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Is a Child with ADD/ADHD Entitled to Special Ed Services Under IDEA? A 504 Plan Under Section 504?

by Wrightslaw

For parents, teachers, related services providers, and school administrators who have questions about whether children with ADD/ADHD qualify for special education services under IDEA, please read the Joint Policy Memorandum on ADD/ADHD published in 1991.

This Memorandum was published jointly by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the Office for Civil Rights, and the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Memo clarifies that children with ADD/ADHD may be eligible for special education services under three IDEA disability categories – SLD, OHI, and ED. It also describes the circumstances under which schools must provide services and supports under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The Memorandum begins with this statement:

“There is a growing awareness in the education community that attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) can result in significant learning problems for children with those conditions … ”

You should also read the “OCR Memorandum: Evaluation of Children Who May Have ADD/ADHD” published in 1992.

The OCR Memorandum is “intended to clarify the responsibility of LEAs (school districts) to evaluate children suspected of having ADD, based on parental request.”

“Under Section 504, if parents believe their child has a disability, whether by ADD or any other impairment, and the LEA has reason to believe the child needs special education or related services, the LEA must evaluate the child to determine whether he or she is disabled as defined by Section 504 …”

After reading these two Memoranda, you will have a clear sense of what the laws require schools to do for children who may have ADD/ADHD.

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34 Comments on "Is a Child with ADD/ADHD Entitled to Special Ed Services Under IDEA? A 504 Plan Under Section 504?"


My son has a 504 program and is still failing classes but passing the special courses for those classes. I need help with getting the school to amend his 504 program. I also do not feel that the implementation of the 504 program is being followed. Please guide me in the right direction. My son has ADD and deals with anxiety on top of it. I do not want to see my child left behind, I keep getting the run around with the school saying “let’s just get him through this year”. I need guidance please help….


If your ex has final say in educational decisions, can he prevent school from doing 504 assessment as requested by other parent?


My son has been on a IEP since 7 and he is now 13. They took him off IEP because he is doing well in school. He has been diagnosed with ADD and takes medication. I’ve noticed his grades have slipped a little since this. More so in math than other classes, which I know he has more interest in, so will be more apt to pay attention more. They are telling me that because he is getting decent grades the add is not considered a disability and refuse to put him on a 504 plan..what do I do?


My son Alex is 10 and in 5th grade. He has SEVERE ADHD. The problem is that he shows no aggression and is completely capable of managing in the day to day with constant direction. He loves to be micromanaged. I want to get him an Ed Tech at school. I am very new to all of this and I don’t even know where to begin. I want to take him off meds also. Any help would be apprecitated

Sharon L.

aw Get use to the lying. I have seen it a lot through the years with my children. I take a digital tape recorder to my meetings and it helps but still catch school in lies. You need to learn as much as you can regarding the disability and the 504 plan and OHI IEP (Other Health Impaired) IEP. Many of these are on line on your state education web site or many advocate websites (Wrightlaw’s books, LDonline or LDA of america ). The best defense with the school is a good offense. Learn as much as you can and don’t delay. Every day your child is not provided services is a potential delay of education as well as causing him to feel bad or discouraged.