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Emerging Populations on College Campuses: Students with LD, ADHD, Psychiatric, Disabilities, and Aspergers Syndrome PACE University 2010 Faculty Institute May 18, 2010 . Loring C. Brinckerhoff, Ph.D. Higher Education & Disability Consultant lbrincker@aol.com. Learning Disabilities.

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loring c brinckerhoff ph d higher education disability consultant lbrincker@aol com

Emerging Populations on College Campuses: Students with LD, ADHD, Psychiatric, Disabilities, and Aspergers SyndromePACE University 2010 Faculty Institute May 18, 2010

Loring C. Brinckerhoff, Ph.D.

Higher Education & Disability Consultant lbrincker@aol.com

  • Significant difficulty in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical skills despite average to above-average intellectual ability
  • Presumed to originate in central nervous system.
  • Not due to sensory impairment, mental retardation, psychiatric disability, cultural or educational deprivation, or cultural difference.
classification and etiology
Classification and Etiology
  • Dyslexia: unusual difficulty sounding out letters, tendency to confuse words and sounds, and slow processing speed. The most common type of learning disability.
  • Dysgraphia: unusual difficulty expressing thoughts on paper. Includes disorders in written expression, spelling, and penmanship.
  • Dyscalculia: unusual difficulty with mathematical calculations, abstract reasoning, and problem solving.

Learning disabilities may be due to:

  • Genetic factors (runs in families; affects more males than females [3:1])
  • Head trauma or stroke
areas of functional limitation
Areas of Functional Limitation
  • Depends on type and severity of the disability; compensating abilities; complexity of the task; access to assistive technology.

Specific learning disabilities impact academics:

  • Reading (decoding, word attack, comprehension and rate)
  • Written language (spelling, handwriting, written organization)
  • Mathematical abilities (calculation, problem solving, abstract reasoning)
  • Related problems with time management, organization, social skills are also common.
reasonable testing accommodations
Reasonable Testing Accommodations
  • Additional time (1.5 or double time, typically)
  • Additional rest breaks
  • Larger font size, larger monitor; non-glare screen
  • Large print answer sheet
  • Audiotapes or CDs or a reader
  • Scribe or keyboard entry aide
  • Quiet room with a few others or a separate room
  • Basic 4-function calculator
  • Franklin Spelling Ace
  • Paper-based tests instead of CBT
  • Other accommodations/courtesies considered
    • Colored overlays
    • Multi-day testing
internet resources
Internet Resources
  • www.interdys.org
      • (International Dyslexia Association)
  • www.lda.org
      • (Learning Disability Association)
adhd definition
ADHD Definition


  • Neurologically-based disorder that impacts learning and behavior
  • Affects a person’s ability to attain and sustain attention
  • Chronic, frequent and severe symptoms
  • Life-long impact
adhd subtypes
ADHD Subtypes

Three subtypes:

  • ADHD - Primarily Inattentive type
  • ADHD - Primarily Hyperactive/Impulsive type
  • ADHD - Combined type
adhd subtypes cont
ADHD Subtypes (cont.)


  • Has difficulty sustaining attention
  • Perseverates
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetful
  • Appears not to listen
  • Has difficulty organizing


  • Has excess energy
  • Fidgety and restless
  • Interrupts/intrudes
  • Has difficulty sitting still or quietly
adhd functional limitations
ADHD Functional Limitations

ADHD may include difficulties with:

  • Concentration
  • Focusing
  • Time/task management
  • Switching tasks/formats
  • Organizing responses
adhd functional limitations cont d
ADHD Functional Limitations (cont’d.)

ADHD may impact:

