Special Education accommodations are a very important part of a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). There is a section of the IEP for accommodations and modifications. It is important for parents of children with special needs to know this section exists and to know how accommodations may help their child. An accommodation is a sensible adjustment to teaching practices to make school more equitable for a child with special needs. There are three primary types of accommodations: setting, response method and presentation.
Setting accommodations are changes made to the environment to help a child with special needs be more successful. Many children with special needs have issues related to attention and group size. Seating a child in a certain area of the classroom or away from certain distractions in the classroom, such as a door or a loud heater can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to listen and follow along with the lesson. Some children with special needs get lost or overwhelmed in a large classroom and need to receive instruction or take exams in a smaller setting.
Response method accommodations are variations in how the child with special needs will complete assignments. Many children with special needs have fine motor delays and using a computer or dictation software is the only way they write legibly. Some children with special needs have excellent comprehension of material but struggle to complete worksheets or tests so they may be allowed to complete some assignments or tests orally rather than in writing. Many children with special needs are not able to read on grade level so they may be allowed to listen to an audio presentation of a book instead of physically reading.
Presentation accommodations are things the teacher does to assist a child with special needs to access the curriculum in a more understandable way. Many children with special needs struggle with note taking and knowing what to study for a test, so they may receive a copy of the teacher’s notes and a study guide for a test. Another area that many children with special needs have difficulty with is spacial awareness so they may have special paper to assist them in writing correctly or graph paper to help them line up their problems correctly.
Accommodations are strategies used to help children with special needs have the ability to achieve a level of success in school similar to their neurotypical peers. Accommodations are often referred to as ways to level the playing field so that children with special needs can experience progress at an acceptable rate. Which accommodations are used for your child depends on their disability and their areas of significant deficit.