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How can you can support your students with M.E./CFS?

June 26, 2019

Zoe Galbraith, 20, is a music student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), a world-leading performance arts school in Glasgow. Zoe developed M.E. at 16, just as she was preparing for crucial exams.

“It was a teacher at school that suggested a possible M.E. diagnosis for me,” she explains. “Their dad had M.E. so they recognised the symptoms. It was a weight off me when I finally got an answer from the doctor as to what it was. I could see that people with things like dyslexia got one-to-one support, so why not me? But I was academically competent, so people could not understand why I needed support. They would say: ‘You get As, so why are you not able?’”

The knowledge, understanding and support of some of her teachers enabled Zoe to continue her education. Zoe used her experience to co-produce our How can I help? resource for teachers, so they can better understand M.E. and its impact.

“I was living nearby school so could easily go home and come back as I needed,” she says. “I had a study skills support session with support staff every week. I was also given access to the lift, so I was able to use this on days my symptoms were worse, and a room with a bed where I could when I needed a rest.

“One of my instrumental music teachers, who I saw twice a week, had M.E., so I talked to him a lot,” she says. “Nobody else in the school knew about M.E., they dismissed it.”

Through her school’s understanding and willingness to make practical adjustments to support her, Zoe has been able to remain in education and has just finished her first year of university.

“There is a lot of acceptance and awareness of invisible illnesses here. They provide quiet spaces and I also have funded taxis there and home which save my energy, so I can attend full days at university. This makes it much more accessible and easier for me to work at the same level as others. They have supported me to build things up slowly over the terms, in a way that works for me.”

If you are a teacher and want to learn how you can support your student with M.E./CFS we have developed ‘How Can I Help?’ Which offers crucial information about the symptoms and impact of M.E., plus free downloadable resources and practical ideas.