Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. If you cannot find the answer you are looking for, please contact the Foundation directly for assistance.
- Why does the Assessment need to be current (within 3 years)? It is expensive to repeat.
There are many reasons why the documentation needs to be current, not the least of which is that all colleges and universities require updated documentation of a disability in order to provide accommodations. We know that for many children with LD, the early support and intervention they received helped to minimize or reduce the impact of the disability. A useful analogy here is a child with Cerebral Palsy. As a young child, they may have been assessed and noted to require a wheelchair or a walker in order to get around, as well as requiring daily occupational and physiotherapy assistance. As a young adult, however, this individual may have learned how to recruit other muscle groups in order to walk, and through hard work and good therapeutic interventions may not need the daily therapy or even the wheelchair or walker. No one doubts that the child had CP, but the question is how this disorder is currently interfering with their equal participation. The recommended accommodations and supports in an assessment report from grade 3 likely do not reflect their current needs or abilities. Similarly, we (and their postsecondary school) need to know how they are currently impaired in their ability to participate equally.
It is also the case that many early assessments of children done specifically for educational programming are not comprehensive and may not have accurately identified the problems causing the learning difficulties.
Given that a large percentage of children identified as LD in the school system may not actually meet published criteria for diagnosis of this disorder, it is important for JEF to have updated information to verify the diagnosis.
Please note that High Schools typically do not have the financial resources to complete a comprehensive updating of documentation for all identified students. If they do complete an assessment it may not be comprehensive or helpful in determining current needs at the postsecondary level. In fact, one of the most common reasons that students require additional documentation of their LD when they start college or university is that the updated testing provided by their school board was not comprehensive and did not meet the criteria required at the postsecondary level. If your child is starting college or university, it is in her/his best interest to obtain an updated and comprehensive assessment in order to determine how their previously identified LD is currently interfering with their equal opportunity to participate at the postsecondary level.
As to the question of expense of testing, any student who has been accepted into a postsecondary program may use one of the two Assessment and Resource Centres in Ontario (RARC and NOARC) to obtain an updated assessment. There is a sliding fee scale based on income, and students who can demonstrate even $1 of financial need qualify to have the entire cost of the assessment covered by a government bursary (https://osap.gov.on.ca/OSAPPortal/en/A-ZListofAid/UCONT004363.html). As such, there are many ways that families with limited financial means may obtain up to date and comprehensive assessments for their children as they transition to postsecondary education.
- Why are MID, ADHD and similar conditions not considered a Learning Disability?
Mild Intellectual Disability (or MID) is not a diagnosis. It is an educational classification that was invented by the Ontario Ministry of Education to identify students who did not meet the diagnostic criteria for a LD, but who were nevertheless struggling with the school curriculum. Even though it is not a recognized diagnosis, because the Ministry of Education may create categories of “Exceptionality Identification” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2001), this term has been used to describe a sizable number of students in the educational system, all of whom have received varying degrees of assistance and program modifications to allow them to graduate from high school. This is not, however, the same as a diagnosis of a specific Learning Disability.
The Ministry of Education (2001) has highlighted "when the IPRC identifies the student as exceptional and applies the ministry's definition to describe the exceptionality, it is not diagnosing a condition but merely indicating an educational category. The IPRC identification should not be interpreted as a diagnosis" (C19).
As for ADHD, this is also not necessarily a LD (although the two can occur together). Contrary to students with LD, it is not the case that a student with ADHD “cannot” learn, but rather that this student is often “unavailable” for learning. With appropriate motivation, interest or even medical therapy, however, the student can learn and retain information. As such, a diagnosis of ADHD on its own is not the same as a diagnosis of LD. Furthermore, documentation of LD in a child with a co-occurring diagnosis of ADHD must demonstrate clearly that any learning or academic problems experienced by a child are due to an underlying processing disorder associated with LD rather than being due to the existing ADHD.
- Can I apply more than once?
A student may certainly apply more than once. If your initial application is not accepted you may reapply as often as you wish. If you have been accepted you may continue to apply each year as required. Please note that in order to be considered each year, a new application must be submitted each time and success is based on competition- which changes from year to year.
Please note, too, that priority is given to students obtaining their first postsecondary degree or diploma.
- I don’t know if I am eligible for OSAP yet. Can I still apply and will it be counted against me?
Your status as a student obtaining OSAP will not count against you. The JEF does take into account whether or not a student has limited financial means as a consideration, however we understand that often an OSAP decision is not made until well past our application deadline.
It may be the case, however, that OSAP will count a JEF scholarship as income and this may affect your eligibility for an OSAP loan.
- I don’t have my most recent transcripts yet. Can I send them later?
You may send your transcripts later but we must have a copy before the final date that the scholarship committee meets to decide on award recipients. If we do not have your transcripts by this date it may negatively affect your chances of competing for these awards.
- If I can’t afford a new assessment or can’t get an assessment completed in time can I still apply with an old assessment?
One of the criteria used to evaluate applications is a comprehensive assessment that clearly identifies substantial impairments in equal participation relative to most other individuals. If we do not have up to date information we cannot accurately determine how, or to what extent the student is currently impaired in equal participation relative to his/her peers. Hence, while we would always encourage students with LD to apply for this award, an outdated assessment may put the applicant at a disadvantage relative to applicants with more current and comprehensive documentation. *Please see links to the RARC and NOARC websites on the 'links' page for subsidized assessments if required.
- When can I expect to hear back about my application?
Our committee meets toward the end of May or beginning of June to make their selections. Once the recommendations have been made they are submitted to the Board of Directors for approval at our General Meeting in mid June. As such, letters are sent out to all applicants advising them of their standing by the end of June each year.