ADD/ADHD and the School

In 1991, the U.S. Department of Education approved children who were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD to be protected by federal law that provided them with a “free appropriate public education” under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This federal act protects the civil rights of persons with disabilities, including ADD/ADHD. The phrase “free and appropriate” refers to a public school education that meets the needs of an ADD/ADHD child at no cost to the parents. This means that if the child is to be removed from his or her peers that it is done so during the portion of general education that cannot be met in the regular classroom setting. This setting is also called “mainstream.” Section 504 children do not qualify for special education services that fall under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act). Children with learning disabilities have an Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.) that is developed by the school Child Study Team and Parents to ensure that LD children receive appropriate accommodations to help them learn. Children who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD may have a 504 Plan (when they do not qualify for special education services) that may make “reasonable” accommodations to meet the child’s academic needs. A medical professional must diagnose children who qualify for a 504 plan with chronic or acute ADD/ADHD. The diagnosis must prove that the child’s ADD/ADHD has adverse effects on educational performance, including grades, behavior, social issues or impaired work skills.

Some examples accommodations that may be included in a 504 Plan are listed below.

Impulsiveness: The child may sit in the front row of class and be allowed extra time to complete assignments.

After your child has been diagnosed teacher will give positive reinforcement (verbal praise) when the child raises his hand.

Motor Activity: The child will be allowed to leave his seat, walk to the back of the room without making classroom disruptions in place of bothering students by him. The child will also be allowed to stand next to his desk while working on assignments after the teacher is done presenting.

Organization: The child will be allowed extra time to complete notes provided by the teacher. The child may keep a second textbook at home.

Behavior and School Rules: When the child is acting out in class, the child may be warned once for his behavior and then sent to see the school counselor o psychologist to discuss behavior. The child will be allowed back in class when the counselor or psychologist deems ready to return. The child will be expected to follow all school rules. Parents, school administrators and teachers will review school rules with the child.

Student Talents: Teachers and other school employees who work with the child will encourage the child to participate in physical and social activities that promotes movement and social well being.

Academics: The child will be allowed extra time to complete test. Teachers will post assignments on their WebPages as a form of communication. Parents and teachers will e-mail ach other at least once a week if necessary.

These are examples of 504 plans. Your school may have specific 504 forms, permission slips and other materials to provide parents. After your child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, the school administrator, psychologist or counselor will help you get started.

Note: Many special education children have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. When this occurs, the child’s I.E.P. (Individual Education Plan) will make accommodations for the disorder. It’s important to also note that ADD/ADHD may fall under the heading OHI (Other Health Impaired). OHI falls under the special education umbrella and IDEA.

What is the School’s Role?

The school’s role is providing parents with information regarding their child’s behavior and performance in school. This information should be objective and backed with specific examples of academic data (that includes standardize test scores, achievement scores and day to day test and assignment scores) and behavioral performance. It is not the role of the school to diagnose ADD/ADHD. Most school counselors and psychologist do have rating scales to help identify children who may display the symptoms of this disorder. However, just like the school nurse who discovers a child (after failing a basic school eye exam) does not make a diagnosis, but refers the child to be assessed by an optometrist for potential use of prescription glasses. The educator’s role is similar in providing information to have their child assessed outside of the school regarding ADD/ADHD by a doctor who specializes in this field. As with eyewear, parents make the final decision, not the school. It’s inappropriate for parent to expect schools to make a medical diagnosis. It’s also inappropriate for the school to make a medical decision or recommendation that a child should be place on a prescription medication. If you hear a teacher say, “your child needs to be on Ritalin,” disregard that statement as a well-meaning educator trying to help you in an area where they are not trained. As a parent, say, “Thank you, I will see my doctor.”

What Happens During An ADD/ADHD Assessment?

Usually the assessment process includes the following process:
Parent(s) and child meet together and separately with the professional to discuss why they are there and what they believe is happening.
Parents often individually are asked to fill out a parent questionnaire form regarding numerous situations that they see in their child’s behavioral and academic performance.

The child’s teacher (s) are asked to fill out a teacher questionnaire.
An evaluator will administer a standardize IQ test (most commonly used test is the Wechsler test).

A learning disorder assessment may also be given to rule out a learning disability.

Computerized assessments may include a TOVA as well as other concentration assessments.

The evaluator will review all assessments individually and as one prior to meeting with you to make recommendations.

The evaluator may ask you to check with your school to see if the school has current IQ or learning disability assessment scores. If your child has been diagnosed with a learning disability (this is a school diagnosis) it may save your child time and you, the parent, money by getting these scores to the ADD/ADHD evaluator.

Author's Bio: 

Scott Wardell is the SelfGrowth Official Guide to Child Development. He’s the creator and author of ScottCounseling.com. Scott has twenty-eight years in education and counseling experience. Visit ScottCounseling.com to review hundreds of free parenting articles and receive online counseling services.
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