Students with ADHD often experience difficulty in following directions, staying organized, and keeping up with the pace of a typical classroom. Kids placed on medication for ADHD may be able to show modest improvement in these areas. However, classroom accommodations for students with ADHD are also frequently helpful. Accommodations for students with ADHD could mean extended time to complete a task, help in getting started on difficult assignments, assistance in organizing classroom materials, or some other allowance for a deficit in executive function skills.
The most common types of accommodations for students with ADHD are often compiled in a 504 plan. 504 plans derive from section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination of children with disabilities in schools. 504 plans are frequently used to assist kids with ADHD by making accommodations that fit their specific needs.
Teachers could benefit from learning more about 504 plans and other accommodations for students with ADHD. Teachers help to ensure that students with ADHD have a better chance to succeed in a traditional classroom by recognizing their needs and making appropriate adjustments. Here are some helpful accommodations for students with ADHD and links to information about 504 plans that can help teachers consider appropriate strategies:
Modify classroom and homework assignments to accommodate children’s slow work speed. Slow processing speed is measurable and has little to do with motivation. It is important that parents and teachers recognize and accommodate for children’s difficulty with processing so that they do not develop a sense of being unable to learn or see themselves as incapable. Children with slow processing speed can benefit from being allowed to complete every second or third problem of a math assignment instead of all the examples to allow for their slowness in processing. You might set a timer for 15 minutes and draw a line across the homework page at the end of that period of sustained work to help them be aware of their rate of processing and encourage them to increase their pace of work. Let the child begin an assignment and show it to their teacher after the first few problems are done to confirm that they are doing the assignment properly and to receive gentle corrections or praise. Adult assistance in this regard could gradually be reduced over time as a child’s awareness of processing speed increases.
Modify written assignments by reducing demands or providing models. A reduction in writing requirements is useful for many children with attention issues. Practice brainstorming or outlining prior to beginning written assignments. Children with difficulty in processing speed could benefit from writing ideas on Post-it notes and rearranging them for an outline. They could ask another student to proofread materials or be provided with a proofreading checklist to cue for specific areas prior to submitting their work. Many youngsters also benefit from using word processing for writing assignments or a tape recorder to dictate written responses.
Schedule routine checking and organization of desks, backpacks, and lockers. This could help to minimize lost work and unnecessary chaos. Create a plan with children to determine the best way to lessen clutter by sorting through papers on a daily basis, filing those papers requiring attention, and eliminating papers that are no longer needed. Provide frequent checks for neatness and organization and reinforce children when progress has been made.
Use a short, targeted checklist for self-monitoring in the classroom. Provide students with specific paper-and-pencil forms to monitor their actions. Checklists could assess areas such as performance on a writing assignment, the level of attention to tasks, and the amount of work completed. Children would need to be trained in self-monitoring and how to complete the form. Their teachers could signal them to indicate when to use a checklist.
Find the best type of working environment for students with attention concerns. Some students do best in a quiet work area. This could be achieved by having them work in a place at the back of the room or in a cubby where they could work quietly and on their own. It is best not to use these quiet spaces for time out, as this might take away from them being useful for doing quiet work. Have students who tend to be unfocused take breaks to help them stay focused on what they need to do. Students who can work for a designated amount of time on tasks can benefit from taking breaks that involve a degree of movement. It is best take breaks that are not electronic in nature.
Make sure the 504 plan fits a child by understanding what it can do. Use the current assessment as well as previous examples of schoolwork and difficulties in the classroom to document your concerns. Obtain written information from previous teachers who can articulate the specific troubles in the classroom and include previous report cards. The more you understand about the 504 plan, the better you will be able to help your child obtain a plan that is helpful to the child.
Here are some excellent articles to help you in understanding the nature of 504 plans:
Understanding 504 Plans: An article describing what a 504 Plan entails and who qualifies for it.
ADHD School Accommodation Plans: An article describing the difference between IEPs and 504 Plans.
Parents’ Guide to a 504 Plan: An article for parents describing the different pieces to a 504 plan.
Read more about ADHD in the classroom, and how to reach kids with ADHD and other learning differences. We want to hear about what works in your classroom. Leave a comment below, or come talk to us on Facebook!
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