What are some of the functional limitations related to mental illness?

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The following functional limitations related to psychiatric disabilities may affect academic performance and may require accommodations (Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 1997).

  • Difficulty with medication side effects: side effects of psychiatric medications that affect academic performance include drowsiness, fatigue, dry mouth and thirst, blurred vision, hand tremors, slowed response time, and difficulty initiating interpersonal contact.
  • Screening out environmental stimuli: an inability to block out sounds, sights, or odors that interfere with focusing on tasks. Limited ability to tolerate noise and crowds.
  • Sustaining concentration: restlessness, shortened attention span, distraction, and difficulty understanding or remembering verbal directions.
  • Maintaining stamina: difficulty sustaining enough energy to spend a whole day of classes on campus; combating drowsiness due to medications.
  • Handling time pressures and multiple tasks: difficulty managing assignments, prioritizing tasks, and meeting deadlines. Inability to multi-task work.
  • Interacting with others: difficulty getting along, fitting in, contributing to group work, and reading social cues.
  • Fear of authority figures: difficulty approaching instructors or TAs.
  • Responding to negative feedback: difficulty understanding and correctly interpreting criticism or poor grades. May not be able to separate person from task (personalization or defensiveness due to low self-esteem).
  • Responding to change: difficulty coping with unexpected changes in coursework, such as changes in the assignments, due dates, or instructors. Limited ability to tolerate interruptions.
  • Severe test anxiety: such that the individual is rendered emotionally and physically unable to take the exam.

Last update or review: January 25, 2013