10 Accommodations For Anxious Students In School (Part 2)

Try these following accommodations for your anxious students.

Testing conditions

Extra time on tests is a nice accommodation to alleviate the pressure of timed tests for students with high-test anxiety.

Individualized testing in a separate room away from other students is a good accommodation for those students with high anxiety as they may become anxious when other students flip to the next page on a test and feel they are not performing as well. In addition, when other students turn their tests in it may signal to the anxious student that they are not performing well.

Multiple choice is often a good choice for the anxious test taker as well as tests involving word choices/word banks to avoid the anxious child going blank and getting caught up in tons of written material.

DO NOT place a clock/timer in front of an anxious child as this will heighten their anxiety.

Have ALL students hold on to their tests until the time is up to prevent other test takers, especially those anxious ones from feeling pressured and rushed.

Give the child 10 minutes with a test before they even need to begin taking it. It will give the child a chance to relax, calm down and center themselves. However, let the extra 10 minutes be their choice. In other words, they may go ahead with the test prior to the 10 minutes. This also gives them a sense of control over the situation.

Safe person

Having a person they can go to at any time by waving a “walk-out pass” to the teacher as a signal that they are going to meet with that safe person is a good accommodations for highly anxious children having trouble sitting in class. It is a good step for those with high levels of anxiety and those students returning from a leave of school due to school phobia. This is only a step however in a process that should be grounded in a long-term plan to eventually give up the “walk-out pass”. This should be done systematically and within a framework of a Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) which your School Psychologist can implement. The idea is to work toward giving up the “walk-out pass”.

Assemblies/Lunchrooms and Crowded Hallways

A child with high anxiety may find it difficult to sit in a lunchroom, assembly or walk through crowded hallways in between classes. A good accommodation for a child having anxiety in crowded hallways is to have the child leave class a few minutes before the bell rings so that have ample time to get from one class to another without fighting the crowded hallway.

For children with lunchroom or assembly anxiety you can have the child sit near a door or exit so that they can leave at any time. These accommodations of course are only the beginning step in a process that should be mapped out in a Behavioral Intervention Plan, which has a target of no accommodations.

The child should not be left with the accommodations alone with no expectation of improvement. Many strategies involving gradual exposure work well in these types of situations. Remember embracing and exposing oneself to the fear -over and over again- is to conquer fear.

Extra time for work

Give the anxious child extra time to complete missed work and to make up tests when absent from school. Assign a buddy to copy notes for them while they are absent from school.

Homework expectations

Anxious children tend to spend a lot of extra time on homework trying to get it just right. Have the teacher give a timeframe for how long it should take the kids to do their homework. Work toward a goal of staying within 10% of that timeframe. If the child is unable to complete the homework in that timeframe the teacher may scale back the amount of work given so that the child is not so overwhelmed.

(Source credit- worrywise.com, 2013)

Almost all accommodations should have a final goal of eliminating the accommodation all together. The idea is to gradually expose and reclaim freedom from anxiety.

(You can check last weeks post for more accommodations)