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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top 20 ADHD Accommodations and Modifications That Work

What strategies, accommodations, and teaching resources do you need to meet the needs of all students, including students with autism, special education needs, 504 Plans, ESL, and, really, all students? 

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a neurobiological disorder. Typically children diagnosed with ADHD have developmentally inappropriate behavior, including poor attention skills, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. 

 While there may be disagreement among professionals regarding the incidence rate and even the actual diagnosis, all teachers will agree that all students are different and a single approach or strategy will not work for each and every student. Fair is not always equal.

According to the CDC, millions of United States children have been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • The estimated number of children aged 3–17 years ever diagnosed with ADHD, according to a national survey of parents is 6 million (9.8%) using data from 2016-2019. This number includes:
    • 3–5 years: 265,000 (2%)
    • 6–11 years 2.4 million (10%)
    • 12–17 years: 3.3 million (13%).
  • Boys (13%) are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls (6%).
  • Black, non-Hispanic children and White, non-Hispanic children are more often diagnosed with ADHD (12% and 10%, respectively), than Hispanic children (8%) or Asian, non-Hispanic children (3%).
  • Estimates for ADHD vary by state: 
    • ADHD diagnosis among children aged 3–17 years: State estimates vary from 6% to 16%.
    • Any ADHD treatment among children with current ADHD: State estimates vary from 58% to 92%
      • ADHD medication: State estimates vary from 38% to 81%
      • ADHD behavior treatment: State estimates vary from 39% to 62%
Differentiation is the key to any successful classroom.  In this case, successful is defined as all students learning to their highest potential. 

Top 20 ADHD Accommodations and Modifications That Work

Top 20 ADHD Accommodations for Students with Special Education Needs

Click HERE to view my Promoting Success store on TPT.

Note: This blog post contains resources from my TpT store and Amazon Associate store.


teaching resources and strategies for ADHD students

Some kids (diagnosis or not) have more difficulties focusing and maintaining attention to the task. Of these students, some may have a 504 Plan with accommodations or an IEP (Individualized Education Program) with accommodations and/or modifications. In both of these cases, it is the teacher's legal obligation to follow the plan. 

 It is important to remember the following:
  • Students need to be specifically taught how to utilize the accommodations.
  • Objective data must be collected regarding the effectiveness of each accommodation (progress monitoring).
  • Ongoing evaluation is essential.

504 Accommodations for Elementary Kids PDF

Here are some accommodation ideas for any student to increase time on task:
  1. Written and posted daily schedules and assignments 
  2. At least one day notice (when possible) for schedule changes 
  3. Consistent schedules (as much as possible) 
  4. Allowing time for movement during classroom "seat" time (all students benefit from this!) 
  5. Supplement verbal directions with visual instructions (picture cues, demonstration, etc.) 
  6. Chunk assignments or test questions with breaks and positive feedback in between 
  7. Develop and private signal or cue to the student (imagine if the principal called a teacher out when not giving 100% at a staff meeting :) 
  8. Examine expectations and compare data with same age peers. Sometimes our expectations for students with ADHD behaviors begin to exceed our expectations for other students. 
  9. Provide opportunities for hands-on learning 
  10. Allow the student to stand while working or listening 
  11. Use a yoga balance disc (wiggle seat) on the student's chair 
  12. Use transition activities, songs, bell, timer, etc., so the student can clearly identify a change in activity 
  13. Provide cue (1-2 minute notifications) before an activity is about to end or begin 
  14. Color is very effective in getting attention. Make use of colored dry-erase pens on white boards, colored overhead pens for transparencies and overhead projectors, and colored paper to highlight key words, phrases, steps to computation problems, spelling patterns, etc. 
  15. Be aware of competing sounds in your room environment (such as noisy heaters or air conditioning unit.) 
  16. Alter the way students are called on to avoid calling on students one at a time. Instead, have students respond by "telling their partner," writing down or drawing their response, or other alternative way. 
  17. Be careful when always seating the student by the teacher. This may actually increase student anxiety thus increasing inappropriate behavior. 
  18. Read aloud test questions. Although the student may have average or above average reading ability, have to questions read aloud helps maintain focus. 
  19. Provide outlines of the lecture and discussion. Student discusses and share with other students (thus reading, discussing and learning by doing!) 
  20. Allow headphones to drown out distractions. When I worked at an alternative high school, many of the students scored higher on tests and assignments when listening to music. I had two rules. I had to listen to ensure it was music. The other rule was the student was the only one who should be able to hear the music through the headphones - not the entire room! 
(NOTE: For 175 accommodation ideas, please CLICK HERE to see this resource in my TPT store.)

