Special Education Accommodations: Finding the Right Fit


Let’s talk for a few minutes about finding the right fit.

Let’s say you are going shopping for a new pair of jeans.

When you are looking for a good pair of jeans, you want them to fit just right.

You want the ones that aren’t so tight that you can’t move, but you don’t want them so loose that they fall off of you either!

When they feel good they last for a while.


Special Education Accommodations: Finding the Right Fit  

There are over 500 special education accommodations that your child can possibly have. Fitting those accommodations to a student’s needs is a lot like finding a good pair of jeans.

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We need to be sure that whatever accommodations we choose to put in place, they are “just the right fit.”

Let’s look at a couple of different fictional scenarios.


The “Too Tight” Fit  

We want the best for our children, so of course, we want them to have everything they need to be successful. 

Sometimes, however, when we add too many accommodations, they restrict or hold our child back. Here is an example:

Anna, a fifth-grade student, can…

  1.  Read a grade-level text
  2. Has good focus
  3. Works very slowly on math assignments

The team decided on these special education accommodations:

  1. Give Anna extended time
  2. Read text aloud to her. 
  3. Small group testing. 

When Anna took a benchmark math test, she became very frustrated by the text being read aloud to her and being in a small group. She started to rush through the test and failed. 

This is an excellent example of accommodations being too restrictive the first time. 

She did not need all of the accommodations she had in place. They were holding her back and causing undue stress and anxiety on her. The team met again and changed her accommodations. 

On the next test, her only accommodation was extended time. 

She tested in a regular classroom setting, read the text silently to herself, but had as much time as she needed. 

Anna excelled on the test this time because her special education accommodations were “just the right” fit! 


The “Too Loose” Fit   

 Then we have the other end of the spectrum where the special education accommodations aren’t restrictive enough for the child to flourish. This next example is about Mark. 

Mark is a third-grader who is… 

  1. Reading on a kindergarten level.
  2. Has difficulties with fine motor skills (handwriting and cutting).
  3. Been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 

The IEP team at Mark’s school met and decided that he needed to be read aloud testing in a small group setting for math. 

During his first benchmark assessment, Mark did not do as well as expected. He was…

  1. Very distracted by the other students in the room
  2. Could not focus on what was being read to him.
  3. Could not fill in the bubbles on the answer sheet due to his shaky hands. 

The team quickly realized that Mark needed more restrictive accommodations. 

They met again, changed his accommodations to…

  1.  One-on-one testing in a separate room.
  2. Read aloud testing.
  3. Mark was allowed to mark his answers in the test book. 

On his next test, Mark did much better! He was able to focus, listen to the test being read aloud, and mark his answers.  

How do we get the “just right” fit with Special Education Accommodations? 

The best way to make the best decision about accommodations is to know your child’s needs and advocate for them in the IEP meetings

Also, I suggest lots of practice with different accommodations to be sure what the best fit would be for your child. 

If you are having trouble finding the right accommodations, don’t give up! With a little time and patience, you will be able to see what works best for your child. 

Need a little help with their education… we offer one-on-one special education tutoring that can be done from anywhere you are! Why? Because our special education experts conduct their sessions online!

Get started with a free consultation!


Special Education Accommodations: Finding the Right Fit
Special education accommodations are not one size fits all. We as parents have to figure out how much accommodations are enough without being too much and then advocate for their needs in an IEP. This article, Special Education Accommodations: Finding the Right Fit, gives parents concrete examples of this process.

Picture of Luke Dalien

Luke Dalien

Author Luke Dalien has spent his life dedicated to helping others break the chains of normal so that they may live fulfilled lives. When he’s not busy creating books aimed to bring a smile to the faces of children, he and his amazing wife, Suzie, work tirelessly on their joint passion; helping children with special needs reach their excellence. Together, they founded an online tutoring and resource company, SpecialEdResource.com. Poetry, which had been a personal endeavor of Luke’s for the better part of two decades, was mainly reserved for his beautiful wife, and their two amazing children, Lily and Alex. With several “subtle nudges” from his family, Luke finally decided to share his true passion in creativity with the world through his first children’s book series, “The Adventures Of The Silly Little Beaver."


  1. My daughter is Autistic and just started preschool. Working on an IEP and getting her what she needs is all new to us.

  2. It has been tricky to figure out what accommodations really work for my son. It has been a process but his teachers are great this year.

  3. This is great for parents having to make a decision on meeting the needs of their special ed child. Thank you for sharing.

  4. It can be so difficult finding the right fit for kids, but especially ones that have a learning disability! We homeschool and it took me quite some time to find what works for my ADHD son.

  5. I hadn’t really thought of having too many accommodations as a problem since having more is always better right? Not in this case though. I can see now how special education accommodations need to be just the right fit.

  6. I feel like it can be so difficult to find the best for the first time around but always looking for the perfect fit is what we need for all kids.

  7. Very interesting read. We will likely need accommodations for our 2E middle child. We’re fortunate to have been picked for the lottery at an IB school that isn’t rigid with its academic focus, but instead focuses on personal growth. I’m still quite nervous, though.

  8. This could not have come at a better time. I’m getting ready to meet for the third time about my son’s accommodations which have not been followed proactively at all this year. It’s sad to see him start to shut down and feel like everyone is against him. Our (charter) school is lacking GREATLY in resources especially with SPED. We are in a state where the education is lacking, in general. I don’t even think the IEP and 504 coordinators are educated in special education. I was told by other SPED coordinators that my son should have an IEP because he needs goals in executive functioning tasks, engaging in learning and behavior. However, at his school, they use IEP for academic support and 504 for behavior. Is that correct? And the 504 is very loosely followed if followed at all by his teacher (4th grade). She waits until he’s having issues then sometimes does what’s on the plan. She’s very nice though and handles his behavior better than many other teachers he’s had.

    He’s 2E – gifted/ADHD. His grades just started to suffer this quarter because he’s very uninterested in the content. He rather read or build structures. We are switching him to a more challenging/STEM based school next year but we need to get through these last 7 months at his current school!

  9. Making sure we have the appropriate education for our children is so important. Thank you for sharing this, I have a nephew who is special needs so I am going to be sharing this with my sister. Thank you.

  10. Great article! It is important to find the best fit for all the special needs kids. Every child is different and has unique needs.

  11. This is a great resource. My daughter is in preschool now but I’m looking for the right fit for her when she starts kindergarten.

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