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4 Things I Wish Teachers Knew About Their Chronically Ill Students

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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.

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Thinkstock photo via Ryan McVay.

Originally published: September 25, 2017
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