Referring a Student to Disability Services

You will generally see potential candidates for disability services in one of two ways:


The student has been referred by someone on campus or has self-referred, or The student has not been referred, but you think he/she might be learning disabled


Note: Information about students’ disabilities is confidential. It is up to the individual student to disclose his/her disability. For this reason, you will have to carefully lead questioning in the direction of student self-disclosure.


If the student has been referred by someone on campus or has self-referred, questions you might ask are:


Who sent you? (Was it a professor, tutor, etc.) Describe the problem you're having. Describe your past schooling. (To find out if student had special education or was ever evaluated for learning problems) What do you think might be causing your current problem(s)? Lead questioning in the following areas:  Motivation (Why are you attending college? How hard are you willing to work to achieve your college education?) Social/Emotional factors (stress, divorce, psychological or psychiatric indications) Environment (Does your family support your going to college? How many hours do you study? Do you have a quiet place to study?) Health (Do you take any prescription medication? Do you have any health conditions – physical or mental?) Work (How many hours a week to you work?) Language (What language do you speak at home? Do you consider English to be your primary language?) What changes do you think you'd like to make in your life? Is there something that you're hoping service providers or instructors at the college can do to help you? (To find out if the student is looking for a specific accommodation or service)


If you are seeing a student who you think might be learning disabled, but the student has not disclosed LD diagnosis or asked for assistance through a disability program, the interview might go as follows:


I see you're having some problems with. . .


What do you think is the cause?


I'd like to see you be successful here, but your grades will have to improve. . .


How did you do in elementary and secondary school?  Did you ever have to repeat a grade?  Were you ever tested by the child study team?  Do you remember having trouble learning to read or learning math facts?


Question motivation, home environment, medication, work overload, and primary language as contributing factors.


Does anyone in your family have difficulties learning?  Mother, father, brothers, sisters, children, aunts or uncles?


Some of the things you describe match the characteristics of individuals who have learning disabilities.


The term learning disability might sound bad to you, but it’s something that approximately 10 percent of college students have although many are not aware of it.


Some famous and successful people have learning disabilities like Tom Cruise, Stephen King, Cher, Woopi Goldberg, Winston Churchill, and Albert Einstein.


I'd like to suggest that you see our disability support service office to discuss the possibility that learning disabilities are contributing to the problem and learn about assistance that may be available.