The Disability Services Office provides assistance and support to students with documented disabilities. Disability Services staff can also meet with students who are having academic difficulties for no apparent reason. While Disability Services can not diagnose a disability, the staff can assist in determining whether a student should seek professional diagnostic testing outside of the institution. Students can either come to the Disability Services Office on their own or be referred by a faculty or staff member.
How to Make a Referral
When a student appears to be displaying academic difficulties which are not congruent with the perceived ability of the student, a faculty or staff member may question whether there is a possible disability present. The faculty or staff member, however, should not make any statements to the student which could be perceived to be either a diagnosis or a presumption of fact. Instead, we suggest the follow process for referring students:
- Request a meeting with the student to discuss their academic performance.
- Present the apparent facts to the student without making any judgment. It is perfectly fine to point out the obvious, visible facts, such as "I have noticed that you seem to do very well in class discussions and activities but your last two test scores appear to be far below your ability."
- Give the student the opportunity to explain the situation from their perspective. If there appears to be no immediately apparent reason, it is fine to ask the student if this is a pattern that they have seen in other classes, or for a long period of time in their academic careers.
- If the situation represents a long term or wide spread condition, ask the student if they have ever considered the possibility that they may have some type of learning difficulty.
- Let the student know that there are a number of resources available to them at Simmons including Tutoring Services, the Writing Center, and Disability Services.
Referrals in this matter allow the student to have a sense of "being in charge" and therefore ensures a greater level of follow through. It is important to remember that it is ultimately up to a student to seek out resources and supports. The only thing that we can do is be sure that they are fully aware of the supports available and that they have the information necessary to make good decisions.
Main Campus Building Room E108
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
For more information regarding Disability Services, please contact:
Director of Disability Services
For appointments, call 617-521-2474.