Program helps students with learning disabilities

Students who have encountered problems learning in a regular classroom setting can receive assistance through Florida A&M University’s Special Services Programs.

FAMU offers aid through the special support services and information offices located on campus to assist persons with impairments in several areas.

Some of the service providers include the Educational Opportunity Program, American Disability Act, the office of Special Programs and Services, the office of Personnel Relations, the University Counseling Center, the Learning Development and Evaluation Center and The Excellence through Caring Club.

Students with mental disabilities are advised to go to UCC, where the university utilizes the services and assessment referrals from local agencies to provide counseling and special services to disabled persons on an individual basis.

Those with learning disabilities are referred to LDEC, where students are helped academically through computer-assisted instruction, individualized tutoring, student advocacy, reduced course loads, psycho-educational evaluations, transition programs and developmental learning instruction.

Course accommodations include note-takers, alternative course requirements, extended time for course requirements, alternative examination testing sites, taped lectures and advanced lecture notes or copies of professors’ notes.

Seneca Lindsey, the office manager of Special Programs and Services, said before a student can receive services, they must go through a qualification process.

“In order for a students to qualify for those services, he must first go through a formal evaluation with a psychologist to see how he processes certain information,” Lindsey said.

From there, the student must submit a request form for the services provided by the university.

Once the form is processed, a letter is sent to the student’s professors letting him or her know the student will need assistance throughout the semester.

According to the Special Programs and Services office, the most common disabilities many students are aware of are the ones that physically affect a student, such as blindness or deafness.

However, there are also mental disabilities that affect a student’s ability to learn. Those include attention deficit disorder, affective disorder, developmental aphasia, auditory perceptual disorder, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyslexia, motor problems, social dysfunction and visual perceptual disorder.

“Just because a student is said to have a learning disability does not mean he or she is disabled,” said Nathaniel Holmes, the director of LDEC. “Students who attend this center are not slow, stupid, retarded, mentally challenged, idiots, incompetent or unstable, they just have a higher level of processing information.”

LDEC services 175 students a year, and offers summer classes for incoming freshmen who want to begin services through their pre-college courses.

During the summer, the center focuses on helping students with math and reading.

Stephanie Humose, assistant director for the special programs and services unit, said although the university provides services to help students who have learning disabilities stay on track, some students still do not want to be labeled as having a problem and choose not participate.

“Some students decide to come and some students don’t. It can be hard for them to deal with the discrimination issues associated with having a learning disability,” Humose said.

“However, because we are here to help them and not isolate them from campus life, students are able to merge in with other students without anyone knowing.”