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Education, Schools and Students with Neurological Impairments

  • Published: 2012-01-16 (Revised/Updated 2016-03-31) : Author: Thomas Weiss : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Depending upon severity and functional limitations caused by neurological disorder a student may be eligible for services through the school office of disability services.

Quote: "Neurological disorders as a whole can be caused by many different things that can include issues with a student's immune system, inherited genetic abnormalities, injury to their nervous system or brain, diabetes and more."

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College, high school, and grade school students have the potential to experience a variety of forms of neurological disorders that may affect their academic functioning while they are in school.

A medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Specifically, it deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of disease involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems, including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effected tissue, such as muscles.

Depending upon the severity and functional limitations caused by the disorder they experience, a student might be eligible for services through the school's office of disability services. For the student to be eligible for services through a school, the student or their parents need to present documentation of their disability demonstrating that their disability meets the definition of, 'disability,' under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA Amendments Acts (ADAAA).

(List of Neurological Disorders)

According to Section 504 and the ADAAA the definition of, 'disability,' is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the student's major life activities. Services through a school requires specific information regarding a student's disability from not only the student or their parents, but the student's health care provider so a determination of whether or not the legal definitions of, 'disability,' are being met, and whether the student is eligible for services through the school. If the student is eligible for services, they might receive things such as auxiliary aids, academic adjustments, or other types of services.

The term, 'neurology,' is one that refers to the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and diseases that affect a person's nervous system and may include their nerves, spinal cord, or muscles. Neurological disorders can involve things that range from tension headaches to more serious issues like sleep disorders, seizure disorders, brain tumors, strokes, spinal cord paralysis, or muscular dystrophy. The overwhelming majority of disorders involve a person's nervous system, yet because of the ways they manifest, as well as the diversity of the ways they are treated, neurological disorders have been divided into a number of sub-groups related to their the specialists and therapists who treat them.

Students and Epilepsy

Neurological disorders as a whole can be caused by many different things that can include issues with a student's immune system, inherited genetic abnormalities, injury to their nervous system or brain, diabetes and more. There are a number of examples of neurological disorders, one of which is epilepsy. Within the diagnosis of epilepsy there are neurologists who specialize in treating seizures and genetic disorders, as well as physiatrists who specialize in the rehabilitation and neuro-development and pediatrics of children with developmental and learning issues.

Epilepsy is actually a common neurological disorder that involves recurring seizures; partial and generalized. Perhaps the most common form of generalized seizures are called, 'tonic-clonic,' or, 'gran-mal,' seizures. The two types of partial seizures include, 'simple,' and, 'complex.' Simple partial seizures are often referred to as, 'warnings,' or, 'aura's,' because a student remains completely aware during these forms of seizures and might experience things like nausea, an unpleasant smell or taste, 'deja vu,' or a pins and needles sensation. A student having a partial complex seizure experiences impaired awareness and might demonstrate unusual behaviors. There are some different things that may, 'trigger,' a seizure in students with epilepsy such as:

Students and Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a form of birth defect belonging to a class known as, 'neural tube defects,' which involve damage to a person's spine and spinal cord. Some of the person's vertebrae in their spine do not close as they should during pregnancy and their spinal cord's nerves are damaged and exposed. Students with spina bifida can experience a number of affects that range from minor to severe. These affects include:

Brain: The majority of students with spina bifida experience, 'hydrocephalus,' or a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in their brain. Some students with spina bifida also experience, 'Arnold Chiari malformation,' or a, 'jamming,' of their brain stem into their spinal cord. Due to these, a student with spina bifida might also experience a number of different brain function disabilities.

Bowel and Bladder: Students with spina bifida may experience a level of urinary or fecal incontinence, as well as increased stress on their kidneys.

Legs and Feet: A student with spina bifida may experience a range of difficulties related to walking, or an inability to walk. They may experience a reduction in sensation, as well as a proneness to pressure sores and burns.

Students and Cerebral Palsy

The term, 'Cerebral Palsy,' is used to describe a range of disabilities that are associated with posture and movement. Students with cerebral palsy experience symptoms affecting their brains and muscles. While cerebral palsy is a permanent form of disability, a student with cerebral palsy may achieve greater control over their movements as they learn and practice motor skills. Cerebral palsy affects students in different ways; some students experience only minor issues with motor skills, yet others might experience more extensive disability. Students with cerebral palsy are usually perceived as fitting into four main areas in accordance with the parts of their bodies that are affected:

Hemiplegia: Involves one side of the student's body.

Paraplegia: Involves both of the student's legs; however neither of the students arms are affected.

Diplegia: Involves all four of the students limbs, although the student's legs are affected more than their arms.

Quadriplegia: Involves all four of the student's limbs. The student's face and mouth muscles might also be affected.

Students and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a condition that happens when the protective sheath known as, 'myelin,' around a person's nerve fibers in their brain and spinal cord become damaged causing random patches called, 'plaques,' or lesions. The patches distort and interrupt the messages that are sent along the student's nerves. The term, 'sclerosis,' means, 'scar,' and the disability is referred to as, 'multiple,' because the damage commonly happens at many different points. The symptoms students with MS can experience may be varied and unpredictable. The damage to a student's nervous system is located in many different areas, meaning no two students will share the same symptoms. The symptoms students with MS can experience include:

The level of impairment a student with MS may experience can vary. They may experience intermittent flare-ups, at times severe enough to keep a student from attending class, as well as periods of remissions where they seem to experience no level of impairment related to functioning at all.

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