Janet remembers sitting in a meeting when one of the teachers asked her what type of accommodations she wanted for her child. “My jaw dropped,” Janet says. “How on earth would I know? I wasn’t the expert! I was the mom!” Janet says that she finally said that she’d bring in a list the next day, and then she ran home to figure things out.
Janet found what accommodations to ask for by calling three friends, and she posted a question on a special-needs mom forum. Other moms came though, and she figured out what to ask for.
Let’s fix that.
We’ve been collecting accommodations for years. This post contains lists to give you ideas for the types of accommodations that your child needs. You can also send the links to your teachers, to show them how other teaching professionals support LD children.
When you claim support for your child’s learning disability, you will request accommodations for your child. It might seem odd that the parent suggests learning accommodations, but remember: you’re asking the teacher to change their teaching, so it’s good that you get involved!
If you take your child to a learning specialist, including a neuropsychiatrist, a reading specialist, or an occupational therapist, they can provide you with a list of suggested accommodations as well. Simply read through the examples, create a list, then show it to your child’s teacher. Ask for their advice.
Keep your list of accommodations as simple, clear, and short as possible. You don’t want to overwhelm your child’s teacher.
General Suggestions that Apply to Many LDs
The Learning Disabilities Association of America has a very general list of accommodations and teaching suggestions for many different learning disabilities.
The A Day in Our Shoes blog has an ultimate list of IEP accommodations, modifications, and strategies.
Another big list of accommodations and modifications from the SmartKids website.
Sensory Processing Disorder or Immature Sensory System
- This is a list of sensory suggestions, created by Hartley Steiner, of the Hartleysboys website. It has over 100 ideas.
- The Sensory Processing Disorder website talks about how to deal with children and sensory-based issues in school.
- The Child Mind Institute has a School Success Kit for children with sensory processing issues.
- This is a good page, from the Sensory Smarts website. It talks about giving children opportunities: for movement, eye contact, sensory experience.
Dyslexia and Reading
- Reading Rockets has a comprehensive list of dyslexia accommodations that we like.
- Bright Horizons has a great list of dyslexia accommodations including a list of don’ts, including “don’t make them read aloud in class.”
- Understood’s dyslexia accommodations.
- Dyslexia accommodations that can be used by homeschoolers.
Dysgraphia and Handwriting
A lot of dysgraphia accommodations are simplistic. “Just give them a keyboard!” However, it turns out that you can do a lot more. LD Online has a great article filled with good ideas.
Understood also has a list of dysgraphia accommodations.
The Inspired Treehouse blog has a very creative list of written expression accommodations.
- Do not grade spelling errors on handwritten assignments
- Limit any spelling or vocabulary list to 10 words
- Don’t deduct points from assignments that appear ‘sloppy’
- Let students use keyboards, and grammarly, or spellcheck.
Additional tips on spelling accommodations here.
- Provide graph paper to space numbers
- Model correct computational procedure
- Encourage self-talk
- Provide enlarged print problems and work area
- Encourage turning lined paper sideways to maintain column alignment
- Allow use of a calculator for simple math function (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)
- Allow use of a multiplication chart
Understood website has suggestions for dyscalculia accommodations.
Here’s a general summary of ADHD modifications.
- Dr. Russell Barkley has a list of suggested ADHD accommodations — highly recommended.
- Helpguide is a guide to mental health and wellness. Their page explains to teachers how to support learning and provide accommodations to children with ADHD. They talk about accommodation, instruction, and intervention.
- The CHADD organization has a list of suggested accommodations.
- ADD Warehouse is an older website, but has some very valuable insights, including their list of accommodations.
Some of the main accommodations for memory problems are:
Give more time for review
Provide visual aids and visual supports, such as posters, dictionaries, lists of procedures,
Present concepts in a variety of ways
Break tasks into smaller instructional units.
One mother whose child had 18th %tile memory in third grade said that the teacher would just give the spelling test to her child and they would focus on it all week long — and still get the words wrong.
In cases like this, you can let the child display the ability to find, or look things up, rather than remember it. Especially for math, let your child have a laminated numbers chart. Learning to work on a numbers chart can support memory
Auditory Processing problems
Most education professionals have had zero training in auditory processing disorder, so you must give explain it to them. One way is by giving them the list of weaknesses with the APD diagnosis. Another is by describing your child’s biggest challenges, like this:
- Has trouble listening, this is a learning problem NOT a behavior problem.
- Needs to hear things multiple times to understand them.
- Has trouble filtering out background noise and is sensitive to sound that others may not notice. It may appear that they are distracted or not paying attention, but they are trying their best to hear what is being taught.
