Kids with learning and attention issues often face barriers to learning. For instance, if your child has ADHD, they may not be able to sit still long enough to do math problems.
If they have reading issues, they may struggle to learn history from a traditional textbook. However, there are changes in the classroom called accommodations that can remove these barriers.
Purpose of accommodations
Accommodations are changes that remove barriers and provide your child with equal access to learning. Accommodations don’t change what your child is learning. Rather, they change how your child is learning.
Accommodations don’t change what your child is expected to know or learn. They don’t lower expectations.
Types of accommodations
Accommodations work best when they target a specific barrier or challenge. For instance, for the child who can’t sit still to do math, an accommodation may be frequent breaks. For the child who struggles to write out answers on tests, an accommodation may be to have her give answers orally. The accommodation matches the need.
Categories of accommodations
Here are four categories of accommodations for different needs.
Presentation: A change in the way information is presented. Example: Letting a child with dyslexia to audiobooks instead of reading printed text.
Response: A change in the way a child completes assignments or tests. Example: Providing a keyboard to a child who struggles with handwriting when she’s writing an essay.
Setting: A change in the environment where a child learns. Example: Allowing a child with ADHD to take a test in a separate room with fewer distractions.
Timing and scheduling: A change to the time a child has for a task. Example: Providing extra time on homework for a child who has slow processing speed.
Getting accommodations for your child
If you think accommodations may help your child, talk to their teacher. Often, the teacher may agree to informal supports.
These simple changes don’t require paperwork. It doesn’t take much, for example, for the teacher to move your child’s seat away from a noisy classroom door that’s distracting.
If your child needs bigger changes, however, you may want to seek formal accommodations. Under federal law, kids with disabilities have the right to equal access to learning.
This means accommodations for their disabilities, which can include learning and attention issues. To exercise this right, you must ask the school to evaluate your child.