Documentation Guidelines

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Learning Disabilities and other Cognitive Disorders

Students requesting support services are required to provide the Dean of Students/Academic Support Services with current documentation of a diagnosed learning disability, attention deficit disorder or neurological impairment from a recognized authority. The evaluation must have been administered within three (3) years of the student's enrollment date. The report must be comprehensive and include test scores and a clear diagnosis of a significant impairment. The following three domains must be addressed within the evaluation:

Intellectual Functioning

A complete intellectual assessment is required with all sub-test and standard scores. The preferred instrument is:

  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV (WAIS-IV) or
  • Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery: Tests of Cognitive Ability-V

Achievement

A complete achievement battery, with all subjects and standard scores, should be provided. The battery should include current levels of academic functioning in reading, decoding and comprehension, mathematics, and written language. Scores reflecting measure of fluency should be provided. Acceptable instruments include, but are not limited to:

  • Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised: Tests of Achievement-V
  • Nelson-Denny Reading Test
  • Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA)
  • Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT)

The Wide Range Achievement Test-3 (WRAT) is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and therefore is not acceptable if used as the only measure of achievement.

Information Processing

Specific areas of information processing, such a as short and long-term memory, auditory and visual processing, and processing speed must be assessed. Acceptable instruments include, but are not limited to:

  • WAIS-IV
  • Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery: Test of Cognitive Ability-V
  • Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt
  • Wechsler Memory Scale

Actual Test Scores

Standard scores and percentiles must be provided for all normed measures. Grade equivalents are not acceptable unless standard scores and/or percentiles are also included. The evaluation must show evidence of a significant discrepancy in cognitive/achievement and in information processing that demonstrates a substantial limitation for which an accommodation is recommended.

Specific Diagnosis

The evaluation must include a specific diagnosis. For example, individual "learning styles," "learning difference," or "academic weaknesses" are not considered neurological disabilities for which accommodations will be granted. The specific diagnosis must be supported by test data, academic history, and clinical observations that may include comments about the candidate's level of motivation, study skills, and other psycho-social factors.

Alternative diagnoses or explanations, such as medical and psychiatric disorders, as well as education and cultural factors affecting the individual's performance, should be ruled out.

Source: The Policy Book, LRP Publications, 2000

 

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Documentation for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) must be from an appropriate professional with comprehensive training in differential diagnosis as well as direct experience working with adolescents and adults with ADHD.  Professionals considered qualified to evaluate and diagnose ADHD include clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevantly trained medical doctors, such as neurologists.  The diagnostic report should be typed and submitted on official letterhead with name, title, professional credentials, address, and phone/fax numbers of the evaluator. 

Since reasonable accommodations are based on the current impact of the disability, documentation must be current.  In most cases, this means that a diagnostic evaluation must have been completed within the past three years using adult-normed instruments. Older information, while providing history of impairment, will not adequately detail the current impact of the disabling condition. The documentation should include the date of the current diagnostic evaluation and the date of the original diagnosis.

Since ADHD is by definition a disorder that is first exhibited in childhood or early adolescence (although it may not have been formally diagnosed), the documentation must provide evidence to support a childhood onset of symptoms and associated impairment. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), 504 Plans, early psycho-educational academic reports, teacher comments, documentation from tutors or learning specialists, and disciplinary records may all be useful sources of collateral information but, in and of themselves, are not considered clinical documentation for the purpose of granting accommodations. 

In addition to providing evidence of a childhood history of an impairment, the documentation must include:

  1. A specific diagnosis of ADHD based on the DSM-V diagnostic criteria. The diagnostician should use direct language in the diagnosis of ADHD, avoiding the use of such terms as "suggests,” “is indicative of,” or “attention problems."
  2. Statements demonstrating the elimination of or ruling out of alternative diagnoses that might otherwise explain the symptoms of the impairment
  3. Statements addressing the intensity and frequency of the symptoms

​The diagnostic assessment must consist of more than a self-report. Assessment should include standardized measures for inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity as well as diagnostic information to demonstrate functional impairment in an academic setting. Cognitive, memory, and executive functioning are all areas that should be addressed.  Examples of acceptable testing instruments include, but are not limited to, the following:  rating scales Cognitive, memory, and executive functioning are all areas that should be addressed.  Examples of acceptable testing instruments include, but are not limited to, the following:  rating scales -- self and relevant third party – (Connors' Adult ADHD Rating Scales); continuous performance tests (TOVA, IVA); neuropsychological testing (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - III); and psychoeducational testing such as Woodcock-Johnson III). 

