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Accommodations for Specific Disabilities

by Linda Wilmshurt, Ph.D. ABPP and Alan W. Brue, Ph.D., NCSP

By

Accommodations for Specific Disabilities
Cover image courtesy of AMACOM

[Excerpted from A PARENT'S GUIDE TO SPECIAL EDUCATION: Insider Advice on How to Navigate the System and Help Your Child by Linda Wilmshurt, Ph.D. ABPP and Alan W. Brue, Ph.D., NCSP. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of The American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.  All rights reserved. www.amacombooks.org.]

The following excerpt is from Chapter 2, "Not All Roads Lead to Education Placement: The 411 on 504 Plans"

The accommodations required for a child vary based on the child's needs as well as strengths and weaknesses. In general, there is a common set of accommodations for children who have a particular disability. We will address some disabilities and include accommodations that may be helpful.

Asthma

Major Life Activity Affected: Learning
  • Provide rest periods.
  • Share with school personnel the child's medical needs.
  • Train appropriate school personnel to properly dispense medication and monitor for side effects (as needed).
  • Develop health care and emergency plans (such as what to do when a child does not respond to medical intervention).
  • Assist with inhalant therapy.
  • Adjust schedule for administration of medications.
  • Allow time to make up work when absent for medical reasons.
  • Provide the child with peers who can carry books and other supplies as needed.
  • Adapt activity level for recess, physical education, and other times as needed.
  • Minimize allergens (such as perfume, cologne, lotions, paint) in the child's vicinity.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Major Life Activity Affected: Learning, and Possibly Social Skills
  • Provide appropriate staff training about ADHD.
  • Place seat in close proximity to teacher; seat away from distractions.
  • Provide the child with a peer helper for classwork and projects.
  • School personnel should understand the child's potential need for excessive movement; giving the child an opportunity to stand and/or move while working.
  • School personnel should understand the child's tendency to be inattentive; establish nonverbal cues between teacher and child to get his attention and increase on-task behavior.
  • Post classroom rules and review on a regular basis.
  • Reinforce the child when he displays appropriate behavior.
  • Give a five-minute warning for a change in activity, so the child can begin to disengage from the task.
  • Provide supervision during transition times (switching from one activity to another; moving from one class to another).
  • Ask the child to restate directions.
  • Assist the child with organizational strategies.
  • Allow tests to be completed in several short testing sessions.
  • Provide extended time to complete assignments and tests.
  • Train appropriate school personnel to properly dispense medication and monitor for side effects (as needed).

Bipolar Disorder

Major Life Activity Affected: Learning
  • Provide appropriate training to staff on bipolar disorder.
  • Implement a crisis intervention plan in case child is uncontrollable, impulsive, or dangerous.
  • Immediately report any suicidal comments to the school psychologist, the school counselor, and the child's parents.
  • Give the child advanced notice of transitions.
  • Create strategies for handling unpredictable mood swings.
  • Allow the child to complete difficult classwork at times when he is more alert.
  • Provide extended time to complete assignments and tests.
  • Monitor the child's understanding of directions.
  • Break down assignments into manageable parts.
  • Train appropriate school personnel to properly dispense medication and monitor for side effects (as needed).

Emotionally Disturbed

Major Life Activity Affected: Learning
  • Provide appropriate training to staff on emotional disturbance.
  • Post classroom rules and review on a regular basis.
  • Create effective behavior modification plans.
  • The child's parents and teachers should work together to ensure that the behavioral interventions used at home and at school are monitored closely.
  • Teachers must be consistent in setting behavioral expectations and following through on reinforcements/consequences.
  • Create a behavior contract for the child.
  • Ask the child to keep a daily journal to self-record behavior.
  • Allow the child to participate in group counseling sessions with the school counselor or school psychologist.
  • Train appropriate school personnel to properly dispense medication and monitor for side effects (as needed).

Epilepsy

Major Life Activity Affected: Learning
  • Provide appropriate training to staff on epilepsy.
  • Train both staff and children on what to do in the event the child has a seizure.
  • Observe for consistent triggers of seizures.
  • Should seizures occur, document the characteristics of each seizure.
  • Seat the child in an area where he will not be injured if a seizure occurs.
  • Prepare an emergency plan should a seizure occur. For example: (1) protect the child from injury by clearing space around him; (2) ask other children to keep the area clear; (3) loosen tight clothing and protect the child's head from injury; (4) do not insert an object into the child's mouth; (5) if he is unconscious, place the child on his side to keep him from choking on vomit; and (6) stay with the child until he fully recovers.
  • Do not allow him to be unsupervised, especially during physical education or field trips.
  • Give the child time to make up any work he missed because of absence due to seizures.
  • Train appropriate school personnel to properly dispense medication and monitor for side effects (as needed).
[Excerpted from A PARENT'S GUIDE TO SPECIAL EDUCATION: Insider Advice on How to Navigate the System and Help Your Child by Linda Wilmshurt, Ph.D. ABPP and Alan W. Brue, Ph.D., NCSP. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of The American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. All rights reserved. www.amacombooks.org.]
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