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|Thread : Psychological Testing and Special Accommodations|
|25 Jun 2008 @ 12:26 AM|
Mon 23rd Jun 2008
Threads: 1 Posts: 2
Psychological Testing and Special Accommodations
When I was very young, a psychiatrist ran a battery of tests and told my parents that I had a very high IQ and that I should start school a year early. Although I was supposed to be considered "gifted" I always struggled in school, but with the help of tutors and my parents, I always made average grades, though it was not easy. I was not diagnosed with ADD until I was 20. I was a senior in college at the time and was almost finished with my undergrad education, so aside from medication, I was not aware of special accommodations like extended time and alternate testing environment. However, after my first semester of law school and making the worst grades I had ever made in my life, a number of professors, after learning of my ADD and reviewing my exams with me, suggested that I apply for special accommodations. Ever since then, I have had the extended time and alternate testing environment, and my grades have substantially improved.
However, as I enter my third year of law school, I have started the process of applying for the Bar Exam in my state and have learned that in order to apply for special accommodations, I will have to get a whole battery of psychological testing done to submit with my application. I understand this requirement (which is costing me over $2,000), however, I have also been informed that very few people are actually granted special accommodations for the bar exam and that because I was not diagnosed until later in life and because I am doing well in law school (which is due in large part to the special accommodations I have been given) it is unlikely that I will receive the special accommodations, even if the psychological testing and evaluations confirm my ADD diagnosis and the need for special accommodations.
I feel as though I am being penalized not only because I was not diagnosed late in life, but also because I have worked hard to get good grades in law school. Apparently, if I was on the verge of flunking out of law school, I would have a better chance of receiving the accommodations.
Since all of this has started, I have been researching Adult ADD and have come to realize that many women like myself have suffered for years before being diagnosed. I was just wondering if anyone else out there has encountered a similar problem with late diagnosis and receiving special accommodations for graduate and/or professional testing and has any suggestions for dealing with this problem.
|25 Jun 2008 @ 12:37 PM Reply # 1|
Thu 25th Oct 2007
Threads: 18 Posts: 416
Congratulations on nearly completing law school! You sound like a real fighter and a damn smart woman who's not about to let 'the system' discriminate against you because of a medical condition. Definitely keep fighting for the BAR accommodations that you need and arm yourself with as much information as possible so that you can defend your rights before the review board. For example, that women are far more likely to receive a late diagnosis (or no diagnosis at all) for ADD because it's still wrongly viewed as a male hyperactivity disorder... and you shouldn't be penalized for that!
About ADHD in Women: Why Girls and Moms Go Undiagnosed: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/740.html
Best of luck, and let us know how it turns out!
|5 Feb 2009 @ 6:04 PM Reply # 2|
Mon 23rd Jun 2008
Threads: 1 Posts: 2
Didn't get Accommodations for Bar Exam and freaking out!
After having the testing done which not only confirmed my ADHD diagnosis but also discovered a learning disability which causes me to read much slower than other people in my age group, I was denied special accommodations for the bar exam. Not only did they deny the extended time and alternate testing environment, claiming that my academic record showed that my ADD was treatable with medication (completely ignoring the fact that the reason I did so well in law school was in large part because of the special accommodations I received there) they denied all requests I made, which means that I am not even allowed to bring a bottle of water and my ADD medication into the exam to take when I am supposed to. I am taking the bar exam at the end of February and I have no idea what to do. I am scared to death that I will not be able to finish the bar exam without the extra time, and will therefore fail.
I do not understand why I am being punished for working hard and doing well in law school. I have read posts on this website by parents of young children who are constantly fighting to get their kids the accommodations they need and deserve under the law. This entire process had made me realize that if I do in fact pass the bar, I want to donate my time to helping people get the accommodations they need. Although I got good grades all through school, it was not easy. I was lucky enough to have parents who spent thousands of dollars on private tutors to help me get the grades I did. If they had not, I probably would not have been able to get into law school. And yet, the Board of Bar Admissions determined that my good grades meant that my ADHD did not have enough of a negative effect on me to warrant accommodations.
