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Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable Adjustments

Reasonable adjustments are changes that your school or family makes to remove or reduce a disadvantage because of your neurodivergent needs around routine and change.  You can ask for reasonable adjustments to be made. 

In the Classroom

The Importance of Movement

Determining student energy levels will allow you to decide if you need to use energising movements, calming/organising movements or a combination of both.

High energy students will need Calming/organising  activities.

Low energy students will benefit from alerting activities.

Class with a mix of energy levels – Follow a particular sequence of movement activities. Start with a short alerting activity and follow with a calming/ organising activity. This helps everyone to finish in a calm alert state.


Movement breaks can be helpful for the child who has difficulty concentrating. Try to incorporate these in a regular, structured way e.g. once the child has completed part of a task set by the teacher like the 3 sums or sentences discussed previously, the teacher could suggest a movement break while she sets out the next part of the child’s work. This can be repeated as often as required by the child.

Another way to give the child movement breaks are to send them on a message or give them a job within the class, such as handing out books.

The whole class could be offered movement breaks between tasks and some of the following activities could be used. These activities are designed to provide enhanced sensory input for the children, which should be easy to carry out within a school setting:

  • Walking on tiptoes
  • Walking on heels
  • Wall push ups
  • Desk push ups
  • Chair push ups
  • Hand pushes

Allowing the child to have something appropriate to fidget with e.g. a rubber or a pencil with a ‘toy’ on the end is often extremely beneficial to help them to focus and listen.  The use of an air filled wedge shaped cushion, which allows the child some movement in their seat or on the floor can also be beneficial.

Energy factors

Sleep– If a child seems to be tired in class it may be helpful to find out if they have good sleep habits and an appropriate bedtime.  Parents may be grateful for help or advice.

Eat for Energy– Many students tend to skip breakfast, which leads to feeling tired and having little to no energy.  This may be by choice or due to family circumstances.  Breakfast Clubs may be a solution to this.  Consider what the child has for lunch- do energy levels flag again in the afternoon.

Drink water– Water is key to a happy and healthy body and dehydration can lead to lack of energy and loss of focus. The more water you drink throughout the day the more active and alert you’ll feel.

Limit your Caffeine Intake– Caffeine is certainly a good way to boost your energy, but you don’t want to overdo it. Keep in mind, drinking too much caffeine will make you feel worse.  Young children may be consuming caffeine via colas and chocolate.

Exercise– Keeping active is a good way to boost your energy. Not everyone has time to fit a full workout into the average school day but make sure that children get the chance to run around at break and playtimes.

Children who are exhausted by “masking”

Autistic children “mask” because they feel the need to hide or mask their autistic traits in public, for example by suppressing the urge to stim. It can be important to factor times into your child’s day for things like stimming, somewhere they feel comfortable and able to do so.

Reasonable adjustments at school for children diagnosed with ADHD

Some of these ideas may be helpful for children and young people who don’t have a diagnosis or are under assessment.

We can achieve a lot for a child with ADHD if we put some simple things into place. We should look to see what works for them, and even if it does mean doing something we haven’t done before, try it, let’s see!

The many distractions, opportunities for the mind to wander and a setting where the brightest child can hide and pass for ‘average’ also builds anxiety and reduces self-esteem. The considerations we outline in this paper are specifically offered with professional, medical consideration to a child with ADHD’s needs, and we would encourage you to put these into place.

Recommended reasonable adjustments in the classroom setting:

In the non-exam setting, we would recommend the following protocols are in place for any student with ADHD:

  • Deliberately and frequently, bring the student back on track regularly, this should be an encouragement, and should not single out any student for embarrassment or inappropriate isolation.
  • Minimise distractions – try and avoid seating next to a window, a door or near the bookshelf/equipment area, where children often visit and chatter, or where they have visual distractions.
  • A visual timetable will be very effective, colour coding books to lessons also has a positive effect on organisation skills and avoids lost or forgotten books or other study materials.
  • Provide additional time to finish class work, the student will have spent some of the lesson distracted. This will help build confidence and self-esteem, they should still get breaks and social time at school, even though work may be incomplete. Not completing work should not be a punishment, nor should it be seen as one.
  • Ascertain and confirm the students understanding of the task, rather than saying ‘do you know what to do?’ This will give a clearer idea of how much of the instruction they managed to pay attention to.
  • Allow additional, regular breaks facilitating the student to refocus, which in turn will help fatigue, focusing of the mind and concentration. It is important to remember that a short break to refocus and alter the immediate brain chemistry, whilst a loss of immediate contact time, will give more focus on return and therefore be beneficial in terms of contact time and associated results.
  • Students with ADHD can literally become lost during transition from lessons, due to them being easily distracted or not focused on the immediate task. They require assistance getting changed for PE or moving through school from lesson to lesson. A mentor, or colour coded routes can help with this.
  • Above all else, the accommodation that will have most benefit for students with ADHD is for their failings to be seen as challenges they are striving to overcome. Unlike neurotypical children, children with ADHD will probably not be making a choice to falter, this will be a symptom of their impairment. Protecting an already vulnerable self-esteem is paramount to guarantee future engagement in social activities and good education.
  • Have a secret signal for the child to tell you they are overwhelmed, we recommend a card, red on one side and green on the other in a clear pencil case. All that has to happen is the child turns it over to the relevant colour as a message to the teacher…simple!

