4 Things I Wish Teachers Knew About Their Chronically Ill Students

Going through school with an illness is challenging, and getting your teachers to understand your situation without drawing unwanted attention can seem impossible. Some simple tips from others can really make a difference to how you approach your situation. Here are a few things I wanted my teachers to understand:

1. I might not seem as attentive in class as everyone else.

Sometimes just sitting in class is an accomplishment so if I look like I’m “zoning out,” it’s not because your class is boring or I can’t be bothered, it’s because I am simply trying to gain control.


2. My test scores aren’t a true reflection of my potential or your teaching.

Chronic illness can really affect your short-term memory and often has brain fog as the partner in crime. It might seem that I understand the work in class but tests are stressful and not a true reflection of my capability.

3. I won’t always be able to do all the homework.

I can understand your frustration when students don’t do the homework you set; however, it isn’t always intentional. Sometimes medication a person takes at night can have a sedative effect, hindering their ability to complete homework. However, asking in front of the class for an explanation is embarrassing and degrading. We might not want our peers to know about what we are going through.

4. It’s not a short-term problem that will always improve.

Chronic illness has its name for a reason – it is long-term and in some cases lifelong. Sometimes it may seem like we are improving, but it doesn’t always stay that way. There are good times and bad times. We are just as frustrated about it as you are, so please be patient.

Having continuing support and understanding from your teachers is so important and can really make a difference. It may be a process of “trial and error” and can sometimes feel next to impossible, but the more you explain to them, the easier it is for you both.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Ryan McVay.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

lady gaga in five foot two

Lady Gaga's Documentary 'Gaga: Five Foot Two' Highlights a Frustrating Part of Chronic Illness

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Paige Wyant, The Mighty’s Associate Chronic Illness Editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.  This morning I uncharacteristically leaped out of bed after only my first alarm – not because it’s [...]
dr oz

Dr. Oz Starts Petition for NIH to Increase Medical Marijuana Funding

Dr. Mehmet Oz isn’t satisfied with opioid medication options doctors have for pain relief, and he’s petitioning the National Institutes of Health to look into another option: medical marijuana. Oz, a cardiovascular surgeon and host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” started a petition on Change.org last week called Fund More Research for Medical Marijuana as a [...]
Photo of John McCain

John McCain Says 'No' to Graham-Cassidy Bill, Likely Killing It

On Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced he cannot “in good conscience” vote for the Graham-Cassidy bill, the GOP’s latest Obamacare repeal effort. With McCain out, the bill stands little chance of passing. Only three Republicans need to vote “no” on the bill for it to fail. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said he opposes the [...]
kids waving from a school bus

5 Back-to-School Tips for Spoonie Parents

The new school year may be in full swing, but transitioning from the free-spirited summer back to a rigid school schedule is no easy task. It’s especially challenging for those living with chronic illness. So if you’re having trouble making the back-to-school switch, these tips might help. 1. Put your health first. There’s a reason why [...]