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Campus scenes, 2023. Credit: Micaela Go

Neurodiversity and Disability at Stanford

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A Guide for Students, By Students

The following is a digital rendition of Neurodiversity and Disability at Stanford, a comprehensive guide to accessing accommodations, obtaining academic support, and finding community for neurodiverse and disabled students at Stanford.

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A Statement on Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is a philosophy that reimagines conditions like autism, ADHD, learning differences, etc. as a natural part of human cognitive variation, rather than ailments to be 'cured' or 'treated'. Neurodiversity recognizes that the challenges faced by people with these differences often stem not from inherent deficits, but from socially constructed access barriers. At the same time, it is a fact that many neurodiverse individuals must interface with medical institutions to obtain key accommodations, medications, and social/academic support. This guide offers just a small sample of the resources available to you here at Stanford.

 Student Services Building (563 Salvatierra Walk).  Credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service
Come visit the OAE on the first floor of 563 Salvatierra Walk!

Accommodations

All academic and living accommodations at Stanford are handled through the Office of Accessible Education (OAE). Read on to learn more about the kinds of services OAE provides and how you can access them.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Accomodations

What kinds of accommodations does the OAE provide?

Accommodations look different for everyone - they can range from additional time on exams to housing accommodations. However, there are two categories of accommodations you should be aware of: temporary and ongoing accommodations.

What is documentation, and where can I get it?

Documentation refers to the collection of relevant information and records, written by a licensed professional (think doctor, therapist, dietitian, etc.), that support a person's disability claim. This can include a formal diagnosis, a description of the functional limitations imposed by the disability, and a management plan outlining any medications or accommodations that you need.

Most documentation is provided by a doctor or clinician who has worked with the student before. However, the exact level of documentation needed varies on a case-by-case basis. If you're in need of documentation, your OAE advisor will work with you to identify providers who can help!

How do housing and dining accommodations work?

While the OAE is still responsible for determining and documenting the specific housing/dining accommodations you need, your actual housing assignment is left to Stanford Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE). Every time you apply for housing, you'll need to submit a Housing Accommodations Request Form through the OAE detailing what kinds of living accommodations you'll need. The form for the next academic year typically opens during spring quarter - be proactive in filling it out, and be as specific as possible when detailing your needs.

If your request is granted, you, as well as anyone in your draw group, will receive a housing assignment that meets your needs. R&DE will notify you of your new assignment around the end of the school year.

I'm worried about disclosing sensitive medical information. What should I do?

Don't worry - your status with the OAE is 100% confidential. Any statements of accommodation you receive will never reveal information about what conditions you have. Furthermore, your accommodation status at Stanford will not appear on your transcripts or official records. Still, many students may feel uncomfortable disclosing so much personal information. While applying for accommodations, keep in mind that you are not obligated to report any medical information that is not relevant to your accommodations.

How do I get started?

Regardless of what accommodations you're seeking, your first step will be to register with the OAE at oaeconnect.stanford.edu. While you can submit any formal documentation you have, you don't need anything to register. Shortly afterwards, you'll hear back from your disability advisor, an OAE staff member whose job is to help you navigate the accommodations process and, if need be, obtain formal documentation. Disability advisors also hold regular info sessions about assistive software and technology that might be helpful to you.

However, your relationship with your disability advisor doesn't end once you've gotten an OAE letter! Your advisor is there to serve as a permanent source of personalized support as you adjust to campus life. They'll lend an ear to any question about navigating the college environment with a disability.

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Diagnosis

While many students obtain diagnoses from personal doctors and mental health clinicians, there are many on-campus providers and organizations dedicated to helping Stanford students navigate the diagnostic process.

Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Clinic

This is Stanford Health Care's outpatient psychiatry clinic. Here, you can obtain a formal assessment of conditions including autism, OCD, ADHD, and mood/anxiety disorders. Stanford students can self-refer to this clinic by completing an online registration form. Afterwards, create a MyHealth account with Stanford Healthcare so that you can track updates and appointments. A New Patient Coordinator will contact you to discuss what services you need. Find Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Clinic's location via Google Maps.

Schwab Learning Center at Children’s Health Council

Schwab Learning Center offers formal evaluations of learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and more, as well as 1:1 academic coaching with learning specialists. These evaluations are held with a licensed psychologist in-person at CHC over multiple sessions spanning several months.

Stanford students seeking an evaluation can request one through this link. These are free if you have at least one year of enrollment left before graduation. There is typically a 3-4 month waiting period between registration and the first evaluation session, so register early if you need urgent accommodations. People with referrals to SLC from a licensed professional are prioritized over those who self-refer. Find Schwab Learning Center at Children’s Health Council's location via Google Maps.

