Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Education and Special Needs

Blog #231~Special Needs Tips for Making Accommodations in the Classroom

Blog #231 Special Needs Tips for Making Accommodations in the Classroom

Last week, I focused on 5 back to school tips for special needs parents. For today’s post I want to put a lens on what accommodations look like and their importance in the classroom setting for a student with special needs.

Accommodations are changes that remove barriers and provide a student with equal access to learning. As a parent, it is essential to make sure that agreed upon accommodations and supports are written into your child’s IEP, and in place before the first day of school.

My son Nick is 25 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism (DS-ASD). Over the years he had many accommodations to support his learning and navigation in the school environment. Nick didn’t walk until age 3 1/2 years old due to low muscle tone (a trait of having Down syndrome). In pre-school, the IEP team made an accommodation to transport Nick from point A to B in the building, and in/out of the car line.  Accommodations can come in many forms to support intellectual and developmental disabilities.

visual support ring

Here are some examples of accommodations that can be used in the classroom:

*Communication Notebook and daily reports sent back and forth from school to home

*Classroom Schedule,  Individual Visual Schedules and Social Stories

Nick fist bump AID                   social story working desk

*Alternative Media Tools- Flash cards, board games, computer programs, learning apps/games, AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) and assistive technology devices, PECS (picture exchange communication), sign language, etc.

nick aac

*Sensory Tools help with self-regulation- Figits, stress balls, pencil toppers, tangle puzzles, weighted vests or lap pads, nubby sit cushions, stability balls, etc.

alternative seating

*Motor Breaks and Sensory/Quiet Corners– Build breaks into a student’s schedule. Some can be motor breaks or a sensory/quiet break depending on the need. Equip with items such as rocking or bean bag chairs, mini-trampolines, swings, weighted blankets, noise cancelling earphones, need a break icon etc.

*Visual aids, worksheets and paraprofessionals/aides to assist to accompany lesson objectives and test taking.

*Transition tools- Early hall passing before the bell rings, transition objects, visual schedules, visual timers, etc.

transition timer

*Choice boards to encourage decision making and independent learning skills.

*Work and Reward Charts:

working for chart   first then work

Building in accommodations and supports into your student’s IEP and classroom setting help enhance learning in a positive school environment. Often, individuals with autism and a dual diagnosis of DS-ASD, like my son, thrive with the use of visual prompts to navigate their days more smoothly. The right accommodations make it possible to have a successful learning environment that is less stressful.

That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂

~Teresa 

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down syndrome With a Slice of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Education and Special Needs, IEP (Indivdualized Education Plan)

Blog #102~Special Needs Summer School- ESY

 

Blog #102~Special Needs Summer School~ESY

During the summer months, a child who has special needs may qualify for ESY (which stands for “Extended School Year”).  ESY is usually a half day program which allows someone like Nick who has Down syndrome and autism to continue working on IEP goals.  This benefits the student with special needs by keeping the momentum and daily structure which is so vital.

Nick’s teacher, Andrea Lawler put together a montage of his summer school program. Flipping through the pages of this book made me smile. It also put a lens on all the cool things Nick gets to do in the ESY program.  Take a look……….

Nick’s ESY Yearbook 2014 at Neuqua Valley High School:

Part of our morning routine was our “Morning Meeting.” Here Nick is letting us know that he is happy, however, he usually loved to be a goof and always point to sad! 🙂

Picture1

Nick’s version of yoga! Everyday we did a yoga routine with the “Let’s Get Ready to Learn” program.

Picture2

Who doesn’t love fireworks! Celebrating the upcoming 4th of July with a little fireworks show!

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Nick thinks this is way cool 🙂

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Mid-rock, one of Nick’s favorite dance moves. Who doesn’t love a dance party every now and then!?!

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Enjoying his snack time.

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Once a week we would go to the computer lab.

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Bingo game with some augmentative-communication during speech group!

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Being silly while working in the production room sorting sugar packets.

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The students went to the production room on Mondays! No fire alarms in the room though. 🙂

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Watching and listening to our book during reading group. This was Nick’s favorite spot to stand in during group time. He’s doing “elbow” which is his version of a high five.

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Placing his order during one of our weekly community trips. This trip was to Burger King.

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Who doesn’t love Burger King breakfast!?!

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This smile says it all!

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into Nick’s world at ESY. A BIG thank you to Nick’s teacher, Andrea Lawler for putting together this awesome summer school yearbook.  In addition, I want to thank  all the teachers and aides for taking the time out of your summer break to continue to teach Nick. This allowed me to continue going to work without having to hire respite care. It also kept me from going bonkers with him home all day.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa 🙂