504 & IEP

If your child with ADHD has difficulty in school, they may need support beyond classroom accommodations. This may include a Section 504 or an IEP.

What Are Section 504 and IEP?

There are two federal regulations that can help special-needs students to be more successful in school. One is called Section 504. Its for students who don’t need special education instruction, but have a disability that limits their capacity to be successful in a school setting.

The other is called an IEP, short for individualized education plan. It’s a specific plan designed to allow a student with ADHD to access special educational services. Both are plans that everyone in the school is required to follow to help your child be successful.

How to Obtain a Section 504 or IEP Designation

You must follow a specific process to get a section 504 or IEP designation. Each school has a coordinator to ensure compliance with these two federal guidelines. Determining if a 504 plan or an IEP is appropriate for your child depends on the amount of support they require. The first step is to have your child evaluated by a doctor. The doctor needs to provide a verified diagnosis of ADHD.

Qualifying for a Section 504

The student must have a disability or impairment that “substantially” limits or reduces their ability to access classroom learning to qualify for a 504 specialized plan. Anyone can recommend that a student have a section 504. However, the school district decides if the disability significantly affects the child’s capacity to succeed in school. 

There is no formal test to determine eligibility. Instead, evaluations are performed on a case-by-case basis. Some districts require a team of school personnel and the student’s parents to determine eligibility and develop a strategy of support. 

Once a child is deemed eligible, the school district creates a plan that will include accommodations that your child needs to succeed. Examples of special accommodations under Section 504 include:

  • extended time on tests or assignments
  • peer assistance with note taking
  • frequent feedback
  • extra set of textbooks for home use
  • computer aided instruction
  • behavioral intervention plans
  • visual aids
  • preferred seating assignments
  • taping lectures
  • oral tests

Parents’ Rights Under Section 504

As a parent, your rights under section 504 include:

  • notification of determination, evaluation, and placement of your child
  • access to any relevant records that are related to the Section 504 determination
  • requesting a hearing about the district’s actions regarding evaluation and placement
  • filing a complaint with the school district and/or the Office of Civil Rights

Qualifying for an IEP

A student who: a.) requires a more specialized or specific plan, or b.) needs special education services may require an IEP. A parent has the right to request a special education plan. Qualification for an IEP requires significant testing and evaluation. A team of school personnel along with the child’s parents typically makes the determination.

Steps of this process, which can be long, include the following:

  1. The team meets to determine if the child has a disability.
  2. The process of evaluation begins to identify the disability. This includes testing for intellectual ability, academic performance, vision and hearing impairments, behavioral or social impairments, and self-help skills.
  3. If a child qualifies, the team develops a plan to make modifications to the learning environment.

Keep in mind that children with ADHD who typically qualify for an IEP often have other learning disabilities or health conditions.

Parents’ Rights Under an IEP

As a parent, you have specific rights under federal regulations for an IEP. These rights include:

  • notification of determination, evaluation, and placement of your child
  • access to any relevant records related to the determination or placement
  • calling a meeting of the IEP team
  • requesting a due process hearing
  • representation at meetings
  • filing a complaint with the school district and/or the Office of Civil Rights
  • refusing evaluation or placement of your child in a special education program

If, after working with teachers, counselors, and administrators, you think your child needs more help in school, you may want to consider a section 504 or an IEP. School districts are required to comply with these federal regulations regarding students with verified disabilities.