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DISABILITY SUPPORT SERVICES

Student Guide

General Documentation Guidelines. 

Students requesting accommodations and services from Disability Support Services (DSS) at Towson University must provide documentation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  DSS understands that once a student is diagnosed as having a disability, it is typically life long.  However, how the disability will manifest itself and impact the student may well change in different settings and over time.  Therefore, DSS requests documentation in order to understand the student individually and how the disability will impact him or her in a college setting in order to make informed decisions regarding the need for accommodations and services.

DSS is responsible for evaluating disability documentation and determining eligibility and reasonable accommodations based on the appropriateness, currency and completeness of the documentation submitted.  A diagnosis in and of itself does not automatically establish a disability and the need for an accommodation.  DSS staff is available to consult regarding these guidelines at (410) 704-2638.

Guidelines for Documentation of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)

Guidelines for Documentation of Asperger's Disorder and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Guidelines for Documentation of Blindness or Low Vision

Guidelines for Documentation of Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

Guidelines for Documentation of Learning Disabilities

Guidelines for Documentation of a Medical or Physical Disability

Guidelines for Temporary Medical and Physical Conditions

Guidelines for Documentation of Mental Health Disabilities

Guidelines for Documentation of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)

1. A qualified professional must conduct the evaluation.  Professionals who conduct the assessment, make the diagnosis of ADHD, detail symptoms, provide relevant history, determine functional limitations, and provide recommendations for accommodation must be qualified.

Qualified professionals are defined as licensed mental health professionals:

  • Licensed Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Licensed Professional Counselors
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Primary care or general practice physicians are generally not considered qualified to complete an AD/HD evaluation with a DSM-V diagnosis unless they are specifically trained to do so.

The evaluator’s name, title, and professional credentials and affiliation must be provided. 

2. Documentation must be current. 

Because the provision of accommodations is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student’s disability on learning in the college setting, it is in the student’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation.  If changes have occurred in the student's performance since the last assessment, or if prescribed medications have been altered, the student may need to submit updated information.

3. Documentation must be complete. The student or provider may access the Verification Form for AD/HD from the DSS website.  This form must be completed in its entirety.  Regardless of whether or not the form is utilized, requirements for any diagnostic report are:

  • A medical or clinical diagnosis of AD/HD based on DSM-V criteria
  • Assessment/testing profile and interpretation of the assessment instruments used that supports the diagnosis.  Acceptable measures include objective measures of attention and discrimination or valid and reliable observer or self-report.  Acceptable measures are:

                  - Conner's Continuous Performance Task (CPT)

                  - Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA)

                  - Behavioral Assessment System for Children - 2nd Ed. (BASC-2)

                  - Conner's Adult AD/HD Rating Scale (CAARS)

                  - CAARS-L; the long version of the self-report form

                  - CARRS-O; the observer form

                  - Brown Attention Deficit Disorder Scale

  • A clear description of the functional limitations in the educational setting, specifying the major life activities that are affected to a substantial degree because of the disability
  • Relevant history, including developmental, family, medical, psychosocial, pharmacological, educational and employment
  • A description of the specific symptoms manifesting themselves at the present time that may affect the student’s academic performance
  • Medications the student is currently taking, as well as a description of any limitations that may persist even with medication
  • Co-existing conditions, including medical and learning disabilities that should be considered in determining reasonable accommodations
  • Recommendations for accommodations that include a rationale based on the student's current functional limitations. 

Note:  Clinicians may use the "Disability Verification for Students with Mental Health Disabilities Including ADHD" form located below.

Guidelines for Documentation of Asperger's Disorder and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders

1. Documentation of Diagnosis: 

Documentation of an evaluation completed by a qualified professional and resulting in a diagnosis of Asperger's or other Pervasive Developmental Disorder should be provided.  A qualified professional may include a psychiatrist, developmental pediatrician, clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist, or licensed mental health professional who has comprehensive training and direct experience working with Asperger's and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

The evaluation report should contain a summary of a comprehensive diagnostic interview identifying the presenting problem, a developmental history, medical history, academic performance, relevant family history and relevant social/emotional/behavioral factors.  It should also contain the credentials of the diagnosing professional.

