Thursday, January 28, 2010

Educational Strategies: Accommodations vs Modifications

Socialization and Independence. Those are the two main goals that are emphasized by the trainers for START, the grant funded, training series on educating youth with ASD that I'm attending.

During a training session I learned about two concepts that can be used to help students assimilate into a classroom--especially a general education one rather than a self contained special education room.

The two concepts are Accommodations and Modifications. It might seem that the two terms are interchangeable, but they are not. They are two distinct approaches to educating students with special needs.

According to the manual I received, accommodations "are the supports and services that help students validly demonstrate student learning." Modifications "are individualized changes made to the content and performance expectations for students."

So accommodating a students means doing something like giving a student a P-touch or a y-shaped pen to help with handwriting (as discussed in this post). It might be giving a student more time to complete a test or giving a student sound blocking headphones for times when classrooms get noisy or when fire drill/tornado drills are expected.

There are quite a few different ways to accommodate a student with ASD. Here is a short list of possible accomodations:

Adapting the way instruction is delivered (by pre-teaching and re-teaching, for example),

Increasing the level of support for the student with ASD (via class tutors, peer to peer support or by placing the student in groups of students who can appropriately interpret the curriculum expectations,

Giving preferential seating,

Addressing sensory system needs,

Organizing the desk/are where the student words,

Providing visual strategies such as visual schedules.

Modification basically means making the work more doable for the student with special needs with the intent that she or he does not become overwhelmed. For example, if a student can complete a multiple choice test, but has difficulty with too many choices, the number of choices can be reduced by blacking out two or three answers on the test for the child with ASD. Or with general classroom work, it might mean having the student complete selected sections of an assignment as opposed to having them complete all the work.

Note: I hope that I explained everything clearly enough, but if you are confused, it is likely you are not alone. We trainees spent a great deal of time learning about these two concepts during our two-day training session. This included completing some exercises so that we could better differentiate between accommodations and modifications. Feel free to ask a question via the comment section and I'll do my best to answer it by consulting my manual or by asking someone else.


Bill said...

Thanks for sharing your experience and especially the way that you explained the differences. I was particularly interested in accomodation, which seems to assist the student by providing learning support. Lastly thanks for the concrete examples, it made your explanation easier to understand.

Casdok said...

You explained it very well!

Autism and 14-Monkey Experiment said...

Thanks for clarifying the difference between accommodations and modifications.