Getting Accommodations for your ADHD Child, Part 5

What’s the secret? Part 5

If the school agrees to accommodations, what’s next?

There are usually two outcomes: The development of an individualized education plan (“IEP”) or a 504 meeting.

Your child may qualify to receive accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 states that:

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance….” [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].

A parent, teacher, or doctor can request that a child be evaluated under Section 504, but, “the school district must also have reason to believe that the child is in need of services under Section 504 due to a disability,” (Office for Civil Rights “OCR” Memorandum, April 29, 1993). Again, the determination for services due is up to the school.

If you suspect your child has ADHD or your child has been diagnosed as ADHD, then you may also have rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the United States. It governs how states and public agencies provide intervention, special education, and related services to children and youth with disabilities. IDEA provides federal financial assistance to State and local education agencies to guarantee special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities aged 3-21.

Getting Accommodations for your ADHD Child, Part 4

What’s the secret? Part 4

What if the school districts denies eligibility for accommodations? By law, you have the right to appeal your case in a “due-process” hearing. This is where it can get expensive because a due process hearing is a legal proceeding that may require family representation by a lawyer. Your legal counsel may demand a review of your child’s condition/medical records, testimony from your doctor, independent experts, a review of school records and transcripts, etc.

The school must spend money on opposing counsel, so often times bringing in a someone who specializes in advocating for special needs children is less expensive and more effective for both parties.

Getting Accommodations for your ADHD Child, Part 3

What’s the secret? Part 3

The purpose of the evaluation is to see if your child qualifies for an Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) or classroom accommodations. It’s nice to have both, but you’ll most likely receive one or the other.

Ask for classroom accommodations first.

If you are approved for an evaluation, a designated team comprised of your child’s teacher, a special-education teacher, possibly the school psychologist, and other professionals such as the assistant principal, etc. will perform the evaluation. This team is sometimes dubbed the CARE team (Children At Risk in Education).

As part of the evaluation, they may ask to meet with you. Often times team members will observe your child in class. They likely will review your child’s academic records.

Have your child’s records with you when you are asked to meet with the team. It’s wise to take notes of your meetings with the team and to always be prepared with a file of your child’s report cards, standardized test scores, and medical records.

The evaluation often ends in two ways: either you’ll get accommodations or an IEP, or you’ll get denied.

It’s important to know what to do if either of these happen. More to come!

Getting Accommodations for your ADHD Child, Part 2

What’s the secret? Part 2

Where do you start? Write a letter!

Requesting accommodations is a formal process. You could start with a phone call to central office, but it’s likely they’ll request a letter anyway, so it’s better to start with a letter. The next question is, “To whom do I address the letter?”

Address it to the Special Education Director at central office. A simple call to the central office will get you both the name and address of the person to send your request. Remember to date the letter, include your child’s name, his physician that provided the formal diagnosis, and your request for a full evaluation for the purpose of acquiring accommodations.

You may either send it via certified mail or hand deliver it. Get a signed receipt of delivery. More to come!

My daughter has Inattentive ADD, Anxiety and PTSD

Dear Sheer Genius,

My daughter has Inattentive ADD, Anxiety and PTSD and has been struggling in school ever since first grade. She is now in 7th grade. I’ve tried counseling, medication, structured schedules, etc.

This year I learned of private schools that cater to kids with learning disorders. It was not until a couple of months ago that I learned of these schools, so of course I could not meet any kind of deadlines (financial assistance/admission applications). All of these schools charge tuition. I am a hard working single mom yet I do not make very much money and my bills are high. I cannot afford to pay tuition. I’ve asked about financial assistance but of course it has all been given out by now for the 2013-2014 school year.

Is there not help for people in my situation, and are there not schools like this that are FREE? I hate that for my daughter to get the best possible education with her disorder, I have to pay big money for it. That is not fair. I’m sure there are tons of people in my situation and what do we do? Just leave our kids to suffer and fail in the hands of the public schools because we cannot afford these outrageous tuition amounts?

Because of her low grades, lack of focus, social struggles, peer pressure and two surgeries, she is having to repeat the 7th grade next year. I have to do something now or she will just continue to go downhill. There are way too many distractions in middle school and high school on top of not being able to learn like a normal student. I feel completely helpless and I fear that she will continue to struggle even more as she gets in to the higher grade levels. I do not want my daughter in public school again next year but it is looking like I have no choice and that really sucks!

– Angela, Concerned mother of a 7th grade daughter


Dear Angela,

I do understand your frustration. You are correct, many parents are facing the same difficulties. It sounds like you have been trying different strategies to assist your child, and that is great. If you feel like a specialized private school will be best for your daughter but it will not work out until next school year, then you have time to research and plan. Instead of focusing on time lost, use this year to set a goal to find the right school and financial assistance for next year. Having time to research and plan will be great for both you and your daughter. You will have the time to make the best possible decision.

