A Plan for All Seasons

Some items on a 504 plan might be tied to specific times of year. As cold weather approaches, for example kids – especially younger ones – will need more time to get in and out of heavy coats and hats. “I have also heard of parents requesting permission for their child to wear heated gloves or use rice packs that can be warmed in a classroom microwave to soothe inflamed hands during cold weather,” Ryan says.

Cold and flu season raises additional concerns. Ryan suggests asking that a child with a compromised immune system be allowed to keep hand sanitizer at her desk. A 504 plan can require that kids who do get sick be provided notes and allowed to make up missed assignments and tests.

During warm weather, PE classes may move outside. Kids whose medications (NSAIDs, methotrexate) make them sensitive to sunlight, Ryan says, may need to be allowed to wear sun hats and get extra time to apply sunscreen.

Spring brings academic concerns. Older students when who are planning to take college entrance exams such as the SAT or Advanced Placement tests can request accommodations. Frawley says Brendan was allowed to go to another room and write his essay questions on a laptop. The College Board, which oversees the exams, requires separate requests for each; she recommends starting the application process early in the second semester.

Extracurricular Activities

While the 504 plan is for academic considerations, kids who are able to participate in activities that involve actual classes – such as choir or, in some cases, band – can include accommodations in the 504 plan. A choir student, for example, might be allowed to sit during class while other students stand on risers to practice a song.

And while sports may not be the first activity to leap to mind for kids with JA, many do take part in everything from swimming to soccer. Frawley says Brendan played both soccer and baseball before and after his diagnosis. While working out the 504 plan, his physical therapist met with the school’s coaches to work out a modified training plan. If the rest of the team was running laps, Brendan, who had trouble with his knees, was allowed to ride a comparable distance on a stationary bike.