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Disability Advisors & Access to Assistance

It’s fall. That means back to school. And for many of our readers, that means off to college or university!

These are exciting times

But they can also be full of anxiety, nerves and fear when you’re living with an unpredictable illness. I went into my college dorm with a lock box full of pills, trying to hide anything that would alert someone as to how sick I was. I didn’t know how to be sick at that time. Now that I’m an adult and can reflect on the things that helped me the most, specifically one thing, I want to share it with others so they can be as comfortable as they possibly can be in a new environment with people they don’t know.

A single dorm room

Thanks to a nurse at my GI clinic, I had a head start on what the first thing I should do. I contacted the university and told them my situation of being immunosuppressed and they put me on a short list (not guaranteed) to live in the single unit of our suites. Thankfully, things worked in my favor and I was placed in a single room; this made things so much easier dealing with taking over 40 pills a day. I could do it discreetly, no one knew about it, and it allowed me to make that room my own little home for the year.

Disability services office

After about a month in, I realized I needed help, as I was having more and more issues and would end up having rectal surgery that winter. It was then that I contacted the Disability Services office and was assigned to the one person who would make college so much more accessible to me when I really needed it.

We made a plan, we were on constant contact and he helped connect me with someone that could take notes, options were given to me about attending classes when I was physically unable to go and I was given extra time on my exams in a different environment that allowed me to use the restroom as little or as often as I wanted.

This helped me feel secure

Over the next 5 years, my Disability Advisor had become my life raft. Even when I didn’t need it, I felt secure. Of course, there were some professors who refused to accommodate me in the ways I needed, but with a little verbal communication from my Disability Advisor, things were set straight. I was unfortunately met with quite a few professors like that. At this point in my disease, I didn’t know how to advocate or verbally express my situation.

Hopefully with this in mind, whether you are in high school, college or you are a caregiver to someone with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you are able to communicate with the disability office and student services to gain the accessibility you may not have if you don’t ask for it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    7 months ago

    Great post! So important to utilize those tools when you are a student. School can be stressful enough on its own, so having someone to advocate for you is such a life-saver. I wasn’t diagnosed with Crohn’s until after I graduated, but I know if I was in school with symptoms, I would have definitely benefited in contacting Disability Services.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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