What Is Section 504?
Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that applies to people with disabilities. Beginning in 1991, children with ADHD are considered disabled under federal law. A Section 504 plan for ADHD children protects the child from being discriminated against. For some a 504 plan for ADHD children is useful to ensure that they do not need to be placed in special education classes but rather remain in the general school population.
Others may use it to make sure that their ADHD child receives the required modifications and accommodations that are necessary for their success in school. Not all children that have ADHD qualify for a Section 504 plan. To qualify, the child must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities including learning and behavior, and have a record of that impairment.
Your Section 504 Evaluation
A Section 504 meeting is between the parents and the school and can be initiated by either party. The parent of an ADHD child should be prepared for the meeting by having a list of applicable behaviors and how they interfere with their child’s learning. The more prepared you are to state the case for your child and the more willing you are to help find solutions that will work, the better chance you will have in getting your child the necessary eligibility. Some of the possible educational accommodations that may help your child stay in the general classroom rather than being put into special education classes include:
- Providing short breaks for the child
- Providing a seat at the front of the classroom near the teacher
- Providing extra textbooks to be kept at home
- Providing extra time for homework and projects
- Providing plenty of praise and rewards when they do well
Working With Your Child’s School
Frequent contact with the school and your child’s teachers is crucial when there is a 504 plan for an ADHD child. This is especially true when they are beginning a new school year with new teachers. Make sure that they are aware that a Section 504 plan for ADHD children is in place for your child and communicate with them frequently throughout the year to address any problems and concerns that may come up.
Having a good relationship with the school and the staff can help you a great deal although this can sometimes be difficult. Unfortunately, some schools and teachers are not always willing or able to accommodate all of the issues that you may want addressed and it can be difficult to keep your temper in check.
If you can build a strong relationship with them and remain kind and courteous yet firm, most of the time you can find someone that is willing to help you come up with some kind of compromise or alternative solution that will take care of the concern.
As with many other situations that you may have with your child, it is sometimes best to choose your battles. Make sure that you are very aware and grateful to all of the teachers and school staff who are involved with your child, and that they know it. A child with ADHD does place extra burden on the teachers, just as it does the parent, and one good teacher can make a huge difference in your child’s life.