School Accommodation for Memory loss associated with Migraine Medication

Hello – I am an ex public school math teacher now a tutor. I have a student who has crippling migraines and misses school due to them. She takes Topiramate 125mg. At four pills a day, she still ends up in bed with a migraine. At 5, she has no migraine but experiences memory loss – for school work, people’s names, following conversations, etc. (She can get pain relief from Excedrin, but usually ends up in the ER with heart palpitations.) Right now she is taking the 5 pills and experiencing the memory loss, but at least she is not in bed. Here is my question – what accommodations are available for students with a 504 to help with the memory loss. Is there a such thing as open note tests? A study card? She is a very bright, engaging, funny and all around healthy 15 year old 10th grader in a rigorous school. I am sure her parents have turned over every stone, but I am wondering if there is anything I can advocate for her??


Community Answers
  • GardensatNight
    9 months ago

    Extra time and take breaks as needed will not help with the memory loss (as you already know.) Her parents need to call the school special ed coordinator or the principal (if you’re in the US) and request her 504 be amended for her changing medical condition. The school has a certain number of days to respond to this, so they should get on the horse immediately. As her tutor, can you try experimenting with scenarios that would work? Try open notes and see if that results in her being able to pass a practice test you write up?

    I agree with the other poster who suggested this might be similar to concussion protocol, or a student with TBI, but having seen lots of kids with concussion over the years, there’s a pretty broad spectrum of severity and the school may not understand the degree of accommodation they need to provide for this young lady (LOTS) merely from that. Depending on how small the school/district is, they may not have had experience with a kid with TBI either. Her parents may need to really be advocates and spell out (with documentation from her doctor) what she needs in the classroom given her current medical assistance (which may also include a copy of the teacher’s notes each day if she’s having memory trouble.) As someone personally who had an oddball thing go wrong medically, my school district balked and had no idea what to do with me. So her parents need to have a plan in mind and be assertive when they call.

  • combatcorgi
    9 months ago

    I personally had to have accommodations in school. They treated it similar to a conclusion protocol. Seems odd but if your school has a athletic trainer ask them for suggestions. Personally what helped me most was treachers and professors who were willing to work one on one with me on class work. People who are understand and offer support. I have had last effect on my memory and had to re learn to write sentences and learn basic math. The most basic way I know you explain it is I know I have the information in my mind I just have to find the right key to unlock the door.

  • jmstein1 author
    9 months ago

    Thank you so much. I really like this idea. It was my intention to go to the parents to encourage them to become very persistent and aggressive, but I wanted specific ideas of what to tell them to fight for. We are in New York state and my district is pretty large and in general a good district. I will try that with a mixed comprehensive exam on the most recent material and try different promps. I’m not sure how that will translate to her other subjects beside Math but at least I can do that for her to get the ball rolling. I have helped other students with concussion headaches. If any of you are in classrooms, and your teacher writes on a smart board, it is easier to sit in the teacher’s desk to take notes from her computer screen so that your eyes aren’t focusing to the distance and then close up repeatedly.

  • GardensatNight
    9 months ago

    Yes, and I mean really, if she’s having memory problems, she may need a copy of the teacher’s actual notes either given to her or if she’s doing better, open to compare her own notes to. It may not be apparent while she’s sitting in class, but if she’s having memory problems it may be difficult for her to process, remember, write down, all while listening and grasping the NEXT thing to write down.

    The problem with things like migraine and this young lady’s memory condition resulting from the topomax is that they’re invisible disabilities, and often the school districts either want to push back, imply it can’t possibly be as bad as what you’re saying, or want to do the bare minimum. It can be hard to get people to act when there’s no diagnostic “test” (i.e. blood test, MRI–those all tend to come back clean for us because there IS no test for migraine disease) screaming something is wrong even when DUH! something is! That’s why her parents need to become superhero!migraineparents! and advocate for her, NOT let her feel like a failure in school because of a real medical condition she cannot help, and not leave her at the mercy of individual teacher policies, where one may decide to pass her with a 90, another gives her a 75, so she feels bad about herself in that class, another lets her do open note, another just flunks her because the teacher is a clueless snowflake who has never had to deal with a medical issue and doesn’t understand the real world… that’s why an up to date 504 is critical.

    And thank YOU, by the way, for being so awesome as to come here. Most people wouldn’t have taken the time. You rock.

  • jmstein1 author
    9 months ago

    I can see that is the case with her. We have a funny song for the quadratic formula that i taught her when she was in 8 th, I started the first three notes and she said, “oh! I know what to do!” Thank you

  • Ronan
    9 months ago

    I received that accommodation. I had to get the disability co-ordinator to thoroughly read my chart. This was after my tutor at the time highly recommended I receive memory prompts from the professor.

    There are many hidden accomodations that can be made when needed. Sometimes it takes someone else to almost demand them.

    I am from Canada so things may work a bit differently here. But I still think it is worth asking the “powers that be” about all the accomondation that are available to your student.

  • jmstein1 author
    9 months ago

    Thank you so much for this reply. How were your prompts given? As needed? Verbally?

  • Ronan
    9 months ago

    I think it was both in writing and verbal. Not by me but by professionals

  • jmstein1 author
    9 months ago

    She has a 504 – the accommodations are extra time and take breaks as needed. There is nothing in her plan for a memory loss plan. I was wondering if anyone had ever managed to obtain accommodations for that?

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    9 months ago

    Hi jmstein1,

    I’m so sorry to hear your student is having a rough time. If I’m not mistaken a 504 plan is secured to student who has a disability identified under the law. This article has a good explanation I hope helps; https://migraine.com/blog/special-education-services-children-migraine/.

    I hope that helps!
    Nancy

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