All quantitative information should be in standard scores and/or percentiles; and all relevant developmental, familial, medical, medication, psychosocial, behavioral and academic information should be included as well.

 

Physical Disabilities and Chronic Health Conditions

Any physical disability or chronic health condition is considered to be in the medical domain and requires expertise of a physician, neurologist, or other medical specialist with experience and expertise in the area for which accommodations are being requested. The diagnostician must be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student. The name, title, and credentials of the qualified professional writing the report should be included.

Due to the fluctuating nature of some chronic health conditions, students may be required to provide a physician's follow up letter on an annual basis in order to determine continued eligibility to receive academic accommodations. The following guidelines are provided to assist the Office of Academic Support Services for Students with Disabilities in collaborating with each student to determine appropriate accommodations.

Documentation should include:

  • A clear statement of the medical diagnosis or chronic health condition.
  • A description of present symptoms that meet the criteria for diagnosis.
  • Documentation for eligibility must reflect the current impact the physical disability or chronic health condition has on the student's level of functioning and the need for the requested accommodation (date of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the student's request for accommodations, and the current status of the student).
  • A link must be established between the requested accommodations and the functional limitations of the individual.
  • A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis, including evaluation results and standardized scores if applicable.
  • Medical information should include the impact of medication on the student's ability to meet the demands of the post secondary environment.

Further assessment by an appropriate professional may be required if co-existing learning disabilities or other disabling conditions are indicated.

Source: The Policy Book, LRP Publications, 2000

Psychiatric/Psychological Disorders

Psychiatric disabilities comprise a range of conditions characterized by emotional, cognitive, and/or behavioral dysfunction. A diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional including psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, neuropsychiatrists, other relevantly trained medical doctors is required. The diagnostician must be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student. The name, title, and credentials of the qualified professional writing the report should be included.

Documentation for eligibility must reflect the current impact the disability has on the student's functioning (date of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student's request for accommodations).

Documentation should include:

  • A clear statement of the disability, including DSM-5 diagnosis, and a summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis.
  • A description of the current functional limitations in the academic environment, as well as across other settings. This should include a history of presenting symptoms, duration and severity of the disorder, and relevant historical data.
  • Medical information relating to the student's needs, including the impact of medication on the student's ability to meet the demands of the post secondary environment. This should include the current medication regimen and side effects
  • Relevant information regarding current treatment
  • A specific request for accommodation with accompanying rationale. A link must be established between the requested accommodations and the functional limitations of the student in the academic environment. A diagnosis in and of itself does not automatically warrant approval of requested accommodations.

Academic accommodations for students with psychological disabilities are usually granted for twelve months. Renewal of accommodations requires a current recommendation from a qualified evaluator or licensed professional who is involved with the treatment of the student. Further assessment by an appropriate professional may be required if co-existing learning disabilities or other disabling conditions are indicated. The Office of Academic Support Services for Students with Disabilities retains the right to request further documentation, if perceived necessary.

Source: The Policy Book, LRP Publications, 2000

 

Blind or Low Vision

Ophthalmologists are the primary professionals involved in 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. The diagnostician must be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student.

The following guidelines are provided to assist the Office of Academic Support Services in collaborating with each student to determine appropriate accommodations. Documentation serves as a foundation that legitimizes a student's request for appropriate accommodations.

