Will my Fulbright grant be denied because of my ADHD?
April 22, 2012 6:43 AM   Subscribe

I was selected for a 2012-13 Fulbright Core research grant, but I'm concerned about the medical clearance. Does my ADHD diagnosis mean I'll be denied clearance?

I can't seem to be any information about situations similar to mine, so I'm hoping someone here can share their experience.

My ADHD is managed very well; although I take medication semi-regularly, I don't absolutely require it. I've managed for a long time without medication, and I have other ways to cope - such as calendars and lists. The medication I usually take isn't available in the host country.

I'm concerned that the committee will automatically assume that I may not be able manage, and thus deny my grant on those grounds. My primary care physician has included the ADHD info on the medical clearance forms, which I have to send to the Fulbright committee soon.

Does anyone have experience with this? Any advice? Am I worrying needlessly?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
I've known a few people who have gotten medical clearances for various reasons (fulbright, peace corps, etc) and it seems like the main thing they are looking for is whether or not the person will be okay if they are in an area with spotty access to medical facilities. Like if the person has severe asthma or something and is supposed to be in a remote part of Africa. A friend of mine applied for a fulbright and was worried about her celiac but she wasn't accepted to the program so not sure how that would have turned out.

In your case not having access to meds wouldn't be a life threatening situation, so it doesn't seem like something that would disqualify you for medical clearance.

I've never gone through the process though so hopefully someone who has can weigh in.
posted by fromageball at 7:13 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it's allowed, an explanation from your doctor of how you manage your condition would probably be a good addition to the packet, particularly (as fromageball points out) what will happen if you run out of your medication, how long a supply lasts and how difficult it might be to get more (e.g. whether it can be mailed in a manner that will get it to you in your host country). You've already passed the main hurdle -- the administrators will be looking for ways to keep you in the program, so give them what they need to do that.
posted by Etrigan at 7:20 AM on April 22, 2012

If you're on meds that you can't access in country that might be a concern personally, but don't stress about it. One of my close Fulbright friends is a severe diabetic and she cleared. I know lots of other Fulbrighters with less serious medical concerns and they were fine.

Heck, I was pregnant for my Fulbright even. :)
posted by k8t at 10:26 AM on April 22, 2012

Historically the State Department has been quite antiquated and discriminatory in its assessment of candidates for medical clearance, and particularly with respect to mental health/mental conditions. There have been a number of, for example, Peace Corps and other foreign service applicants I and others have assisted over the years who have been initially denied based on relatively moderate medical/mental health conditions. That said, the climate is much better now, and people are less likely to be dinged, and if dinged are more likely to get the decision reversed on appeal. Although I have no first-hand information, I have the sense that the people in charge are slowly being replaced by people with better consciousness re disabilities. The answers being posted here seem to reflect that newer, better reality.

If it were me, I would be sure I had a detailed report from my treating professional explaining that my condition is stable and successfully treated, and stating explicitly that the candidate is well prepared for succeeding in an environment with the stressors of living overseas. (That is the big fear from the bureaucrats -- that persons with mental health anything will have a breakdown due to the stress of living in a foreign country and embarrass the program or commit suicide, etc., etc., insert parade of horribles.) Typically I would recommend that the individual research ways to get their medication (or a similar medication) in their proposed host country, e.g. via quarterly trips to the capitol or whatever. But there might be a twist in your case if the medication you use is considered a "controlled substance" in your host country. Perhaps you and your doctor could put together a report that gave lots of options for success with and without medication, so that either scenario is covered.

If anything weird happens, let me know and I can give you a referral to a disability rights attorney in your area, who can assist you.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:09 AM on April 22, 2012

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