Here are some of the most common accommodations for APD:
- Seat my child at the front of the class, close to the board, in clear sight of a teacher. Please seat away from the door and the window.
- During independent learning time, please provide a quiet space to complete required assignments
- Teacher provides notes for lectures or can be shared from another student
- Provide written multi-step directions if child requires them to remember tasks assigned and/or repeat back directions to Brianna upon her request
- Provide a list of key vocabulary words and concepts for upcoming lessons in classes in advance
- Child may become overwhelmed by auditory input, this may cause emotional distress requiring that they see the counselor or be given a quiet space to ‘decompress’. They may not ASK for this time, but need of it will be evident in their behavior and attentiveness, please treat them appropriately if signs of distress are noted (see attached behavior plan).
- When speaking to my child, first get their attention, maintain eye contact, and then have them repeat back what was said to insure understanding.
- School provides an FM system.
Student Tests/Assessment Accommodations
* Provide additional time for assessments and tests
* A quiet, individual space free from all distraction will be provided for all testing, to include class tests in all subject areas (this may require that Brianna complete testing on breaks or after school, in a library or empty room, as even the sound of another student’s pencil can disrupt her ability to concentrate)
* A scribe will be provided for writing assessments
* An aide will be provided to give oral presentation for assessments
* A quiet, individual space away from windows and doors will be provided for all testing, to include class tests in all subject areas (this may require that Brianna complete testing on breaks or after school, in a library or empty room, as even the sound of another student’s pencil in the quiet can disrupt her ability to concentrate)
Allow the child to take pictures from the board with a camera, instead of copying. Also allow the child to record lessons.
Accommodations may also include speech-to-print software, providing a student with a scribe, giving the child printed notes to minimize copying from the board, providing a graphic organizer, or giving notes before the lesson, so the child can follow along.
Allow use of a tablet, where appropriate, for reading assignments, calculator, dictionary, spell checking tools, and other approved educational aides. Tablet will be provided by parents.
Assistive technology can include speech output devices, letter cards to “build” words instead of writing them, and weighted lap blankets or fidgets to help children sit still
This is a good presentation for teachers, educating them as to why they should use assistive technology.
Slow processing affects many children. This Understood page lists ways to accommodate for it.
- Remind student to check over work product
- Give assignments one at a time
- Provide student with assignment book
- Check that homework assignments are written in full detail
- Supervise student in writing full assignment in book or provide written instructions
- Provide written checklist for getting organized
- Provide notebook with dividers and folders for work
- Check desk/notebook for neatness: reward it
- Provide extra set of books to keep at home
- Establish object placement routines
- Use color and physical/spatial organizers
- Teach organizational/study skills and allow for application and generalization (from Landmark Study Skills Guide)
organizational skills: organizing notebooks and materials, assignments, time, study space
recognizing and formulating main ideas: categorizing main ideas, main ideas in paragraphs, main ideas in multi-paragraph selections
note-taking: from written sources two-column method, from lectures selective, skeleton notes
summarizing: two-column notes, variety of materials, paraphrasing
textbook skills: identifying and using parts of a textbook, previewing before reading, organizing and learning information while reading, reviewing and expressing information after reading
master notebook system: organizing, studying, mastering
test-preparation and test-taking: class review, identifying topics to be studied, determining what kind of questions will be on the test, planning study time, forming study groups, how to approach a test, essay questions, test anxiety
research and report writing: applying study skills to research and report writing
General Homework Accommodations
* Homework planner will be checked for completion by each teacher before she leaves the classroom to insure she knows what work is to be done at home
* Please provide my child with an organizational system from her Occupational Therapist (OT), it may require different or additional supplies for each class or a different organizational system than the school uses, she will be allowed to use the system which best accommodates her needs. Her OT will provide explanation for any accommodation upon request
* Please provide my child with an additional set of textbooks for home.
* Allow additional time for homework assignments to be completed. (Last year my child spent 3-5 hours on homework each night, and we will be limiting the time this year. )
- Provide recess/lunch opportunity indoors with friend (w/structured games, etc.)
- Provide lunch buddies
- Establish social behavior goals and reward program
- Prompt appropriate social behavior verbally or with private signal
- Avoid placing student in competitive activities
- Encourage cooperative learning tasks
- Praise student to increase esteem of others
- Assign special responsibilities to student in presence of peers
- Provide small group social skill training in the following areas:
- School-related skills/classroom survival skills (Pre-school: asking a question, following directions, trying when it’s hard, interrupting. Elementary: listening, asking for help, saying thank you, bringing materials to class, following instructions, completing assignments, contributing to discussions, offering help to an adult, asking a question, ignoring distractions, making corrections, deciding on something to do, setting a goal.)
