As a special education teacher, I never thought that accommodations could apply to me. They only applied to my students. Now that I am learning to live with fibromyalgia, I realize that I can give myself some of the same kind of help I provide my students.
I keep thinking of how accommodations apply to me with Fibromyalgia. I remember that, when I was student teaching, one of my cooperating teachers said that I could rest during her planning time. It was perfectly acceptable because, without this rest period, I would have great difficulty just getting through the day. I was embarrassed that she saw how great of a need I had for rest. I was trying very hard to seem as if I was not tired or in pain. It was evident to her though. As I was trying to reason with myself as to whether or not I should take her up on the offer, I realized that resting during planning was an accommodation I needed in order to fulfill being a student teacher properly. Who was I to think that I was better than my students? Who was I to think that it made someone better or worse whether they had accommodations or not?
I have learned to apply the concept of accommodations to my everyday life. I was made aware of one of my self-made accommodations yesterday. A coworker was frustrated that she had forgotten something. I give to myself accommodations in order to fight my fibro fog of forgetfulness, so I was able to quickly suggest the techniques I use. My mom was the first to suggest the accommodation that I would remember the things that I needed to do if I just wrote things down. When she told me this I was prideful and thought that I should be able to remember all these things without writing them down. I beat myself up for not being good enough to remember. This was a mistake. Just like I tell my students, accommodations are to help you do your job well. Accommodations are not a sign that you are of less worth than others. You are simply different. I must believe this for myself. My writing everything down is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. I am acknowledging that I have a weakness and am giving myself the tools to succeed.
So, when you see me walking down the hall with my different colored pens, journal, laptop, and binder, know that this is how I accommodate myself: writing everything down, organizing my notes, and putting things in the same place. These are the accommodations that help me succeed.
If I ask you to repeat yourself, it’s not because I wasn’t listening. I am working through my fibro fog to purposefully remember what you are saying.
If I ask you a question I have asked before, it’s not because I wasn’t listening. It is because I want to remember the answer.
This is me. This is Fibro.