Going to School with NMO
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: December 2022 | Last updated: June 2023
Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMO) is an autoimmune condition and can impact many parts of life - including going to school.
How does NMO affect students?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for NMO. However, there is medication to help treat symptoms and prevent flare-ups. It is key for students and their families to learn how to cope with NMO to manage:3,5
Who is impacted by NMO?
NMO can occur at any age, but it commonly occurs around age 40. NMO occurs less often in children and older people.
Without treatment, NMO attacks can happen frequently and can lead to problems with walking and vision. The symptoms of NMO can impact daily activities and performance in school.1,2
NMO: The basics
In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the healthy cells in the body. In the case of NMO, the immune system attacks the nerves of the brain and spinal cord. In turn, the brain, eyes, and spinal cords are primarily impacted by symptoms of this chronic illness. 1
NMO can lead to swelling (inflammation) of:1
The spinal cord (transverse myelitis)
The nerves connecting the brain to the eyes (optic neuritis)
The area in the brain responsible for the emetic (vomiting) reflex
The symptoms of NMO vary based on the part of the nervous system affected.
Transverse myelitis related symptoms
Symptoms linked to inflammation of the spinal cord include:1-4
Optic neuritis symptoms
Inflammation of the optic nerve in the eye can cause:1-3
Symptoms related to brain inflammation
Inflammation of the emetic reflex center in the base of the brain can result in:1-3
How can I manage NMO as a student?
If you are a student with NMO, the strategies below may help you better cope with your condition and limit its effects on school performance. Students who can manage their health condition have better academic outcomes. These strategies and accommodations can be helpful for elementary-aged children to adults in college.3,5
Tips for students with NMO
Seek counseling to help with emotions and stress. Work closely and frequently communicate with your teachers and school office staff to address any concerns or needs. Discuss the opportunity for flexibility in your schedule and how you will make up any missed schoolwork.3
Request special accommodations for learning material such as:
Has NMO impacted your ability to keep a job?