Recently, we talked about the mythologies associated with the 504 Plan, trying to put some of these to rest (

This week we extend the discussion by talking about the realities of accommodations and modifications.

Keep in mind the overriding purpose of a 504 Plan is to “level the playing field,” with the premise that a child/person with a disability or a handicapping conditions is playing on a fundamentally unfair field, in comparison to those who do not have such a disability or handicap.

In this week’s and next week’s post we dig deeper into the issues associated with the 504.

Being a bit of a contrarian in style (If you’re a follower of this blog, you know what I mean), I have pushed back with both parents and schools on some of the common practices when it comes to the 504.

From my perspective, there’s a certain “knee-jerk” quality to the way accommodations are developed.

The classic example of this is the standard accommodation of “extended time” (typically, time and a half or double time extension).

Perhaps for kids from about 10th grade going into college, this accommodation of extended time is seen as valuable, but to the vast majority of children in elementary and middle school, the last thing that they want is more time on a task/test that they already detest.

(In fact, they would be dancing for joy, if you said something to them like, “Sweetheart, guess what?  Because you tend to be very distracted in school and can be very impulsive, the school has come up with a plan where you can be finished in half the amount of time that the test normally takes.  So, if the test has 20 items and takes about 40 minutes, they are going to cut it down in half for you.  You can be done in  20 minutes.”)

The point is not that extended time is a bad accommodation, but that for most of the kids of concern, especially in their younger years, the accommodation has no legitimate impact in that they neither want the extra time or take advantage of it when it is given to them.  (Of course, there are exceptions that do.)

For the most part, they want less time, not more.

We will continue this discussion of accommodations in next week’s blog, but for the time being, write down a list of no more than five items that you think would represent specific and easily implemented accommodations that would assist your child in comparison to those who do not have this handicap or disability.

Such an exercise will get you started on developing meaningful accommodations that help to “level the playing field.

Copyright, 2020
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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. )

The  advice in the blogs and in practice is governed by one overriding principle – “If this were my child, what would I do?”   The goal of the blogs and the website is to provide you with straight-forward, down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice and perspective to help cut through all of the confusion that exists in the field.)