Students get help coping with disabilities through DSS

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By Jakoby West

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Students face many challenges at this college — studying for a midterm, balancing work and school or trying to find a parking spot.

For some students, unseen obstacles that come with having a learning disability are added to the challenges of being a student.

Nursing sophomore Haley Huizarlopez has dyslexia, which adds difficulty when interpreting words, letters, and other symbols, but she is finding ways to overcome her disability.

“If I’m sitting there trying to get everything that is on the board written down, I’m missing what (the professor) is saying, so now I just record the lectures,” Huizarlopez said in an interview March 2.

“I’m able to listen to them when I’m in my car or when I’m working out or whatnot,” she said.

She also is able to use disability support services offered at this campus to minimize the effects of her disability such as taking tests in a quiet and less crowded lab.

“When I go to take a test, my dyslexia is very heightened, so by going to DSS and having these accommodations, it helps tremendously,” she said.

A total of 599 students used disability support services in fall 2016, Delia De Luna, senior generalist of student success, said in an interview Jan. 30.

Students must show proof of a documented disability before being able to use those services and can do so by making an appointment at the office on the first floor of Moody Learning Center.

Besides labs, the office also offers access to larger computer monitors and color-coded keyboards, De Luna said.

Marketing freshman Ramon Gomez has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. He first heard about DSS through a student development course and decided to use the services offered by the office to be the first in his family to go to college.

Gomez didn’t even know he had ADHD until he was diagnosed by a physician, but he was able to cope with his disability and also be the first in his family to graduate high school.

“It affects my learning,” he said. “It’s been 20 years since high school, but I wanted to come back and learn more. I knew I was behind some of the other people out there.”

Mickey Kelley, a radio-television-broadcasting freshman, uses the services to mediate dyslexia and ADHD.

“The subject that I have the biggest issue with still is mathematics so having the ability to be able to take my classes in there and be able to get assistance has been a big help,” he said.

While this college offers many services to help students with disabilities, not all of their issues can be accommodated by the services they offer.

“I ended up taking some of my science courses at Northeast Lakeview College. I was going to take them here, but because of my disability I felt like I was treated in a different way,” Huizarlopez said.

She declined to discuss specifics for publication, but said that the staff of disability support services are major supporters of the pursuit of higher education for students with disabilities.

“Our biggest ally is DSS. They fight for us. They go to bat for us. They were always like ‘You have the drive, you have the push, you go for it. You have everything. You can do this,’” she said.

She sees her disability as a weakness but also views it as a strength.

“I double-check and triple-check everything I do,” she said. “Just because you have a disability, it doesn’t make you unintelligent. If you look at history, there have been many very intelligent people who have had a disability. You just have to approach things in a different way.”

Kelley said his disabilities used to affect him when he was younger when he thought about pursuing certain career fields and which college courses to take, but he doesn’t see them as much of a hindrance now that he fully understands what his disabilities are.

“I barely even notice it in my day-to-day life. It’s just something that I’ve kind of always had and always will have,” he said.

“I’ve gotten really good at reading. I take a lot of English literature classes now,” he said.

His advice to others with disabilities is to not let them affect them and realize that they can do anything with support.

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