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Online Course: Learning to Achieve Legal Issues, Self-Disclosure, and Confidentiality for Adults with Learning Disabilities

The Learning to Achieve Legal Issues, Self-Disclosure, and Confidentiality for Adults with Learning Disabilities course asks users to consider:

  1. How might you improve or add to your intake process to better support self-disclosure by individuals with learning disabilities?
  2. How might you or your organization improve or add to what they currently do to support individuals with suspected learning disabilities to develop the skill of self-disclosure?
  3. How are the confidentiality procedures of your organization carried out? How might you improve, add to, or change them?

Comments

Taylor Dych's picture

1. We already have voluntary disclosure opportunities on our intake forms.

2. We could set a a support system through our life coach.

3. Only certain people have access to all student information.

greneau's picture

As I go through this course, my thoughts are confirmed, that my program really does not have in place any effective method for students to self-disclose. In my ten years of teaching, many students have chosen to self-disclose  their academic struggles to me. However, until recently, we have had no other way of knowing that a student may need additional support in order to be successful. For the past two years I have conducted an additional Needs Assessment for students whose placement test scores are below a certain level. During the assessment, I have the opportunity to gather information that I would otherwise not have access to. I am sure that there are many other students who have scored higher than our self-determined minimum, who could benefit from having the opportunity to self-disclose. All information is kept confidential and is locked in files in my office. I also have in place, a release of information form that I have students complete if I need to contact another agency or program that may be able to provide additional support to the student. As a rule, our program does not officially offer accommodations to students enrolled in our program. At most, we have informed them of the need to have documentation in order to receive accommodations when taking the GED exam. There is much room for growth in this area of our program.

jerry hopkins's picture

In the environment in which I teach, confidentiality is very important about LD and other issues as well. Students who are also inmates are often guarded about disclosure even when the teacher explains the benefits of doing so.

Victoria Cotsworth's picture

1. We have a question on the intake form about receiving academic help in the past.

2. We could include support for students about self disclosure and self advocacy  in the future (college and employment).

3. we already keep files secure. there is limited access.

Charleen Potasnik's picture

     I feel as instructors we need to be aware of the laws and procedures concerning LD.  We need to be "open" to receiving students with individual disabilities.  We need to create an environment in our classrooms where students feel respected and "valued."

Haylee Hemp's picture

I would improve my current organization's LD/Self-disclosure procedures by adding in teacher/student one-on-one time early in the intake process, having the teacher ask questions that may trigger self-disclosure; currently we have questionnaires that may trigger this.

Isabel Justo's picture

A standard question at the time a student registers is if the student has a disability or if the student is learning disabled. Body language and tone need to align to the program's interest in learning this information. Perhaps, registrars can add a comment or two about why and how this information can be useful to us and that our only objective is to acquire it in the best interest of the student. We might also include a brief explanation during our initial information session so that prospective students can start to think about their options.

Isabel Justo's picture

Our program lacks systems, education, and training in this area. There are no shared understandings or processes to address the needs of the student with a disability, whether they disclose or not. I think a random assessment of our staff and their understanding on this topic would prove my first statement true. We've got a lot of work to do in this area.  

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Isabel -

Great idea about the comment on needing to have an explanation of disclosure during initial information sessions with new learners.  I wonder how many programs are doing this already? Maybe it warrants a survey of the members in the Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes community.  What do you think?

Best,

Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

 

Leonidas Santelises's picture

I will inform them of their rights and make sure they are self disclosing the right information 

Leonidas Santelises's picture

It is important to keep all files private and only have appropriate staff have access. it is also important to not talk about LDs in public where anyone can listen in. 

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Leonidas -

Thanks for your responses to the course!  It sounds like you are reflecting a lot on your experience.  Would you share with us more about your role in working with learners with disabilities?  Do you still have any questions after participating in this course?

Best,

Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Nancy Wood's picture

In our adult education program, the intake process is one-on-one.  Although there is a question on the application form for disclosure of a learning disability, the new applicant may not think it is applicable to him or her, may not understand the question, or may be reluctant to disclose.  If the intake person reads through the application with the new applicant, a short discussion could occur in a nonthreatening way which could allow some disclosure that could be addressed at the beginning or could prompt the individual to speak of needing help in some areas of the adult education program.  If we only have the  applicants fill out the application form on their own, that disclosure opportunity may be missed at the beginning of their educational program and only get addressed as the teachers get to know the academic needs of those students.

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Nancy -

Great suggestion about having the intake person in a program 'read through the application with the new applicant', and provide a safe space to disclose any learning challenges/needs.  I wonder how many programs actually take time. to dedicate someone to working with applicants in this way?  It's a great way to save time and energy on the other end, and a greater opportunity to identify learners' needs, so we can support them in adult education programs.

Thanks for sharing!

Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Wendy Sweeney's picture

PANDA-Minnesota ABE Disability Specialists is a Supplemental Service Provider for Minnesota Adult Basic Education. We developed a document a number of years ago for programs to use  at registration to identify students with disabilities.  This is a proactive approach to help support students and communicate their needs to the teachers.   There is just one question we ask programs to add to their registration forms which is:  "Have you ever been diagnosed with a condition that could impact learning? (i.e. mental health, ADHD, developmental disability, learning disability, brain injury, vision or hearing loss)".    If the student marks "yes", another form is used to ask more questions, such as more information about the disability, if they were ever in special education classes, if they have a case worker, what would help their learning, etc.  If they have a case worker or social worker, they are asked to sign a release of information in order to allow us to communicate with them to support their learning.  

Programs have found this helpful and it is explained to the student that the purpose of gathering more information is to help them academically.

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Wendy-

Thanks for sharing how PANDA-Minnesota ABE Disability Specialists are doing to help adult learners access services.  The two step process you describe is an excellent idea.  The general nature of the initial question is very open-ended, and I'm sure helps you identify some learners who might respond very differently to a more targeted question, asking if a person has a learning disability.  The follow-up questions you ask those persons who self-identify on the first part, are much more focused on helping not only to identify disability, but also connect the learner, and program staff, to resources and supports that will promote learner achievement.  

I'm curious how many other programs are using this type of two-step learner identification process, and what impact it is having on learner self-disclosure?

Best,

Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes

michaelcruse74@gmail.com 

Beth Montano's picture

Our program does not specifically ask about LD, however the teacher I work with has students write an essay about themselves, where they can disclose as much or as little as they like. She does not share these with me, however she will let me know if a student has mentioned any LD. The bonus about the essay for the students is that it is counted as distance work, so they are ahead on that.

Linda Moore's picture

In our program students may self-disclose during the enrollment process. One question asks if they had an IEP in school. They are asked if they know of anything that helped them to learn more effectively and what activities did they have difficulties with. Also they are asked to write an Introductory Paragraph explaining anything that would help the teacher to better meet their needs and probably wouldn't show up on a test.

Linda Moore's picture

Our program has stringent rules to protect the confidentiality of our students. Student records are kept locked in the file cabinet and are only accessed by the instructor or administrator. Students are not asked if they have a learning disability, but may self-disclose. Educational plans and Learners guides are shared with the student and tutor. The teacher directs the specific learning activities.