IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is often restrictive in providing special education or services to children with ADHD. If there are co-existing medical or learning disabilities, children can more often receive services under IDEA. However, if they do not qualify for these services, parents are still able to request accommodations from the school district under Section 504. This is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination and can be a quicker and more flexible way to receive services for your child.
Parents must send a written request to the school requesting an evaluation of their child to determine eligibility for services under Section 504. The school district is required to notify you of the results of the evaluation. If your child is found to be eligible, a meeting will be held. Normally, teachers, parents, the school psychologist and the guidance counselor will be present at the meeting. Together, they will determine services and accommodations that could be beneficial for the student and will help them succeed. Some examples of services could include:
- Reducing the amount of homework required. For example a student may only be required to do the odd numbered problems.
- Reducing the amount of class work required.
- Taking tests orally or having extra time after school to complete their tests.
- Having an extra set of books at home.
- Allowing students to email teachers assignments rather than keeping track of papers to be handed in.
- Daily or weekly reports sent by the teacher via email, phone or written communications.
- Organizational assistance either by the teacher or guidance counselor.
- Assistance by the teacher in organization.
Each child is different and will require different services. The above examples are meant to give you an idea of what types of adaptations can be included in a Section 504 agreement. You can make a list of your child’s weaknesses to bring with you to the meeting and these specific areas can be addressed.
If your child is found ineligible for services under Section 504, you are able to file an appeal. You should be notified of the Due Process Procedures with the letter that you receive stating your child is not eligible. If you are not satisfied with the accommodations the school has agreed to, you are also able to file an appeal. At the meeting you should request a copy of the Due Process Procedures for your locality.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.