Accommodations for Children with Special Needs

by | Nov 21, 2022 | News

Children with disabilities sometimes have different needs when it comes to learning and development that require additional attention. There are three main types of plans in place to help children and their families get the care they need: IEPs, IFSPs, and 504s. While they all have the same common goal, each plan differs slightly in the way that services are provided.


An IEP, or an Individualized Education Program, is an educational plan made for a child with a disability ages 3-21. The details of the plan and the specialized instruction that the child will receive are determined by the school and the child’s parents in an IEP meeting. The document is a binding contract under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), so the school is legally required to provide the services agreed upon. The goal is to help the student get the most from their education in the least restrictive environment possible. While the services provided are unique to the individual student’s needs, some common accommodations include modified testing environments, speech-to-text software, and note-takers.


IFSP stands for Individualized Family Service Plan. The services involved in an IFSP extend beyond just the child and focus on what resources the family needs as well. The plan is provided to a child with disabilities that has qualified for early intervention, and it will take effect from infancy through the age of 2. IFSPs address developmental delays before the child is thrust into a formal educational environment. Under IDEA, services are to be provided in the natural environment, which is typically at home. Some common assistance may include medical, nutritional, and psychological services.


504s are another type of educational plan that takes place in schools, but they are not a part of IDEA; the term instead refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. They are usually less intensive than IEPs, as there is no legal requirement for what they should include. Typically, a 504 plan accounts for assistance in the general classroom, such as additional time for assignments, breaks in instruction, or supplemental aids while testing. Unlike IEPs, a 504 plan does not need to be updated each year. Students can continue to receive services through college.

Plans Compared

The main difference between IEPs and IFSPs is the age at which children qualify for each plan. Once a child ages out of an IFSP, if services are still needed, they will either transition into an IEP or a 504. If the child needs specific and specialized instruction, they will be set up with an IEP. If the child does not need specialized instruction, but rather accommodations and adjustments to instruction, they will receive a 504. While 504s still guarantee support and accommodations, they do not include targeted goals and objectives as IEPs do.


If your child has a disability, there are steps you can take to improve their educational experience. For audio-related disabilities, getting in touch with a non-profit like HEAR Center can help you to understand your options from an expert and empathetic source. 

Contact our professionals at HEAR Center to learn more and find answers to your questions. Our goal is to help you remain active in the speaking and hearing world.

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