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Why Disclose and What Does It Involve

CTY families sometimes wonder about the benefits of disclosing a disability to CTY programs staff. Ultimately, whether to disclose is a personal decision for each family and student. For some, fear of being treated differently leads to not wanting to share information about a disability. Others may doubt that the disability will be an issue in the program. Our experience shows, however, that disclosure often leads to direct and noticeable benefits in the student’s experience of the program. Therefore, we encourage all families and students to disclose as much information as is necessary to help support and ensure a positive and successful experience while at CTY.

At CTY, we view disability as one of many aspects of diversity that adds to the richness of the communities we build in our programs–not as an indication that the individual with the disability is in any way less capable than other students. We believe that every CTY student is unique and has particular needs and having a disability is simply one small part of their identity. When parents disclose information about a disability prior to the beginning of the program, CTY staff can better understand the child and meet that child’s needs. Do keep in mind though that a disclosure alone does not mean accommodations/extra support is automatically in place for your child.

Reasons to disclose a disability to CTY Disability Services

  • Knowing what to expect and making informed decisions
    Discussing a disability with CTY Disability Services before a program begins or before testing allows the family and student to better understand what to expect. Disclosure helps connect families with full-time CTY staff members who can answer questions, serve as advocates, and discuss expectations. Talking with CTY Disability Services can also help to inform a family’s decision-making process about classes and programs to attend.
  • Planning for success
    When a disability—academic, emotional, social, or behavioralis disclosed, CTY staff are more prepared to work with the student and better informed of the student’s likely strengths and challenges in the program. In addition, the student is more aware of program expectations and can prepare to meet them with or without accommodations. In short, disclosure followed by open discussion helps students succeed at CTY.
    Given the intensity of academic work at CTY, students who have disclosed a disability to their full-time school are strongly encouraged to share this information prior to their participation at CTY. Students who are used to receiving testing accommodations for standardized assessments should also strongly consider requesting these accommodations for testing.
  • Practicing self-advocacy
    CTY is a clean slate where students can seize the opportunity to present their disabilities in a way that they feel comfortable and capitalize on their strengths by engaging in a course and program of choice. This opportunity can help lay the groundwork for the self-advocacy that will be needed later in life.
  • Building understanding
    When a student’s disability is undisclosed or under-disclosed, staff members are more likely to attribute the student’s behavior or academic performance to purposeful defiance, laziness, or a lack of engagement. This misunderstanding is particularly unfortunate when the behavior or performance could be related to a disability and could be alleviated by basic accommodations or support, and when CTY staff only learn about a disability at the end of a program or when an issue arises. Early and open communication about the methods and strategies staff can employ to work effectively with a student go a long way to preventing or solving problems. Having a written approved plan in place helps to ensure all are on the same page.

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What does disclosure involve?

Families and students are welcome to share as much information as they are comfortable with and as much as is necessary to support a request for accommodation or support. CTY Disability Services may request additional information or documentation.

When disclosing to CTY Disability Services, families will be asked about:

  • The student’s diagnosis and relevant history related to the diagnosis.
  • Accommodations or supports that have worked well for the student in other settings.
  • Documentation that supports the accommodations requested.
  • The student’s strengths and challenges.
  • What information the family and student would like shared (or not shared) with other CTY staff.
  • Details about how the student copes with particular stressors or environments at home, school, and in other programs.
  • Which CTY staff members the family and student would like to be informed of the information provided.

Families may be asked about:

  • Any other individuals (school personnel, psychologist/psychiatrists, etc.) who may be willing to speak with CTY Disability Services about the student.
  • Whether the student would be willing to speak with CTY Disability Services about his or her needs.
  • The student’s and parents’ or guardians’ perspectives regarding any prior CTY experience.

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What happens after disclosure?

Families who disclose a disability to CTY Disability Services can always contact the CTY Disability Services Administrator about any concerns that arise once a program of course is underway. Please also note that information is only shared with CTY programs staff associated with the particular program/course discussed. If a student participates in subsequent programs/courses, families must make contact again with CTY Disability Services to share or discuss relevant information for that particular program/course.

Summer Programs

With parent/guardian consent, information shared about the summer programs student is passed to the site’s program manager and assistant program manager and to the academic counselor on site. The academic counselor contacts the family during the week before the program begins. Additionally, the academic counselor is the point person on site for both students and families. With the consent of the family and CTY Disability Services staff, the academic counselor on site will share information on a need-to-know basis with the staff members working closely with the student. Copies of formal CTY Accommodation Letters, where applicable, are shared with a student’s instructor, assistant, and resident assistant.

CTY Online Programs

With parent/guardian consent, a copy of the student’s accommodation letter and any additional relevant background information is shared with the relevant program manager, course supervisor, and then with the student’s instructor. The student, parent/guardian, and instructor can communicate as needed regarding the implementation of any specific accommodations or support. After disclosing a disability, families also can always use CTY Disability Services as a resource throughout the program.

Family Academic Programs

Information disclosed by a family attending a Family Academic Program will be shared with the Baltimore-based program coordinator. This individual will ensure the information is shared with relevant contacts at the host location as well as the CTY representative at the program.


After receiving notification that your child’s accommodation approval letter is ready to be viewed in Accommodate, you will find directions for scheduling the test at Prometric on the letter. The approved accommodations are shared with Prometric prior to sending you notification of the availability of the approval letter. When you call to schedule testing, be sure to verify accommodations.

Important Considerations

Regardless of whether your child has accommodations for testing, summer, online, or other programs, please remember:

  • Disclosure of a disability alone does NOT automatically mean your child will receive extra support or accommodation. You must still request specific support via the Request for Accommodations form or renewal of previous support via Accommodate or communication with CTY Disability Services.
  • Information/recommendations for working with your child that is shared with staff as a courtesy is not the same as formal accommodations. Staff will work to provide support to all students keeping in mind information shared as a courtesy. To ensure all are on the same page about needed accommodations though, you should request a formal accommodation letter be drafted.
  • Accommodations do not automatically follow a student from testing to programs or program to program. You must check back in with Disability Services before starting any new program, course, or re-testing to ensure accommodations are in place.

If you would like to discuss whether it would be helpful for CTY staff working closely with your child to know about your child’s disability, feel free to contact CTY’s Disability Services Administrator, Melissa Kistler: 667-208-7641 or Information is confidential and will not be shared beyond the CTY Disability Services office without your consent.

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Rolling Deadline Reminder! 

  • Summer Programs: Contact CTY Disability Services by MAY 15th to request accommodations!
  • Other Programs: Contact CTY Disability Services  as soon as you register for other programs to request accommodations!
  • Email CTY Disability Services
“We are so grateful to CTY for providing an environment where our son can be adequately challenged academically and at the same time feel like an accepted part of a social group.”

Lisa M. , CTY Parent