First Advisor

Rude, Harvey

Second Advisor

Bassett, Diane S.

Document Type


Date Created



The aim of this study was to examine the experiences of international undergraduate students who are identified with learning disabilities and enrolled in universities in the United States. There is a dearth of studies investigating the unique needs and challenges of this population. This is the first study to explore the phenomenon of international undergraduate students with learning disabilities that identified the challenges related to supporting their unique needs. This study was conducted through the use of qualitative data collection and analysis methods that included in-depth interviews and review of documents. Study participants consisted of five professionals working in the disability support office, three advisors at the international education office, a psychologist, and three international undergraduate students with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Nine main themes emerged including English proficiency, social challenges, factors impacting academic success, knowledge of available supports, providing accommodations and supports, disclosure, identification of learning disabilities, disability awareness, and self-advocacy. Findings suggested that international undergraduate students with learning disabilities face external and internal challenges to accessing supports and accommodations. External factors are related to institutional practices and regulations that govern how students receive supports. These factors are associated with issue pertaining to the professionals’ challenge of distinguishing between language differences and learning disabilities as well as the eligibility determination process of learning disabilities. Internal factors are those related to the students’ experience, knowledge and culture. These factors impact the students’ decisions to disclose their disabilities and to self-advocate. It was found that English proficiency significantly impacts the academic success, disability identification, and types of accommodations offered by the disability support service offices Similarly, the cultural background of students has a significant impact on students’ knowledge of available supports, challenges related to self-identification, and self-advocacy skills.


Accommodations, Disability Awareness, Disability Identification, Disclosure, International Students, Learning Disabilities


346 Pages

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