Psychological Disorders

Psychological disorders cover a wide range of disorders such as neuroses, psychoses, and personality disorders. The majority of psychological disorders are controlled using a combination of medications and psychotherapy. If the student self-discloses to the instructor, it may be appropriate to discuss problems and side effects associated with medications. Only a limited number of court cases have been conducted to set precedents for reasonable accommodations for students with any of these disorders. Based on court rulings on other types of disabilities it is probably that some of the following accommodations may be considered appropriate and reasonable.

Accommodations may include

  • extended time for exams, quiet testing area with a proctor
  • note takers, readers, or tape recorders in class
  • seating arrangements that enhance the learning experience of the student
  • incompletes or late withdrawals in place of course failures in the event of prolonged illness
  • assistance with time management and study skills
  • encouragement to use relaxation and stress reducing techniques during exams
  • flexibility in the attendance requirements in case of health-related absences

A student is required to make up missed assignments and tests.

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Invisible Disabilities
Psychological disorders fall into the group of invisible disabilities that may have little or no impact on learning. With proper diagnoses and treatment, students with psychological disorders are productive and successful in the academic environment.

Depression is a common occurrence that may affect social functioning, concentration and motivation, and the ability to tolerate stress. Episodes of lower-level academic functioning related to the disability may be time limited. In some cases the student may need to withdraw from school or take an incomplete in coursework to allow time for the conditions to stabilize. Flexibility with assignments and exams may need to be negotiated between the student and the instructor.

Medications or changes in the medications that a student is taking may cause sleep disturbances, interference with concentration, diminished ability to attend to lectures, or successfully complete assignments or exams. Accommodations may be needed for the presenting disability and the side effects of medication.

Some students may exhibit negative behavior such as indifference or occasionally disruptive behavior. In the event of disruptive behavior, the student should be informed about the specific limits of acceptable behavior in the classroom and on campus. The Student Code of Conduct must be followed.

Page last modified February 11, 2010