Friday, December 2, 2016

Top 3 School Tips For Spoonies

There is (kind of) an end in sight! One week and a final exam are all that stand between graduating with my AA degree in English! Obtaining a degree presents its challenges. Shoot, even graduating high school is quite the accomplishment while chronically ill. Neither have been easy; therefore, listed below are a few tips I have acquired throughout my education journey. 


1.) Utilize accommodations. Inform professors/teachers in advance. 

It is helpful to make the teacher or professor aware of the disability/condition in advance. Revealing your entire health history is not necessary; however, briefly explaining how your disability impacts your education provides better understanding and the increased willingness to implement any accommodations. 

Disability offices exist for a reason. Use them! Depending on the extent of the condition, a wide range of accommodations are likely advantageous. 

Examples: 
  • No penalties for absences 
  • Allotment of extra time
  • Online 
  • Frequent breaks
  • Elevator usage
  • Food/drinks in class
  • Part-time or half day consideration
  • Emergency contact
  • Note taker
  • Allowance for computer types assignments/frequent breaks
  • Exclusion of physical education courses 

In my experience, there are two main accommodations proven beneficial for my health condition(s). They are/were:

No penalties for absences 

Institutions have an "automatic fail" rule if more than 3 days are missed. That does not go well with hospital admissions, appointments, and flares

Online Courses and Half Days

The majority of my successes are attributed to technology. While in high school, I was able to physically attend a class period or two daily. The remainder of my credits for the year were completed online through a virtual school. This conserves precious "spoons" or energy. Currently, college is entirely online. None of my schooling would be possible otherwise.  

2.)  Be aware of your limits. 

Every condition differs, as do the limitations they impose. The knowledge of personal limits are just as essential as learning a curriculum. Healthily push yourself to complete your schooling, but do not become overzealous and cause a flare. 

Adventuring outside of the house to attend class, studying through 'brain fog,' and completing assignments despite hospital admissions are sometimes enough accomplishments to slightly improve bad health days. However, there are also occasions when 'pushing through' is not possible without inflicting harm. It is a balancing act that takes experience! 

3.) Accept that schooling takes time. Exemplify patience. 

Chronic illness has no concept of time. It does not care if high school or college should be completed in two or four years. Rushing education cultivates the ideal circumstances to burn yourself out, causing further illness. 

A general AA degree is a two year degree. It has taken me nearly double that! While in high school, I passed a test to dual enroll (earn high school and college credits simultaneously). Rather than attend the high school for one period daily, I physically attended the local state college twice a week. The rest was done online. I began this in 2012, graduated high school in 2015, and am only now graduating with my AA in December 2016. 

This is a hard pill to swallow for over achievers. But be patient with your goals. The important part is that the aspirations are met, not the length of time it takes to do so. 

Our bodies do not fit into the 'normal' mold, and often, our education does not either.