If anyone can explain this to me, or help me figure out what my next move should be, I would love the advice.
|14 Jun 2009 @ 7:09 PM Reply # 3|
Sun 14th Jun 2009
Bar Exam denied accomodations- Very frustrated- Is it impossible
Why don't they just tell us, that we have a better chance of flying than getting accomodations on the bar exam, due to ADHD diagnosed as adults. My denial letter first, accused my doctor of not considering if I was putting minimal efforts to the large battery of tests in my evaluation, just so that I could get him to give me the prognosis of ADHD for extra time. Next, they want an explanation from him why a high functioning ADHD would score low on portions of the micrcog, and that a person with my scores would be severely mentally retarded. Finally, after turning in the forms provided by them on past accomodations from my law school, with dates and signed by the dean of students, they say, I didn't tell them what exams i had accomodations for, and that I didn't take a test without accomodations and see if I would fail. First, I had a history of the past 8 years with the diagnosis as an adult with psychological evaluations and medical doctor medication history, -- and they in so many words accuse me of not putting effort into the battery of tests, i put full effort..... After reading their list of requirements for the accomodation request with ADHD people, they add additional requirements in their denial letter. ***Should they be questioning doctors with extensive experience, and their diagnosis? They are putting the burden too high. If we pass, it's because "see they didn't have adhd, they passed." ISN'T IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO PERSEVERE OVER OUR CONDITION, If a person who has a physical disability, perseveres and walks even though they have a severe limp due to a leg condition, we don't say, see he doesn't have a condition, because he's walking. Why is it the same here? We are asking for an equal footing, not answers. It's time for a movement on this. I am a woman, and I agree, that maybe we as a class of women are being discriminated against, since it is well documented, girls are misdiagnosed, or not diagnosed at all as children. Law Examiners need to spell out what tests they want administered, exact documentation or evidence, -- then when a judgment is made by a medical professional and it is a widely accepted diagnosis with the specified tests, except it as that. Do they question the doctor of someone in a wheel chair as whether they truly made the right diagnosis? If I do not pass, I will file a legal claim. ADHD is listed in the DSM IV- it is a real condition with real consequencesSo, what happens now, I will be someone with immense student loans, with a law education, without the ability to practice....
|25 May 2010 @ 12:41 PM Reply # 4|
Tue 25th May 2010
Re: Wow! 10 years . . . a DECADE . . .
I finally received my law degree, and now I am trying to pass the bar. All of you with prior comments have said everything I feel, have experienced, and then some. I currently struggle to make enough income to survive. I bet all of you can relate. With student loans for law school so large, the job market in the toilet, and bar examiners claiming we do not merit the award of accommodations, I am disgusted with the system. Of course, when we were all in school, the law schools were happy to take our student loans even though they already knew what awaited us. I feel conned! I no longer encourage children to get a college degree or invest in education.
As a law student, I remember several professors and deans telling me that I would never get accommodations on the bar exam. They said, "You better have a backup plan!" WOW! What happened to telling students, "You can be anything you want to be. You just need to work hard and stick with it!" What a crock!
I support all of you who have written about your experiences. I have been feeling ready to give up the fight lately, but I am renewed by what you have shared. I am not alone! You are not alone!
Currently, I am requesting accommodations for the licensing exam for peace officers in the state where I reside hoping that if I receive them it will be additional evidence which I can put before the bar examiners. I am hopeful that maybe gaining successful grant of accommodations in another career field may help to gain accommodations for my bar exam. I am trying to compile evidence of accommodations. Like you, I did not learn of my disabilities until I was in law school; therefore, I have no history of accommodations being granted except for in law school.
I am lost as to where to go from here! Any ideas!
|25 May 2010 @ 12:58 PM Reply # 5|
Tue 25th May 2010
If you do not feel ready to take the bar, do not take it, especi
ADDlawstudent said: Well,
|25 May 2010 @ 1:19 PM Reply # 6|
Mon 23rd Jun 2008
Threads: 1 Posts: 2
I am sorry for the trouble you are currently having with this issue. When I wrote the initial post, I was desperate and feeling very alone. I have since learned that bar administrators all over the country are doing the same thing to lots of other people. It is difficult to get this far in pursing a career path and worry that it could all be for nothing. I wish I could say that at the end of the day, I felt that there was hope for people to get the accomodations they need and deserve, but unfortunately I can't. Although I did not get accomodations for the bar exam, I am happy to report that I did pass on the first try and am now a practicing attorney. I can tell you that after I took the bar exam, which was not at all easy and there were a few parts that I did not finish because of the time contraints, I told everyone who asked me about it that if I failed, there was no way I was taking it again. Because there was no way I would ever know more law than I did at that moment and be more prepared, and I felt like a failure would be a direct result of the lack of special accomodations, which I knew I would never get.
I now work in the building adjacent to the the State Supreme Court building where the bar admissions office is housed, and I park in the same parking garage as the women who work in the office and made it very clear to me that I was fighting a lost cause, and I can tell you that every time I see one of them my blood still boils. The system is broken and it has to be fixed, but unfortunately, I don't have an answer yet for how to fix it.
