Resources for Parents of Students with Disabilities

Congratulations on helping your student reach this academic milestone. Disability Support Services is looking forward to working with your student. 

5 E's

  • Encourage advocacy
  • Expose to different opportunities
  • Enlighten them through conversation
  • Evaluate choices
  • Empower at every opportunity 


Self-determination is the power to make choices and decisions based on preferences and interests of the individual. Self-determination is a critical skill for success in higher education because, once students with disabilities graduate from high school, they are no longer entitled to the individual services detailed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

In the post-secondary setting, individuals with a documented disability must self-identify (disclose their need for accommodations) to Disability Support Services. DSS then determines their eligibility for accommodations under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).

Characteristics involve understanding one's

  • Needs
  • Abilities
  • Strengths
  • Limitations 
  • Values

Self-determination involves

  • Making choices and decisions
  • Gathering information
  • Setting goals 

Autonomy involves

  • Developing a plan
  • Implementing a plan of action

Psychological empowerment involves

  • Assessing one’s performance
  • Determining when a goal or task has been satisfactorily completed


Self-advocacy is learning how to speak up for yourself, making informed choices about your own life, accessing information to make decisions, building support, knowing your rights and responsibilities, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship and being determined to reach goals you developed.  

Self-awareness is to understand your

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Accommodations
  • Supporting your needs and your disability by understanding how it impacts you in the educational environment

Knowledge of rights

  • Understanding available resources on and off campus
  • Being able to advocate for change

Communication involves being

  • Assertive (expressing your needs in a positive way)
  • Actively listening
  • Compromising when necessary

Leadership involves 

  • Asking questions
  • Making informed choices
  • Taking responsibility
  • Empowering yourself