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  • Often invisible. It is often not observable when students are experiencing significant fatigue due to the impact of a disability or medical condition.
  • Can fluctuate over time. Fatigue related to chronic health conditions can often fluctuate from day-to-day or week-to-week. Individuals may have days when their health is relatively stable and other times when flare-ups result in increased symptoms. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle can often help to maintain greater health.
  • May be exacerbated during stressful/high demand times. This can compound during the typical post-secondary busy periods like midterms or final exams.
  • Provide a supportive environment. Provide a supportive environment that promotes open communication with the students, instructors, and campus resources such as the Disability Services Office.
  • Provide links to course content. Provide links to course resources and other supporting course materials such as handouts that a student can review later as the student may not be able to concentrate fully in class.
  • Provide detailed course expectations at the start of term. Provide course expectations and due dates well in advance so students can plan their time to minimize stress and allow a pace of work that gives them the rest and balance they need.
  • Provide some flexibility Recognize that student may need some flexibility on time-lines during flare-ups.
  • Connect student to campus resources such as the Disability Services Office for support and guidance.
  • Note taker.
  • Recording lectures.
  • Extended time for tests and exams.
  • Writing longer exams over more than one sitting.
  • Potential for extensions on course assignments.
  • Reduced course load.
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
  • Other chronic health conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Mental health conditions such as depression.

Case Study

Shelley is registered in the Jewelry program. She began the program as a strong and committed student. However over the past month, Shelley often comes to class late and her focus and concentration are sometimes quite weak especially later in the week. In her program, the theory-related knowledge is taught in the mornings. Her instructor is concerned that Shelly will not get the information she needs to understand the techniques and to ensure that she is performing them safely. Also, because her concentration is poor later in the week, her instructor is concerned that she is not making sufficient progress to move forward on all projects in the expected time lines.

Her Instructor checks to see if he has received an accommodation form from the campuses Disability Services Office for Shelley. He sees that he has and that the letter notes that Shelley is eligible for testing accommodations including extra time and a quiet space to write. Shelley’s difficulties are not related to testing but her instructor wonders if these difficulties may be disability related also. He contacts the Disability Advisor noted on the form. He lets the Advisor know that Shelley is registered with Disability Services and explains his concerns with her attendance and performance.

The Disability Advisor suggests that she will contact Shelley to discuss the concerns the instructor has raised. A couple of days later the Advisor contacts the instructor and lets him know that Shelley has been experiencing increased disability related symptoms. As a result she is having difficulty maintaining the energy levels she needs to stay focused in class. The workload is also proving to be too heavy for Shelley given her current health. The Advisor asks whether reducing Shelley’s course load would be feasible in the program.

The Instructor considers this request and meets with the School Chair to discuss this option. Both the instructor and School Chair decide that this could be feasible.

Shelley now attends classes for only three days a week instead of five. This allows her the additional rest she needs. With improved balance, her health stabilizes and her focus improves. The reduced workload also results in improved attendance as she is no longer overextending herself. Since this adjusted workload is working for both her instructor and the student, the instructor, School Chair, and Shelley work out a plan that will allow her to complete the program over 1.5 years instead of a single year.

There are no resources for this physical impact.

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