My best advice, having gone through this and come out on the other side is to forget about the accomodations and do the best you can to prepare yourself for the exam. I took Bar/Bri, which is a great program, but knew that following there program alone would not be enough for me. I knew that the best way I learned was to make flashcards, do drills with other people...writing the elements of a crime over and over again, having somone quiz me, and repeating. I am also lucky enough to have a wonderful husband who is also an attorney and who had been through the bar exam the year before, and was willing to be that person to help me study and not lose my mind. Two days before the bar exam, his family was visiting and I was in another room of our house studying and I heard his mom ask him how I was doing and if I was ready. He had no idea I could hear him and he told them that although I was especially nervous because of not getting the accomodations, he had never met anyone as prepared for the bar exam as I was and that there was no way he knew as much going into the bar exam as I did. This really made me feel better and have hope that that would be enough.
Also, for those of us that were not diagnosed until later in life, try to remember that at some point in your life, you did make it through tough exams and school without the accomodations. It may have been a lot harder, but you did well enough to get into law school and graduate, which not many normal people can do. As usual, not getting accomodations means that you will have to work twice as hard to accomplish your goals. But trust me, you can accomplish them.
|14 Jul 2010 @ 3:51 PM Reply # 7|
Wed 14th Jul 2010
Just denied accommodations
Hello, This is my first time posting on this board, and what follows is an extremely long explanation of my situation. I apologize for the lack of structure and the unnecessary tangents. However, I needed to tell my story to people who may understand what I am going through.
I received notification yesterday that I will not be receiving any ADHD accommodations on the upcoming Florida Bar exam. The florida bar examiners expressed that their determination was based on the recommendation of a doctor who reviewed my file. His letter to the bar was forwarded to me and basically stated that I was too intelligent and too high functioning to be suffering from a disability. I was shocked and appalled that some doctor who has never examined me or spoken with me, my doctor, or anyone else who knows me could tell me I was not suffering from a disability. It is extremely hard to have been told my whole life that I am too smart to have a "problem." People think I do not need help getting to an even playing field because I'm already on an all-star track. What I want to say is, it's not my fault that my performance without accommodations is better than what most people can achieve. Of course, people don't want to hear that.
What people don't realize is that to get where I am I have had to work so hard to compensate for my disability. I was very poor growing up, so I could not afford to be officially tested or receive medication (we didn't even have health insurance). I also was so high performing in elementary school that no one thought to have the school test me. However, I could not stay seated, I could not keep my mouth shut, I could not focus on assignments, I never did homework. My family called me the wild monkey. My teachers took me out of class and put me on a computer that was teaching me lessons several grade levels above where I was. By the time I got to middle school I could not read books that were assigned. I had such a hard time focusing that I just tried to get by without doing any of the work. When I got my first C during my first semester in 6th grade everyone just assumed I was lazy and needed to have more stimulation. I started lying about my work and making excuses for not getting things done in time.
By the time I got to high school I realized that while the material was extremely easy, I could not get through information or write an essay in the time allotted to me. My peers in AP classes were flying by me, and I started to see that I had a problem. Very quickly my teachers started working with me to give me extra time. Then I began staying after school to work with teachers and tutors in order to practice reading and writing strategies under time constraints. My teachers recognized that despite my intelligence I was struggling immensely. So, many gave me accommodations. I was angry that while I understood the information better than my peers, I could not get through it as fast. I began locking myself in my bathroom to read my AP texts. I wanted to avoid any distractions. The slightest noise in a classroom would distract me for several minutes during an exam. Despite all my extra time training I was unable to finish any of the several AP exams I took. I was unable to get through the reading comprehension section on the SAT. However, I got almost perfect scores on the math and the other verbal sections. How can I say I was supposed to have gotten 5s, or I should have scored a 1600? As cocky as it sounds, I know that is what I could have achieved.
College was a new challenge. I was taking pre-law classes and was assigned hundreds of pages of reading. I just couldn't get through that material. I could not get papers done on time. I could not sit down and make myself research and write for extended periods of time. Luckily my school was so small that professors recognized that I was struggling. I continued to receive many accommodations. Professors would give me unlimited time on exams, or allow me to turn in papers late. However, my excuses started to wear on them, and I constantly felt guilty even though I was trying so hard. My study tactics developed immensely and I was was using numerous coping strategies. I began seeing the academic counseling center. They told me that my ADHD was very apparent, and I needed to be tested. I found the most affordable doctor I could find and was quickly diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type.
This helped, but in turn I faced so many new problems. First, I was angry. I was angry that I was not diagnosed earlier. I was angry that people had called me lazy my whole life. I was angry that despite the fact that I knew deep down I was able to have performed better my whole life, I was constantly told to settle for good enough. Good enough is far from the greatness that I deserve. Next, I was told it was unfair that I had accommodations. Students gave me a hard time when they found out I got extra time and told me I just paid a doctor to diagnose me. I felt guiltier than ever for using accommodations and often opted to do things without, because I began to think that I did not deserve them. I thought I could just work harder than ever. I avoided medication for many years and often tried to go without notifying my professors of my disability. I worked with an academic counselor for hours each week. She had to put me in a room in order for me to get my work done. I had to email her pages of papers as I wrote them in order to try to be more accountable for my work. I tried every study strategy that I could possibly think of. These were all my ideas. I hated myself every time I failed to get work done on time. I hated myself for not being able to read all the cases assigned. I took the hardest professors in the hopes of having them scare me in to getting my work done on time. I struggled. Badly.
