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Advocating for a Child with ADHD – 504 or IEP?

10/04/10
by Susan Bruce

I’ve scheduled my daughter for a speech & language evaluation due to CAPD and potential expressive language disorder. She also has a diagnosis of ADHD Inattentive. Our school district goes to any means to prevent giving a 504 for ADHD. They say it does not substantially affect learning. How do I advocate for all her needs?

You need to get a copy of Section 504 and read it. Search the Wrightslaw website for information about Section 504. Contact your state Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) to see if they offer training on the topic.

Section 504 says that a child’s disability must adversely affect a major life function. Going to school is our kid’s job. It is a major life function!

The school says your daughter does not qualify for a 504 because she does not have failing grades. Get them to put it in writing.

A good way to do this without seeming adversarial is to use a comment like this. “Wow.  I did not realize that my daughter’s grades had to be failing for her to qualify for a section 504. Do you have a copy of that law and could you put that in writing?” Write a polite letter to the school with your request.

Look at this a different way.  A student has a physical impairment that prevents him from getting to class on time. He is making passing grades. An appropriate 504 accommodation might be more time to get to class.  Would the school deny this student a 504, just because he is making passing grades? How would that be equal access and opportunity? This is the promise of 504.

Eligible for an IEP under IDEA?

If my child had an ADHD diagnosis, I would request a complete evaluation.  ADHD often goes hand in hand with a learning disability. If your daughter has CAPD, then she should be eligible under IDEA for an IEP with speech/language services. The IEP should include accommodations for all of her needs. IDEA says school cannot deny a child services because she is passing and moving from grade to grade.

An IEP provides your child (and you) with more rights and protections than a 504 plan. If your daughter has a disability that adversely affects educational performance, she is eligible for special education services under IDEA.  If your daughter is eligible for special education under IDEA, she is protected under Section 504 (but the converse is not true).

This diagram always makes it easier for me when I am trying to help parents understand that a child with an IEP is covered by 504.

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107 Comments on "Advocating for a Child with ADHD – 504 or IEP?"


LENISE
02/26/2015

I read everything and I have a question. What to do about the behavior in school?
Also my daughter is having trouble learning and her behavior in school. I ask for a 504 plan for her last year in just now getting.
I have to meet with school to get her back in school. My girl was being bullied now they’re saying she’s the bully. I don’t know what to do, what are her rights as child with ADD? Please help me….

Rebecca
02/25/2015

My daughter has been diagnosed with ADHA and depression and anxiety and is repeating the 8th grade again now. but don’t have a learning disability and passed the testing for the IEP. so I was told she’s not eligible for IEP. put her this 504 plan and she’s still having trouble in her classes and is failing 8th grad again. so does she qualify for IEP with the conditions she has? if you can please let me know if I should fight for the IEP for my daughter and how. What I should say to get her the help I need? thank you

amanda
01/25/2015

My 7 year old son has just been diagnosed with adhd 3 months ago. We tried working with him to teach him how to deal but his performance at school is rapidly getting worse so we got him meds and he had a horrible abnormal reaction. Dr said hes likely to have bad reaction to all meds so we put him on a diet restricting sugar intake. But he is failing. Although we see improvement its not enough for school and they keep coming at me saying he needs meds. I just don’t know what to do anymore. They know his condition, yet it seems to me they have done nothing to acccommodate him. Idk what else to do and everyone’s comments are negatively impacting him and giving him excuses not to try and to act out.