Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Nov 04
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by Dennise Goldberg

When we talk about IEP’s, many times we focus on what services a school should be providing; however, the appropriate accommodations are just as important for children with disabilities.  Many of them struggle with staying on task in school, completing homework assignments, remembering to turn in homework assignments, have difficulty understanding the material, etc…and the list goes on and on.  A simple accommodation in an IEP could help a child become a successful student.

For example, let’s look at what happens when a child has difficulty staying on task; basically, a short attention span.   I receive phone calls about this all the time from parents and the first question I ask is “where does your child sit in class?”  Some parents do not know the answer; others might say the class is quite crowded and their child sits in the back or off to the side.    I cannot stress how important it is for students who struggle with focus to sit at the front of the class or close proximity to the teacher.  The further away from the teacher, the greater the chance the student will not be paying attention in class.  This can prevent daydreaming, doodling or any other type of distraction.  If this accommodation is not written in your child’s IEP, make sure you add it….if it’s there, make sure the teacher is following it!  It will make a huge difference in their ability to pay attention in class.

Another accommodation that can be made is for students who struggle with a lot of homework.  As we all know, each school year brings more homework than the previous one; if your child struggles with focus in class, I’m sure they have the same problem at home.  As a result, homework can be so overwhelming that they are unable to complete their assignments; an accommodation for homework might be helpful.  Your teacher can state “reduced homework” in their IEP.  For example, your child is having melt downs trying to complete the math homework; the teacher could assign every other one, instead of all the problems.  This way your child is still on track for graduation, but the amount of homework is reduced.  This accommodation might be particularly helpful to students who take medication for ADHD and it wears off by a certain time of the day.  Many parents have told me that once their child’s medication wears off, the window of opportunity to complete homework is closed for the night.

Organization is one of the biggest problems for students when they are in Middle School or High School.   Some school districts like L.A. Unified give each student a yearly organizational planner for free to help them keep track of all assignments……which is great if the student uses it!  For students with disabilities, a daily planner is an essential part of organization because many students forget to write down their homework assignments.  If your child struggles in this area, an accommodation can be written stating that each teacher must check and initial his/her planner every day to make sure your child writes down all their homework assignments.  On the flip side parents, you should check and initial your child’s homework on a daily basis to help them become a responsible student; the hope is that this process will become rote and they will be able to do this independently in the future.  Another option, if the child has a cell phone, is to allow them to snap a picture of the homework listed on the board at the end of every class.

These are just a few accommodations that can help your child be a successful student, but none of this can happen unless you take an active role in monitoring your child’s IEP.    For more ideas on accommodations please see Accommodations and Modifications in an IEP.

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One Response to “Accommodations in an IEP are just as important as Services”

  1. I agree that accommodations can be critical to learner success, and are often equally if not more important than the related services that are included in the service delivery plan of the IEP. For example, right now I am working with one learner in an alternative school who has gained significant skills, and now requires less intrusive teaching techniques than she once did. We are now focussing on identifying teaching strategies and accommodations that can be used to promote learning and keep motivation high. Some of these include scheduled breaks, and allowing her to keep track of “points” that are awarded by the teacher and can accumulate for additional breaks or rewards. In addition, we are exploring different formats for various classroom activities and identifying which ones help her learn best. We are finding that written assessment formats may be limiting our assessment of her skills as well as hindering her from accessing core content easily, but may serve as a better resource for practicing previously learned material.

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