October is full of fun and spooky fall activities as well as homework and midterms, but it’s also Learning Disability Awareness Month.
Learning disabilities are neurological conditions that affect a person’s ability to process information. Anyone can have a learning disability. It’s especially important for students to do their best around this critical period, so one resource on campus for students with learning disabilities is Ohio University’s Student Accessibility Services (SAS) located in Baker University Center 348.
To Christina Jenkins, associate director for SAS, it’s better to get a start early on with accessibility needs. SAS exists to serve those in need. Its sole goal is to help.
“I encourage students to reach out to us if they need to,” Jenkins said. “Come talk with us. It’s better to come in early on rather than late into the semester.”
If students think they might need accessibility services, they can stop by and ask questions, commitment-free. Students can also fill out the accommodations request form online.
“It’s different from student to student,” Jenkins said. “We help with whatever an individual is experiencing.”
Reese Little, a sophomore studying communication sciences and disorders, has utilized accessibility services since her freshman year.
“Accessibility services do so much for me,” Little said. “They provide (additional) notes and reading materials. They provide a calculator for my math dyslexia, which helps me stay organized when I have to use it, and it’s all free.”
Little has ADHD and dyslexia, which to her, go hand-in-hand.
“It means I have to work harder and try and focus on things,” she said.
For Little, accommodations from accessibility services are a big help. Little likes to think of the extra effort she puts into her schoolwork as motivation.
“Reading isn't my thing, but that’s not an excuse,” she said. “I like to think of it as an advantage — a good thing.”
Little said she has also gone to tutoring services.
“It helps me focus,” she said. “It’s helpful. I like it. It’s fun.”
Another resource Little utilizes through the help of accessibility services is her registered therapy animal, a puppy named Harley.
“Harley is my angel,” Little said.
Harley provides comfort and an incentive for Little when she needs it the most.
“With my ADHD and anxiety, I always want to be doing something,” she said. “He helps me stay busy and stay focused.”
Having a pet to take care of motivates Little to keep a routine. Each morning, she takes Harley on a walk through South Green.
For Little, getting a therapy dog was an exhaustive process but well worth it.
“The process for a therapy dog is kind of long,” she said.
Keeping a pet in a dorm requires more than just standard city registration and care. Animals have to have additional vaccinations and paperwork.
“It takes a little bit of time,” she said. “It can be expensive but not that hard. (It’s) definitely worth it.”
Little thinks it takes a special kind of pet owner to keep an animal in a dorm. There are more obligations when having a pet in a residence hall.
“You have to be a responsible owner,” she said.
For Little, one of the biggest challenges of being a student with accessibility needs was getting her prescription transferred.
Before finding a doctor in the area, Little traveled to Columbus every month to refill her prescription.
“It is so difficult to get a prescription transferred,” she said. “It can take up to a full year to switch to a doctor that’s in Athens.”
The process of getting her medicine relocated was long, difficult and expensive. Little had to be established with a local physician, go to testing and get re-diagnosed. This was inconvenient and stressful for her, she said.
“I need my prescription to function,” she said. “It’s something I experience every single day.”
Maria Breckenridge, a junior studying integrated media, used accessibility services heavily her freshman and sophomore years. The additional test-taking time helped her anxiety, and extra notes helped her study.
“I had a really good first couple years,” Breckenridge said. “I haven’t had a bad experience.”
With Breckenridge’s current course load, she hasn’t felt the need to use accessibility services yet this semester, but she knows that she can if needed.
She encourages anybody who think they might be in need of accommodations to contact accessibility services.