In the meantime, you must make a plan to make this school year as successful as possible. Here are some suggestions:

1. Make certain your daughter’s IEP or 504 plan is up to date and that all teachers are aware of the accommodations. If you do not have an IEP or 504, you should request one as soon as possible.
2. Assess some of your child’s needs for the school year. Will she need a tutor to help her with homework? Is there a study skills class at school she can attend? You may be able to find some free or low cost after school programs at local churches or YMCAs.
3. Don’t forget exercise. Activity, particularly outdoor activities, are imperative to the ADHD child. Make certain to plan some times for your child to be physically active.
4. Discuss with your daughter any anxieties she may be having about the new school year. Review her list and brainstorm on ways to ease those anxieties. Is she worried about being in a particular teacher’s class? Arrange a meeting when the two of you can meet the teacher together before school starts. Is she worried about the homework? Make a plan together regarding homework ie. when it will be done, where it will be done, who will support her.
5. Plan structure together. I know you mentioned you have done this but please do continue. Structure is very important. Your daughter is now at an age where she can plan the structure with you. Even though the structure may not be working as well as you want, you should modify where needed but continue providing the structure and organization.
6. Don’t do this on your own. Surround yourself with people who can support you and your daughter. You can’t do everything on your own and sometimes you just need someone else to talk to. Make certain to reach out to others who can help you. Look for parent support groups in your area for yourself and perhaps a big sister program for your daughter.

I hope this list is helpful. There of course are more tips and strategies that will help but start small and build up from there. I will be continuing to provide more tips in upcoming newsletters.

Remember to review Play Attention as well. Play Attention is a fantastic learning program that you can set up at home and work under our professional guidance. Play Attention can teach your daughter the skills she needs in order to thrive and succeed in school. You will need to use Play Attention for approximately 8 months for the skills to be permanent so now is a great time to start. I know cost is a concern for you but when you calculate the cost of Play Attention over an 8 month period, the cost is much less than that of your typical tutoring program. If you would like one of our specialists to review your child’s needs and develop a customized Play Attention plan for your review, please visit or call me at 800.788.6786.

With all my support and attention,
Sheer Genius

Mom, My Greatest Advocate

Reported by:

If you’ve been kicked in the shins by school administration, you should read this. Schools will help. You have to know how to be an advocate.

“While it’s true that some of teachers and administrators may have been the experts when it came to knowing more about educational policies and strategies, they never knew more about my child. It’s taken 12 years of IEP meetings, being kicked in the shins by administrators, and laughed at for my ideas to help me realize that when it comes to my kid, I am the expert. I only wish I had the same strong feeling about myself many years ago. ”
ADHD IEPs and School Accommodations: Coming into My Own as an Advocate for My Child

How Do I Navigate the Educational Maze?

This free eBook will tell you how.

Play Attention’s Guide to Navigating the ADHD Educational Maze can help you understand your rights under Section 504, develop an IEP, and understand your limitations/opportunities when trying to get the best education for your ADHD child.

It also provides resources for further assistance. You can call 800.788.6786 in the US or +1828.676.2241 to obtain it at no cost. You may also email to get a copy.

Photo: How Do I Navigate the Educational Maze?
This free eBook will tell you how.
Play Attention's Guide to Navigating the ADHD Educational Maze can help you understand your rights under Section 504, develop an IEP, and understand your limitations/opportunities when trying to get the best education for your ADHD child.
It also provides resources for further assistance. You can call 800.788.6786 in the US or +1828.676.2241 to obtain it at no cost. You may also email  to get a copy.


So Is My ADHD Child Covered by Section 504?

Your child may qualify to receive accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 504 states that:

“No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 706(8) of this title, shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance….” [29 U.S.C. §794(a), 34 C.F.R. §104.4(a)].

Under Section 504, students qualify if they are between ages 3 and 22 and have a disability [34 C.F.R. §104.3(k)(2)].

So, the next question is, does ADHD qualify as a disability? The federal law states that:

“An individual with a disability means any person who:

i. has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activity;

ii. has a record of such an impairment; or

iii. is regarded as having such an impairment” [34 C.F.R. §104.3(j)(1)].

Does ADHD qualify as an “impairment?” This is the gray area in which ADHD seems to fit well but allows wriggle room for schools. Under Section 504, impairment may include any disorder or disability that “substantially” reduces a student’s ability to access learning in the educational environment because of a learning or behavior related condition.

