Written by: Josée Senneville
The transition to college is a difficult step for any young person. The challenges of integration and success in higher education are particularly daunting if your child has special needs.
If you are the parent of an elementary or secondary student who has a disability, a learning disorder or adjustment difficulties (EHDAA), you know what an intervention plan is. You are already familiar with the accommodations made to address your child’s limitations. When your child is ready to start CEGEP, he or she will be able to benefit from Adapted Services. Will he or she be entitled to the same measures as in secondary school? Whom do you contact and when? What will you need to access Adapted Services? Look through this blog post for answers to your questions.
If your child has a diagnosed limitation, he or she can access College Adapted Services regardless of whether he or she had a secondary school intervention plan. Available in every CEGEP, this service provides students who have disabilities with accommodations and services tailored to their diagnosis, and it equips teachers to deal with the problems experienced by those students. The goal: Promote integration and success without discrimination or privilege.
There must be a diagnosis or diagnostic assessment signed by a professional recognized and authorized under the Professional Code of Quebec. The following diagnoses qualify for Adapted Services accommodations:
For a permanent limitation, there is no expiry date for the diagnosis. Consequently, even if the professional assessment dates back to elementary school, it will be accepted.
The range of services and accommodations is based on the student’s specific needs and medical diagnosis. The following are some examples:
As soon as your child receives a CEGEP offer of admission, encourage him or her to make an appointment with the person responsible for Adapted Services. Contact information is available on the CEGEP’s website. The needs assessment meeting may take place in the spring or before school starts in August. The parents do not have to attend.
The initial meeting is with a local service representative. It has the following objectives:
For a thorough needs assessment at the initial meeting, the student must have certain documents with him or her, including the assessment report by a recognized professional confirming the diagnosis or disability. For some CEGEPs, a form has to be completed; check on this in advance. The most recent secondary school intervention plan and transcript may be useful, but they are not necessary. If your child is receiving services from an outside agency (e.g., a rehabilitation centre or a youth centre), this should be mentioned during the initial meeting.
At the end of the meeting, the student will have an individual intervention plan specifying the accommodations that will be put in place to address his or her limitation and needs. At the beginning of each term, the student will be required to sign the individual intervention plan. At that point, the plan can be updated with necessary corrections and adjustments.
My child has no diagnosis, but he already has an intervention plan with accommodations. Is this enough to qualify for College Adapted Services?
NO. At the college level, you must have a diagnosis to qualify for accommodations. However, you can still make an appointment with someone from Adapted Services. In some cases, temporary accommodations can be made until the student can see a specialist to confirm the diagnosis. Adapted Services staff can help you connect with an internal or external specialist for the assessment.
My child has special needs but no diagnosis or intervention plan. Can he still go to Adapted Services?
YES. If it is determined that your child is not eligible for Adapted Services, the person responsible may refer him or her to other resources, services and assistance centres that are accessible to all students. These services may take the form of tutoring, educational assistance, centres that provide help in French, English or philosophy, etc. CEGEPs also offer free psychosocial services (psychologists, guidance counsellors, social workers, etc.).
Will my child qualify for the same accommodations as in his secondary school intervention plan?
Not necessarily, as accommodation needs vary over time and with the diagnosis.
Is the secondary school intervention plan automatically transferred to the college?
NO. The student must decide whether to transfer the plan or not. Moreover, a student with a secondary school intervention plan and accommodations is not required to use College Adapted Services. It is entirely voluntary.
What happens if my child is diagnosed in college? Will he qualify for Adapted Services?
YES. It is not unusual for limitations emerge during the college years (e.g., accident, depression, injury, recent diagnosis). The student can apply at any time, even for a temporary limitation.
Are the accommodations listed in the report card?
NO. However, the student will need to sign an information exchange authorization so that the person responsible for Adapted Services can discuss his or her needs with teachers and other partners.
Success support services exist at all educational levels and can provide assistance throughout a young person’s education, even in university. Check it out! To learn more, see the website of the Centres collégiaux de soutien à l’intégration.
Josée Senneville, Guidance Counsellor