The Americans with Disabilities Act Provides for Accommodations for Students (504 Plan).
Students with misophonia can often benefit from a 504 plan for school. If their misophonia affects them at school, a 504 plan will give their parents legal rights to advocate for accommodations on the child’s behalf. A child is eligible for a 504 plan if their disability “substantially limits one or more major life activity.” Examples of these include learning, speaking, listening, reading, writing, concentrating, and caring for oneself. Misophonia definitely causes problems with concentrating.
The 504 plan needs to meet the requirement of providing a Free Appropriate Public Education, as required by the ADA. The following is from the government website http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html#skipnav2.
“The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a ‘free appropriate public education’ (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.”
A 504 plan is different from an individualized education program (IEP). The main difference is that a 504 plan provides accommodations that mitigate the disability, where an IEP may require different educational services so the child will meet minimum learning objectives. A 504 plan can be provided for an exceptionally bright student who may be making all A’s but cannot concentrate in class.
The following are examples that seem to be reasonable accommodations for K-12 students:
- That there is no eating, drinking, or gum chewing in the classes that she attends, and that this is enforced.
- That he be allowed to leave a classroom without penalty. This is sometimes necessary when there are too many triggers occurring. When she leaves the class, she needs to have unrestricted access to a location that is free of trigger stimuli where she can calm down.
- That he be allowed to use headphones and a noise generator app in class. This may reduce his ability to hear the teacher, but it will often allow him to remain in class and do his work.
- That he be allowed to use his headphones and noise generator in class during tests.
- That he be provided a trigger-free location for testing, if needed.
- That he be provided preferred seating to reduce his exposure to triggers.
- That a transmitter/receiver set be provided so that the teacher can wear a microphone and the student can hear the lecture through headphones. (This is common for hard of hearing students.)
In many cases, a 504 plan is not required because the school cooperates on making accommodations. It is always better to get what you need through cooperation than to force the school through a 504 plan and threatened legal action, because the accommodations will likely be implemented more consistently if the school views them as necessary rather than an unreasonable request they are being forced to comply with.
For university students, an additional accommodation could be a private room (at no additional cost). Accommodations should also be sought for taking exams like the ACT or SAT. Accommodations can be provided so that the student can take the exam in a “trigger free” environment.