School Accommodations for Autistic Students
What are “accommodations?”
The IEP (Individualized Educational Program) IEP team is responsible to assist a non-typical child during a school day.
The idea is to create the best environment for a child to learn, any child.
For example, the school experience for a child with autism should be as close to their peers’ experience as possible while the school attends to their specific needs. What can help this individual child get through a school day? They need to be able to learn like all of the students.
How can the school help?
An accommodation is a need for a child with an IEP. They are initiated on a daily basis by either an aide or a teacher.
Furthermore, accommodations are consistent, to be initiated every day, every test, or whatever the accommodation looks like.
More about accommodations
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 an elevator 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 are 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). There are many other examples.
Here’s more on school accommodations for autistic students.
Accommodations should be well-thought out and not overly excessive.
However, 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 learn at school.
How do you design accommodations for a student?
In my experience, to assign an accommodation is a matter of trail and error.
Either an accommodation works or it doesn’t work (if it is consistently implemented).
When a child gets an accommodation that works, that accommodation should remain in place until the child either no longer needs it or the accommodation no longer works.
The IEP team finds 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.
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