CHS should be more open to offering mental health accommodations to students, regardless of their success

Cady Armstrong

This past year, I received a 504 plan to help better accommodate me at school after getting diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and severe anxiety. However, this was harder to achieve than it should have been. 

At the meeting, my counselor read off the feedback from my teachers who all said that I was a “pleasure to have in class” or an “engaged student”. However, they also noted that I was always one of the last students to turn in tests and quizzes. After hearing that feedback, mostly disregarding the last part, the administrator at that meeting questioned why I was asking for accommodations when I had been doing well in my classes, but doing well and feeling well are two different things. 

Overall, someone who had just met me that day was in charge of deciding what help I needed despite not really understanding my situation. While my teachers and counselor chimed in, I had also only known them for a short period of time and just felt like I struggled to be heard. In order to give the accommodations best for the individual student, they must feel like they are part of the decision. To this end, I recommend that the school ask the student’s previous teachers or offer the opportunity for the student’s doctor, who understands their diagnosis, to talk about their situation. 

Additionally, this school should do more training or expand their views on what mental disorders look like. At the meeting, I was asked if I obsess about my grades and what happens when I don’t get a 100%. Beyond that, when talking to my friends who also have accommodations, they recalled having a similar experience and being asked about their grades. While this is one way OCD can present, this isn’t the case for most, including me. Rather than using this one specific instance to figure out proper accommodations, the administration should do more research on ways mental disorders present themselves as it will help them understand how they affect students. 

However, this doesn’t mean that the school is doing everything wrong. I understand that mental health accommodations are a new concept and that there is a learning curve to it. I know that the school is just trying to be as fair as they can for students and appreciate their efforts in doing so. But, that being said, while I understand that accommodations are given out sparingly to keep it fair for all, it is frustrating when those whose jobs are to support students don’t acknowledge their struggles just because they aren’t necessarily as visible as they are for others. So, as 504 meetings pick up this month, I highly encourage the administration to meet students like me halfway and listen to everyone’s story.

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