Treating Attention Deficit Disorder in school settings varies widely depending on the school district. Some have more resources than others.
Many districts offer Individualized Education Plans (IEP) for children who require additional resources.
Individualized Education Plans (IEP)
An IEP is a documented plan that is developed for eligible students with a disability in accordance with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). An application is usually required.
This legislation provides access to public education for children with disabilities, and guarantees that all students through the age of 21 will receive free appropriate public education regardless of disability.
Under IDEA, children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may typically receive special education and related services under the Specific Learning Disabilities category.
In addition, there is other important legislation that may benefit children with ADHD. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also assists children with ADHD if the school team determines that the child “has a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
The intention is that every student, including those with LD, ADHD, etc, are to be provided with a “fair and appropriate education.”
Keep in mind, however, that not all students with ADHD or LD need an IEP. For example, if the ADHD is not severe then an IEP may not be necessary.
Put simply, if the child-study team determines that the ADHD substantially limit the child's ability to learn, that student is entitled to a 504 plan that provides additional accommodation and support.
One common compliant of parents and caregivers is that the process of applying for an IEP can be very involved and bureaucratic. Here are some common ground rules and prerequisites.
General IEP Application Requirements
• An IEP generally has to be in effect at the beginning of the school year and before special education services are provided.
• By law, an IEP must be implemented in a “timely fashion” after the initial IEP meeting.
• Parents get information access including a copy of the IEP, including all relevant IEP Placement meeting minutes, and psychological evaluations.
• After the student is considered eligible for an IEP, the meeting must be conducted within 30 days.
• At least one teacher must attend the meeting.
• Supports, such as family members or other treating professionals, may be included in the meeting.
• A school system representative must be present.
The purpose of the attendance of various caregivers and professionals is to provide valuable input and work collectively to determine the best course of action. It is a team where all voices should be heard.
Common supports that a 504 Plan can provide are extra time to complete school work, additional time to complete tests, making appropriate educational recommendations, and engaging in an ongoing evaluation of the child’s education plan to be modified as necessary.
All parents are encouraged to become informed consumers regarding ADHD and LD and act as advocates on behalf of their child. This includes understanding the educational rights in the state in which you reside, as states and districts vary in how they manage Attention Deficit Disorder in school.
Sadly, some school districts do not easily volunteer information regarding all of the services and accommodations available to your child. For parents, getting educated enables them to be the best advocate for their child and to put into place the resources to successfully manage Attention Deficit Disorder in school.