* Thrice exceptional

The third time’s the charm!  Why has it taken three schools before finding one that meets the needs of a twice exceptional student in 4th grade?  “We don’t do school this way.”  “He’s smart enough to do the work but lacks motivation.”  “His parents want too much from us!”   This student does have exceptional parents.  They are exceptionally patient, exceptionally frustrated, and exceptionally single-minded.  Check out my reblog of another parent who has endured this battle for even longer!  Let’s STOP the madness!frustration
How do we start helping 2e kids?  Here are some helpful mods for 2e kids with dyslexia.  None of the following modifications/accommodations requires money (unless there’s no access to a computer), so even without an IEP, a 504 plan could include all these helpful strategies.
Reading 
Use of audio books  
Not required to read orally in front of class or small group 
Preview of content vocabulary prior to reading, when feasible 
Writing fatigue 
Manuscript style instead of cursive (for smaller amounts of writing) 
Chromebook for keyboarding and spell check (for longer amounts of writing) 
Extra time as needed 
Writing aids 
Word lists for specific writing assignments  
Use of graphic organizers 
Use of digital resources for writing and researching  
Spelling 
Modified spelling assignments 
No points lost for spelling errors in graded work 
Reminders of applicable spelling rules 
Worksheets entailing significant writing 
Sufficient lines / space for writing 
Dictation to scribe 
Can use Chromebook, then print and attach 
Fatigue reduction 
-Not required to transcribe (ie, copy text from board/written sources; 
instead, can take photo or receive hard copy) 
Fill-in-the blank worksheets not required if just finding answers 
(ie, prioritize energy toward higher level thinking) 
Reduction of memorization wherever possible 
Homework modifications 
Can reduce by approx half, in whatever way would be best for learning content, 
if too fatigued 
Can ask parents to scribe, or discuss orally with parents, if too fatigued 
Extended time for projects as needed 
 Discussions 
Prep time and forewarning during group discussions 
Called on only when raises hand (if discussing assignments that have been modified) 
Access to any written brainstorming that occurs in group discussion 
Tapping strengths 
Option to read and write on topics of interest whenever feasible  
Opportunities for analyzing and evaluating information 
Opportunities for making predictions and connections 
Tests 
Extra time as needed 
Dictation to scribe for essay-style tests 
Receive teacher notes and completed study guides whenever feasible 
Standardized tests 
Mark in book 
Extra time 
Read aloud 

* Rubric for school assemblies

In response to a question about how to support special needs kids in school assemblies, I have created the following rubric.  Before using it, though, you need to role-play and discuss the relevant issues.  For some kids with sensory disorders, an assembly can be a nightmare of sound, action, and bodies.  Most kids already know what aspects of an assembly are the most distressing. The assembly’s topic, length, volume, and visuals can all create problems.  Many presenters begin by greeting the audience and then ratcheting up “attentiveness” by repeating, “I can’t hear you!”  At that point, maybe 200 kids are screaming at the top of their lungs, so my student with sensory overload is already in dire straits.  Consider these issues:

  • Seating: Try to place your student near an adult who will be responsive to your student’s needs, including leaving the assembly if needed.  Seating near the end of a row is also helpful for quick exits and for reducing the number of people clustered around your kid.
  • Topic: Consider an alternative, non-punitive activity if you know the assembly topic will trigger serious distress.  I’ve had kids who were freaked out by scary puppets and “evil” characters.  With their parents’ approval, they could skip assemblies with a fairy tale focus.  You may include that modification on IEPs as necessary.
  • Volume:  A small pair of foam ear plugs may help; check with parents first.
  • Preview: Most assembly presenters provide a description of their performance, including an online site.  Students who know what’s coming are at an advantage.  In fact, it’s remarkable how little any kids can describe an assembly.  We’ve often discussed them during lunch bunches and I’ve been amazed at how little the “typical learners” retained.
  • Debriefing:  In light of the item above, follow up with your kids by eliciting details and sequence of events.  Like a good lawyer, don’t ask questions for which you don’t know the answer!  It’s best to attend the assembly yourself, if possible.

Remember that rubrics should be individualized to meet the needs of specific students; I wrote this one with a certain kid in mind.assemblies rubric