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Systemic Disorders


Systemic disorders are health conditions affecting one or more of the body’s systems, to include the respiratory immunological, neurological, circulatory, or digestive systems. Systemic disabilities may change overtime and are often hidden. Functional limitations may be episodic for some students who experience dizziness, disorientation, and difficulty breathing during a recurrence. For example, with asthma, multiple sclerosis, or a seizure disorder, students may have periods when they function without any accommodations, but at other times their functional limitations are severe.

Systemic Disorders Include

  • Epilepsy
  • Lupus
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • HIV
  • Asthma
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Muscular Dystrophy

Possible Student Characteristics

  • Limited energy
  • Difficulty walking, standing, or sitting for a long time
  • Occasional dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Absences due to frequent doctor appointments or hospitalizations
  • Slower processing of information after an episode or due to medication


Seating Arrangements: In a few situations, a student may be unable to use the type of chair provided in a particular classroom. Student Disability Services (SDS) will assist with special seating arrangements.

Access to Class Notes: Some students with chronic health conditions may need assistance finding a note taker, or they may elect to audio record lectures.

Missed Exams or Class Make-Up Work: Because students who experience recurrence of a chronic condition may require bed rest and/or hospitalization, students may have the Disability-Related Absences accommodation. This requires reasonable flexibility with the attendance policy when that flexibility does not fundamentally alter the nature of the course. Collaborate with students about arrangements to makeup tests and other assignments if they have disability-related absences. It is essential to avoid penalizing a student for his/her disability and, at the same time, maintain the integrity of the requirements of the class. Contact SDS or see Disability Related Absences under Access Policy on the SDS website for questions about the disability-related absences accommodation.

Exam Accommodations: Assist the student in coordinating these accommodations with SDS.

Emergency Procedures: Follow this link (First Aid for Seizures) to a one-page guide from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on First Aid for Seizures. Please contact Public Safety and/or SDS if you have any disability-related questions about how to respond to an emergency in the classroom.

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