During IEP and Section 504 meetings, parents meet with school officials to determine what accommodations and modifications should be implemented to best help their child. But it is hard to know what is considered reasonable and what types of accommodations you should ask for. Each child with autism or Asperger’s syndrome is different, each with unique needs. The list below can be used as a guideline. Some of the suggestions will not be relevant to your child. Choose those that you feel would best help.
- Have a set routine for the school day. For younger students, provide a picture schedule. The schedule can be posted for all students to use or a small, desktop version can be created. Some students may do well if tasks are held with Velcro so they can remove them as the task is completed.
- Provide adequate notice for any change of schedule, except in cases of emergency.
- Provide lessons by giving a short summary of what will be covered, a detailed explanation and finish with a summary of the lesson.
- Provide an area of the classroom the student can retreat to in times of high stimulation or when overwhelmed.
- Identify distractions and take steps to minimize them. For example, if a child is sitting close to the heater, is it making noise that is distracting to the student.
- Give directions that are clear and concise, using literal language.
- Establish firm expectations for completing school work and homework. Children with ASD sometimes have a hard time completing assignments when there is no interest. Explain expectations and consequences for not completing the work.
- Work with the special education teacher in developing lessons when necessary.
- Break assignments into small sections or provide specific steps for completing a large assignment.
- Incorporate pictures, images and other visual aids when teaching vocabulary words, scientific subjects and abstract concepts.
- Allow extra time for completing tests and in school assignments.
- Work with counselors to create a crisis plan for emotional outbursts or meltdowns.
- Consider sensory sensitivities when determining where the child’s desk should be placed.
- Use tennis balls on the bottom of the chairs and desks to minimize noise when students get up from their seats.
- Minimize what is hung on the wall of the classroom to avoid the student being overwhelmed. For example, keep a calendar, classroom rules and expectations, daily schedule.
- Allow student to enter the classroom a few minutes before other students and to leave a few minutes early to avoid the chaos of the hallway in between classes.
- Avoid the use of figurative speech and idioms. Use concrete terms to aid in children with ASD understanding.
- Provide written notes or have another student use carbon paper to share notes if handwriting is a problem.
- Incorporate a student’s special interest in lessons. For example, if a student is fascinated with trains, use examples of trains in math and other lessons.
- Allow the student to take notes on a laptop.
- Use oral testing or other alternative testing methods for those with difficulty taking written tests.
- Reduce homework assignments, for example, have student complete every other question or provide alternate ways for the student to reinforce learning.
- Be aware of sounds and noise within the classroom. Some children with sound sensitivities may find clapping, yelling out of turn and high frequency sounds extremely distracting and in some cases, painful.
Again, all of these accommodations may not be relevant to your child. Think about how your child reacts to different stimuli at home and what works best for learning. The information you share with the school and your child’s teachers will help them teach your child.
"Accommodating Children with Autism Within an Inclusive Setting," 2007, Megan-Lynette Richmond, M.S., CCC-SLP, Super Duper Handy Handouts
"Aspergers and Classroom Accommodations," Date Unknown, Susie McGee, Love To Know Autism
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.