Easy Strategies and Accommodations for Medical Instances in the Classroom, Part I

Easy Strategies and Accommodations for Medical Instances in the Classroom, Part I

The classroom environment is filled with a countless array of personalities, abilities, and levels of motivation. Add to that the various medical considerations or chronic illnesses that students might experience and teachers no doubt feel stressed about making sure every learner receives what he or she needs in order to be academically successful. While circumstances, symptoms, and needs vary from student to student, there are some “universal” best practices that teachers can employ when a student is impacted by a medical condition.

Symptom: Inattentiveness due to various conditions

Strategies Considerations
  • Verbal/non-verbal prompting or cueing
  • Checklists or sticky notes for work completion; a checkmark or small sticky on the desk indicates strong/prolonged focus
  • Preferential seating
  • Proximity while giving instructions/directions
  • Brain breaks for lengthy texts or multi-step tasks
  • Brisk transitions between tasks/activities to build attentive momentum
  • Prompting and cueing could be as subtle as tapping on the desk to regain focus
  • Prompting could also be as direct as asking which number he/she is on and encouraging further progress
  • Checklists or sticky notes would typically be paired with a weekly/monthly incentive to track student’s attention goal (504/IEP)
  • Preferential seating doesn’t necessarily mean in the front of the classroom; this could mean near the teacher’s desk, away from the window or hallway, or in the quieter back corner of the room

 

Symptom: Vision issues due to various conditions

Strategies Considerations
  • Preferential seating
  • Larger text/font size on handouts
  • Limited screen time or frequent breaks during prolonged screen use
  • Highlighted and/or condensed teacher notes
  • Colored overlays for students whose vision issues are exacerbated by bright white paper (often seen with PANDAS)
  • Highlighted/condensed teacher notes allow students to follow along with notes/outlines without straining their eyes to copy from the board
  • Notes also ensure that only vital information is visually presented; no extraneous details
  • Colored overlays are inexpensive plastic sheets that students can lay over a textbook, worksheet, or even computer screen to dull the brightness of the white background

 

Symptom: Working memory/memory processing difficulties

Strategies Considerations
  • Extended time for assessments and lengthier assignments; reduced workload when necessary
  • Wordbanks, multiple choice options, and true/false for exams that involve more memory recall or fact-based knowledge
  • Use of calculator for math assessments not hinging on mental math skills
  • Sentence starters or transition word banks for essays or timed writing tasks
  • Extended time should account for the fact that the student likely needed twice as much time to review and memorize info prior to the assessment
  • When possible, reduce the exam questions to account for mastery of the skill, not the quantity of questions answered
  • Quiz and test modifications, such as word banks, assist students with recall by providing examples
  • T/F questions still assess the student’s knowledge of the concept, but reduce the unnecessary memorization
  • If a math quiz is not based solely on the student’s knowledge of multiplication/division facts, the use of a calculator removes the mental math and memorization barrier

 

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