Anxiety disorder qualifies as a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
This lesson provides examples of accommodations for a student with an anxiety disorder.
504 Plan Accommodations
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was created to prevent discrimination in the classroom due to a disability. A student’s 504 plan specifies accommodations, which are conveniences that will help the student be successful academically and in the classroom.
These accommodations don’t change what the student is learning but rather how the student is learning.For students with anxiety disorder, accommodations can help ease anxiety and enhance the learning experience. After all, anxiety can greatly interfere with learning, and it can do so in different ways for different students, making individualized accommodations important to a student’s success.These accommodations may apply to the classroom environment, assignments, assessments, and/or behavior. Let’s explore some accommodations that might be suitable for a 504 plan for a student with anxiety disorder.
First, let’s look at some of the classroom-based environmental accommodations that are made under the 504 plan:
- Preferential seating for the student. Seat the student by the teacher, in the front, and away from areas that may stimulate anxiety (like near the door or window).
- Present directions verbally and in writing so the student can double-check that they understand expectations.
- Allow the student to be exempt or at-will when students are answering questions on the board or in front of class.
- Allow the student to be exempt or at-will when students are reading aloud to class.
- Assign a buddy during lunch, recess, and/or unstructured activities.
- Allow the student to leave classroom without permission for small breaks when feeling tense or anxious.
- Let the student go and talk to a mentor/teacher of choice when feeling tense or anxious.
- Allow the student to remove themselves and cool down when experiencing a conflict or tense situation.
- Give the student the choice of seat in large group settings, such as during presentations in the gym or auditorium.
- Provide prior notification, if possible, before a substitute teacher instructs the class or there’s another substantial change in the daily routine.
- During field trips, pair the student with teacher or aide, or invite parents along.
- Provide prior notification, if possible, of fire drills, and place student with a mentor/teacher to minimize anxiety.
- Use a recording device in the classroom to record lectures or discussions.
- Provide copies of teacher notes to use during lectures or discussions.
- Allow chewing gum to reduce tension.
- Provide a bouncy chair that allows for movement while seated.
- Incorporate a variety of lesson presentation avenues, such as small-group, large-group, computer-based, etc.
- Provide a checklist for daily routines in the classroom, such as turning in assignments, putting up lunch, and going to the restroom.
- Provide a study area or desk away from distractions while working independently.
- Provide opportunities for socialization in the classroom.
Now let’s look at some of the assignment and assessment accommodations made for anxious students:
- Allow the student to present oral presentations to the teacher alone or via prerecorded video.
- Provide extra time on assessments.
- Provide a separate, quiet location for testing.
- Allow extra time for make-up work after returning from an absence.
- Reduce the length of assignments (i.
e., half of problems or only odds or evens).
- Allow choice of partner on small group assignments.
- Provide an alternate assessment choice, if appropriate (i.
e., essay instead of role-play).
- Break large assignments and projects into a series of small assignments.
- Allow the use of technology, if possible, for long writing assignments.
- Allow student to use a graphic organizer to organize thoughts and ideas prior to starting an assignment to assess content knowledge.
- Provide vocabulary words and important concepts in writing prior to their introduction in class.
- Limit the amount of text per page on assessments.
Finally, let’s take a look at the behavioral accommodations made for anxious students under the 504 plan:
- Provide written expectations of classroom behavior that student can refer to as needed.
- Utilize positive reinforcements, such as verbal praise and tangible rewards.
- Provide a squeeze ball to use as needed when anxious.
- Provide self-monitoring tools for the student to record personal behavior.
- Establish a home-to-school communication system that involves the student.
- Teachers and staff can use consistent behavioral techniques across all discipline areas during the day.
- Provide the student with weekly progress reports.
Let’s review. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was created to prevent discrimination in the classroom due to a disability.A student’s 504 plan specifies accommodations, which are conveniences that will help the student be successful academically and in the classroom.
The 504 plan accommodations for a student with anxiety disorder provides minor adjustments to the learning environment – not changes to the content being learned. These accommodations are put in place to create an optimal atmosphere for student success in the classroom and academically. Specifically, these are accommodations to the classroom environment, to the assignments and assessments, and to the behavior.