Special Accommodations in School: 5 Steps to Obtain Them

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Now that school has started and the summer break is over, your child may face new challenges at school. As a result, teacher concerns and academic difficulties may arise. As a parent, you want to stay informed and in close communication with the teacher from day 1. Therefore, the sooner you act, the sooner the school can provide support and avoid bigger problems later on. 

These are the 5 steps to obtain services and special accommodations in school:

Step 1: If your child is in a public-school setting, you can request a meeting with the administration and teachers to implement the 3-tier system of support discussed below. The school system can take months to initiate services. Moreover, requesting this meeting early in the academic year will return quicker results to support your child’s needs. Additionally, seeking a private psychological evaluation can also help speed up the process significantly to receive services. This evaluation will be reviewed during the meeting and will help to determine eligibility for services.

What if your child is in private school?

If your child is in a private school, more than likely they do not offer evaluations or progress monitoring. Seeking a private psychological evaluation that includes academic achievement and evaluates cognitive functioning is an important initial step. This is important to evaluate your child’s strengths and weaknesses academically. Some, but not all private schools are willing to provide special accommodations for children with disabilities.

A teacher high fives one of her students

For a list and review of Florida private schools, you can visit Florida Private School Reviews | Best Private Schools. The site provides general information about the school as well as information about learning difference programs supported.

Step 2: The public school sector offers three tiers of support that I discuss below. To obtain supportive services, meet with your child’s teacher as soon as possible and discuss your concerns. Write a list of concerns the teacher has for your child.

  • Tier 1 is offered to all students equally. Consulting your concerns with the teacher is the beginning step to receiving supportive services. A screening of your child’s needs will be offered at this level to identify academic difficulties.
  • Tier 2 includes targeted interventions and program monitoring to track academic progress. This can be 30 additional minutes daily of small group instruction or paired reading with the teacher.
  • Tier 3 involves intensive interventions, including multisensory strategies and increased progress monitoring. This can include resource room placement where the child is pulled out for intensive instruction in academic areas requiring support.

A teacher calling on a student who's raising his hand

Step 3: Request 504 accommodations. A 504 plan provides support or removes barriers for students with disabilities. It provides students with accommodations, support, and services. The child does not need a full evaluation to receive 504 accommodations. Accommodations can include preferential seating, extended time for class tests, or short breaks.

Step 4: Request an individualized education plan (IEP). The IEP is an individualized plan that describes your child’s strengths and needs based on collected data from Tier 2. It focuses on social-emotional behavior, independent functioning, health care, and communication.

A mom helps her daughter with homework

What is an IEP and who is eligible?

The IEP is more encompassing than the 504 plan. It provides special education (ESE), services, accommodations, modifications to the learning environments, and sets learning goals. Goals are revised annually. Services and aids provided may include:

  • Art therapy
  • Audiology
  • Counseling
  • Music therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech/language therapy
  • Adapted physical education
  • Assistive technology
  • Paraprofessional

A small group of children working on an art lesson with their teacher

If you’re wondering if your child is eligible for ESE services, you can visit Exceptional Student Education.

Step 5: Lastly, having a child with a disability can be emotionally and financially draining to families. For more information about financial scholarships for children with disabilities, please visit Family Empowerment Scholarship. Families can use these state funds for their child’s educational needs, including enrollment in private schools and access to services. You can also check out this helpful post about scholarships available for children with disabilities. 

Wishing all the children a fruitful academic year!

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