Neurodiversity Clinic

The Neurodiversity Clinic is a specialty clinic housed within the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences building. It provides formal evaluations of autism, along with any co-occurring conditions like depression, anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. Unlike other outpatient psychiatry services, Stanford students cannot self-refer to this clinic. One of your current providers will need to submit a referral before you can schedule an appointment. Keep in mind that the neurodiversity clinic has a limited number of clinicians and is only open a few days a month, so space may be limited.

Contact Information

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

CAPS division of Vaden Health offers ADHD Consultations to support students in connecting with assessments, academic support and other campus resources. CAPS also offers referral support for students with ADHD who are interested in continuing medication but not interested in an ADHD consultation. 

How to Connect

Call CAPS at 650.723.3785 and request an ADHD consultation or referral support for ADHD medication. 

  • Cost: FREE for Stanford students
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Academic Support

Obtaining accommodations is only the first step. Here, you'll learn more about the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), the go-to organization for academic support and tutoring services on campus.

What is CTL, and how does it support neurodiverse students?

The Center for Teaching and Learning offers learning programs and tutoring/coaching services designed to teach transferable academic skills and help both undergraduate and graduate students become self-directed learners. CTL offers tailored programs, resources, and coaching/tutoring services designed specifically for students managing ADHD or learning differences (ADHD/LD). 

Services Include

  • Academic coaching from professionals specializing in ADHD/LD.
  • One-on-one subject tutoring with tutors trained to work with students with ADHD/LD.
  • Academic programs and workshops focused on executive functioning skills.
  • Resource handouts, study halls, and other resources available to all Stanford students.

Do I need documentation to access these resources?

Students who provide documentation of ADHD/LD will be able to apply for structured, longitudinal (i.e. quarter-long) academic coaching and tutoring at studentlearning.stanford.edu. However, students without documentation can still access the same resources and professionals! They just won't be assigned a dedicated coach/tutor.

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Finding Community

Disability and neurodiversity are identities that, for many, can feel invisible. Fortunately, there are numerous student groups dedicated to fostering community and promoting visibility on campus.

Stanford Disability Alliance [SDA]

The SDA is a student-led advocacy group dedicated to fostering community and improving conditions on campus for all students with disabilities.

Neurodiverse Student Support Group [NSSP]

NSSP is a student group that aims to promote visibility and build community among neurodiverse students and allies. NSSP hosts periodic meetings, social mixers, and tabling sessions

Disability Community Space (DisCo Space) 

DisCo is the first ever space on campus dedicated to the disability community. It's stocked with fidgets, adjustable lamps, and other amenities to maximize comfort and accessibility! Find DisCo's location via the Stanford Searchable Map

Stanford Med Alliance for Disability Inclusion and Equity

SMADIE is open to all in the School of Medicine and is dedicated to promoting disability advocacy / equity for patients, as well as building community among aspiring healthcare workers who are committed to disability justice. Access the SMADIE website here

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Disability-Related Coursework

Below you will find a (non-exhaustive) list of coursework concerned with disability justice and advocacy.

EDUC 442: [Re]Framing Difference: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Disability, Race, and Culture

Use social theories of difference to examine the intersections of disability, race and culture by drawing from scholarship published in history, sociology of education, urban sociology, cultural studies, disability studies, social studies of science, cultural psychology, educational and cultural anthropology, comparative education and special education. Implications for policy, research and practice will be covered.

EDUC 144B / PEDS 144: Biosocial-Biocultural Perspectives on Disability in Education

Explore the biosocial, biopolitical, and sociopolitical nature of disability and attend to intersectionality in relation to education systems. Build strong repertoires of transdisciplinary knowledge that can be applied in fields or interests such as humanities, history, and biosciences.

EDUC 144A: Diverse Perspectives on Disability

Deepen student understanding of how disability intersects with a variety of identities that can mask or foreground forms of difference.Engage with the Stanford community around constructions of disability and the diverse perspectives that inform these complex constructions.

PWR1LF: #NoBodyIsDisposable: The Rhetoric of Disability

PWR91LF: PWR91LF: The Art of Access: Disability, Creativity, Communication

How do assistive technologies like captions and speech recognition shape the way creators and audiences produce and consume digital media? In this course, we will investigate what constitutes "creative access" in the arts and in media. Students will collaborate with nationally-recognized disabled media artists who are reimagining what art can be when access is integrated into its aesthetics from an accessible digital video game character creator for non-visual gamers, to a digital media instrument for individuals who are bed-bound. Guest talks, artist-led workshops, and case studies will guide students through a self-designed project, such as a work of accessible media art or a curatorial proposal for an exhibition. This class provides a rare inside look into professional artist-designer practices and research, equipping students to critically engage in disability justice-centered communication, storytelling, and collaboration. No previous artistic experience or expertise is required. Course does not fulfill WR1 or WR2 requirements.

Campus scenes, 2023. Credit: Micaela Go