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  • cherylgigler

Back-to-School Blues

Has your child with ADHD struggled in school? Have you spent hours doing homework? Have you battled with daily meltdowns? If your smart child hasn’t been successful in the classroom, you may be starting the new school year with a sense of fear and dread. Take heart! There is a valuable school-based support that can make a huge difference for children with ADHD. It is called a Section 504 plan.

What is a 504 Plan?

Section 504 plans are part of a formal program that schools develop to give kids with disabilities the support they need. These plans are intended to prevent discrimination and protect the rights of kids with disabilities in school. They’re covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a federal civil rights law.

How does a child qualify for Section 504?

To qualify, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one of more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, thinking, concentrating, learning, walking, seeing, breathing, etc. A student must have a specific medical diagnosis to be considered for a Section 504 plan.

Often children with ADHD qualify under IDEAS, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act law. ADHD falls under “Other Health Impairment,” or OHI. Having ADHD alone doesn’t guarantee eligibility. To qualify for Section 504 or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), the disorder must substantially affect a child’s ability to function in school.

Who can refer a child for evaluation Section 504?

Anyone can refer a child for evaluation under Section 504, including a parent or doctor. However, each school district follows its own 504 policy, and it must have reason to believe that the child is in need of services under Section 504 due to a disability, educational consultant Mary Durheim writes inA Parent’s Guide to Section 504.” A parent’s request alone doesn’t require a school district to refer or evaluate a child.

The law also doesn’t require school districts to include parents in the decision-making process. However, it does mandate the school’s 504 Committee to review information from multiple sources. This may include information parents provide about doctors’ reports, outside testing, or coaching recommendations.

How is eligibility determined?

The Section 504 Committee will base its decision on a number of factors, such as grades, state testing scores, school administrative tests, observations, district reports, health records, and school attendance records. No formalized testing is required.

What do accommodations under Section 504 look?

Each student who qualifies for a Section 504 plan will not receive identical accommodations. The school district’s 504 committee will determine what is appropriate for each child, based on the child’s disability and need for support.

Accommodations that benefit students with ADHD might include one or more of the following:

  • Extended time for tests and assignments

  • A peer note-taker

  • An extra set of textbooks for home use

  • Preferential seating

  • Recorded lectures

  • Oral testing

  • Testing in a quiet location

  • Permission to leave one’s seat and move from time to time

  • Having teachers…

    • Sign off on a homework log

    • Provide directions both visually and orally

    • Highlight the most important concepts in class

    • Help break projects into smaller parts

  • Allowing the use of…

    • A study carrel

    • A standing desk

    • Respectful fidgets

    • Bouncy bands on chair legs

    • Ear buds that dampen ambient sound

    • A moving seat, such as Disc ‘O’ Sit,

    • Voice recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking

    • Audio books for required

Simply put, Section 504 levels the playing field for students with ADHD. With the right supports in place, students with ADHD can be among the most successful!

Know a student with ADH who needs academic support? Explore the benefits of taking a strength-based approach with ADHD coaching. You have nothing to lose—the first consultation is always free! If you’d like to learn more, set up an appointment today.


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