Given that we strive to encourage self-care, we should look to see what elements of self-care come under the auspices of a “disability”.
The BBS defines a disability as:
“A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual or a record of such an impairment or having been regarded as having such an impairment."Major life activities" include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for one's self and performing manual tasks. Mental impairment includes any mental or psychological disorder such as organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities.” BBS Request for Accommodation Policies.
In essence, by law they must provide “equal opportunity” or to “level the playing field” so that those applicants taking the tests can display their knowledge without being limited by physical or mental limitations that can be documented as a disability.
As we consider the degree to which we might need accommodations, we need to consider if in fact our self-care is to manage what might be considered a “functional” life limitation. The following would be considered disabling conditions:
“Must limit one or more major life activity (create a functional limitation) ie: walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for self, performing manual tasks. Mental impairment includes mental or psychological disorder such as organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities.”
Important information to be aware of when requesting accommodations:
· Your request must be submitted at least 90 days before the exam and approved by the BBS before the testing site will make accommodations.
· Request must be “reasonable” (not too costly, too extensive, substantial, disruptive)
· Must verify an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act, Title II) recognized disability (mental, physical, or learning)
Ex: “test anxiety” is not considered a disability, but generalized anxiety disorder is.
· Must identify when it was first diagnosed
· If corrected by medical intervention, then may not be accommodated (ex: wearing glasses, now sees ok, takes meds that ameliorate symptoms), then no need for accommodations
· Must include a description of accommodation requested
· May consider a history of accommodations
· Request cannot fundamentally alter the measurement of knowledge or skills
Some common accommodations to consider requesting might be
· To have additional time to take breaks to eat/use the bathroom due to blood sugar, urinary problems, back or other physical ailments, etc
· To have additional time to manage ADHD, GAD, by using calming strategies
· To have additional time to rest your eyes from computer usage if you have vision problems, or to take the test on paper (will not be scored the same day though)
· To use ear plugs or have a private room to manage distractibility due to ADHD or anxiety
· To use a screen reader to “listen” to the test due to reading, learning or vision issues
Consider what you might say or help your clients understand about themselves if they were in this situation and allow yourself to take care of your own needs to ensure your own success. All information is completely confidential and does not reflect on your ability to be the fabulous therapist that you are.