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Have you ever had the experience of realizing that your child’s public school teacher doesn’t know the accommodations on your child’s 504 plan or IEP? It makes sense – thirteen percent of kids have IEPs, another five percent have 504 plans. That means teachers need to keep track of the accommodations and/or services for nearly one-fifth of their students.  In a class of thirty kids, that’s six sets of accommodations to monitor. At the elementary school level, when teachers have the same kids all day, that might not be so difficult. But when you get to upper elementary, middle, or high school, with anywhere from 4-8 classes per teacher, that’s a lot to monitor.

You can help those teachers by providing them with a simplified summary that describes your child’s strengths, challenges, and accommodations. Your child can keep a copy of the accommodations in the front of his or her binder so there is always a copy to show the teacher when they need to request accommodations.

Collaborate with your child to create this guide – it’s a great way to foster self-understanding. I encourage children to give a copy of this guide to their teachers on the first day of school; it helps them learn to self-advocate.

Below is a sample for a diploma-track high school student with autism that fits on one page (front and back).  One side provides a “profile” (a description of areas of strength and weakness) and the other side lists accommodations.



  • Visual information processing (spatial tasks, reading)
  • Loves science & technology and programming
  • Good writer
  • Wants very much to be a good student
  • Hard-­working
  • Deep thinker

Auditory Processing

  • Hearing impaired in left ear.
  • Difficulty hearing speech when there are other sounds present (e.g., talking, noise in the halls, etc.).

Social Skills

  • Don’t be deceived by his lack of affect and poor eye contact. If you are not sure he is paying attention or understands, just ask. His affect is not a reliable indicator of his level of interest or attention.

Attention Regulation

  • Difficulty sustaining focus for long periods of time.
  • Difficulty quickly shifting from one task to another.
  • Difficulty determining the main point of new information.
  • Sometimes impulsive.

Executive Functioning/ Organizational assistance

  • Strong desire to be a good student and to do as the teacher asks, but low confidence level in his ability to attend to details, manage long term projects, remember assignments, and be dependable. Common phrase, “I hate my brain.”
  • Difficulty doing simple daily tasks efficiently (seems disorganized).
  • Has trouble figuring out how to break down big projects into manageable chunks.
  • Difficulty remembering to turn in assignments.
  • Slow processing speed -­ needs time to come up with answers.

Oral Language Skills

  • Difficulty with oral word retrieval.

Physical Challenges

  • Has dyspraxia (developmental coordination disorder) which affects both fine and gross motor skills.
    • It is hard for him to write by hand for extended periods of time.
    • He is clumsy, so sports are very challenging for him.

Mood Regulation

  • Can appear emotionally reactive.
  • Anxious, depressed, socially withdrawn.

(end of page 1)


Auditory Processing

  • Give directions in written form (as opposed to strictly oral directions).
  • Receive written/visual copies of information presented orally that will be tested later.


  • He should have access to computer resources, including a printer; his handwriting is usually legible, but his hand is subject to fatigue for extended writing.
  • When possible, he finds having copies of classroom notes and lecture outlines (e.g., provided by a “class secretary” or teacher) extremely helpful.
  • Using graph paper to keep multi-­step problems aligned in math.
  • Extended time on copying tasks that cannot be avoided.

Slow Processing Speed

  • Provision of written versions of classroom notes, lecture outlines, and supplemental materials.
  • Allowing for “think time” when asking questions in class or one-­on-­one.
  • Extended test taking time (double time).
  • Extended time on assignments as needed.

Attention Regulation

  • Giving advance warning before transitions.
  • Cueing with phrases such as, “This is important…”
  • Give periodic reminders to stay on task.
  • Speak to him only when he is close-by and clearly attending to you.
  • Provide visual supports.

Executive Functioning/ Organizational assistance

  • Assignment planner checked daily for accuracy & completeness.
  • If assignment discovered missing, either when reviewing the online school system or by notification from teacher, ___ will have 2 school days to turn in a late assignment before it is counted as late.
  • Help him break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.
  • When ___ has difficulty understanding what an assignment involves, it will not be counted as late until 24 hours after he has gotten clarification that he can understand from the teacher in written form.
  • Allow assignments to be submitted electronically.

Social Skills

  • When there are group projects, ____ will need help finding a group, and working with them. He will need you to explain exactly what is expected of him.

Oral Language Skills

  • Cue for class participation -­ tell him what will be asked ahead of time so he has time to construct an answer and can participate in class more readily.

Mood Regulation

  • Provide regular positive feedback to help him overcome the emotional impact of his challenges.
  • Give him time and space to cool down; make no demands while he is dysregulated.

(end of page 2)

Teachers have told my clients that this simple guide has made it much easier for them to remember how to support their kids. It’s also helpful when your kids need to remind a teacher to implement their accommodations.

 Do you need help with your child? Sarah Wayland can help you figure out how to support your child via classes, Special Needs Care Navigation services, Parent Coaching, or as your certified Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) consultant.

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