Say Whattttt? Accommodate. Modify.

say what?? accommodations. modifications. (shift your thinking ld)

You know what it's like when someone starts talking to you and using terms you don't understand because they use these terms every day and they forget that others don't.  

I know when this happens to me I'm usually saying in my mind...say what?????  But they keep talking because they think I know what they are talking about, but of course, I don't.  So I have to stop and ask for clarification which makes them give me that look of "OH! Right" you don't talk this language.

Well, that's what it's like as a parent trying to figure out the terms in the school system.  

I've heard it many times.  I was just talking to a parent the other day, and she mentioned that the words used in the school are very confusing and she doesn't understand how they relate to her child's support or learning needs.  

I have to agree they are confusing and they get even more confusing when you mash them up with other abbreviations such as an IEP or an IPRC. (which by the way means the Individual Educational Plan and the Identification, Placement, and Review Committee) 

After we had chatted, I thought about what parents need to understand when it comes to those "school terms"  what do they need to know.

First of all, I have to tell you I tend to have a slightly different focus on these words as I'm looking at it from the view of an Occupational Therapist ....and a parent.  When I completed my reports for the school setting, I had my focus on my assessment and goals, but the child's IEP would come up in the discussion and the focus on accommodations.  As I looked into this more and more, I realized that this was something parents needed to understand when it came to their child's learning -- particularly children with learning differences -- as this was soon my experience as a parent.

Here are a few key points to remember


If your child has dyslexia, a learning disability, ADHD (or similar diagnoses), it means that your child is average to above-average intelligence.  We have to stop here as this point is so important.

If your child can understand just as well as their peers (or even more so) than they need ACCOMMODATIONS to allow them to learn in a way that fits them.  

Modifications are changing the level of your child's work.  So if your child is working on grade 1 math and the class is focusing on grade 2 math -- that's a modification.  And when modifications are in place, general the grades that appear on your child's report card are based on this modification not the grade level work. 

That's vital to know...right???  If you see an 'A' on your child's report card for their math mark, you may think this is for grade 2 work, when it's not.  I will talk more about this at the Summit in May but realize that you need to know if your child has accommodations and/or modifications, so you are clear on where they are with their school grades.


Accommodations are based on different approaches, strategies, tools or settings to help your child learn at their grade level -- and they are different for every child.  What works for one child may not for another because ACCOMMODATIONS are as unique as your child. I will be creating a quick checklist for parents at the Summit (if you can't make it you will still get the checklist with the Video no worries!) 


When your child needs a different way of learning, or they are slower to retrieve an answer they understand this can lead to modifications in your child's work instead of accommodating their learning needs.  This is when the level of your child's work is lowered, and as a result, your child's self-esteem can fall, and the learning gaps can increase -- and this is why I am so passionate about accommodations.  

Accommodations are the ticket to minimizing learning gaps for children with learning differences, but we must understand why accommodations are powerful and not considered cheating. I will talk about this in my afternoon workshop at the Summit but just know that your child is not cheating they are learning and they are learning in a way that fits them and allows them to show others what they know.  


I think when it comes to putting a new strategy in place for your child we tend to believe that we have the solution and now we can sit back and relax -- but some accommodations can change quickly and in fact ---should!  

If you accommodate your child by offering them a tool to get their ideas down in chunks before they write and this tool allows them to see what they need to do so writing now makes sense to them and flows -- they may not need the tool that allowed them to see this need.  They may then be able to make chunks of information in a regular word document, but the original tool allowed them to see what they needed, and they are now adjusting this need to fit them -- and possibly allow them to get writing quicker. And you can't blame them for wanting to do that...if writing takes a longer time for them to being with --- I understand this!


Not to confuse the issue but there are times when modifications can be the accommodations, which means that you are modifying some part of the work, but it's not the level of the work.  It's still at grade level, so it's accommodation (that's my view as an OT, and I believe it's true of the Ministry of Education).  

So if your child was completing five spelling words instead of 10, but they are still working at grade level this is a modification that is to accommodate your child's learning needs -- maybe because they require more time to complete the work do they are ACCOMMODATED by not having to do as MUCH work.  This is the only time you need to get clarification that it's still helping your child's learning and not the level of work.  

The key is to focus on the level of work your child is doing and HOW they are doing it!


P.S. Early Bird Tickets only available until Monday, April 14th!






Susan Schenk