Many children with ADHD / ADD experience significant academic difficulties. Parents need to be aware of the special educational services that public schools are required to provide by law. Children with ADHD / ADD may be eligible for special services under Part B of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). There are essentially two paths that can be used to provide special services for students with learning disabilities:
- Individual Education Plan (IEP)
- Section 504 Plan
David Rabiner, PhD, at the site Educational Rights for Children with ADHD/ADD describes these two types of plan.
“An IEP is a plan to educate your child based on your child’s individual needs. Ideally, the IEP should take into account a childish unique abilities and disabilities, and identify specific educational goals for the child, procedures for attaining those goals, and methods to evaluate whether the goals are being met. The IEP is developed after a child has been evaluated and found to require special educational services. In the best circumstances, the plan is developed in a collaborative meeting involving parents, teachers, and other school personnel (e.g. guidance counselor, school psychologist, etc.) Parents are also free to bring along anyone (e.g. child psychologist) that they feel would be helpful to have at the meeting.
“Special services for children with ADHD/ADD may also be obtained under Section 504, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Like IDEA, Section 504 requires schools to provide children who have disabilities with a free and appropriate public education. Unlike IDEA, however, which stipulates that a child has disabilities that require special education services, Section 504 identifies a qualified person as anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as learning. This means that children who do not require special education are still guaranteed access to related services under Section 504 if the child is deemed to have an impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life activities” such as learning, and the school must try to adapt instructional methods to the needs of children with ADHD/ADD. It is up to the local school district to make the determination of whether this condition is met and children who are not eligible for special education may still be guaranteed access to related services if they meet the Section 504 eligibility criteria.”
Many excellent resources for creating effective IEP / 504 plans can be found at Understood.org and AdditudeMagazine.com. The infographic below, from elearninginfographics.com, shows a 12 step approach to getting school accommodations for your ADHD or LD child.