A student has obvious symptoms of a disability which is relevant to the instructor's class. The student does not appear to be aware of the disability. The disability does make it harder for the student to succeed in their education. What should the instructor do to help the student?

  • 1
    Country? And does your university have specialists for disabilities?
    – user114084
    Sep 18 '19 at 7:10
  • 1
    And how can you tell?
    – user114084
    Sep 18 '19 at 7:11
  • @user114084 This question is about student-teacher interactions, not teacher-disability specialist interactions, and I've deliberately left it general. Sep 18 '19 at 23:33

Depending on the nature of the disability, I'd suggest first talking to the relevant disabilities/accommodation office. First, they may have some paperwork or data about the student which hasn't been given to you; I've had students with accommodations before who were simply uncomfortable or unable to present them to the instructor. Second, even if they don't, they'll have more guidance on what to do here which may be very school specific.

  • Won't they say, "We are not permitted to discuss particular students without their permission?" What if the student has never been there? Sep 18 '19 at 3:06
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    @AnonymousPhysicist good point, but... I can see 3 possible outcomes: 1. They can't discuss it, but they might be able to act upon the instructor's report and speak to the student; 2. They can't discuss it, but they can advise the instructor; 3. Actually they are authorised to discuss it. Can't hurt to try!
    – Flyto
    Sep 18 '19 at 3:28
  • Discussion with student services is usually a good trigger for disability support to speak to the student. What the student does with the contact is a separate issue.
    – Poidah
    Sep 18 '19 at 5:14
  • My questions was, "How to help the student" and I take it your answer is "Don't, consult experts instead." I guess what I wanted to was to become an expert. Sep 18 '19 at 23:35
  • @AnonymousPhysicist, Becoming an expert here may take years of experience and specialized training. And one of the things you'll get from that is probably realize that given the liability issues involved, you'll still want to talk to the official people before doing anything else to make sure all proper protocols are followed. But, by taking this step, one is helping the student. It is maybe possible to give more specific advice, but without more knowledge of the symptoms or specific disability you think the student has, giving more detailed advice isn't really an option.
    – JoshuaZ
    Sep 18 '19 at 23:46

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