School Tips for Students with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

1
Don't Give Up. Adjust.

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Going to school can be a big challenge when you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. The mental and physical demands can make it seem impossible at times.

However, being sick doesn't mean you or your child have to stop working toward your dreams. It may make you slow down and make some adjustments, though. The information here may help keep things moving forward.

2
Communicating With Instructors

It's important to let instructors know that you or your child may need special accommodations and may miss classes more frequently than other students. They may be willing to provide lecture outlines or other aids if they know there's a disability that can make learning difficult.

If an instructor is unwilling to accommodate special needs, talk to a superior. You should be able to get reasonable accommodation based on disability. However, keep in mind that you may need to produce medical records to prove limitations.

3
Limiting Course Load

In college, you have a lot of control over how heavy a course load you take. Try to keep it realistic and manageable for you, and keep in mind that you may need to drop a class or two along the way. (If you're getting scholarships or financial aid, make sure you know how many credits you need to maintain.)

It's harder to adjust your course load in high school (or earlier), but your school or district may offer options that could help children with disabilities. Be sure to check on what is available to you.

4
Easing Physical Challenges

A heavy book bag is not your friend when you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome! A wheeled bag can be a lot easier on you than a backpack or over-the-shoulder bag.

For K-12 students, it might be possible to get a second set of books from the school so one can be left at home instead of carried back and forth.

Especially for English and literature classes, you may be able to get electronic books. Classics are often available for free.

You might want to consider recording classes, for a couple of reasons:

  1. It can keep your hands and arms from getting overworked
  2. You can listen later to help overcome cognitive dysfunction (brain fog)

If the campus is large, see if you can schedule classes close together or arrange for some kind of transportation.

5
Think About a Tutor

A private tutor may help you or your child overcome any learning challenges as well as catch up after missing classes.

Look into whether your school provides free tutoring services. If not, you may need to hire a private tutor. Local college students may be willing to help out for a relatively low cost.

6
Look into Alternatives

It may be that a traditional school environment isn't right for you or your child. If that's the case, you may have several alternatives to explore.

For K-12 education, home schooling, a GED, charter schools or private schools may suit your needs better. It's also possible to get a high school diploma online. Your school counselors may be able to help guide you toward the best option for you.

For college students, some schools offer flexible schedules that may better accommodate an illness. You may also want to check into distance learning through a college or university, as well as online colleges.

7
Be Realistic

While it's best to stay optimistic about getting through school, you want to keep a realistic outlook so setbacks aren't emotionally devastating. Expect that it could take longer to reach your goals and that you'll have some struggles along the way.

If you or your student have trouble setting realistic goals or dealing with setbacks, you may want to consider a mental health counselor to help with these hurdles.

Here's help: Setting Goals.

8
Work Toward Better Health

The best thing we can do for ourselves is safeguard our health and work to improve it. These resources may help keep you or your child functional through school:

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