Meigan Karraker, Amy Wilms, Courtney Carter, and Julie Cauthron
The Disability Services office is available to ensure that students with accommodation needs can make the most of their Redlands experience.
“We are the primary contact for students with accommodation needs, whether it’s learning, medical/physical, mental health, housing or dietary,” Amy Wilms, assistant dean of academics and student life, said. “We work with all of those, which may mean a student needs to be on the first floor, or have a single room. If it’s dietary, they may have gluten issues, and we need to work with Bon Appetit. It could also be working with a student with anxiety, depression, ADD, or physical issues.”
Wilms meets with prospective students and their families before they even enroll at the University to share with them everything her office has to offer. Once someone becomes a student, Wilms, along with her associates in the Academic Success & Disability Services office, tailors accommodations to meet specific needs.
“I spend time meeting with students to provide learning academic accommodations, anything from extra time for exams to finding a quiet testing room to using audiobooks,” she said. “A student can come in any time and ask for support. We can start at the beginning of the semester if they realize they need help, or we kick it into gear in the middle of a semester if need be. Even if someone wants to start at the last semester of their fourth year, it’s not a bad time to be asking for this type of support.”
Students can also lean on each other.
“Through the Counseling Center there are a number of support groups for certain populations of students,” Wilms said. “Students with like diagnoses can hang out and meet with people who know what they are going through. We try to have different options for students, like peer support and individual therapy if they want to do that as well. It’s their choice.”
Students can receive a considerable amount of guidance as well.
“We will help as long as they want the resources and support,” Wilms said. “Sometimes students come in and function successfully and may use us at the beginning and less at the end of their four years here, while others are consistent. Some don’t want to do it in the beginning, but then decide later they want to use our resources.”
Disability Services also works with students who just have temporary needs.
“If a student has been injured in some way, for example if they had ACL surgery and can’t climb stairs, we will move classrooms,” Wilms said. “For someone who has broken the wrist of their preferred hand, we find a note taker, or if a student has a concussion, we alert faculty. We work with facilities, Residence Life, Student Life, academic deans, and faculty on a regular basis.”
Wilms also works with Residence Life, Public Safety, and faculty to raise awareness about learning disabilities, social challenges and other available resources.
“We encourage students to disclose to individuals, like Residence Life staff on their floor, if they’re uncomfortable with anything or have specific needs,” she said.
Parents can also take a crucial role in helping Disability Services work with their children, since “parents know their son or daughter better than I do,” Wilms said. “We will be a supportive partner and support the student as much as we can, and that is where parent input and knowledge is so valuable. Both students and parents are made aware Disability Services is working to help ensure that once these students graduate, they will be ready for life off campus.
“These are independent young adults so when they transition to the work world, they need to be prepared to take on these responsibilities on their own and be successful at managing their lives,” she continued. “There’s a certain amount of independence we expect from students and we do our best to support them as they develop increased independence.”
Wilms has been at the University for 20 years, and is in her fifth year in her current position. Every day is different, and that’s what makes her job so interesting.
“Partnering with students and parents in this position is something I am committed to and enjoy doing,” she said.
Wilms makes sure to educate herself by researching laws and taking classes that will keep her informed and ready to help all students.
“I want to provide effective and knowledgeable support for students and parents,” she said. “The students I work with are bright, very intelligent and capable, and can do very well but some may just have to do things differently. We all study and learn differently, and we want to help them make the most of how they learn.”
Contact Disability Services at 909-748-8069.
Posted: August 6, 2014