Any medical condition that impacts a person's ability to perform major life activities including a wide range of bodily functions. The medical disability can be episodic, in remission or chronically impacting a person on a daily basis. Medical disabilities among students include but are not limited to Sickle Cell Anemia, Diabetes, Crohn's Disease, seizure disorder, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. Side effects from medications can also impact a person's ability to perform a major life activity.
- Allowing for unanticipated class absences
- Housing accommodations or transportation assistance due to temperature sensitivity
- Might require short breaks and snacks during lecture
- Extra time to complete assignments
- Extended time for test taking
Because cancer can occur in almost any organ system of the body, the symptoms and particular disabling effects will vary greatly from one person to another. Some people experience visual problems, lack of balance and coordination, joint pains, backaches, headaches, abdominal pains, drowsiness, lethargy, difficulty in breathing and swallowing, weakness, bleeding or anemia.
The primary treatments for cancer, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery may engender additional effects. Therapy can cause violent nausea, drowsiness and/or fatigue, affecting academic functioning or causing absences. Surgery can result in amputation, paralysis, sensory deficits, and language and memory problems.
This Metabolic disorder is characterized by insulin deficiency and excess blood sugar. Diabetes can be controlled by insulin injections and by strict diet.
The strictness of diet forces the individual to eat at regular intervals. Therefore, it is possible that a student may need to eat during class if the class is scheduled during mealtime.
The insulin dependent diabetic, or a person who has had diabetes for years, often has concurrent visual deficits and may have and may have impaired tactile sensation. These may be necessary factors to consider when preparing a classroom experience for the student.
Students with epilepsy and other seizure disorders are extremely reluctant to divulge their condition because of the fear of being misunderstood or stigmatized. Misconceptions about these disorders - that they are forms of mental illness, contagious, and untreatable, for example, have arisen because their ultimate causes remain uncertain. There is evidence that hereditary factors may be involved and that brain injuries and tumors, occurring at any age, may give rise to seizures.
There are three distinct types of seizures:
- Petit mal means "little seizure" and is characterized by eye blinking or staring. It begins abruptly with a sudden dimming of consciousness and may last only a few seconds. Whatever the person is doing is suspended for a moment but resumed again as soon as the seizure is over. Often, because of its briefness, the seizure may go unnoticed by the individual as well as by others.
- Psychomotor seizures range from mild to severe and may include staring, mental confusion, uncoordinated and random movement, incoherent speech and behavior outburst, followed by immediate recovery. They may last from two minutes to a half hour. The person may have no recollection of what happened, but may experience fatigue.
- Grand mal seizures may be moderate to severe and may be characterized by generalized contractions of muscles, twitching and limb jerking. A few minutes of such movements may be followed by unconsciousness, sleep, or extreme fatigue.
Students with seizure disorders are often using preventive medication, which may cause drowsiness and temporary memory problems. Such medication makes it unlikely that a seizure will occur in class.
In the event of a grand mal seizure, follow this procedure:
- Keep calm. Although its manifestation may be intense, it is generally not painful to the individual.
- Remove nearby objects that may injure the student during the seizure.
- Help lower the person to the floor and place cushioning under his/her head.
- Turn the head to the side so that breathing is not obstructed.
- Loosen tight clothing.
- Do not force anything between the teeth.
- Do not try to restrain bodily movement.
- Call the Campus Police (3-4000) or other appropriate authority (911) or ask someone else to do so.
- After a seizure, instructors should deal forthrightly with the concerns of the class in an effort to forestall whatever negative attitudes may develop toward the student.
SICKLE CELL ANEMIA
Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary disease primarily affecting African-Americans. It reduces the blood supply to vital organs and the oxygen supply to the blood cells, making adequate classroom ventilation an important concern.
Because many vital organs are affected, the student may also suffer from eye disease, heart condition, lung problems, and acute abdominal pain. At times limbs or joints may be affected. The disease is characterized by severe crisis periods, with extreme pain, which may necessitate hospitalization and/or absence from class. Completing academic assignments during these periods may not be possible. A reasonable accommodation in this case may be an incomplete for the semester.