The 504 for ADHD was defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. A 504 plan is designed to provide educational services and supports, and other accommodations for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD).
They were the first laws guaranteeing more equal opportunity for more than 35 million Americans with disabilities. In general, children who have disabilities but who are not eligible for special education services may be entitled to a 504 Accommodation Plan.
As required by law, school districts must ensure that students with disabilities have the "same meaningful opportunities" to participate most all aspects of school and society. The same as those who do not suffer from disabilities.
The extra supports and services offered in a 504 plan, depending on the school district, can include specialized or additional instruction, modified curricula, the provision of accommodations, the provision of specialized extracurricular activities, special equipment or adaptive technology, educational aids, transportation, and other services.
Students who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may also be eligible for an IEP for ADHD (Individual Educational Plan). The difference between the two is one of scope and intention: The 504 is a Civil rights law passed via the ADA (American with Disabilities Act), while the IEP (Individual Education Program) falls under the purview of Education law via the IDEA (Individual with Disabilities Education Act).
However, a 504 plan for ADHD differs from an IEP in a number of ways. A prima facie difference between IEP's and 504's is that a 504 plan is appropriate if your child can benefit and learn from the existing or regular education curriculum, while an IEP is appropriate when a student requires a special education curriculum.
Generally, an IEP is often used for more specialized needs, and an IEP offers more rights and protections than a 504 for ADHD.
In addition, depending on the district, any child covered under an IEP is often automatically covered under a 504, but not visa-versa. However, in most cases a student cannot have both a 504 plan and an IEP. The reason is that if a student is eligible for special education services, then IEP services are more appropriate.
Similarly, families cannot opt for a 504 plan if a special ed. or IEP plan is more appropriate due to the IEP's greater swath of supports and services.
Further, for students with ADHD, it is harder to get services covered under an IEP compared to a 504 for ADHD. Particularly for less extreme types of ADHD, a 504 is more appropriate and a complete menu of special education services is often unnecessary.
How To Get A 504 For ADHD
The process is often quite bureaucratic. Parents or school officials may request that the child be evaluated by a child-study team or mental health professional, or the family may already have a documented diagnosis and written request for services from their local mental health professional.
If not already evaluated, the child is assessed in order to determine their 504 eligibility. If the parents disagree with the evaluation, they have the right to take their child for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). The family may also request that the school district pay for this IEE.
After evaluations are completed, eligibility is determined. If parents disagree, they may submit an appeal of this decision.
If eligible, the law requires that within 30 calendar days after a child is determined eligible a treatment team/child-study team must be convened in order to write the 504 plan. Parents then meet with school officials and the child-study team and parents must consent to any plan and services.
Once a plan is developed and agreed upon, the plan is engaged and services are enacted. Periodic assessments and evaluations are conducted in order to measure progress.
This continuing evaluation of progress of the more short-term and intermediate goals allows the 504 plan to be amended as necessary in order to meet the goals of the 504 plan and maximize progress. After 3 years, another complete mental health assessment is conducted and the purpose of the 504 for ADHD is re-valuated and the plan is amended as necessary.