Recommended documentation includes:

  • A clear statement of vision-related disability with supporting numerical description that reflects the current impact the blindness or vision loss has on the student's functioning (the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student's request for accommodations).
  • A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a summary of evaluation results including standardized scores.
  • Present symptoms that meet the criteria for diagnosis.
  • Medical information relating to the student's needs the status of the individual's vision (static or changing), and its impact on the demands of the academic program.
  • Narrative or descriptive text providing both quantitative and qualitative information about the student's abilities that might be helpful in understanding the student's profile including functional limitation, the use of corrective lenses and ongoing visual therapy (if appropriate).
  • A statement of the functional impact or limitations of the disability on learning or other major life activity and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.

Further assessment by an appropriate professional may be required if co-existing learning disabilities or other disabling conditions are indicated. The student and the Office of Academic Support Services collaboratively determine appropriate accommodations.

Source: The Policy Book, LRP Publications, 2000

 

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Physicians, including otorhinolaryngologists and otologists, are qualified to provide diagnosis and treatment of hearing disorders. Audiologists may also provide current audiograms. The diagnostician should be an impartial individual who is not a family member of the student.

The following guidelines are provided to assist the Office of Academic Support Services in collaborating with each student to determine appropriate accommodations. Documentation serves as a foundation that legitimizes a student's request for appropriate accommodations.

Recommended documentation includes:

  • A clear statement of deafness or hearing loss, with a current audiogram that reflects the current impact the deafness or hearing loss has on the student's functioning, (the age of acceptable documentation is dependent upon the disabling condition, the current status of the student and the student's request for accommodations)
  • A summary of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis and a narrative summary of evaluation results, if appropriate
  • Medical information relating to the student's needs, the status of the individual's hearing (static or changing) and its impact on the demands of the academic program
  • A statement regarding the use of hearing aids (if appropriate)
  • A statement of the functional impacts or limitations of the hearing loss on learning or other major life activity and the degree to which it impacts the individual in the learning context for which accommodations are being requested.

Further assessment by an appropriate professional may be required if co-existing learning disabilities or other disabling conditions are indicated. The student and the Office of Academic Support Services collaboratively determine appropriate accommodations.

Source: The Policy Book, LRP Publications, 2000

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder / Asperger's Syndrome

Students requesting support services are required to provide the Dean of Students/Academic Support Services with current documentation of a diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome from a recognized authority.  If documentation of ASD has been established during the time that the student attended K-12 school, then the diagnosis will generally be sufficient.  However, a description of the current functional limitations of the disorder should be provided.

Content of Documentation

  •  A specific diagnosis that conforms to the DSM-5 including the criterion for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).
  •  Current functional limitations on major life activities resulting from ASD. These may include but are not limited to:
  • Communication or language skill
  • Social interactions
  • Restricted, repetitive, and/or stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests or activities
  • Sensory functioning, especially sensitivity to environmental conditions that may be present in an educational setting
  • Motor skills and planning
  • Evidence to support the functional limitations statement. This may include, but is not limited to:

Intellectual Functioning

A complete intellectual assessment is required with all sub-test and standard scores.

The preferred instrument is:

  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV (WAIS-IV) or
  • Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery: Tests of Cognitive Ability-V

Achievement

A complete achievement battery, with all subjects and standard scores, should be provided. The battery should include current levels of academic functioning in reading, decoding and comprehension, mathematics, and written language. Scores reflecting measure of fluency should be provided. Acceptable instruments include, but are not limited to:

  • Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised: Tests of Achievement-V
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT-IV)

Information Processing

Specific areas of information processing, such a as short and long-term memory, auditory and visual processing, and processing speed must be assessed. Acceptable instruments include, but are not limited to:

  • WAIS-IV
  • Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery: Test of Cognitive Ability-V
  • Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt
  • Wechsler Memory Scale

Actual Test Scores

Standard scores and percentiles must be provided for all normed measures. Grade equivalents are not acceptable unless standard scores and/or percentiles are also included.              

  • Recommended Accommodations.  All accommodations should be directly related to the functional limitations listed in the report.  The rationale for each recommendation should be supported by the test data and/or clinical observations.
  • Recommendations for other support services or strategies that may be beneficial in a higher educational environment.  This may include suggestions for single room, assistive technology, medication, as well as other recommended interventions, such as counseling services.