School Accommodations For Children With Autism (Part 2)

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In my previous blog,
I discussed school accommodations for children with autism. An accommodation is
an extra “advantage” or program or strategy assigned to a specific child.

When a child needs
something in 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. And, they should be consistent. They apply to any student
that has above-and-beyond needs.

An accommodation can
be a special chair, a (quiet) squeeze toy, a longer break 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 others react to a student accommodation?

Accommodations are
sometimes seen as advantages. I protest that thinking, of course. If my son
sits in an inclusion class on a yoga ball chair (which he just received recently)
and that special chair allows him to sit comfortably, keeps him engaged, and
keeps him in the room during an entire subject, then I’m all for it. My son is
smart and academics are not an issue with him. But, the key to keeping him at
that level is to keep him in the classroom. And, for him, this special chair is
working.

Sometimes, accommodation(s)
can be interpreted as an unfair advantage. “Hey, why does that kid get to go
outside the classroom or five minutes during math class?”

Could there be other issues?

Another problem is to
make sure the child doesn’t become too reliant on the accommodation. For a
child with mild autism who is in an inclusion class, if it’s possible you
eventually want to wean the child from an accommodation. You want the child to
learn independence. You want a child to receive help to compensate for their
needs, however the child still needs to grow and develop and not become so
completely reliant on their accommodation (if that’s realistic).

I believe you want an
accommodation to level the field while, at the same time, not making it so easy
that the kid never learns to compensate even though they are capable of doing
so. 

Part of my theory is
that the world may not be so accommodating. A lawyer may not get an extension
on his brief because he has ADHD. Accommodations, in a lot of cases, should not
necessarily be considered permanent.

However, keep in mind, a child may
still need the accommodation. You wouldn’t tell a child to
“strengthen” his eyesight with the goal of removing his glasses. You
don’t want a child to remove her hearing aide if they have trouble hearing.

Bottom line, you may try to remove an
accommodation when it makes sense to remove it.

Will
schools offer accommodations?

Personally, I wouldn’t expect a school to offer an
accommodation. If you think your child might need an accommodation at his/her
school, my suggestion would be don’t sit around waiting for the school to
suggest the accommodation. You are the parent, but you are also a part of the
IEP team, so go ahead and suggest something if you think it will help your
child.  

I wouldn’t assume the school would
suggest an accommodation. But that’s just me, I’m pro-active. I
typically walk into an IEP pretty much knowing what to ask for. Or, I ask, “What
can we do for my son? Is there an accommodation that can help him?”

When used properly, accommodations can
be necessary to help any special needs child’s school experience be close to par
with their typical peers. It’s all about getting all kids to learn well in
school -any way they can. 

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