How To Choose Classes When You Have a Disability

School and everything that comes with it can be difficult for anyone. But that challenge increases when you live everyday in pain. School becomes an uphill battle: Do you drop classes you don’t want to for medical reasons? What difficulty of classes do you take (regular, honors, or APs)? These are all factors that play into choosing classes with a disability.

Workload

I am a junior, and have a pretty intense workload: pre calculus honors, engineering by design (a technology class), US history, AP Language and Composition, Aeronautics, AP Computer Science A, and AP Physics 1. These classes are rigorous and difficult, but I learn a lot. Prior to the beginning of the school year, I also had AP US History. However, I made the decision to drop that classes for the regular level social studies because of my migraines and the condition not improving during the summer. I really didn’t want to drop that class, however with about 2 hours of textbook reading and outlining a night, it wasn’t feasible for me. And that is an important skill and lesson to learn: you sometimes have to make sacrifices and decisions you don’t want to regarding your disability. How did I come to that final decision? I prioritized everything and that class came in low.

Prioritizing Classes

You always need to prioritize your classes and weigh the pros and cons, but it is even more important if you are living with a disability. One of the first questions to ask is what fits in with what your aspirations are? For me, that is STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math classes). Prioritize those classes as higher difficulty ones to stay in. That may mean taking regular English in order to take honors or AP science, or regular social studies in order to take honors math, or vice versa. This is a crucial step in assessing what classes to take. However, you also need to think about if there are any classes that worsen your disability. Is a lot of reading difficult? Then it may not be worth taking AP English.

Possible Triggers

If you suffer from migraines, you have to think about the triggers in each class. Is the class really loud? Is it a lot of computer work? Is there something else that is problematic? Is that class high enough in your priorities that it is worth staying in it, or is it okay to drop? I was also in independent research at the beginning of the school year. It is a class where you work on research papers, enter competitions, and write a lot of essays. I loved the class, however, it was a lot on the computer with strict deadlines. I decided it wasn’t worth it to stay in the class because it was detracting from my other classes and the rest of my life. You need to decide if a class is academically, physically, and just overall worth it.

None of this has a simple answer. It takes a lot of thinking and talking it through with other people including your parents and guidance counselor. You won’t be happy with any choice to drop a class but remember it is for the best sometimes. I have experienced that multiple times throughout high school, especially this year.

Please feel free to comment below what courses you are in or what you had to drop and how you came to those decisions, posts to do in the future, or questions for a future Q and A. Keep on fighting migraine and disability warriors, you got this!

~Sam

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