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High School to College Transition Resources: National Center for Learning Disabilities

Romitta Hoff (she/her), one of the 2022 Dinah F.B. Cohen DREAM Fellows, interviewed the National Center for Learning Disabilities about the transition resources they offer to those with learning disabilities. The below article is written by her.

Ever needed more time on a test, or had difficulty focusing during class? Well this is true for 1 out of 5 children and adults with a learning and attention disability. These individuals are 3 times more likely to drop out of school and 2 times more likely to be jobless. Global outcry has been heard and the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) took on the challenge of advocating for them. The NCLD created a transition guide to bridge the gap of knowledge and resources about transition planning, changes in legal rights and responsibilities, and how to access the available supports and services that do exist in post-high school settings

As a recent graduate, I can reflect on moments where extra help or time would have been helpful, so I was happy to connect with Nicole Fuller , Senior Policy Associate for NCLD, to discuss their new Transition Guide, to bring equity in education. 

Hello Nicole, what is the National Center of Learning Disabilities?

My name is Nicole Fuller, and I’m a Senior Policy Associate at the National Center for Learning Disabilities or NCLD. NCLD has been around for about 45 years, since 1977 and our mission is to improve the lives of the one in five children and adults nationally who have learning disabilities and attention issues. What this looks like over the years has been [us] advocating for equal rights, equal rights and opportunities for students with learning disabilities. 

What is your organization’s signature transition support program?

Transition has been a focus of ours for a while and we have a program called the Young Adult Leadership Council. Although it’s not a direct transition program, it’s a leadership opportunity for young adults with learning or attention issues. They range in ages from 18 to 26, or 30 years old. They are young adults who are either in college or in their career and you go through a year long program being able to explore advocacy, build community with other young adults and to explore you know the transition process. 

Is this what helped launch the Transition Guide?

The launch of our Planning Your Future: A Guide to Your Future transition resource guide that just was published in the Summer of 2022, typically for young adults, their families, or their educators, helps to guide them through the transition process. The content is presented as a course with four main sections. First, resources for high schoolers considering future options are covered, including available Pre-Employment Transition Services, Career and Technical Education Courses, and Dual Enrollment opportunities. Next, learners with Individualized Education Plans, or IEPs, learn about Self-Advocacy and Strengths-Based IEPs. In the third section, the difference in civil rights laws is reviewed, describing the different laws for adults and how to request reasonable accommodations in college compared to high school. The final section is for individuals considering transition to the workforce, with a variety of organizations to consider contacting along with tips for requesting reasonable accommodations. Individuals using the transition guide can explore opportunities and services how they want. You can navigate it how you want, and help make transition decisions that best meet your goals.

What policy efforts do you support to help students with disabilities in college?

We have policy efforts around transitions because we know that one of the most difficult parts of the transition process is when students go from high school directly to college. They go through the process of trying to get accommodations for a disability when they’re in college, and often, they have an IEP or work plan in high school for a learning disability or ADHD, and they take that documentation to their college and it’s not accepted. The college will require [the students] to get a new evaluation and this is super expensive, and burdensome. Therefore, NCLD has advocated over the last several years for a piece of legislation called the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act. This act will change the policies so that colleges have to take IEPs or 504 plans for students to get accommodations in college, removing those red tape barriers. 

How does your organization make space for individuals with intersectional identities?

It’s super important to be mindful of. You know, students’ intersectional identities. Often, we think of transition as a very linear process, yet there are a variety of different paths that students can take. Where they come from in life might vary. One would typically think high school, college, then career, but you know, sometimes students maybe go and work for a few years, and then they go back to school or they go into the military. There’s so many different paths that a student can take. NCLD provides resources to support individuals with intersectional identities and for multiply-marginalized populations and one way we do that is by centering these individuals on our Young Adult Leadership Council and acting upon their recommendations

Can you list three fun facts to convince someone to participate in the organization or to be involved.

My first one relates to our Young Adult Leadership Council. We’ve had five cohorts of the this Young Adult Leadership council participate in the program and we’ve had our annual LD day of action for the last five years. This is an event where every year, our young adults fly to Washington, DC and get the opportunity to meet with their Members of Congress and share their stories and advocate. So, I think that’s really one of the most exciting days of the year! My second one is one of our trademark research publications called the State of LD (State of Learning Disabilities). This is a report that has a lot of information about people with learning disabilities, and people actively refer to this report. And then my last one, I think it’s kind of fun. We have had three first ladies engage with the organization in some way. First Lady Barbara Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, and First Lady Hillary Clinton. So if you get involved you never know, you just may meet someone famous!

Does the NCLD sound interesting to you?

If you have LD or ADHD and this information seems like it would be helpful, please check out the Transition Guide and Get connected to NCLD! You can visit them online at https://www.ncld.org/ or reach out to them via phone (301) 966-2234 or email  info@ncld.org. or visit the website at https://www.ncld.org/ 

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