An IEP Refusal

An IEP RefusalAfter giving a school support webinar, I received many good questions that reflect the difficulties families have insuring that their child receives adequate support for ADHD in the classroom.  Here is a question that will be the focus of this blog: “Can the school refuse an IEP if my child is apparently holding it together in school but struggles at home doing his school work?”

Here are some points:

  • A diagnosis of ADHD must reflect impairments in more than one environment. If you are witnessing struggles at home, there probably are struggles in the classroom as well.
  • Ask the teacher/teachers for specific examples of success and struggles in the classroom.
  • What are the specific struggles that you are seeing at home? Comprehension, reading comprehension, reading fluency; executive functioning deficits like organization, time management, and planning. How are each affecting education access and success?
  • Remember that usually homework district policy is 10 minutes a grade level.
  • Is the school aware of homework struggles or is your child working for hours and receiving help from you the parent?
  • Remember, if your child has inattentive ADHD and is not creating behavioral interruptions in the classroom, then the teachers could believe that he is “holding it together.” But that inattention is affecting this child significantly, quietly and invisibly.


It is imperative to now gather information regarding your child’s struggles.  Document the following:

  1. How each executive functioning deficit impacts your child’s education:  For instance, connect each of them with an example.  Organization is reflected in missing homework assignments and/or lack of turning them in on time.
  2. Any symptom of ADHD or executive functioning deficit reflected in the classroom as stated by the teacher.
  3. Statements made by the child that indicate impairments felt by ADHD.


Remember, too, that up to 50% of children with ADHD have a form of a learning disability.  If there is some degree of struggling, it could certainly be solely ADHD.  ADHD alone can certainly create difficulties in academic success.  It is not looked at as a serious issue in the minds of many school administrators.  And legally, a diagnosis of ADHD alone does not guarantee IEP eligibility.  It is up to you the parent to document areas that relate to the diagnosed disability that are creating limited access to education as per the IDEA.  Once that is done, it is the school’s obligation to evaluate the child with the suspected disability in order to properly support for success.

In the letter to the child study team requesting the psycho-educational evaluation, it is so important to document the above data that you have compiled, showing the need for evaluation.  You are showing the data that is evidenced in two environments that necessitate further evaluation.  After all, the ADHD diagnosis as per the DSM necessitates impairments in at least two environments.  You are now showing that those impairments are indeed showing up at school and at home.  The evaluation will show more specifics in areas of difficulties and promote the need for a possible 504 or IEP.

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