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Neurological Disabilities

Neurological Disorders are diseases of the central and peripheral nervous systems, which are the brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, peripheral nerves, nerve roots, autonomic nervous system, neuromuscular junction, and muscles. There are more than 600 diseases of the nervous system such as brain tumors, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder), Cerebral Palsy, stroke and many more, which give rise to a number of symptoms. These symptoms may include weakness, headaches, numbness, tremor, memory loss, pain, confusion, altered levels of consciousness, poor coordination, loss of sensation, paralysis, and seizures.

Functional Limitations

  • Often experience fatigue (physical, cognitive, and emotional exhaustion)
  • May have difficulties with concentration and completion of tasks or assignments
  • May experience pain
  • May likely have to take medication (with possible side effects that may affect concentration and memory)
  • May be more susceptible to stress, and illnesses that can be exacerbated by times of stress
  • May miss lectures due to medical appointments, illness, or time in the hospital
  • May have mobility or postural difficulties with walking, climbing stairs, or remaining in one position for long periods of time
  • May have difficulty with writing and other fine motor activities (including computer use)
  • May have difficulty with oral communication
  • May have poor organizational skills
  • May have problems with abstract thinking and concepts
  • May have a poor ability to communicate needs
  • May be unable to hold or manipulate laboratory tools
  • Accommodations

  • Alternative tests
  • Extended time on exams
  • Distraction-reduced testing space
  • Reduced course load
  • Extended time on assignments
  • Short breaks during exams or in class
  • Access to class notes, a note-taker, laptop, or use of an audio recorder for lectures
  • Teaching Strategies

  • Provide lecture notes in advance to help reduce the amount of handwriting or typing students may need to do, allowing them to concentrate on the material being delivered
  • Prioritize reading lists, enabling students to engage more easily with pertinent course texts
  • When advising students, suggest a class schedule that gives students sufficient time to move between teaching venues
  • Avoid last minute location changes, and provide advance notice for students to make necessary arrangements if needed
  • Be mindful of keeping classroom and meeting areas clear, to reduce the likelihood of accidents
  • Allow students a break in long lectures
  • Avoid drawing attention to students who may need to leave class
  • Accommodate students who may need to sit in certain learning situations (e.g. in labs)
  • Our Sources and Additional Resources:

  • DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Home: The Faculty Room (University of Washington):