Our community weighs in: Surprising IEP and 504 plan accommodations

Many schools have a set list of common classroom accommodations they offer kids with learning and thinking differences. For example, kids with may be seated near the teacher. Other students might be provided with typed lesson notes.

So when we asked the Understood Facebook community to share the most unexpected accommodations their kids receive, we were pleasantly surprised. These creative accommodations are worth keeping in mind for your own child’s IEP or 504 plan.

Accommodations to help self-regulate and manage emotions

“We keep bags of carrots in the school office fridge. When my son becomes agitated and needs sensory stimulation, he goes to the office and sits under the desk of the secretary, munching on carrots till he’s calm enough to return to class. A good day is a carrot or two, a bad day is five to seven.” — Rachel

“Having the entire fourth grade rearrange recess so that my daughter had it at the end of the day when her ADHD meds start to wear off. She is free to play and scream and run without consequences. The school offered it! I was so surprised and everyone was so much happier.” — Christine

“My son is older, but struggled with being sent to the office when he was in trouble. I had it written in that he would always interact with the school counselor before anyone else so he had a safe place to de-escalate. Then they could both go to the principal to discuss the issues. It prevented situations from getting worse in the office and reduced his suspensions.” — Kristina

“Someone from the school lets my son know just before there’s to be a fire drill. He has auditory processing issues. If the alarm catches him off-guard, he can (and usually does) have a meltdown.” — Susan

“Using a toilet in the school that didn’t flush automatically. Thankfully, she outgrew that!” — Michele

“Using mechanical pencils rather than regular pencils because the sound of regular pencils makes his skin crawl.” — Robin

“Some teachers would allow her to eat crackers in class because if she got really stressed out she would start feeling sick to her stomach. She didn’t really need the crackers, but the diversion and her belief that the crackers helped made a big difference.” — Vikki

“My son’s kindergarten teacher got scented markers that she lets him use as incentive for staying sitting since he has a hard time with fidgeting.” — Ana

“A break card that lets him walk around school by himself and get away from people and recharge.” — Sofie

“Being allowed chewing gum. You might be surprised how much it helps a lot of kids focus, and how resistant schools can be to this low-cost, high-success accommodation.” — Amanda

“My son chews ice when he gets overwhelmed. That is a way he self-soothes. They keep a bag just for him in each school he has gone to.” — Ashley

“My son gets to listen to his own music during free work times. Even with his noise-reducing headphones, free time was overwhelming for him. Now, he does his work while jamming out to Queen.” — Kristen

“Noise-silencing headphones during independent work time. My daughter has dyslexia and this really helps her concentrate and eliminate distractions.” — Meghan

“My son can wear a ball cap and carry a weighted backpack all day.” — Stephen

“My son is allowed and encouraged to have a ‘classroom job’ so he’s always kept busy in a productive way.” — Ji

“Having teacher tap lightly on his desk to re-engage him, kinda like a reset button. He agreed to this and says it helps.” — Sheri

“A personal coach to help him express himself appropriately!” — Mel

Accommodations for note-taking, assignments, and tests

“Letting me put an end to the amount of problems done on each piece of homework, then him being graded for only what he completed, stands out. Too many repetitive problems and visual endlessness was torturous and caused emotional mayhem.” — Vicki

“We requested oral questioning of incorrect answers on tests and quizzes. Our son with ADHD and a processing disorder takes tests and quizzes in a traditional manner. Then when the teacher is grading the test he/she is required to check with our son privately on any missed answers. He gets a chance to orally explain or identify his knowledge. Then the grade is adjusted if necessary.” — Patricia

“Having an extra day to turn in missing work once grades are posted. Turning in his notes for a copy of the teacher’s notes. Using a laptop for written assignments, and emailing or posting to Dropbox pictures of completed assignments.” — Jo Ellen

“Using the phone camera to take photos of notes on the board.” — Lynn

“My son uses an erasable pen and circles answers in the actual test booklets for tests instead of bubbling in the answers or taking computerized tests.” — Debby

“The school calls/texts Mom if a form needs to be signed. The guidance counselor is stellar at making that happen!” — Jamie

“My daughter’s study guide was the actual test, including the answers, given seven days in advance of the exam.” — Vicki

“He can use his phone to take pictures of posted assignments and use a calendar/homework app to record dates immediately.” — Jeanette

Accommodations to get things done more easily

“Extra time for changing clothes for PE in a space with a seat and plenty of room.” — Vikki

“My son is allowed to use a large-screen calculator that shows the entire problem.” — Rachel

“No dress change for PE!” — Regina

“We agreed on no cursive writing, either by her or by the teacher for her.” — Dana

“The ability to use a hard lunch tray instead of the semi-flimsy cardboard one in the lunchroom to avoid spilling.” — Johanna

“In middle and high school, one of the best things is to be able to leave class five minutes early. This allows her to get through the halls before they are super crowded and also gives her a bit of extra time to eat her lunch.” — Vikki

Hear more from the Understood Facebook community: Get their take on the most difficult part of parenting kids who learn and think differently.

About the author

About the author

Lexi Walters Wright is the former community manager at Understood. As a writer and editor, she helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.


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