16 Accommodations Built for ADHD Kids

Clinical psychologist Dr. Liz Matheis makes critical distinctions between IEPs and 504 Plans, and recommends classroom accommodations that work for ADHD students.
Success at School | posted by Liz Matheis

Whether your child has a 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), make certain that its outlined accommodations reflect his unique learning style and needs. Let me start by explaining the basic difference between a 504 Plan and an IEP.

The 504 Plan is guided by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that a student with a disability has access to accommodations that improve academic functioning.

In order to qualify for a 504 Plan, a student must have a diagnosis for a physical or emotional disability, or impairment (e.g., ADHD) that restricts one or more major life activity.

The parent then prepares a letter to the 504 Committee specifying the disability as well as the accommodations needed by the student. Note that a student is not able to receive specialized instruction (e.g., In Class Resource Program or Out of Class Resource Replacement) through a 504 Accommodation Plan.

An IEP is guided by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is a plan that provides special education and related services to a student who is identified as having a disability that negatively impacts her ability to receive academic instruction. A student who receives special education services is entitled to modification of curriculum, classroom accommodations, specialized instruction, and related services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and/or counseling.

A parent or teacher refers the child for special education and related services; the child can be tested by the Child Study Team. These evaluations can consist of the following: Psychological Evaluation, Educational Evaluation, Social Evaluation, Speech Evaluation, Physical Therapy Evaluation, Occupational Therapy Evaluation. Other evaluations, such as a Central Auditory Processing Evaluation, neurological exam, or psychiatric evaluation are often conducted by professionals outside of the school.

A student with an IEP is re-evaluated every three years to determine continued eligibility. However, a parent can request a re-evaluation sooner than three years, but not less than one year. An IEP is also reviewed annually.

With all of that said, the accommodations below often work well for children with ADHD:

1. Seating near the teacher

2. Allow student to take a test in another room with fewer distractions if he is losing focus and concentration due to extraneous movement and sound

3. Allow student to be seated in an area of the classroom that is away from major distractions (e.g., window or door)

4. Allow student to take movement breaks in order to improve focus and attention to task

5. Present small chunks of new information that is rich in detail, and allow for consolidation of information before presenting more new information

6. Break down a complex task into smaller tasks (no more than 2-3 steps)

7. Encourage use of a graphic organizer prior to writing tasks so that student is able to think through his ideas out loud and in writing

8. Allow student to discuss his understanding of a new concept as this helps him to make connections

9. Encourage student to read out loud (written work or books) to maintain attention and improve comprehension

10. Edit essays by reading out loud

11. Use dictation software programs in order to prepare essays or research projects. This will serve to improve and maintain flow of ideas

12. Provide audible books or books on tape

13. Color code school materials (e.g., red = Math)

14. Break down a multi-step assignment into smaller assignments with short-term deadlines

15. Use an app of choice as a calendar that will maintain a log of upcoming tests, projects, etc.

16. Use an app of choice as an electronically based homework planner.

These are just a few of the accommodations you should consider for your child’s 504 Accommodation Plan or IEP. Review your child's needs with an Educational Psychologist in order to determine which accommodations will help your child to thrive in the classroom!

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