When a children have a learning disability like dyslexia, typically this impacts their reading fluency, spelling and writing. For those who have been “diagnosed” as ADHD/ADD their central features are distractability, inattentiveness and impulsivity.
Quite often children have combined features from both of these syndromes.
As I noted in recent blogs (see recent posts on “504 & You” and “Accommodations ‘R’ Us” (Recent Blog Posts,) a top accommodation is to give such children “extended time.”
Most of the kids I see have no interest in “extended time,” even though behind the scenes there is much negotiation taking place between parents and schools for the child to receive this accommodation.
I emphasize again, I am not against extended time, but am against the “rubber stamping” of extended time as a top “go-to” accommodation.
If the child works painfully slowly and finds him or herself unable to complete tasks within allotted time, then extended time is an appropriate accommodation.
For distractible and impulsive children who also struggle with reading (spelling and writing), such an accommodation has virtually no impact. There is no “leveling of the playing field,” which is the central concept guiding the implementation of a 504 Plan in the first place.
Assume that for the children with the combination of reading problems and ADHD issues, has difficulty with managing large, multisyllabic words, following directions and staying on task.
For such a child giving time is not the issue. Helping with directions would be a top, “level-the- playing- field” accommodation.
Further, the teacher can preview some of the tougher words prior to the child reading. (“Let me help you with some of the words that are difficult.”)
How do you avoid “rubber stamp” accommodations?
Very simply, you ask a basic question such as, “What does he/or she need that would help level the playing field?”
Asking that question of the clinician who conducted the assessment or the school assessment team is essential.
The team and the clinician should be able to come up with three or four good accommodations specifically addressing the child’s needs and identified deficits.
If an accommodation doesn’t make sense to you, push back a little and ask for justification and an explanation. Do not accept recommendations of accommodations that do not match the child’s needs.
Be on guard for “rubber-stamped” accommodations. Continually ask yourself and your team (both in and out of school) what does the child need? What would help him/her to be on more equal footing with the others in class who do not have this identified disability?
Keep working together as a team to come up with the individual accommodations that make sense and that address the areas of identified need.
Copyright, 2020 www.shutdownlearner.com
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(*** Please note: Dr. Richard Selznick is a psychologist, clinician and author of four books. His blog posts represent his opinions and perspectives based on his years of interacting with struggling children, parents and schools. )