Receiving Accommodations in School
For Chronic Illness Or Chronic Pain
If you have any chronic illness, not just a CRPS diagnosis, school can be a major challenge. On top of balancing your academics, social life, and extra- curricular activities you have to take care of your health. School can be made a lot easier with specific accommodations to assist you. In elementary school through high school receiving accommodations in school can come either in the form of a 504 plan or/and IEP.
The 504 plan was first available in 1973 under the Rehabilitation Act. A 504 is a government document that schools are required to follow by law which provide accommodations for children and adolescents in school. The goal of a 504 plan is to “remove any barriers to learning” in order to create a level academic playing field for all children regardless of any disabilities.
On the other hand and Individualized Education Program, while also a legally binding government document, was developed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This document focuses more on specific learning accommodations. Children with IEP usually received special education and other supplementary services provided by the school.
I first heard about a 504 plan from one of my doctor’s who suggested that it might help me be more successful in school while struggling with multiple medical conditions. In order to obtain a 504 plan my doctor had to fill out paperwork and submit it to my school. My doctor had to include my diagnosis’, reason for accommodations being requested, and specific accommodations to be received. Once the paperwork was filed with the county and approved my parents had a meeting with about 10 school officials. In attendance were the Vice Principal, my counselor, social worker, occupational therapist, physical therapist, career specialist, and speech therapist.
During the meeting they discussed what accommodations would be appropriate for my situation and any services that I might need.
A few weeks later once my 504 plan was finalized we had a meeting with all of my teachers and explained the situation. Receiving accommodations in school was to help make high school easier for me. If I was in a flare I could request extension on due dates for assignments. I could also leave class five minutes early in order to avoid the crowded hallways in between classes. I was given a pass to go to my counselor’s office or the clinic at anytime I wanted without question. I had alternate arrangements for gym class including written assignments and just walking on the track. I was given an extra set of textbooks to keep at home so I did not have to carry the books back and forth to school each day. I was also allowed to use a laptop in class to type notes instead of write if my hands were giving me trouble. These are just a couple of ideas of what helped me. Maybe you need to have a heating pad in class, or to use the elevator. Before you begin the process of obtaining a 504 plan think of any possible accommodations that will make school easier for you.
Now comes the hard part.
There are no 504 plans in college. Instead you must register with your university’s disabilities office. As with a 504, a doctor’s note is required to verify why you need assistance and what those accommodations should be. You have to be an advocate for yourself. Instead of all the teachers being brought to you, in college you must go meet with each of your professor’s individually to make them aware of your accommodations.
I hope this gave you a first look into the process of receiving accommodations for school. Let me know if you have any questions in the section below!