Information for College Disability Offices
Dysautonomia is a medically documented disability. Educational accommodations for health impaired students is often required. Please keep in mind that dysautonomia conditions are invisible; other individuals probably cannot see the symptoms that the patient is experiencing, but they are medically verified symptoms and can be quite life impacting.
Please be sure to refer to and utilize DYNA’s Informational Brochure created specifically for college-level education: Educating the Dysautonomia Student: Dysautonomia In The College Setting.
Students with dysautonomia conditions may require a broad range of accommodations to help them succeed in college. No two dysautonomia patients are the same, and there is a wide degree of variability in the severity of symptoms from day to day and from patient to patient, so different dysautonomia students may have different accommodation requirements.
Many dysautonomia patients have symptoms of cognitive dysfunction that is similar to those afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder. Lack of blood flow to the brain is the main cause of cognitive issues with dysautonomia patients.
- Exams may need to be taken in a quiet setting, away from distractions.
- The room should be climate controlled, well ventilated and cool.
- Extended time may be required.
- Rest and/or bathroom breaks may be needed.
- Propping feet up may be necessary.
- Medication may need to be taken at established set times during the day (which may be during exam times).
- Always allow water, electrolyte drinks, and salty snacks.
- Afternoon testing may be required.
Assignments and absence policies
Dysautonomia can be extremely unpredictable, so students with these conditions require flexibility in attendance policies and assignment deadlines. Communication between student, disability advisor, and professor is crucial. It is often beneficial that professors post their lecture slides online, as this helps dysautonomia students keep up with course material during absences.
Students may require any of these various aids in the classroom:
- Extra chair to prop up legs during class.
- Water, electrolyte drink and snack allowance during class.
- Note-taker to provide student with notes during absences, or regular note-taking to compensate for cognitive dysfunction issues.
- Audio recording of lectures.
- Permission for bathroom breaks.
- Seating near the door.
- Climate controlled cool room (not stuffy or warm).
Sitting for extended periods of time can be very difficult for dysautonomia patients, so students with these conditions may require frequent stretch breaks. Please honor their requests and trust that they are not being disrespectful, but rather they are listening to their bodies’ needs to circulate blood flow.
Please note that dysautonomia symptoms are typically at their worst in the morning hours. Some dysautonomia patients find that they can only take classes in the afternoon hours due to incapacitating symptoms in the morning. Giving these students priority registration times may help to compensate for this limitation in class scheduling.
- Centrally located dorms are recommended.
- Air conditioning is necessary.
- Single rooms are often advised as the student’s health depends on so many factors that are hard for others to understand (quiet and dark sleeping environment, strict sleep / wake schedule, room temperature control, stress reduction, etc.)
- Some dysautonomia patients utilize State Disabled Parking Permits.
- Campus transportation assistance can be helpful on large campuses.
- Most students are encouraged to walk in spite of their symptoms (as walking aides in recovery by strengthing muscles and promoting blood flow) but distance walking usually poses significant challenges and there may be days when the student is unable to walk even short distances.
- Keys to elevators should be a consideration if student is unable to handle steps.
Student Engagement for College Students with the Hidden Disability of Orthostatic Intolerance by Beverly Karabin
General School Information