“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” ~Stephen Hawking
Let’s just jump into this conversation. If you have a child who has been diagnosed with dyslexia or ADD/ADHD, then you have an idea of what accommodation is. Maybe you even were diagnosed and had access to some accommodation tools, like extra time to take tests, reading assistance, note takers and more, as you were going through school. I have found that for some people they have never heard of accommodations before.
In school system accommodations are often talked about with two main terms. IEP and/or 504 plan.
What is an IEP and a 504 plan?
The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services.
504 Plan Defined
The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.
They look and sound almost identical, but they are not, and they are each important in their own way. If you have a child with dyslexia or you are in school or college, there is a great tool that can help and guide you through this process.
Want to know more about the process? CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
This is the greatest thing since sliced bread. A system for keeping track of IEP and 504 Plan details, questions and resources in MN. Even if you are not from Minnesota, I would recommend you check this out. It is an amazing tool.
One thing I will say about being neurodiverse with dyslexia, typically it causes parents to have a closer relationship with the school system and teachers that neurotypical people don’t experience. That can be in good and bad ways. It all depends on the people involved. I have my mom to thank for having all of the abilities I have around reading and writing. She made it her mission that none of us would be treated like she was in school and that we would all learn to read and write as best as we were able. For me this was a time before IEP’s and 504 Plans. I often tell the story of going to school early every Friday in fifth grade, sitting in the class alone, while my mom and my teacher met to review my homework for the weekend and talk about what was next for me with my spelling and reading. As a child I was mad and hated it. Now as an adult, I see what my mom did as being heroic, and I am so grateful to my parents and my teachers for teaming up to improve the trajectory of my life.
Accommodations are defined as the process of adapting or adjusting to someone or something.
A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment made in a system to accommodate or make fair the same system for an individual based on a proven need. That need can vary. Accommodations can be religious, physical, mental or emotional, academic, or employment related and are often mandated by law.
Accommodations are sometimes referred to as “productivity enhancers”. I love this definition. It is so true.
For adults who are dyslexic or have attention deficit differences (hyper) they don’t always think about what it means to have accommodations at their job and in their personal life. The main reason is because they still don’t totally understand their neurology yet and how that plays out with other people. That is why I recommend that people get assessments and do the testing, even if they are adults. It is the fastest way to start to understand what productivity enhancers might change your life.
I was going to list out all the things that can be used as accommodations here, but the list would be way too long. To save us all time, go to this website and scroll down the ways. They have a great little drop-down area with the lists and links.
A short story or two about accommodations in life and groups.
My mom, she is amazing, as I mentioned earlier. She is also dyslexic and recently we were doing a coaching project together and part of the project was answering some questions. All of a sudden, I watched my strong confident mom turn into a seven-year-old with test anxiety.
“I can’t do this.”, “There is not enough time.”, “I can’t get my thoughts together.”
All these years and I had never taken the time to see that she was struggling with this. Because she was never formally diagnosed with dyslexia, she doesn’t really know her weakest areas and how to best advocate for herself.
Once I realized what was happening, I spoke with the group, and we came up with a plan to better support my mom’s need for a little more time when it comes to assignments. It is a two-part plan. She will need to set aside time before our meetings to look at and focus on the worksheet and get started. The instructor will make sure to send out the worksheet ahead of time, one day or more, so we can all look it over.
Here is what is so important, doing this isn’t making anyone else’s life harder. It’s not adding more work to the instructor. It is a kind and clear communication. We will all benefit from having a little more time with the homework and being prepared for our class.
I recently had the chance to talk with a woman whose dyslexia makes it almost impossible for her to read text. She is a master of the talk to text features and the read aloud feature on computers and devices. She is so good at this that she is working on her doctorate degree.
As soon as she disclosed to me that her dyslexia were at that level, I started to correspond with her via audio clips. It was new for me to be sending my communications as sound clips. It was also easier, and it took new skills to create useful audio clips.
I am so grateful she gave me a chance to grow some new skills and support her in the ways she needs to best communicate.
The reason I wanted to bring this up is because too often, when someone says they might need accommodations, we freeze up and we think how much is that going to cost, or how much time is that going to take, or why can’t they just get with my system. That is just fear talking, because it doesn’t know how easy it can be to add in accommodations or assistive services. So, maybe next time someone brings up needing accommodations your fears won’t jump out first and instead you will remember, this might make the company better, this might make me a better person, this might be something that helps lots of people, this might be really easy to make happen, this might be fun. There are all options too.
Thank you for your time and good luck with your communication.
Business Owner, International Neurodiversity Coach, and Speaker
BEST resource online for job or workplace accommodations
Workplace accommodation ideas
You are not alone if you are a parent. There is more help for you out there than you realize. Here is one of many resources.
The first community app for parents of kids with learning and thinking differences, like ADHD and dyslexia. Here is a fun website you should check out. They have some great stories and resources.