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Accommodations in school for students with depression

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Old 01-22-2004, 01:05 PM   #1
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Question Accommodations in school for students with depression

My 16-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with depression. She is also struggling in school in some of her classes. She is quite bright, and there are no learning differences involved, but she often has trouble being motivated to do her homework, due mostly to the depression. Her therapist has suggested that we request the school conduct an evaluation under the "504" statute of the Federal education law and set up some accommodations for her to help her do better in the classes she is struggling in. We are not quite sure what kind of accommodations to ask for. For example, we could ask for more time on homework assignments, but I'm not sure this will have much of an impact as her main problem seems to be lack of motivation/ being apathetic. My question is: Have any of you high-schoolers out there (or parents of), with depression, asked for such accommodations, and if so, what accommodations worked best for you ? I realize of course that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another, but right now I am just looking for ideas. Thanks.

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Old 01-22-2004, 03:37 PM   #2
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Re: Accommodations in school for students with depression

This is a tough one, SBC. I'm hoping that others here will have better insights than I.

I've done a good bit of reading on classroom accomodations because I have a son who is *severely* ADHD. I went back to my favorite sites to see if any had any specific recommendations regarding depression and, unfortunately, I came up empty-handed.

Other than waiting to see if someone else has some good ideas, my only suggestion is this. Depression influences the way we learn in much the same way that ADD does - that is, difficulty with concentration, difficulty with organization, lack of motivation, etc. Take out the hyperactivity and they are very similiar (in fact, depressed kids are often misdiagnosed as being ADD and vice-versa). Do a google search for "adhd school accomodations" and then browse some websites for modifications commonly made for ADHD kids. Pick and choose what you think might help your daughter. If she's overwhelmed, shorter assignments might help. "Recognition" exams (multiple choice, matching, etc) as opposed to longer answer or essay exams. Being allowed to dictate her answers. Let her dictate her homework to you to write. Frequent, positive reinforcement. Preferential seating. Help with organization. Anything you can think of that would make her life easier...

I hope someone else can help us out here!

Old 01-22-2004, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: Accommodations in school for students with depression

My step-son is ADHD and has an IEP set up (individual eductation program) under the "504" law thing. He is also depressed and has emotional issues. He is in elementary school, but I imagine setting it up at any grade level would take the same process.

Basically, what happened first, was he wasn't getting work done and creating a rucus in the classroom and it was obvious he needed extra help. Then a bunch of school officials and his dad and me got together for a preliminary hearing to discuss his issues and what we hoped to do to fix them.

Then, over the course of about two months, the school officials (special ed teachers, the school counselor, etc.) met with my step-son one on one, conducted emotional tests, IQ tests and wrote up their findings.

THEN, we all met again for an official meeting to put together the IEP which would give him the special learning environment he needed.

What we found was there are many different "disability" codes a student can be put under which means they are eligible for different accomodations. My step-son was found to have emotional disabilities (depression, social interaction problems, etc) and also ADHD that effected the way he learned. It was then up to us to all decide on the code we wanted him under. Ultimately, we decided for him ADHD would be best.

Anyway, in a nutshell, I would talk to your school administrators. Start with the principal or student counselor and let them know of your concerns about your daughters learning. Ask to set up a meeting with her teachers and let them know you think she would benefit under an IEP. At the meeting you all will talk and then decide if you want to move forward with the "student study" that will determine what your daughter needs before meeting again to put it all in writing for the law. Also, beforehand you may want to get a written note from her doctor with her official diagnosis and what medications, if any, she is on.

Keep in mind it isn't about intelligence either. I know my husband was freaked out when his son needed all this stuff to just get his work in on time, but it turns out my step-son is above average intelligence after an IQ test. Bottom line, all kids are different and mental illness can effect the way they react and what motivates them.

I hope I have been of some help!!! Good luck.

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