Sensory Processing Disorders and 504 Accommodations
If your child is struggling with sensory processing disorders, they may be eligible for an accommodation called a 504 Plan. A 504 Plan is a legal document that states what accommodations your child will need in order to function at school. These accommodations may include eating lunch at a different location, additional time for tests, or other specific requirements. These accommodations are often based on the child’s age and development.
SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER is not listed in the DSM-5
Despite its wide prevalence, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is not officially recognized as a mental disorder in the DSM-5. It is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official manual for diagnosing mental illnesses and cognitive disabilities. Consequently, pediatricians are recommended not to use SPD as a stand-alone diagnosis, but to consider other possible causes, such as autism spectrum disorder, or other developmental issues.
The APA has declined to recognize the disorder as a diagnosis, despite the fact that more than half of its diagnostic criteria describe symptoms of SPD. Furthermore, the DSM 5 fails to recognize sensory-based disorders, such as ADHD and autism, as legitimate medical conditions. This is one of the reasons why it has been ignored as a diagnosis by doctors. Despite the lack of a formal diagnostic code, however, most of the individual components of SPD can be identified in the ICD-10.
As the name suggests, sensory processing disorder is a neurological condition that affects the way the brain processes sensory information. It is usually characterized by problems processing a person’s hearing, touch, smell, and taste. A person with SPD can be sensitive to even the most common sensory stimuli and overreact. Symptoms are most commonly seen in children, though adults can also experience SPD. Those with SPD may have symptoms, such as sensitivity to loud noises, but they may hide these symptoms or mask the condition.
It is a neurological dysfunction
A child with sensory processing disorder may be eligible for special accommodations under Section 504, the Americans with Disabilities Act. A disability is defined by the government as a physical or mental impairment that prevents the child from fully participating in an activity or major life function. In many cases, a 504 plan may be the best option. These plans are less detailed than an IEP, but may still provide accommodations that help the child succeed in school.
Despite not specifically referencing Sensory Processing Disorder in the IDEA, many children may be eligible for special education. The term Other Health Impairment (OHI) refers to medical conditions that affect a child’s strength, vitality, or alertness. A child with a sensory processing disorder, however, may experience heightened alertness or sensitivity to certain types of stimuli. Ultimately, a sensory processing disorder can cause a child to experience heightened alertness or sluggishness, which can make it difficult for him or her to attend and focus.
When a child has SPD, the brain processes sensory information incorrectly. These children are over or undersensitive to sensory information, causing them to respond inappropriately. They may have trouble distinguishing between different textures, or they may vomit at certain foods or sounds. Regardless of their age, sensory processing disorders can be very difficult to deal with and often lead to challenging behavior. These disorders tend to run in families, and a genetic problem may be the cause.
It can affect a child’s behavior
A child with sensory processing disorder may have difficulty sitting still, pinching objects, and erasing paper. This may also affect their attention span and ability to transition from one activity to another. Sensory delays can cause a variety of other behavioral problems. In order to understand the best ways to support a child with a sensory processing disorder, parents must learn how to identify sensory triggers and how to make modifications.
Visual discrimination problems are often the first sign of a sensory problem. These children may have difficulty differentiating shapes or similar letters and may confuse them with their surroundings. These children may also have difficulties finding information on a page. Consequently, they may skip lines or read backward. For example, they may be unable to distinguish colors or identify shapes without the use of a ruler.
Although there is no specific reference to Sensory Processing Disorder in the IDEA, many children with Sensory Processing Disorder are eligible for special education under Other Health Impairment. Other Health Impairment, also known as OHIP, refers to medical conditions that limit a person’s strength, vitality, or alertness. Some children with Sensory Processing Disorder also exhibit heightened alertness. In addition, sensory processing disorder may interfere with a child’s ability to attend and focus.
It can affect a child’s participation in school
While a child with a sensory processing disorder may be able to thrive in school, he or she may need specialized accommodations to ensure he or she can participate fully. There are many ways to provide sensory-sensitive accommodations, including modifying the environment. However, a 504 plan is a formal document that details the accommodations that the child will need to be successful in school. This includes providing extra time during tests and lunch breaks.
Children with SPD need frequent brain breaks and sensory stimulation times throughout the day. A child’s environment should allow for a balance between respecting his or her triggers and exposing him or her to as many different types of sensory stimulation as possible. A classroom should have a quiet area where a child with sensory processing disorder can regroup with a book or ‘fidgets’ that he or she enjoys.
A 504 accommodation should provide the same modifications and supports that are provided in an IEP. For example, a child may require a separate testing room or a longer time for a test. They may also need a way to record their answers. In addition to accommodations, a child may need to copy notes, have a written explanation, or have a visual explanation of the instructions.
It can affect a child’s participation in sports
The Section 504 regulations require school districts to provide “Free Appropriate Public Education” (FAPE) to qualified students with disabilities. FAPE refers to a student’s access to regular or special education, as well as related aids and services, that meet the individual needs of the student. Students with sensory processing disorders have abnormalities in the way their nervous systems process sensory input.
Other children with sensory processing disorder have difficulty erasing paper, pinching, or slamming objects. They also may have difficulty sitting still or transitioning activities. Those with sensory processing disorders can benefit from a 504 accommodation. Learning new sports skills and rules slowly and using visual images may help them overcome sensory processing challenges. If a child is unable to master new skills or rules right away, he or she may lose interest in playing sports.
In addition to extra time for academic assignments and services to help the student organize and plan, school districts may have other criteria for a student to participate in an activity. However, those criteria cannot be discriminatory. Moreover, school districts cannot prevent a child with a sensory processing disorder from participating in sports simply because of a disability. However, if a child with sensory processing disorder has a 504 accommodation, this does not mean they cannot participate in the sport or activity.
It can affect a child’s test scores
A child with sensory processing disorder may be oversensitive to certain scents, textures, or sounds. They may also gag and avoid certain foods. This disorder may interfere with a child’s ability to learn, focus, or even perform on certain tests. As a result, parents should make sure that they understand the disorder’s effects on a child’s ability to perform. Parents should consider how sensory processing affects the child’s test scores.
If your child has a sensory processing disorder, you may be able to receive accommodations in school. A 504 plan outlines the accommodations that are necessary to accommodate the child’s needs, including eating lunch elsewhere or having extra time to complete tests. These accommodations will be specified in the child’s IEP and implemented at school. Despite the challenges posed by sensory processing disorder, your child can thrive in school with a little extra help.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not specifically mention Sensory Processing Disorder, but many children with SPD qualify for special education under the Other Health Impairment category. Other Health Impairment includes all conditions that cause a child to have limited strength, vitality, or alertness. However, children with Sensory Processing Disorder can qualify for special education under the IDEA, because they are likely to have learning issues. A child with sensory processing disorder can struggle to focus and comprehend social cues and can experience difficulties in school.