Students with disabilities may qualify for special education and related services to support student success in the school environment. Special education is specifically designed to meet the needs of the student. Therefore, the student’s strength and weaknesses are taken into account during an evaluation. Based on the results of the evaluation, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may be developed. This IEP modifies the curriculum and approach to which the content is delivered in order for the student to access the general curriculum.
An IEP is developed by a team approach. The team includes the student, parents, school psychologist, physical therapist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, etc. This team develops goals for the student and implements accommodations across the school environment. Accommodations support the student by helping to reduce/eliminate the disability of the student to ensure equal access to educational materials.
5 Occupational Therapy IEP Accommodation Ideas for Your Student:
1. Using Technology
Utilizing technology to replace handwriting is an important accommodation for students who have difficulty writing due to difficulty forming letters, poor fine motor skills, visual processing deficits, etc. A student may benefit from utilizing a Chromebook or iPad in the classroom by typing, using speech-to-text software and various apps, such as Snap Type, to complete classroom assignments. This technology can reduce/replace the student’s weakness, in this case handwriting, in order to increase participation and completion of classroom tasks.
2. Sensory Breaks
Sensory Breaks are important for students who demonstrate sensory processing deficits. Sensory breaks are tailored to the student’s need in order to provide appropriate input the body requires. This input will assist in calming or arousing the student to an expected state that is necessary for learning.
3. Classroom Seating
Preferential seating for a student is an important accommodation for students who may present with visual deficits, become easily distracted, and for students who are under-responsive or over-responsive to the environmental stimuli. Depending on the needs of the student he/she may benefit from sitting in the front of the room and away from windows by decreasing visual and auditory distractions. Sometimes a student may need to fidget or stand at their desk in order to learn, which may distract other students. Therefore, the student may benefit from sitting in the back of the room to reduce the risk of distracting other students.
4. Visual Help
Implementing visual friendly aids/devices as an IEP accommodation may support students with visual impairments succeed in the classroom. A student with visual impairments may experience difficulty reading from class papers, textbooks, Smart Boards, keyboards, and even a computer monitor. Implementing visual aids in the classroom may benefit the student by ensuring large font papers, textbooks, and keyboards are readily available to him/her. Other visual friendly aids may include visual filters to reduce unnecessary items on tests/papers, magnifying devices (i.e. bars, glasses, highlighted lined paper), or highlighting important information on classroom papers to emphasize important information.
5. Schedules and Organizers
Use of visual schedule and organizers work well when implemented in the classroom for students with anxiety, autism, and for students who are easily distractible. When correctly utilized, visual templates help students know their daily schedule and understand what is expected of them that day. These assist students to easily transition between classes and activities. The student can also easily recognize work that needs to be completed before earning a break.
Depending on the needs of the student, some of these IEP accommodations may be beneficial to your student in order to access the general education curriculum. Be sure to contact the student’s IEP team to ensure your student has the appropriate IEP accommodations to support their individualized needs based on their strengths and weaknesses of their disability.