Under the Department of Justice’s Americans with Disabilities Act, College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities, and other plans and acts, I – and others who share my condition – am eligible for educational accommodations that include adjustments such as additional testing time. Students who displayed academic success, as broad as that term is, are also eligible for the accommodations granted they meet the criteria. When I first discovered I was eligible for ADA I was ecstatic: the thought of spending ample time for assessments allured me greatly. So why then did I decline to accept the accommodations that I was privileged to?
Throughout my life, I was a generally good test taker and good student overall. My formal diagnosis arrived in late middle school, though my family and I had our strong suspicions of my condition for years. Despite the presumptive setback, I was successful in school; with the exception of art courses, everything came natural to me for years.
Even though I learned that the capacity of tics I had granted me access to accommodations, I declined to take advantage of it after some thought because it was simply unnecessary. I had been able to succeed for so long without any additional help, so why should I start then? That’s not to say that there weren’t ulterior motives guiding my decision: I didn’t want to be seen as “weak” or “incable” by my peers, while at the same time proving to myself that I don’t need to be dictated by Tourette’s.
A part of me thought that using the accommodations would almost be a mockery to those who actually gained to have them; while my tics were – and still are – severe enough that they hinder my testing to an extent, it was never to such an amount that I wasn’t unsuccessful. I additionally thought that denying myself of said acclimations throughout the remainder of my educational career would serve to be a minor obstacle that I can better myself from. Rather than letting my tics control this part of my life as well, I decided to challenge myself into taking it as my own, disallowing myself to be defined by Tourette’s.
I could very well have been a lucky exception. Many individuals may stand to benefit greatly from ADA accommodations depending on the severity, frequency, and type of tics they have and they should apply to receive those benefits if that’s the case. If you’ve been educationally successful throughout your life however, maybe try and challenge yourself, as many jobs post college may not provide the same sorts of accommodations as school does. Regardless, your tics are different from other peoples’, and that should be a factor in deciding whether or not you meet the criteria for ADA accommodations and whether or not you really need them.
To find educational resources regarding accomodations, please visit the NJCTS Resource Room.