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Special Services and Support

connors family learning center

The Connors Family Learning Center provides special services and support for all students with learning disabilities and ADHD, and all who teach and/or advise students with learning disabilities. For more information, call or email Kathy Duggan at 552-8093 or dugganka@bc.edu.  Learning disability documentation can be mailed to the following address:

Dr. Kathleen Duggan
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Ave.
The Connors Family Learning Center
O'Neill Library, Room 200
Chestnut Hill, MA  02467

Support and services for all students with learning disabilities

How do I request accommodations?

The Connors Family Learning Center engages in an interactive process with each student and reviews accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case basis.  Depending upon the nature and functional limitations of a student’s documented disability, he/she may be eligible for reasonable and appropriate accommodations. 

Once appropriate documentation is received and reviewed, a professional staff member from the CFLC will contact the student to schedule an intake interview and discuss the request.  Students can call 617-552-8055 to discuss the status of the request and to set up appointments.

Suggestions for Students:

Inform your academic advisor about your disability.  Your advisor will be able to better help you if they are aware of your particular needs.  You should plan a carefully balanced schedule, so that you are not overloaded with courses requiring heavy reading, extensive writing or large amounts of memorization.  It is better to do well with fewer classes than poorly with too many; consider taking 12 credits versus 15 per semester and making up courses in the summer.

When possible, choose small, structured classes with professors who use multi-modal methods of instruction, provide a detailed syllabus, present information in an organized manner, and use various ways to evaluate student performance.

Be knowledgeable about your disability and comfortable describing it so you can advocate effectively for yourself with your professors.  Be sure to inform your professors of your needs early in the semester so they can accommodate you appropriately.

Organize your materials and establish a set time and place to study.  Estimate ahead of time how long a given class assignment will take.  Plan to spend at least two hours of study time outside of class for every hour in class.  Study more difficult subjects when your energy levels are highest.  Build in breaks as you are able.

Use a calendar for planning rather than trying to keep a schedule in your head.  Keep a monthly calendar with semester assignments, quizzes, exams and other pertinent information.  Fill out a weekly calendar as well with slots that include all of your classes, tutoring appointments, work schedule, exercise plan, study time etc.  From the weekly calendar, draw up a daily calendar with a list of things to do each day.  There are a variety of websites/technology you can try including Kabanflow.

Attend all of your classes, take notes and participate in discussions.  This will get you involved, and if your professor counts class participation in the grade, it can help you out.

Sit toward the front of the classroom to minimize distractions and help you focus on the professor. 

If you have questions about course material or trouble structuring an assignment, do not hesitate to visit your professor preferably during schedule office hours.  It is important to seek help as soon as you need it so you do not fall behind.

If you don’t understand something, ask the professor to rephrase the information rather than merely repeating it.  Seek out a tutor at the CFLC for additional help.

Keep up with reading assignments and use reading strategies that promote comprehension and efficiency.  Preview new material by looking over section headings and reading the end-of-chapter summaries and questions.  Consider highlighting important text information and relate new material to what you already know about the subject to help you remember it.

Attend all review sessions offered by your professors.  If you learn well by studying with others, join or start a study group to discuss and review material for your courses. You can share notes, ask each other questions, and work out problems as a group.

Support and services for all BC faculty and teaching fellows who teach and/or advise students with learning disabilities

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), “the essential feature of ADD/ADHD is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development” (p.78).  ADD/ADHD are neurobiological disabilities with characteristics of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity that appear in early childhood, are relatively chronic in nature, and are not due to other physical, mental or emotional causes.

Suggested modifications and Accommodations

Provide a syllabus with clear explanations of tasks and specific due dates

Provide preferential seating near the front of the class and away from possible sources of distraction

Provide materials in a variety of formats to reinforce information presented

Provide test sites that have reduced distractions and allow extended time

Whenever possible, start each lecture with a summary of the material to be covered, or provide a written outline.  At the conclusion of each lecture, review major points.

Students with ADHD may tend to drift off during class, especially during long lectures.  They are better able to maintain attention when the material is stimulating and the format varied (for example, lecture alternating with presentations and class discussions). If the class is lengthy, please be sure to permit several breaks.

As the semester progresses, please remind students of impending deadlines.

Avoid making assignments orally, since students with ADHD may miss them.  Always write assignments on the board or in written form.

Provide prompt, explicit feedback, both written and oral.

Learning Disabilities

A Learning Disability is a neurological disorder which results in a difference in the way an individual’s brain is “wired”.  Students with learning disabilities may have difficulty with reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling and/or organizing information.  There are five common types of learning disabilities:

Dyslexia – a language based disability where the student will have trouble understanding written words/numbers.  This is often referred to as a reading disability.

Dyscalculia – a math based disability where individuals have difficulty solving arithmetic problems and grasping mathematical concepts.

Dysgraphia – A writing disability where students find it difficult to form letters or write within a defined space.

Auditory and Visual Processing Disorder – A sensory disability where students have difficulty understanding written or spoken language.

Suggested Modifications and Accommodations

Whenever possible, start each lecture with a summary of the material to be covered, or provide a written outline.  At the conclusion of each lecture, review major points.

Avoid making assignments orally, since students with LD may miss them.  Always write assignments on the board or better yet, post them electronically.

Provide prompt, explicit feedback, both written and oral.

Provide test sites that have reduced distractions; and when students are taking tests with extended time, do not ask them to move from one test site to another.

Whenever possible, allow students ample processing time to formulate a question or response.

It the use of a calculator or word processor does not take away from the material being taught, these technologies should be available for students.

Incorporate components of Universal Design for Instruction into your teaching.