Key steps to implementing any accommodation: 
  • Select only 1-2 to implement at at time.
  • Teach the accommodation to the student.
  • Determine how you will know if it is successful - target goals.
  • Collect data over time (Not just a couple of days - remember sometimes the behavior gets worse before it gets better)
  • Evaluate progress
  • Make team decisions to keep, change, or try something else! 

There is one resource that allows you to easily provide many of these accommodations....

Task cards! 

While these weren't really a thing when I was teaching, I so wish they would have been. Let's break it down based on the checklist above.

How to ensure accommodations with task cards:

#4 Allowing time for movement during classroom "seat" time (all students benefit from this!) 
You could play a game of SCATTER. In this game, you give half of the students a question card and the other half an answer card. Students must scatter (mingle) around the room to find the partner with their correct answer. This also encourages content-rich discussions. 

Students may play a game of floor Tic Tac Toe. When a task card is answered correctly, the student may toss a bean back onto the game board which is taped on the floor.

To play SCOOT, simply hang the task cards along a wall or set one on each desk. Students record answers by moving to the next card when a designated sound or motion cues the movement or in their own time.

#6 Chunk assignments or questions.
The purpose of assignments is to check for student understanding. Some students may need to do 30 problems; however, some students could adequately show this by answering five carefully selected problems. Task cards make this super easy to chunk and assign a few or many.

#9 Provide opportunities for hands-on learning.
Many times task cards could easily be paired with manipulatives, such as money manipulatives, fraction pieces, actual clocks, number lines, etc.

#10 Allow students to stand while listening or working.
As mentioned in the first example, task cards allow for standing and movement.

#12 Use transition activities.
Task cards are a natural transition to stay on task. When one card is completed, a natural cue is to find and complete the next card.

#14 Color is effective in getting attention.
Most task cards are in color. Yes, it cost more to print in color. However, you may laminate and use the cards year and after. For added interest, some students could use colorful dry erase markers to write the answers directly on the laminated cards.

For more ideas on how to use task cards in your classroom, please click HERE.

How to use task cards in your classroom

I love offering teachers free samples to try before you buy. Please visit my store for 270 free teaching resources, or click on any of the following:

Free Kindergarten 1st grade place value games

2nd 3rd grade free telling time games activities SCOOT

Free 2nd 3rd Grade Counting Money activities games

Comparing Fractions Task Cards Common Core

Free 5th 6th grade Math Order of Operations games activities

free middle school math positive and negative numbers task cards


If you are looking for additional accommodations and modifications for your students, please click HERE

 You will download a checklist of over 175 ideas for students with autism, in special education or with a 504 Plan. It will be a great addition for your teaching resources and for your IEP meetings.

The categories include:
  • Textbooks and Materials
  • Setting/Environment
  • Presentation of Content
  • Tests and Grades
  • Student Response
In addition, you will receive nine types of special education adaptations with real life classroom examples, definitions of terms and data collection sheets.

Special Education Accommodations and Modifications Checklist



You may also want to read this blog post:

behavior modification strategies for the classroom


You may also like these great resources on Amazon:

ADHA Workbook for Kids

executive skills for add adhd students teaching strategies



Click HERE to view my Promoting Success store on TPT.

Shelly Anton is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to ** This means there are Amazon affiliate links in these blog posts. This does not mean you pay a dime more when you purchase a product through the link. It just means I am trying to save you valuable teacher time by making it easier for you to find teaching resources for your students, and I earn a few cents for my research and time. Thank you for all you do for kids!

Teacher Strategies for ADHD students 504 Accommodations Modifications IEP