- Beginning social & friendship-making skills (Pre-school: listening, using nice talk, using brave talk, saying thank you, rewarding yourself, asking for help, asking a favor, ignoring, greeting others, reading others, joining in, waiting your turn, sharing, offering help, asking someone to play, playing a game. Elementary: introducing yourself, beginning a conversation, ending a conversation, joining in, playing a game, asking a favor, offering help to a classmate, giving a compliment, accepting a compliment, suggesting an activity, sharing, apologizing. Adolescent: listening, starting a conversation, having a conversation, asking a question, saying thank you, introducing yourself, introducing other people, giving a compliment, asking for help, joining in, giving instructions, following instructions, apologizing, convincing others.)
- Dealing with feelings (Pre-school: knowing your feelings, feeling left out, asking to talk, dealing with fear, deciding how someone feels, showing affection. Elementary/Adolescent: knowing your feelings, expressing your feelings, recognizing another’s feelings, showing understanding of another’s feelings, expressing concern for another, dealing with your anger, dealing with another’s anger, expressing affection, dealing with fear, rewarding yourself.)
- Alternatives to aggression (Pre-school: dealing with teasing, dealing with feeling mad, deciding if it’s fair, solving a problem, accepting consequences. Elementary: using self-control, asking permission, responding to teasing, avoiding trouble, staying out of fights, problem solving, accepting consequences, dealing with an accusation, negotiating. Adolescent: asking permission, sharing something, helping others, negotiating, using self-control, standing up for your rights, responding to teasing, avoiding trouble with others, keeping out of fights.)
- Dealing with stress (Pre-school: relaxing, dealing with mistakes, being honest, knowing when to tell, dealing with losing, wanting to be first, saying no, accepting no, deciding what to do. Elementary: dealing with boredom, deciding what caused a problem, making a complaint, dealing with losing, showing sportsmanship, dealing with being left out, dealing with embarrassment, reacting to failure, accepting no, saying no, relaxing, dealing with group pressure, dealing with wanting something that isn’t mine, making a decision, being honest. Adolescent: making a complaint, answering a complaint, sportsmanship after the game, dealing with embarrassment, dealing with being left out, standing up for a friend, responding to persuasion, responding to failure, dealing with contradictory messages, dealing with an accusation, getting ready for a difficult conversation, dealing with group pressure.)
- Planning skills: (Adolescents: deciding on something to do, deciding what caused a problem, setting a goal, deciding on your abilities, gathering information, arranging problems by importance, making a decision, concentrating on a task.
There are many things you can do in the classroom to accommodate social skill deficits.
- Buddy systems/peer tutoring to pair children without disabilities as models for appropriate behaviors
- Provide extracurricular opportunities for social interactions
- Use pictures to convey classroom rules and etiquette
- Set up play based on social situations with basic life skills (doctor, shopping, school)
- Use Social stories to identify social cues, routines, rules, and social skills and to prepare for changes in routines
- Teach appropriate social responses for activities
- Concentrate on changing unacceptable behaviors and do not worry about those that are odd
Nonverbal Learning Disability (NVLD)
This link has good suggestions.
Anxiety and Mental Health
Here is a list of suggested accommodations for anxiety in the school
Other Behavioral Interventions
- Begin day or period with relaxation and guided imagery exercise
- Provide behavioral feedback using written/symbol/quantitative feedback every ______ minutes
- Provide instruction in self-monitoring (e.g. hand-raising, using cueing)
- Cue students to stay on task (private signal)
- Ignore minor, inappropriate behavior
- Increase immediacy of rewards or consequences
- Give activity as a reward
- Use time-out procedure for misbehavior
- Permit time-in procedure for agitation and motor release
- Supervise closely during transition times
- Provide praise for positive behavior
- Acknowledge good behavior of other students
- Establish behavior contract with three goals
- Call on only when hand is raised appropriately
- Ignore calling out without raising hand
- Praise student when hand is raised
- Implement behavior management system
- Implement home-school token system
- Prudent use of negative consequences
- Praise compliant behavior
- Post class rules in conspicuous place
- Provide immediate feedback with teacher attention
- Avoid lecturing or criticism
- Student’s disability would/would not cause him to violate school rules (if yes, fill out behavior modification disciplinary plan – see Hughes Bill)
If you have any accommodations that you find particularly useful, just put them into our comments and we’ll add them to the page!