Executive Functioning, Parents

What accommodations can I ask for?

IEP and 504 meetings can be overwhelming and intimidating. As a parent, you want to fight for what your child needs, but questions abound. What do they need? What would that look like in a classroom? Am I allowed to ask for that?

Every child is different, as is every classroom, but there are common challenges for students with ADHD or Executive Functioning deficits and common accommodations that can help.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a jumping off point. Find the symptoms that you feel challenge your student the most in school. Then, choose a few accommodations from the list that seem age-appropriate and realistic for the individual. These symptoms are based around the general executive functions.

Student has difficulty managing attention, including: staying focused, switching attention, and getting started on tasks. 

  • Seating near the front of the class and/or close to the teacher
  • Quiet teacher prompts (like a tap on the desk or shoulder) to help recapture attention
  • Allowed to doodle or use a fidget when listening to lectures or watching videos
  • Allowed to listen to headphones when completing independent work
  • Teacher repeats directions individually to the student
  • Access to quiet workspace for independent work or tests

Student has difficulty completing multi-step assignments and long-term projects.

  • Teacher check-ins with student to break assignments into chunks.
  • Internal due dates are created and managed by teacher to ensure on track work.
  • Teacher provides an example of the finished product and/or a detailed rubric for what is expected
  • Designated time for questions and clarifications throughout work

Student struggles with emotional and physical regulation in the classroom.

  • Allow frequent breaks – both student requested and teacher suggested – throughout the day
  • Create a break routine for the student to complete when feeling overwhelmed
  • Preview material or events beforehand to help temper emotional reactions
  • Provide opportunities for physical stimulation throughout the day
    • Standing desk
    • Wiggle seat
    • Allowed to stand in back of classroom
    • Running laps between during transitions
  • Create routines around transitions that help student shift gears

Student has difficulty planning and tracking homework assignments.

  • Teacher writes homework in the student’s planner
  • Teacher writes due dates on top of papers
  • Student is individually prompted to turn in homework
  • One-day grace period for forgotten homework

Student experiences challenges with organization

  • Student can use an accordion file or other binder alternative that eases organization
  • Student is not graded on binder or notebook neatness
  • Teacher simplifies organizational systems for student to follow

Student has poor working memory skills.

  • Student is allowed to take photos of the board or other materials
  • Teacher repeats or writes down instructions to ensure the student remembers
  • Note-taking guides
  • Access to notes or other materials
  • Physical reminders (sticky note on desk, tap on shoulder, etc.) for frequently forgotten work.
  • Use of templates and lists for multi-step routines or tasks

Student has slow-processing speed.

  • Student is not called on in class if they have not volunteered.
  • Extended time on tests and tasks
  • Reduced homework load (i.e., only the odd problems or work 20 minutes and then stop)

Ideally, you can work with your child’s school to create the accommodating environment he or she needs to thrive. There are many possible options depending upon the biggest challenges a student faces and what the learning environment looks like. What accommodations have made the difference in your child’s or your own life?

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