Did you know?
The following people are thought to have had problems with mood disorders: Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, George Frederic Handel, Sergey Rachmaninoff, Peter Tchiakovsky, T.S. Eliot, Michelangelo, Abraham Lincoln, Beethoven, and Isaac Newton.
A hundred years ago people with extreme emotional/psychiatric disorders were kept in asylums, cages, chains, and locked rooms. The Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s released them. Current medications, much more effective than ever before, now allow the vast majority of affected individuals to live nearly normal lives. In addition, the study of neuropsychology has revealed that chemical and neurological components are involved in these disorders, which has established that emotional trauma from bad childhood homes is not primarily responsible for these types of behavioral/emotional issues.
Any mental or psychological disorder, such as... “emotional or mental illness." The DSM IV (Diagnostic Manual) delineates the criteria used to make a diagnosis. Students are required to present documentation from a psychiatrist or psychologist stating that they meet this criterion. Psychiatric disabilities are the newest of the categories of disabilities and decisions for appropriate criteria and accommodations are still developing. However, what is accepted is that mental disorders present problems related to relapsing and remitting symptoms and impairing side-effects of medications. In addition, a variety of sources point to three major areas of functional limitations related to mental disorders: problems in social functioning, difficulty concentrating long enough to complete tasks, and problems coping with day-to-day stress.
Students who have psychiatric disorders:
Behaviors of students, who have psychiatric disabilities, will vary greatly. They may frequently have trouble concentrating, may be drowsy due to effects of medication, and may frequently request that instructions be repeated.
Accommodations will vary depending on the type of disability. The following are some types of disabilities frequently seen in academic settings.
Anxiety Disorder: Anxiety can disrupt a person’s ability to concentrate and cause hyper-ventilation, a racing heart, chest pains, dizziness, panic, and extreme fear.
Bipolar disorder: (Manic Depressive Disorder) Individuals experience periods of mania and depression. In the manic phase, a person might experience inflated self-esteem, hyper behaviors, and less need for sleep.
Depression: Major depression may be characterized by a depressed mood most of each day, a lack of pleasure in most activities, thoughts of suicide, insomnia, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: This is not uncommon in veterans with combat experience or other types of traumatic experiences. They may have problems with anxiety, rapid mood changes, paranoia, and difficulty being around people.
Schizophrenia: This disorder may cause a person to experience, at some point in the illness, paranoia, delusions and hallucinations, extreme dependency issues, and concrete thinking. Cognitive processing of abstract ideas may become difficult or impossible.
Accommodations for students with psychiatric disorders may include…
Allowing a personal attendant to attend class with the student.
Allowing beverages in class for medications.
Flexibility in attendance requirements in case of unavoidable mental health-related absences.
Allowing the use of a tape recorder in the classroom.
Providing audio books ( CEA can assist).
Note taking services
Permitting exams to be individually proctored in a quiet room, extend time for testing, and rest breaks (the CEA can assist).
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADD and ADHD have been listed under the learning disability umbrella, but is beginning to be seen as a psychiatric disorder due to the emotional/behavioral components and because they do not pertain to having difficulties with specific skills such as reading, writing, or math. Like students who are learning disabled, students who have ADD or ADHD are affected cognitively. However, they have problems with a short attention span and difficulty focusing on one task at a time. In addition, ADD differs from ADHD in that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has a behavioral component (which is neurological in origin) along with a cognitive component, and ADD does not.
Learning with ADD / ADHD
(areas of academic concern )
- Concentrating, listening, interacting with others.
- Producing work at a consistently normal level.
- Starting, organizing, and completing tasks; following directions, and making transitions.
Organization: Individuals with ADD can become so consumed by the complexity of getting everything done that they do nothing.
Reading: The issue centers around difficulty in persevering with a task over a long period of time. When these students are tested for reading problems, they do much better when time constraints are lifted.
Mathematics: The longer the task takes, such as doing math problems, the more the student’s anxiety goes up. The result is that the student has less ability to process information accurately. In addition, students with ADD/ADHD may experience difficulties remembering math processes due to attention issues.
Note taking: This task requires the use of two skills at one time, listening and writing. Students with ADD have difficulty focusing on two tasks at a time. Retaining information even momentarily can be difficult in this situation, resulting in anxiety which then causes even more problems in processing and with memory.
Accommodations for adults with ADD or ADHD
Most of the above accommodations for LD are appropriate, plus the following:
- All directions for assignments should be provided by the instructor in written form.
- Priority registration; scheduling tests at a specific time of the day which will allow the student to attend class or take a test when he/she is able to perform better due to the effects of medications.
- Provide the student with a schedule that allows for opportunity to complete assignments in stages to avoid overwhelming the student.
- Frequent breaks (every 20-30 min.) while studying or taking tests.
Behavior issues that disrupt the classroom should be reported to CEA and directed to the Vice President of Student Services as a student code of conduct issue