School Accommodations For Children With Autism

What are “accommodations?”

During your child’s
IEP, the IEP team will discuss how to help that specific child during a school
day. The idea is to level the playing field for a specific child so that their
school experience is as close to their peers’ experience as possible while also
providing what that child needs to help them get through a school day. They
need to be able to learn like all of the students. 

How can the school help?  

When a child needs
something within a school setting that is different than what the typical kids
receive, that’s called an “Accommodation.” Typically, these accommodations are
discussed during a child’s IEP. They are initiated on a daily basis by either an
aide or a teacher.

Furthermore,
accommodations are supposed to be consistent, every day, every test, whatever
the accommodation might be must be incorporated into that child’s day at school.

Accommodations do not
just apply to autistic students but any child that needs something beyond what
is needed by a typical student. For example, a child in a wheelchair needs a
ramp or some other way to get around campus. Another student may need to sit in
class on a cushion due to a physical need.

Examples of accommodations
for an autistic student could be a special chair, a (quiet) squeeze toy, longer
breaks during recess, or even test-taking accommodations (longer test times,
test-taking in the RSP room, headphones, and many more).

Accommodations should
be well-thought out and not overly excessive. For example, if a child doesn’t
need an accommodation, there should be no reason to assign one. Accommodations
should be assigned (or formally written into an IEP) when they are necessary
and appropriate to help the child’s learning experience.

How do you design accommodations for a student?

In my experience, I
would call it hit or miss. You try something and it either works or it doesn’t
work. When your child gets an accommodation that works, you keep it until the
child either no longer needs it or the accommodation no longer works.

I think I’m trying to
say that you need to look for a balance. You want your child at school to
learn, but you also want your child to be comfortable as well as try to be a
part of a class. Some kids go to one or two general education
classes a day yet others are fully included.

In my next blog, I
will further discuss school accommodations.

Update: Check out the second part in this series here – School Accommodations For Children With Autism (Part 2)

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