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Accommodation: It’s Not a Dirty Word

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When many of us think of the word “accommodation” in reference to multiple sclerosis, our minds likely go straight to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Truth of the matter is that some of us see asking for accommodations as a “surrender” of sorts and just won’t go there.

I’m on my way to a second day of meetings at the home office of the National MS Society this morning and I have to tell you that I’ve needed accommodations and I’m happy to report that the Societygets it.

Many people who are still working don’t ask for modifications to their work space or job due to MS for fear of reprisal. Bring up “ADA” and red lights and sirens go off in our heads (and, yes; perhaps in our bosses’ heads as well). Accommodation needn’t be something as big as a sofa and a quiet room so you can take a mid-day kip (though for some, it is).

A desk a little closer to the bathroom is something which can improve productivity, moral and even health for a person living with MS (this was a BIGGIE for me in yesterday’s meetings). The understanding that we may have to excuse ourselves more frequently than established breaks can put our mind — as well as our bladders — at ease.

Changing work schedules, changing job titles, asking for different equipment to get the job done; those are things which can take some backbone building to work up to. The simple things — the things we’ve learned work for us in our homes and private lives — there is no reason we should feel fearful of asking (and expecting) those.

Sure, the National MS Society could be expected to understand and even anticipate these modifications for us. Your employer (or social organization, or church, or family…) may not have the understanding of your needs and potential needs in order to meet them.

Let’s face it — your employer wants you to be successful. They can only be profitable if you are! Why, then, do we feel as if asking for a different light bulb or chair or something along those lines makes us a lesser employee?

I’m beginning to read comments about the big feast to come next Thursday. I see that some of you are plowing along as if you didn’t think you had MS (I applaud that). Others of you have adapted and rearranged and delegated in order to do as much as you can while still leaving enough ‘in the tank’ to enjoy the holiday yourselves (THAT, I give a standing ovation!!!).

It’s the same thing; asking for accommodation.

There will be plenty of coffee, chocolate, and potty breaks in today’s meetings. I will be surrounded with understanding people who want input from Trevis’ (somewhat addled) brain, not from my disabled body. If I need to excuse myself to pee every 20 minutes, there is not a problem. If I need to move about because spasticity is making it painful to continue in any position, it’s acceptable.

This should be the norm. We should be able to expect, at least in a small way, accommodations to our environment to help us succeed. Is it an even playing field? NO. Do we have something to offer that the young “running back” on the field doesn’t have? You betcha!

Have you asked for (in your personal or professional life) any accommodations? How did that go?

Wishing you and your family the best of health.



Don’t forget that you can also follow me via my and on . And check out the new blog I'm doing for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of the United Kingdom,

Last Updated:11/16/2011
Important:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Everyday Health.
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Date: 06.12.2018, 10:55 / Views: 42143