I applied for accommodations on the LSAT because I could not get through the reading comprehension sections. I was getting perfect scores on every other section. I was denied accommodations because my testing doctor did not give me one particular test that the LSAC required. My doctor did not give me that particular test because it is the most expensive part of the ADHD battery of testing. LSAC did not care that I could not afford the test or even afford to fly home to see the doctor again. I called every local psychologist and they told me they would have to administer a complete battery of testing (not just the one test). I could not get this done in time for less than $2,000. So, I went without extra time on the LSAT. I did great by most people's measure. However, when given just a little extra time on the reading comprehension section I consistently scored 175-178. Again, I was supposed to be happy with good enough. Well, good enough likely cost me thousands of dollars in scholarship money. Looking back I wish I somehow found the money to pay the $2,000 for the additional testing. Ultimately, I got into many prestigious schools, and even got some financial help (mostly need based). I could not imagine a better school for me, and unlike many, I actually loved law school.
However, law school was not without some serious difficulties. I still felt guilty about accommodations and decided to go a year without extra time. Most students would have killed for extra time, but I was too ashamed to take it. I did go on medication, but tried to take it as little as possible. To this day I ration my medication because I do not want to feel like I am cheating. If I don't have a horrible workload in front of me, I'll say to myself I only need a third of this pill. In the meantime, I see most of my peers illegally getting adderal and ritalin. I can't even swallow a whole pill without feeling bad. I cannot describe how hard I struggled and how much I tried to compensate for my disability. I worked so hard to get papers in on time. I got better at it over time. The process was grueling (is grueling) and often depressing. I tried to continue to see an academic counselor, but my school's services were not sufficient for my needs. The sole counselor that the entire university (this time at a much larger institution) offered to students with disabilities gave me coping strategies that I taught myself in elementary school. I needed big girl coping strategies, but I ultimately learned that I was the only one who could teach myself how to get through law school. I saw how slowly I read material compared to my peers, but how fast I processed concepts. I tutored many peers, but could never be focused enough to create an "outline." It felt nice that my friends and classmates recognized my intelligence but saw that I could not get papers in on time. They understood that it was not for lack of trying. Now, I don't think many of them understood the nature of my disability, and most were still envious of anyone who got extra time. Yet, it took being surrounded by such a high achieving bunch to finally realize that I deserved help. I needed an equal playing field with THESE PEOPLE- the people who were just as intelligent and high achieving as myself. So, I took extra time for the remaining two years and I lost some of the guilt (still working on that). My grades did not change, but I could finally get through as much of the exams as my peers.
Now, I am graduated and I have employment lined up for this fall. I am a lucky girl and I am so thankful for all the opportunities and support I have had. But, I HAVE had a disability my entire life. I have struggled my entire life. I continue to suffer from this disability. Now I face one of the hardest challenges any lawyer must face-- except I have to face it with an extra barrier in my way. Hopefully I will pass without the extra time. However, I should NOT be forced to take this exam without the accommodations that my disability warrants. The ADA does not make an exception for intelligence. When I read that letter, all the guilt came rushing back. Apparently I ought to perform worse, suffer more, and once again settle for good enough.
Teachers, administrators, and doctors should never tell anyone (especially a child) to settle. Someone's intelligence and success should not blind professionals from a severe and actual problem. The florida board of bar examiners should not tell a successful law graduate that she has done too well in life to be suffering from a disability. Shame on the FL bar, and shame on everyone who ever made me feel guilty for wanting to do better. Shame on that doctor for trying to deny my lifetime of struggling, compensating, and most sadly, settling.
I would love to hear any advice or similar experiences. I could really use to hear from someone who understands what this is like.
|17 Mar 2011 @ 3:31 AM Reply # 8|
Thu 17th Mar 2011
Taking meds during the exam...?
ADDlawstudent, Congratulations on passing the bar! Did they end up letting you take your medication into the exam with you? I will be sitting for the bar in July - I normally take one adderall in the morning and then half of one about three to four hours later and another half about two to three hours after that. Does anyone know if they will let me do that? I'll be taking the Virginia bar, if that makes a difference...
Local Time : 23 May 2013 9:58 PM
(Fri, 24 May 2013 01:58:08 GMT)