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Impact of AS on School

Last updated: January 2022

I am currently a university student but first started experiencing AS symptoms during high school.

Being a student is hard enough, but when you mix in having a chronic illness, it makes school even harder.

The unpredictability of AS affects my motivation and productivity for school. When my symptoms are better, I am able to do more and produce better quality grades, as reflected by my marks. However, when my symptoms are worse or when I am experiencing a flare-up, I fall behind and get worse marks.

As a chronically ill student, I need accommodations

These include a reduced course load, extensions for assignments, more time to complete tests and exams, access to course notes and recordings, and permission to get up and stretch during exams to reduce stiffness.

I am registered with the Accessibility Centre at school and my professors are notified of my accommodations at the start of every term. This ensures that I have support whenever I need it.

Most of the time I can manage my symptoms and school without using accommodations. I do this by using pacing techniques, but it is not enough when I am flaring up. That is when I need to use my accommodations.

Because of my worsening symptoms, I had to change my program

I went from doing a four-year Honours degree to a three-year degree without Honours. It was very difficult for me to make this decision. I love learning and going to school and I felt like AS took that away from me. Sometimes I regret not doing the Honours degree, and wish I could just push through and get it done. But I also know that I have to do what is best for my health and taking care of myself is much harder when I am stressing about school.

Something many people do not realize is that education is largely dependant on health. They have not had to consider that their good health is what allows them to pursue education. However, for me, this is something I think about all the time. Because more often than not, it is the only thing standing in my way.

I am currently exploring treatments with my doctors and if we find something that consistently helps reduce my symptoms, maybe I'll do the Honours. Maybe I'll even do my Master's degree.

If I can get my disease under control, I want to do it

I want to be able to do the things I want to do. However, like all other aspects of my life, it all depends on my health.

But I also know that chronic illness changes how you live. And it's okay to adjust expectations and plans and still live a happy and fulfilling life. I'll be okay regardless.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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