10 Terms to Know for Parenting an ADHD Child

by Amanda Page Editor


An accommodation is a change to procedures used in the classroom or in the school. Children with ADHD often receive accommodations such as extra time to take tests, seating in the front of the classroom, having a classroom assistant tasks, receiving study guides prior to tests and implementing positive reinforcement programs.


Modifications are changes in the classroom or to the curriculum to help a child with disabilities. Examples of modifications include simplifying lessons, reducing reading levels or adjusting grading to weighted grading. Most children with ADHD receive accommodations rather than modifications.

Individualized education plan

An Individualized Education Plan, also known as an IEP, is a legal document outlining accommodations, modifications and services needed by a child with disabilities. Parents, teachers, educational and medical professionals work together to create an IEP.

Section 504

Section 504 is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination. It is more flexible than laws for IEPs but still provides accommodations. Parents must submit a written request for an evaluation to determine eligibility under Section 504. If the school finds your child eligible, accommodations such as having an extra set of books at home, extra time for tests or taking tests orally.

Executive functioning

Executive functioning is a term used for the cognitive abilities needed to accomplish daily tasks, including learning. It is used for planning, organization, time management, multi-tasking, being able to switch tasks and controlling emotions. Children with ADHD tend to have difficulties in many of these areas.


This law protects the rights of students with disabilities in grades K through 12th grade in publicly funded educational settings. ADHD is not specifically listed as a disability; however, children with ADHD may be eligible for as “Other Health Impaired.” Eligibility for services under IDEA is very strict and many with ADHD don't qualify. These children may be eligible for services under Section 504.

Learning disability

Learning disabilities are a group of disorders that interfere with a child’s ability to learn. ADHD is not a LD; however, estimates indicate that up to 30 percent of children with ADHD also have an LD. Some areas affected by LDs are reading, writing, reasoning, math, speaking, listening, spelling or writing.

Rating scale

Rating scales are diagnostic tools that measure ADHD symptoms in different situations. While schools do not diagnose ADHD and don’t use rating scales, doctors frequently ask parents to have teachers complete a questionnaire about your child’s behavior in school. This questionnaire, along with one completed by you are used to determine if ADHD symptoms are present and, if so, the level of symptoms.


An assessment is an evaluation to determine how well someone, or a group, is doing. For example, a school may be assessed to determine how well students perform on standardized tests. For students with AHD, assessments are often completed to determine eligibility for special education programs or accommodations under Section 504.

Attention span

Attention span is the amount of time a person can pay attention to a given task. There are two types of attention spans – focused attention and sustained attention. Focused attention refers how long a child pays attention in order to complete a short-term task, such as a worksheet. Sustained attention refers to tasks requiring longer attention, such as reading a book.

Amanda Page
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Amanda Page

Amanda was an editor and graphic designer for HealthCentral.