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Depression/Anxiety + College = Uncertainty for All! There is Help!

Please don’t ask another question, please don’t ask another question, pleeaassee don’t!! I found myself repeating this in my head on every college campus tour taken! We have all experienced “that parent” in a group. You know the one! If it happens to be you, well, I’m sorry! These parents add excruciatingly long-minutes to an already overwhelming couple of hours! They seem to ask questions just to ask questions!

Simply because you wonder about something doesn’t mean you need to ask about it out loud. I listened to parents ask the following questions: What if my child can’t understand the teacher? Can anyone live in one of the Greek Row houses? What time does the Rec Center close (like the parent is going to use it!)? What if my child can’t see the white board? What are options if my son misses breakfast in the cafeteria?

If I had asked any of these questions my child would have joined up with another family on tour! Hmm, maybe that’s why we always an extra kid trailing us!

College tours are meant to give an overall view and feel of the campus and university. I learned about Greek life, dorms, meal plans, and clubs. What I never heard about was the Office of Disability Services. And I never heard a parent ask about it either.

Reily learned about the “ODS” from a classmate during her fourth semester in college. The Office of Disability Services assists students with a wide range of challenges. From physical needs to learning disabilities, ADHD, depression, anxiety, and more. The office serves as a liaison between the student and their professors.

The ODS requires that the studentmake a request. Since the student is over 18, a parent cannot call or appeal to the office. The student must reach out to the Office of Disability Services. The parent is no longer advocating for the student, thus allowing the student to step forward, taking responsibility.

Besides the fact that they are 18 years of age, it gives the student a chance to name and claim their needs. Confidence can be gained through this. I have a funny feeling that the ODS would rather deal with students than their pesky parents. (I include myself as a pesky parent!)

Letters and forms are required from the student’s doctor or doctors. If they qualify for assistance, a determination will be made as to what the student’s needs necessitate. Assistance such as added test time, a separate testing room, recording lectures, tutoring, and other services can be made available.

Let’s say a person with anxiety gets to class and experiences a panic attack having to leave before class even begins. The student then emails the teacher, as well as the ODS counselor stating they could not make it to class. The teacher does not know what the issue is, only that they have clearance from the ODS office.

At the beginning of each semester Reily would take a form from the ODS to each professor. The form listed her specific needs and accommodations. Only the needs are stated, not a diagnosis. Most teachers were quite accepting of this. When she ran up against one who did not comply with the letter, she contacted her ODS counselor. He made the necessary contact,advocating for her.

This assistance in no way assures Reily will pass a class. Sometimes it takes extra work simply because of the missed class time. Reily would have to contact teachers to reschedule quizzes or labs. It takes extra effort to catch up when a class is missed. Turning in assignments, tests and so on, still must be completed. All the work still must be done! There were some accommodations she opted not to use.

As a parent I was thankful that responsibility for contacting the ODS office was on Reily. I did go with her for her first appointment, only because she asked. I was glad to hear the information and to learn such services were available. Reily’s experience was one of support and encouragement.

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