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The Need for Effective 504 Plans for ADHD

The Need for Effective 504 Plans for ADHD

There are so many situations where children with ADHD alone are not deemed eligible for an IEP. They may not be in some cases. But the problem exists that the current 504 plans in place may not be adequate for their specific needs related to ADHD. 504 plans are a part of the Disability Act of 1973 and level playing fields for both physical and mental impairments. So they cover many disabilities. But the issue with ADHD is the lack of understanding as to how it does impact our kids. With that lack of understanding comes ineffectiveness in support systems.

CHADD, the non-profit that gives so much support to children and adults with ADHD, has done a survey resulting in 700 responses regarding 504 plans in school. Responses indicated just how ineffective 504 plans are for supporting ADHD.

  • Teachers many times believed the document and its accommodations were optional. This is not true.
  • Manifestation meetings that are required to happen after a disciplinary occurrence of a suspension from school over 10 days were not done. These meetings determine whether or not the behavior is related to the disability and can prompt functional behavioral assessments and effective, positive, behavioral plans.
  • Parents were forced to do their own independent testing. Parents can do this, but if there is documentation of struggles, the school is bound by federal law, IDEA, under “Child Find” to adequately assess and support.
  • Accommodations did not cover the need. Generally, they speak to preferential seating and extra time on testing. Schools did not realize that other accommodations could include oral testing, taping lectures, multiple times of feedback to the student, positive reinforcement, and behavioral plans.

CHADD’s public policy committee has met with the Office of Civil rights at least twice with the purpose of guiding schools as to how to develop 504 plans to be effective for the diagnosis of ADHD. CHADD continues to reaffirm parent’s rights under 504 plans and the need for accommodations that will allow our kids with ADHD to be successful.

Understandably, schools do not want to offer IEP’s to students who do not need them. So many times parents are offered a 504 plan without a clearly diagnosed learning disability or other co-morbid condition. 504 plans in the classroom could be a viable option if developed according to the needs of the student with ADHD. But until then, those who are not adequately supported with a 504 plan will most likely see the need to fight for an IEP supporting the child in the classroom.

We who support as well as love those with ADHD should support CHADD who behind the scenes continues to fight for knowledge and appropriate support for those with ADHD, that invisible diagnosis so poorly understood by many who come in contact with our kids.

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