Suggestions for Classroom Accommodations and Modifications for Children with Autism
Both an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) and a Section 504 can make certain accommodations and modifications in the classroom to help students with autism succeed. These accommodations and modifications are based on the individual needs of the student.
What are Accommodations?
An accommodation changes a procedure in the classroom but does result in a change in what is measured. Examples of accommodations are;
- Extra time to take a test
- Seating in the front of the classroom
- Receiving written study guides
- Daily or weekly communication between parent and teacher
What are Modifications?
A modification is an actual change in school work or how the school work is completed. Examples of modifications include:
- Reducing the number of questions on a test or homework
- Adjusted grading to weighted grading
- Using a calculator during a math test
- Changes in curriculum to suit a child's needs
Examples of Accommodations and Modifications for Children with Autism
If your child has either an IEP or a Section 504, you probably attend at least one meeting during the school year to determine what services, accommodations and modifications your child needs. Parents, however, may not know what to ask for, what is considered reasonable and what types of accommodations and modifications are possible. The following are examples that have been found helpful for some students with autism. Remember, each child with autism is different, may have mild, moderate or severe autism and his or her own unique set of symptoms. The accommodations and modifications you request should be specific to your child's needs.
- Visual or written daily schedules, laminated so students can check off items completed, with mini-schedules for activities within classes or other activities
- Classroom aides to help support desired behaviors, with organization and to assist in developing communication, for example, an aide can translate for a non-verbal child
- Provide instructions orally as well as written. Have teacher give instructions or directions orally as well as write on the board. For instructions used many times, a file box with written instructions can be kept in a place the student can readily access it.
- Allow extra time for a student to respond to directions, instructions or questions. Students with autism sometimes need extra time to process information.
- Providing pictures the student can point to when communication is difficult. Although used more often with younger children, some older children may still need help during times of high stress or excitement.
- Repeat or rephrase instruction or questions, allowing several seconds in between to allow student to process information
- Model tasks, have teacher or another student complete a task first to allow student to visually see how it should be done.
- Posting rules of classroom in a place that is easy to see adding pictures to visually depict rules for younger children
- Provide social skills support and instruction, role-playing situations to help increase social skills.
- Have the teacher incorporate visual components to lessons to help facilitate learning.
- The teacher can break assignments into smaller parts, giving a due date for each section.
- Allow student to move around when needed.
- Provide visual or verbal cues when transitioning from one activity or class to another. Give student time to recognize and adapt to the transition
- Minimize distractions by having student sit close to the teacher.
- Give students extended time for taking tests or completing assignments.
- Allow student to pair up with another student to help when interacting with others
- Offer alternative activities when participating in high-sensory activities
- Let student use a stress-ball or piece of fabric to rub to help improve focus and reduce anxiety
Reinforcement should also be specific to the student. Not every student is motivated by the same activities. Your child may want some down time, listening to music, getting up and walking around or time to sit and talk with a favorite teacher. When discussing what accommodations and modifications should be used in the classroom, note what your child's motivation is and provide insight into how the school can use this to help reinforce desired behaviors.
"Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Massachusetts General Hospital
"Teaching Students with Autism: A Resource Guide for Schools," 2000, Staff Writer, Ministry of Education, British Columbia