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FAQ: College students who have psychological disabilities

(Used with permission from DO IT:Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking & Technology University of Washington)

Q. BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT: I have a disruptive student in my class who has a history of mental health problems. How do I handle it?

A. Students with disabilities are expected to meet the same standards as students without disabilities. It may be helpful to outline behavioral expectations during a private meeting with the student. Consider contacting the student Disability Services office, or contacting the dean of students for guidance.

Q. ANXIETY: I don't know if one of my students has an emotional or mental illness, but he exhibits extreme anxiety and may "freeze up" during tests, cry or faint while giving presentations, and occasionally react to a situation with an angry outburst. How can I be most supportive without lowering academic expectations?

A. It is best to set up a private meeting with the student and state that you have noticed he becomes very anxious in response to stressful academic situations. Ask the student what support measures he would find helpful in reaching his optimal performance. Do not ask him if (or suggest that) he has a disability, but encourage him to make use of a list of campus resources (that may include the Disability Services office) that he might find appropriate.