With as many as one in five undergraduate students reporting having a disability, academic accommodations are not infrequently applied in the classroom. Accommodations for less-visible developmental disabilities, chronic pain and mental illnesses are often not discussed outside of contexts involving their use in aiding performance in the classroom or workplace.
It is a common, yet destructive mentality for disabled folks to compare themselves to able-bodied individuals in the workforce. It might be very easy to get stuck thinking something is unattainable if you don’t realize it doesn’t have to be that way.
Those who are not introduced to lifestyle adaptations or educational disability information from an early age may experience much of their life feeling entirely unsupported.
They may feel like it’s an insurmountable struggle to both manage their symptoms and try to function on par with their classmates or coworkers. Many disabled folks who experience burnout, exhaustion and executive dysfunction might benefit from self-accommodation.
People who struggle with chronic conditions that cause fatigue –– such as connective tissue disorders or dysautonomia, for example –– might have difficulty bringing themselves to wash the dishes, shower or cook due to the long periods of standing up typically involved in the task. In cases like these, the simple addition of a mobility aid such as a sitting stool could massively contribute to their quality of life.
One individual online posted a video listing the ways they added accommodations in the shower for their sensory processing needs and contamination OCD. They added a wooden bath mat to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of their feet, turned the lights off and added a nighttime projector to prevent overstimulation and the sight of contaminant triggers and now use silicone earbuds to reduce the ambient volume of the shower.
Adaptive clothing is another way to introduce accommodations to one’s private life. Bottoms with elastic waistbands can help lessen the negative effects of eating for those with gastrointestinal disorders, and supportive accessories can make errands or long gatherings less dreadful for those with joint or muscle conditions.
The same individuals who receive academic accommodations pertaining to time management difficulties or attention deficits could benefit from implementing other modified strategies in their personal life that can also help the core goal of the original accommodation. Placing reminders of tasks in highly visible and accessible places could aid their memory.
Asking others for help can be hard, but by engaging in thoughtful self-care and self-accommodation, you might not have to. Whenever you catch yourself putting off an activity or anticipating it with dread, ask yourself what specifically your struggle is with that task, and give yourself permission to modify the activity or the way you go about it. You don’t have to limit adaptations to the “reasonable accommodations” you would receive at work –– any change that increases your capabilities is a change you can benefit from making.