I have seen “disabilities services” from both sides. In elementary school, I was diagnosed with ADD and took ritalin. That got me through K-12. I was considered “gifted,” so there was no discussion of disability past medication. That changed when I got to college. I went to a small liberal arts school in Ohio. In addition to medication, much more support was available to me there. I received counseling, reading help, and testing accommodations. These services helped me to pass my classes and finish my degree.
Before I became a college instructor, I taught in various K-12 environments and adult basic education. In the classrooms of my hometown school district, where I worked as a substitute teacher and credit recovery tutor, most of my students were designated with a disability code. Almost all of the students I knew were mainstreamed, but most would have a push-in SpEd teacher for some of their classes, a pull-out support, or a resource room class. For the students who were not mainstreamed, the IEP was much more important, since they did not follow the schedule with everyone else. In adult basic education, there is no formal IEP system, but everyone works at their own pace toward their own goals. If an adult student’s goals include testing, then that student can ask for testing accommodations, but that process is not simple.
As an instructor at UAF Kuskokwim Campus, I urge my students to seek the appropriate accommodations in my classes. I tell them that I had accommodations as an undergraduate and that they should not be discouraged by any stigma they fear. Very few take advantage of the Office of Disability Services; I wish more would. (It took me a while to warm up to the idea in college, too, and I don’t take advantage of the services available as a graduate student.) Perhaps in part because so few students take advantage of supports and accommodations, I offer a level of support to all of my students that often surpasses what Disability Services tells me I have to do for the students with accommodations letters.