  • Approaching multi-faceted problems
  • Remembering and following directions
  • Performance consistency
  • Stress levels
possible testing accommodations
Possible Testing Accommodations
  • Additional time
  • Quiet room with reduced distractions
  • Additional breaks
  • Repeated directions - oral & written
internet resources1
Internet Resources
  • www.add.org
      • (Attention Deficit Disorder Association -
      • ADDA)
  • www.chadd.org
      • (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder – C.H.A.D.D.)
  • www.ahead.org
      • (Association on Higher Education and
      • Disability - AHEAD)
  • Diagnoses are determined by the DSM-IV or the ICD-10
  • Refers to emotions or behaviors that are:
    • extreme and not just slightly different from the norm
    • chronic – do not quickly disappear
    • atypical – unacceptable because of social or cultural norms
  • Causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
  • Psychiatric disabilities include:
  • Psychotic disorders (bipolar, schizophrenia)
  • Conduct disorders (aggression, arson, or lying)
  • Mood disorders (chronic depression, social withdrawal, low self-esteem)
  • Anxiety disorders (fear of ordinary activities)
  • Personality disorders (paranoid, anti-social, Asperger)
  • Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia)
  • Depression – depressed mood, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, low self-esteem
  • Bipolar disorder – periods of mania and depression; rapid mood swings
  • Anxiety disorder – may result in rapid heart rate, chest pains, dizziness, panic, and extreme fear
  • Schizophrenia – delusions and hallucinations
some areas of functional limitation
Some Areas of Functional Limitation
  • Out of touch with reality
  • Concentration and perseverative thought
  • Self-talk
  • Extreme self-absorption
  • Time management difficulties
  • Many individuals with psychiatric disabilities are on medication with side effects that may adversely impact day-to-day functioning and test taking.
some reasonable testing accommodations
Some Reasonable Testing Accommodations
  • Separate room; headphones; earplugs
  • Additional rest breaks (for medication and snacks)
  • Extended testing time, multi-day testing
  • Extended preparation time for a portfolio assessment
  • Individually proctored exams
definition dsm iv diagnostic criteria
Definition – DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria

Qualitative impairments in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • Marked impairments in non-verbal behavior
  • Failure to develop peer relationships
  • Lack of sharing enjoyment with others
  • Lack of social or emotional reciprocity

Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, manifested by at least one of the following:

  • Encompassing preoccupation or restricted pattern of interest
  • Inflexible adherence to a specific routine
  • Repetitive motor mannerisms
  • Preoccupation with parts of objects
definition dsm iv continued
Definition- DSM-IV (continued)
  • Causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.
  • No significant language delay
  • No clinically significant delay in cognitive development
  • Rule-out criteria for PDD or Schizophrenia.
classification geek syndrome
Classification – “Geek Syndrome”
  • Genetic neuro-developmental disorder
  • No cure, not likely to grow out of it
  • Typically found in males
  • Used to be considered 1 in 4000 -- now it’s 1 in 62 !
  • Often co-occurring with social anxiety disorder
  • Pervasive difficulties throughout all aspects of higher education experience
    • Social domain
    • Cognitive domain
    • Executive domain
  • AS is on a continuum – a spectrum
  • Overstimulation (lights, music, noise, smells, touch)
  • Tend to follow rules explicitly
  • Perfectionism to a fault
  • Often avoids eye contact because its irrelevant
characteristics continued
Characteristics (continued):
  • Trouble with social cues, body language, turn taking, may be manifested by:
    • Interruptions or calling out in class
    • Difficulty with “perspective taking”
    • Correcting the instructor
    • Odd mannerisms or noises
    • Meltdowns or outbursts are common

(Wolf, Brown & Bork, 2009)

some general recommendations for as students
Some General Recommendations for AS Students
  • In the dorm, provide special training to RA staff
  • Develop food rituals and familiar schedules
  • Ask family to assist with setting up dorm room
  • Appoint a “buddy” in the dorm for check-in
  • Determine fundamental requirements for course
  • Create a separate rule sheet and be very specific
  • Maintain and enforce conduct rules 

(Wolf, Brown & Bork, 2009)

reasonable accommodations
Reasonable Accommodations:

Accommodations cross multiple domains

  • Housing and residence life
  • Single room
  • Safe places to go
  • Organization of room
  • Emergency and fire drill preparedness

In class accommodations:

  • No “cold-calling” in class
  • Permission to bring drinks and food
  • Breaks as needed
  • Notetaker or laptop

Testing accommodations:

  • Off the clock breaks as needed
  • Extra testing time
  • Separate room
  • No use of scantron forms

(Wolf, Brown & Bork, 2009)

a wonderful new resource
A wonderful new resource!

Students with Asperger Syndrome: A Guide for College Personnel

Authored by: Lorraine Wolf, Jane Thierfeld Brown, & G. Ruth Bork

Autism Asperger Publishing Company, 2009


contact information
Contact Information

Loring C. Brinckerhoff, Ph.D.