Advocating for a Child with ADHD – 504 or IEP?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.

Leave a Reply

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

Notify of

What recourse does a parent have with an 11 year old child that has ADHD and CAPD and the principal continuously puts him In-school suspension when he has a problem with another student after being informed that the student has an IEP and is on meds.

You can request an IEP meeting to discuss what can be done to stop him from being sent to suspension. You can also use the dispute resolutions processes the law gives parents. Your parent training & information center can assist you.

Thank you Chuck. I have already had an emergency meeting with the Superintendent and the Special Education Supt, to no avail. It’s simple politics and the children pay the price. I will check out the parent center now and see if they can help us. Thank you.

Can you please assist with the laws or regulations of teacher and parent request for testing for special services in Arizona? Teacher referred to SST team in May that my daughter may need to be evaluated. Numeruous problems. Does not understand 9th grade math – signs of ADHD manifested 9th grade. I requested in writing via email numerous times over a 6 month period. Sped dept “Forgot” about testing her over 4 requested times. Failing hs math. Just tested at a 4th grade math level – no other tests. She is failing this class has been all year. Where do we go from here? I am being ignored by the dept. She is on the path for ADHD testing privately, but that is taking 3 months.

As with any state you go to the district office and there is paperwork that you fill out and then it is presented to the school. The school then had 60 days to do the evaluation. File a complaint with the state education agency. You can also have your own done outside of school and the district will pay for it. The school has to send in writing weather or not they will do the testing. By not doing the testing they are in effect not following Child Find Laws. That is schools are required to find children who may have a disability and they are to evaluate them for services. Not doing this is a denial of Free Appropriate Public Education FAPE.

In addition to what Marcus says, you have the right to use the dispute resolution processes. Your state parent training & information center can assist you.

My daughter has ADHD and is in special resources class and IEP and 504. is this saying she has a learning disability?

My child has been diagnosed with ADHD and been on medication since the age of 4. He struggles with reading and while he has passing grades he doesn’t know any sounds. Since he started kindergarten I have tried to get an IEP in place for extra help but I was told he was fine and I didn’t need it. Now we are in first grade and I still get the same answere. When telling his 1st grade teacher I wanted an IEP and what it would do; the teacher said she didn’t know. What can I do?


What you do is you get your child an Independent assessment outside of school. From what I understand the school can pay for that. Once you get your answer send them to the school and request a meeting ASAP. Present the school the findings and hopefully they will budge. If that does not work I would file a state complaint. Because the school is not willing to help your son they are breaking the Child Find law. Schools are required to identify and assess students who have suspected learning disabilities. I also wanted to mention that you can fill out the paperwork to have your son evaluated by the school at the district office. Have you done that? If you have not that may be a reason the school is hesitant to help.

The school must evaluate first before they will even consider paying for an outside evaluation. Try writing a letter to the school requesting a direct parent referral to special education and include all of your concerns. The school district must reply to your request either granting it or denying it.

Thank you for reminding me of that part. I totally forgot about that part.

As Marcus says, the school is not following the federal child find rules. Make a written request for special education testing to the campus principal, & the special ed office. Your state parent training & information center can assist you in knowing your rights.

1 3 4 5