, see General Information or contact the RDS Counselor.

Assistive Technology Resource Center

Specific software such as DragonSpeak (voice activated) can be effective for students who have difficulty with the process of writing. The Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) is able to assist students in discovering which available technology support would be of most use to them. For more information contact the ATRC at 304 Occupational Therapy Building, (970) 491-6258.

 

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