Exploring Accommodations for your Student


Because mental illnesses can fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act, campus disability services professionals may be your most helpful source of information when considering a college or preparing to send your child to a school.

The designated person who coordinates the college’s compliance may have a variety of different titles, such as the Section 504 Coordinator, ADA Coordinator, or Disability Services Coordinator. When talking with these professionals, you don’t need to disclose any personal information to get the answers to key questions like:

  • What types of academic and social support structures are in place for students with disabilities, such as tutoring, academic and peer advising, education coaching, student activities and career services?
  • Under what circumstances will the college notify a parent regarding a child’s mental health?
  • What happens when a parent contacts the college with concerns regarding a child?
  • What is the school’s medical leave of absence and re-entry policy?
  • What is the code of conduct, including under-age (and not under-age) alcohol and other drug use policies?
  • What is the policy on self-harm and other high-risk behaviors?

If your child was previously aided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for high school students, familiarize yourself with the differences for college students. If your child does not disclose, the college has no obligation to suggest accommodations.

In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, almost all colleges and universities, must legally provide your child with reasonable accommodations (such as being allowed more time to take a test, or to record lectures), if your child has a mental illness that meets certain criteria under the law. If you need to do so, explore these measures in advance, as what a college or university determines as reasonable may vary greatly.

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