Rocky Hill, CT & Lakewood Ranch, FL


Posts for: October, 2016

Many parents ask me about what accommodations would be appropriate for a 504 plan for their child’s classroom. Here are some principles that a 504 plan should be designed around along with specific accommodations. An individual student may not require all these accommodations, but these should give you an idea of what might be reasonable. I think you will find them useful.

Mitchel G. Katz, MD
Connecticut & Gulf Coast ADHD Associates

Manage Impulsivity in the Classroom

For a child who speaks out of turn:
> Seat him front and center, near the teacher, and away from distractions
> Discuss the behavior in private rather than calling him out in front of the class
> Have him sit next to a well-behaved role model  
> Increase the distance between desks, if possible  
> For younger students, mark an area with tape around his desk in which he can move freely

Help for Half-Done or Incomplete Assignments

> Allow extra time to complete assigned work
> Break long assignments into smaller segments, each with a deadline
> Shorten assignments or work periods
> Pair written instructions with oral instructions
> Set a timer for 10-minute intervals and have the student get up and show the teacher her work

Help Classroom Focus

If your child doesn’t participate, drifts off when taking notes, or turns in work with mistakes:
> Have a peer assist him in note taking
> Have the teacher ask questions to encourage participation
> Enlist him to help present the lesson
> Cue him to stay on task with a private signal—a gentle tap on the shoulder
> Schedule a five-minute period for him to check over work before turning in assignments

To End Disruptive Classroom Behavior

> Have the teacher ignore minor inappropriate behavior
> Allow the student to play with paper clips or doodle
> Designate a place in advance where to let off steam
> Adjust assignments so that they are not too long or too hard
> Develop a behavior contract with the student and parents (share info about what works at home or vice versa)

For the Daydreamer in Class:

> Have the teacher use clear verbal signals, such as “Freeze,” “This is important,” or “One, two, three…eyes on me”
> Allow the student to earn the right to daydream for 5-10 minutes by completing her assignment
> Use a flashlight or a laser pointer to illuminate objects or words to pay attention to
> Illustrate vocabulary words and science concepts with small drawings or stick figures

Settle Fidgety, Restless Behaviors

If your child taps his foot or pencil nervously in class or gets up out of his seat a lot:   
> Allow him to run errands, to hand out papers to students, clean off bookshelves, or to stand at times while working
> Give him a fidget toy in class to increase concentration  
> Slot in short exercise breaks between assignments  
> Give him a standing desk or an air-filled rubber disk to sit on so he can wiggle around

Keep Track of Homework and Books

If your child forgets to bring home homework assignments or books, return papers to school, or to put his name on his paper:    
> Use an assignment notebook/student planner
> Allow students to dictate assignments into a Memo Minder, a small three-minute tape recorder
> Staple the teacher’s weekly lesson plan in the student’s planner
> Reduce the number of papers that are sent home to be signed
> Appoint monitors to make sure that students write down homework assignments
> Allow student to keep a second set of books at home

Put Time on His Side

If your child has trouble with due dates and deadlines:
> Give advanced notice about upcoming projects and reports
> Stand next to the student to make sure that the assigned task is begun quickly
> Present all assignments and due dates verbally and visually
> Use timers to mark transitions—putting materials away before starting a new subject or project

Expand Her Social Network

If your child is clueless about social cues, doesn’t work well with others, or isn’t respected by peers:  
> Set up social-behavior goals with her and implement a reward program
> Request that the school establish a social skills group
> Encourage cooperative learning tasks
> Assign her special responsibilities or a leadership role
> Compliment positive behavior and work
> Acknowledge appropriate behavior and good work frequently 

Take the Fear Out of Writing

If your child is challenged by written assignments:  
> Allow more time for written assignments and essay questions
> Shorten reports or assignments
> Allow students to print; don’t require cursive writing
> Allow the option of a recorded or oral report in lieu of writing
> Encourage students to use a computer for written work
> Allow the use of spell check and grammar check software

Reduce Math Anxiety

If your child does not finish math tests, is slow to finish homework, or has problems with multi-step problems:  
> Photocopy pages for students so they do not have to rewrite math problems
> Keep sample math problems on the board
> Allow use of a calculator for class- and homework
> Give review summaries for math exams
> Give extended time on tests

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a disorder that is most often diagnosed in childhood, is characterized by trouble paying attention, impulsiveness, excessive activity, and problems controlling behavior that isn’t age-appropriate. It’s a disorder that parents may be hesitant to consider because its symptoms are easily attributed to a child acting like a child. But if symptoms persist, or increase, it is something that parents should definitely talk to their child’s pediatrician about.

If you think that your child may have ADHD, your pediatrician will likely refer you to a mental health specialist for a diagnosis, unless he or she has experience with ADHD.

How and When is ADHD Diagnosed?

The first thing your doctor or mental health professional will do is assess your child’s behavior. This should be done comprehensively – by talking to you, observing your child, reviewing medical records, talking with your child’s teachers (or at the minimum having them complete standardized evaluation forms about your child’s behavior), and possibly talking with other adults who are part of your child’s life.

Your child’s doctor may decide to perform a non-invasive brain scan to assist in the diagnosis. The scan measures theta and beta brain waves, which tend to have a higher ratio in children and adolescents with ADHD than in those without it. This scan is approved for use on children between the ages of 6 and 17 years-old. The scan itself is not definitive in diagnosing ADHD, it should be used in conjunction with medical and behavioral observations and reporting.

It’s difficult to determine if children under 6 suffer from ADHD because the behavior of children that young can look like ADHD and yet be completely normal. In order for your child to be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms must be present for a certain period of time, and they must be affecting your child’s life (school, home, recreational activities, etc.). That’s not an easy thing to evaluate in very young children, so most diagnoses of ADHD occur sometime after children hit the 6 years-old benchmark.

ADHD is a treatable disorder that you and your child’s doctor can manage. It is most commonly treated with a combination of medication and behavioral therapies, but there are also some things that you can do at home to help your child. Following a routine every day, praising and using positive reinforcement, making sure your child gets enough sleep and eats a healthy diet, and most of all, modeling good behavior, are all things that are beneficial to children with ADHD.