The Office of Students Affairs (SAO) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) organized on Monday, September 18, 2017 a training session for two consecutive days to help faculty members identify students with learning difficulties and to provide instructors with the necessary tools to support those students, depending on their learning difficulties. Dr. Maral Boyadjian, Ed.D, and Dr. Marie Khoury took the podium to discuss the significance of this event, as it directly relates to the needs of university students with disabilities, particularly in the areas of accessibility, awareness and responsiveness, and teaching and learning arrangements.
For her part, Dr. Boyadjian, certified EMDR therapist, stressed the importance of accommodating students with invisible disabilities; both physical and mental and other visible disabilities that can present barriers to education. She also noted that invisible disabilities can refer to emotional disturbances, fatigue, autism, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, dyslexia, ADHD, and mental health disorders as well as physical, hearing, and visual impairments. She discussed ways to help students with learning difficulties and social vulnerability, such as repeating key points, creating an environmental learning space, speaking from one spot, avoiding moving a lot, etc.
As for Dr. Khoury, she established the Counseling and Psychotherapy Service at the SAO, to provide the NDU community (faculty, staff, and students) with short-term psychotherapy sessions. She emphasized that tools and strategies can be used to lessen the effects of learning disabilities. Dr. Khoury discussed the goals of the counseling service, such as optimizing students’ quality of life, restoring their well-being on- and off-campus, assisting them in dealing with addiction problems, relieving psychological and emotional distress, preventing violence on campus, dealing with bullies, etc.
All NDU community members can set an appointment with Dr. Khoury by contacting the administrative assistant/nurse at the Medical House in complete privacy. All discussions with the psychotherapist are confidential, and students are entitled to one session per week for as long as their follow-up requires.
The Dean of Students at NDU, Mrs. Joyce Menassa, added that in case instructors notice anything out of the ordinary, they could directly contact the SAO to find a way to help meet the needs of any student with learning difficulties.