In talking to a bright lawyer who has tried over the past two years to get academic support for her son, I realized why our kids with ADHD continue to not receive necessary help. Any time a lay person faces a professional, the assumption is that the professional knows more in that area and will be honest and divulge information that is pertinent to his profession. So when a parent seeks help for his child, he assumes that he is able to secure this if indeed the child needs it. If the parent is told various things that point to an unnecessary need for this help, the parent backs away. He may be frustrated, angry, and desperate, feeling incapable of accessing help for his child. The parent also feels that although the child is struggling, maybe the teacher/administrator is right: he needs to try harder. Here are a few statements that have been told as facts. Unfortunately, they are incorrect and do not serve our kids with ADHD.
504’s only are appropriate for those with physical disabilities.
ANSWER: 504’s are part of the Disability Act of 1973 and serve to level the playing field in areas of both physical and mental disabilities through appropriate accommodations, individualized to the child.
There must be a significant gap between IQ and achievement to show need for support.
ANSWER: IDEA does not discuss this gap. What is important to note is data showing that the medical diagnosis of ADHD, through significant impairments, is limiting access to education.
It is not necessary to sign for an evaluation done by the school.
ANSWER: A signature from a parent or guardian is needed for a school evaluation.
A diagnosis of ADHD mandates an IEP.
ANSWER: The eligibility of an IEP upon a diagnosis of ADHD depends on other factors that show a limitation of accessing an education: behavioral issues, focus, organization, working memory, and processing speed to name a few.
The child study team only needs to meet once a year to go over the IEP in order to make changes.
ANSWER: A parent can call a meeting to discuss concerns regarding the IEP anytime.
Parents are considered part of the team since they do know their child best. Many times, they do not really feel this way. The IDEA, Individual Disability Education Act, protects parents and the rights of their children. It’s important to not feel intimidated by those administrators who should know the rights of your child. Your voice matters as you advocate for your child. And that necessitates knowledge!