2.  Documentation of a Current Evaluation:

The provision of accommodations in a college setting is based upon an assessment of the current impact a student's disability has on learning.  An evaluation should provide a detailed description of the student's current functioning in the following areas:

  • Executive functioning
  • Pragmatic language
  • Social behavior patterns
  • Restricted, repetitive and/or stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests or activities
  • Sensory needs or concerns
  • Motor planning

Supporting evidence should include results of aptitude and achievement testing, standardized testing of language skills, standardized scales of symptoms related to Asperger's or other Pervasive Developmental Disorders, as well as clinical observations.

The evaluation should describe the current impact that the student's limitations resulting from the disorder have on learning and functioning within a college setting.  Medical information relating to the student's diagnosis should include the impact of prescribed medication on the student's ability to meet the demands of the postsecondary educational environment.  Additionally, an evaluation should include recommendations for accommodations and a rationale for the accommodations based on specific features/symptoms of the student's diagnosis.  Relevant information regarding current treatment and prognosis should be provided.

3.  Historical Documentation:

Because Asperger's Disorder and other Pervasive Developmental Disorders are often manifested during childhood (though not always diagnosed), historical information regarding the student's academic performance, communication characteristics, and social patterns in elementary, secondary and postsecondary education should be provided.  This information can be found in documents such as IEPs, Section 504 Plans, speech therapy evaluations, occupational therapy evaluations, social-emotional assessments, psychological/neuropsychological reports, and/or psychiatric evaluations.

 

Guidelines for Documentation of Blindness or Low Vision

Documentation for blindness or low vision should consist of a current, appropriate diagnostic evaluation administered by a qualified professional. Opthalmologists are the primary professionals involved in the diagnosis and medical treatment of individuals who are blind or have low vision. Optometrists provide information regarding the measurement of visual acuity, as well as tracking and fusion difficulties.

Reports should be submitted on letterhead and signed with the name, title and credentials of the evaluator. The report must provide an assessment of the individual’s condition that includes the following:

1. A clear statement of the vision-related disability with supporting description. The documentation must be current.

2. A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and summary of evaluation results.

3. Description of current symptoms and expected progression or stability of his or her vision.

4. Recommendations for accommodations that include a rationale based on the student's current functional limitations.

Guidelines for Documentation of Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing

DSS will accept a deaf/hard-of-hearing diagnosis that is based on a current, appropriate diagnostic evaluation administered by a qualified professional. The evaluator of a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual should be an audiologist. Reports should be submitted on letterhead and signed with the name, title and credentials of the evaluator.  The report should provide an assessment of the student's condition that includes the following:

1. A clear statement of deafness or hearing loss with a current audiogram.

2. A summary of assessment procedures used to make the evaluation and a narrative summary of results.

3.  Recommendations for accommodations that include a rationale based on the student's current functional limitations.

Guidelines for Documentation of Learning Disabilities

1.  A comprehensive psycho-educational or neuropsychological evaluation that provides a diagnosis of a learning disability should be submitted.  The report should indicate the current status and impact of he learning disability in an academic setting.  If another diagnosis is applicable (e.g., ADHD, mood disorder), it should be stated.

2.  The evaluation must be conducted by a professional who is qualified, such as a clinical or educational psychologist, school psychologist, neuropsychologist or learning disabilities specialist.  The evaluator’s name, title, and professional credentials and affiliation should be provided. 

3.  The evaluation should be based on a comprehensive assessment battery that includes measures such as:

  • Aptitude: Cognitive functioning on an individually administered intelligence test, preferably administered during high school or beyond, such as the WAIS, WISC, WJ-III Cognitive Battery, and Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test.  Subtest scaled scores/subtest scores should be listed. 
  • Academic Achievement:  An achievement battery, such as the WJ-III or WIAT, including current levels of academic functioning in relevant areas, such as reading, oral and written language, and mathematics.  Standard scores and percentiles for administered subtests should be stated.  Specific achievement tests such as the Nelson-Denny can also be included.
  • Information Processing:  Specific areas of information processing (e.g., short- and long-term memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, executive functioning) should be assessed.
  • Social-Emotional Assessment:  To rule out a primary emotional basis for learning difficulties and provide information needed to establish appropriate services, a social-emotional assessment, using formal assessment instruments and/or clinical interview, should be conducted.
  • Clinical Summary:  A diagnostic summary should be provided, including a diagnosis, interpretation of the test data, and patterns in the student’s cognitive ability, achievement, and information processing that indicate a learning disability.  Recommendations for accommodations should be based on the student's identified functional limitations.

