A look inside the Special Services program

Kimiya Enshaian

At the Special Services center, students with disabilities such as impaired hearing, blindness, immobility, autism, attention deficit disorder, or even students with less severe issues like exam anxiety receive personal and confidential counseling while also getting academic advice if needed, according to the center’s coordinator and counselor, Ardith Lynch.

With 30 years of experience working with disabled people, particularly the hearing impaired, Ardith Lynch has accomplished plenty in her time. She came to Saddleback College two years ago.

“It’s a job I absolutely love,” Lynch said. “I love this campus.”

After a few careers involved in working to help the disabled, she knew that her heart especially went out to the disabled students at colleges. So now she is back in the scene of a college environment where she says she feels happiest.

This program facilitates for a wide range of disabilities. However, in order to qualify for counseling, students must go through testing to see what their problems are and how to address them, Lynch explained.

“The staff is just as dedicated to the students as I am,” Lynch said. “Great bonds are built between students and the staff throughout the semester because of students’ frequent visits for counseling.”

Just because students seek help here, they are not subject to any handouts because of a disability. Lynch described everything is fair.

For example, if a student seeks help to reduce anxiety before taking an exam, a problem that is quite common for students, according to Lynch, counselors will not give them permission to be excused from tests. Simply, they will be allowed more time on their exams.

Or in the case of autism, Lynch mentioned that counselors will aid students socially, since autistic people are not aware of how to interact with others.

Every student’s assistance is different and highly personalized for their own limitations. More assistance for students with severe disabilities will be provided. Note takers, braille for the blind, and accommodated testing specially designed to make exams accessible for these students is provided.

Specialized classes have been set up with attention to the details for these students. Classes such as adaptive kinesiology and adaptive computer labs are set up for students with mental disabilities, physical immobility, as well as other dysfunctions.

A list of classes are available for the disabled, and students can see these posted on the entrance to their office.

Lynch has plans for further improvement to assist students with special needs.

“One of the last needs I would like to address is an enhanced resource development that would include educational resources as well as workforce education,” Lynch said.

The student is his or her biggest advocate to reach any goal, Lynch said. She stated that the best moments in her career are “when I see students reach their educational goals…because you know they’ve worked really hard to get there.”

The Special Service Center, located in the Student Service Center in Room 113, is here to serve as a guide. Ardith Lynch and the staff at the Special Services will be there, ready to assist. Visit their website for more details at: http://saddleback.edu/dsps/.