The wriggle room for schools is that the law is always subject to interpretation. So, every school interprets and implements Section 504 differently. Since ADHD has no physical manifestation like epilepsy or cerebral palsy, it is a hidden problem. Compounding this is the fact that many educators still believe the myth that poor parenting causes the problem or that by giving the child medication, all will be solved without need for accommodation at school. Therefore, under these circumstances, the onus is not on the school, they believe, it is on the parent.

Unfortunately, Section 504 does not define a list of specific disorders (again wriggle room). Obviously, that list would have to be highly comprehensive and definitive.

Also, ADHD would have to affect “major life activities” Major life activities do include, among a variety of other things, concentrating (ADHD), learning, sitting, working, thinking, and interacting/cooperating with others. Many of these major life activities are often affected by ADHD. So, your ADHD child may be included, but the school must agree that some of these “major life activities” substantially limit your child’s education.

So, does your ADHD child qualify for section 504? The answer is, yes – most likely. It should be apparent to you that the law has left a large gray area for interpretation in some cases. 

Remember this: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Squeak loud, know your rights, and document everything. You should be able to make good headway with this approach.

IEP: An ADHD ADD Student Right

To IEP or not to IEP that’s the $100,000 question!

MICHAEL BARBER of the Bradenton Herald reports that:

 The Manatee County school district has spent more than $100,000 in legal fees battling an attempt to get an 11-year-old boy with attention deficit disorder a special education plan, according to documents The Herald reviewed.”

Since the AD/HD boy has performed well academically and on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, the school doesn’t believe it’s responsible to provide a special education Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

School officials argue that accommodating this student could set a costly precedent for the district and state by allowing thousands of other ADHD students to apply for special education plans.

Final arguments in the federal case were heard in Tampa on Thursday. U.S. District Judge James Whittemore is expected to render a decision in the next couple of weeks.

While I agree that this could precipitate a flood of AD/HD requests for accommodation, what’s more important here, students’ educations and well beings or money?

Every student has a right to an IEP.

It simply defines what goals and objectives will be used over the student’s academic year to achieve success. If some accommodations like computer software, lengthened test time, etc. need to be implemented, then do it. It is mandated and paid for by the federal government under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). It does require extra effort and perhaps even extra staff to write and implement the IEP.

“On Thursday, Superintendent Roger Dearing told The Herald the district had spent an estimated $50,000 on the case.

…Although exact legal fees the school district paid to the various firms were not available Friday, district records indicate the total figure spent on the case exceeded $100,000.

When asked whether he thought the $100,000-plus legal tab was worth it, Dearing was emphatic.

“Would you spend $100,000 to save $10 million?” Dearing asked.

Dearing said that there are more than 2,000 students in Manatee County schools who are ADHD and that special education plans can cost $5,000 or more. If all of those ADHD students applied for special education plans, the cost could be as much as $10 million per year.”

In order to save money, the school system is arguing that AD/HD is not covered by the IDEA.

School board members Larry Simmons and Harry Kinnan both said they did not like having to spend district money on costly court cases, but in this instance they thought it was the right thing to do.

“I think it’s an important enough case that we have to spend what it takes,” Simmons said. “It’s not about this particular young man or his mother. It’s about a potentially serious financial impact to the school district.”

Kinnan agreed.

“I think it’s regrettable the money can’t be marked for other things, but we’ve decided as a school district that it’s important to stop a precedent from being established,” Kinnan said.

“You have to weigh the implications for the school system if you don’t fight this case.”

Who is right? and who is wrong? seem to be moot questions. The question is, what is the best education for this child and what would a special education IEP provide that? If that answer is yes, then do the right thing. We’ll see what the courts say.

ADHD: An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for ALL Students

Dr. Sydney Zentall from Purdue urges new techniques for teaching ADHD children. I agree wholeheartedly. However, the new techniques should be based on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that should be given to ALL students thus teaching to their strengths and strengthening their weaknesses. While advocating new teaching methods for ADHD students sells books, it is only a small portion of this nation’s massive education problem.

From United Press International:

New ADHD educational methods urged WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., July 11 (UPI) – A Purdue researcher says teachers and parents need to learn new methods to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Fads and ‘how-to lists’ are more prevalent than methods based on educational research, said Sydney Zentall, a professor of special education and psychological sciences in Purdue’s College of Education.

But, she added, because students who have ADHD spend the majority of their time in general educational settings, it’s critical to get scientific information to the people who are going to help them learn how to live in society.

She said part of the reason for the scarcity of ADHD information in textbooks is ADHD has not been categorized as a disability in special education until recently.

Purdue News Service said Zentall is an internationally recognized authority on hyperactivity and ADHD. She developed a theory in 1975 called Optimal Stimulation Theory, suggesting hyperactive children might have a greater need for stimulation and would benefit from a more active learning environment.