4. Additional documentation such as an 504 Plan, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Summary of Performance (SOP) can be submitted as documentation if the information provided indicates the impact of the disability and enables DSS to identify a connection beween the student's functional limitations and the accommodations requested.

Guidelines for Documentation of a Medical or Physical Disability

Students requesting accommodations and services from Disability Support Services (DSS) at Towson University are required to submit documentation verifying eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that documentation is complete and accurate.  DSS reserves the right to determine eligibility and appropriate accommodations/services based on the quality, recency, and completeness of the documentation submitted.   

DSS will accept a current diagnosis of a medical or physical disability that is based on appropriate diagnostic evaluation administered by a qualified professional (e.g., physician, ophthalmologist, audiologist, psychiatrist or other medical specialist with expertise in the area for which accommodations are being requested).  Reports should be submitted on letterhead and signed with the name, title and credentials of the evaluator.  The report must provide a recent, comprehensive assessment of the individual’s condition that includes the following:

  • A clear statement of the diagnosis of the medical or physical disability
  • Date of initial identification and date of current evaluation
  • A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis
  • A description of the present symptoms/features, including the severity of the disability and expected duration*
  • Information regarding the major life activities and specific academic functions that are affected by the disability in a college setting (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing, performing manual tasks, learning, concentrating, attending class, meeting deadlines, etc.)
  • Medication and treatment information, including side effects that may impact the student’s ability to function in a college setting, and
  • Recommendations regarding reasonable accommodations or services appropriate at the postsecondary level, including a clear rationale and justification for those accommodations.

*Students may be required to furnish periodic re-certification of continuing need.

Note:  Clinicians may use the Disability Verification for Students with a Medical or Physical Condition form located in Appendix C.

 

Guidelines for Temporary Medical and Physical Conditions

DSS will provide services to students who experience significant limitations due to temporary conditions such as illness, injury or surgery.  Access to accommodations may be deemed appropriate based on documentation typed on letterhead by a qualified medical clinician.  Clinicians may use the Disability Verification for a Medical or Physical Condition form located in Appendix C.

The documentation must include:

  • A clear statement of the diagnosis of the medical or physical condition
  • A description of the present symptoms/features, including the severity of the condition and expected duration*
  • An assessment of how the condition compromises the student's functioning in a college setting
  • Medication and treatment information, including side effects that may impact the student’s ability to function 
  • Suggestions for reasonable accommodations or services, such as copies of class notes, extended time and/or use of a word processor or scribe for exams, mobility van service, etc.

Upon making a request for this assistance and providing the required documentation to DSS, students will be provided with information about how to access the accommodations identified for their use.

*Note: Students may be required to furnish periodic re-certification of continuing need.

 

Guidelines for Documentation of Mental Health Disabilities

Students requesting accommodations and services from Disability Support Services (DSS) at Towson University on the basis of a mental health disability are required to submit documentation verifying eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that evaluation reports are appropriate to document eligibility.  DSS is responsible for evaluating disability documentation and determining eligibility and appropriate accommodations/services based on the quality, recency, and completeness of the documentation submitted.  DSS staff is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding these guidelines.

1.  A qualified professional must conduct the evaluation.  A diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional is required, including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers and professional counselors.  The evaluator’s name, title, license number must be included.

2.   Documentation must be current.  Because the provision of accommodations is based upon assessment of the current impact of the student’s disability on learning in the college setting, it is in the student’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation.  The age of the documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition and the student’s request for accommodations.  If the documentation does not reflect the current array of symptoms/features and level of functioning, the student may be required to submit updated information

3.  Documentation must be comprehensive.  A diagnostic report must be submitted that provides findings of a current comprehensive clinical assessment of the condition that includes:

  • A clear statement of the disability, including the DSM-V diagnosis and a description of present symptoms
  • A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and summary of evaluation results
  • Information regarding the severity of the disability and the major life activities that are affected, particularly in the university environment (e.g., work completion, concentrating, class attendance, social interactions, self-care, etc.).
  • Information on medication, including side effects, and/or other treatment issues such as compliance that may impact student’s ability to meet the demands of a university environment 
  • Recommendations for accommodations, including a rationale for the accommodations based on specific features/symptoms of the disability

Note:  Clinicians may use the "Disability Verification for Students with Mental Health Disabilities Including ADHD" form located below.


 


 

 

 

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