Anonymous asks:

What are some good accommodations for high school age student diagnosed with bipolar depression?

In Topics: Special education, Special needs, Depression
> 60 days ago



Feb 10, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Dear Anonymous,

Some common accommodations for students with mood disorders include the following:

1). In discussion with the students, a "quiet place" in the classroom where they can go to relax when they are feeling overwhelmed could be allowed. Similarly, some students may wish to have a place outside of the classroom (such as the nurse's office) where they can quiet their intense feelings. In either scenario, the student would have a "free pass" to go to their quiet place, in or outside, of the classroom when they deem it necessary. The student and teacher can agree on a signal from the student (perhaps something left on their desk) that communicates to the teacher their intention to use this resource.

2). The school and parents may agree on a daily/weekly communication system in which the student's teacher shares updates on the student's academics, mood, and behavior. A simple system in which the teacher can quickly check off items on a mood chart or email the parents is recommended. This information will help parents to track the student's progress and keep track of medication effects (if the student is taking meds).

3). Some students may benefit from testing and homework accommodations. For instance, some students may prefer to take their tests in another setting of the school because of problems with distraction. Some students also benefit from having someone read the test questions to them and allowing them to respond verbally rather than in writing.

4). Also, medications for bipolar disorder are considered to have pretty strong "side effects." Depending upon the impact on the student, a student's IEP might include accommodations allowing the student to keep a water bottle by their desk, use the restroom at their discretion, etc.

There are many other kinds of accommodations, too, for students that may address memory issues, distraction, etc. When creating the IEP, parents should work closely with the school teachers and administration, as well as mental health experts involved in the student's case.

Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
JustAsk Expert

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