Getting an education while struggling with a chronic illness, or disability can be increasingly difficult. The high expectations of university study do not get adjusted based on what you are dealing with in your personal life. It is all about what you can overcome, and getting the tools to do so. Please read on for a few of the tips and tricks that helped me succeed as a disabled student.
Check out our tops tips for studying with brain fog here
One of the major setbacks I had to overcome at all of the university campuses I had the pleasure of attending is the struggle of getting from one class to another in ten minutes or less. Walking in late to every class, the ones I was even able to attend, is not a great impression to make on either your professor or your classmates. With the professor, I would definitely recommend introducing yourself early on and explaining your situation so they will be more understanding when you’re late to their class.
With your classmates, you don’t owe them an explanation. If you want to explain it to some of your classmates, maybe they will be nice and save you a seat, but you don’t need to spend your time or energy trying to make people understand.
I did not register with a disability until my last year of University. They don’t make the process very easy.
This is especially true if you have not yet found a concrete diagnosis. Finding a doctor to vouch for you will be incredibly difficult. Even after registering, there were certain aspects that just did not fit with my disabled lifestyle. For example, there are many set dates in school. Chronic illness does not care about set dates. If anything, it seeks to destroy those set dates. Test dates are particularly hard. You never know when a flare can hit, and the added stress of a test can make a flare all that more likely. Avoiding classes with in-class tests would be ideal if possible.
One major struggle I faced with school was trying to write out final exams or midterms with a pen or pencil. I have arthritis in my fingers and wrists, and I struggled with writing as little as possible to be able to pass exams. This is something that registering my disability helped greatly with as I was then able to type out exams and midterms in a separate classroom. I was also given extended time with breaks throughout the exam so I could rest, or even ice, my wrists.
While my schooling was not traditional E-learning, this aspect of including technology helped me get through my final year of University.
For anyone dragging their feet with registering their disability with their schooling, I would highly recommend it. Not only were class notes made accessible to me online, but I was often also given options for additional projects to take the place of class participation grades.
Being able to get extensions more easily was one of the biggest benefits of registering with a disability. At this point, it is up to us to properly manage what functional time we do have and plan as best we can accordingly. These positive changes altered the way I viewed school entirely. I started to enjoy learning again.
I’m not saying schooling was easy once these changes were put in place because that would just not be true, but registering my disability definitely made it a lot more manageable.
If you are someone that is in school and trying to get through the day, through a class, or through a project, you are not alone. If you are thinking about going to school but struggling to wonder how you will manage it, you are not alone.
You are absolutely brave and a total badass if you have already completed school, plan on completing school, or are currently completing school while dealing with a chronic illness! However, you don’t have to do it alone. The wonderful community we are building for ourselves every day online as our way of connecting is strong, is kind, and is always willing to help whenever possible.
Elizabeth Atkinson. Author of the blog coming soon – Princess Chronic. Fighter of fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, angioedma, dermographism, chronic idiopathic urticaria, and a pituitary tumour. They can compromise my immune system but they can’t compromise my spirit.