Recommended reasonable adjustments in the pupil’s exam setting:

  • In exams the student should be in a separate room, anything less than this provides external and distracting stimulus that will prevent the student achieving their potential in the exam in question.
  • Give instructions when you know they are listening – they may not give you good eye contact, which is ok, but check they are listening, they will find this difficult, and the instructions will need re-enforcing.
  • Children with ADHD require extra time in exams, this is an indisputable fact, and anything less than an adequate provision is setting the child up to fail. Students with ADHD struggle to conceptually manage time, and as well as an extra provision, regular updates on time and / or a specific ADHD relevant time management clock should be provided.
  • You should target to provide 25% more time in exams.
  • Exams should be targeted in the period of the day when the student’s medication is optimal, this is rarely the first or last thing in the day. If you are not aware of the efficacy of the student’s medication, please consult with the family, or notify us and we will furnish you with this information.
  • Use proximity – the student should be at the front of the class, closest to the teacher, and if another child is present in the exam room, they should preferably be a child who remains on task and is quiet and less distracting.
  • The supervising teacher should be prepared to recognise when the student’s mind has wandered and bring them back to the task, in a manner conducive to bringing out the best in them.

Parenting adjustments for a high energy child

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with an active child, there are a few things you can incorporate into their lifestyle to help them burn off their extra energy.

Set limits. While it can be difficult to set limits with high-energy children, it is important—for both you and your little love bug. Speak calmly and slowly. Make your expectations known (and clear) in advance and be transparent. Let them know there are times when they can be more active than others, and before a situation arises, remind them about what is expected. School, for example, warrants focus. Play, on the other hand, is a time when they can “act out” and be themselves. But you will encourage and foster their exuberance and creativity at all times in age- and setting-appropriate manners.

Offer unstructured playtime. While certain types of play can help your little one develop their social and fine motor skills, planned playtime can be hard, particularly for active children. High-energy children tend to have a hard time focusing, for example. Getting through structured activities can be a challenge. For this reason, you should try introducing unstructured play. This way, they engage in activities that interest them and spend more time and energy playing than letting it get built up and become a source of frustration.

Encourage physical activity. Physical activity is great for high-energy children, as long as there isn’t a medical reason they shouldn’t engage in it. Why? From running and jumping to skipping rope and climbing trees, being active can help your little one focus. It also helps your child burn off excess energy and can be a healthy part of their day-to-day routine.

Alter your expectations. If your child has ADHD, an autism spectrum disorder, or developmental delays—or just has a lot of energy developing realistic, appropriate expectations can make your life a lot less frustrating and allow you to enjoy parenting more. Additionally, keep in mind which situations tend to lead to more excitement and activity for your child, and go into these situations prepared.

Not enough exercise or sleep

As a parent, you’ve likely experienced the insanity that is a burst of unexplained energy, swiftly followed by a meltdown with your toddler when they miss their nap or if your child stays up late. Being overtired can push them past their normal limits for a short time, but once their energy crashes, they crash hard. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep for their age group.

The opposite can also be true. For some children who don’t have an outlet for pent-up energy for an extended time, once they do get going, they’ll keep going like the energizer bunny. While too much exercise too close to bedtime can impact their ability to fall asleep, make sure your child is getting plenty of time to move.

What Are the Best Toys for High-Energy Children?

While there is no singular toy that is best for high-energy children, some are better than others—and the best toys give them an outlet for their energy. Here are a few types of toys.

Toys that encourage movement. Whether it’s bouncing, biking, jumping, or rocking, toys that get your child moving and grooving are great, as they help them release energy and stress. Bonus points if these are things that can be used inside and outside, like rocking horses, crawl tunnels, or even indoor/outdoor trampolines.

Fidget toys. The market is hot right now for fidget toys, and there is something for everyone. Giving your child something to hold their attention and allowing them to have different sensory experiences is a great outlet for their energy.


Parenting adjustments for a low energy child

Time off and rest/relaxation

Time off from school, homework and other high-stress activities is key to managing stress levels. Ensuring time for activities/interests that re-energise and promote relaxation is key. This could be connecting with family and friends or enjoying hobbies or interests. 

Time without having to mask

Autistic children “mask” because they feel the need to hide or mask their autistic traits in public, for example by suppressing the urge to stim. It can be important to factor times into your child’s day for things like stimming, somewhere they feel comfortable and able to do so.

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