There are two ways that students with ADD may receive support and accommodations in school. When ADD severely impacts upon learning and academic performance, the child may be eligible for Special Educational services through IEP law.
When a parent believes a child is struggling academically, the first step is to express his concerns to the building principal or guidance counselor. I always recommend that the parent put his concerns and a formal request for a thorough evaluation in writing addressed to the principal. In my experience, it is important that the parent keep a copy of all written documents for himself; creating a paper trail may be critical in insuring future educational accommodations for the child.
After a formal evaluation by qualified school personnel, the child with ADD may meet the criteria for being identified as learning disabled, emotionally disturbed or “other health impaired” and therefore qualify for special education services. At that point, parents and school personnel work together to define in writing an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) to meet the unique educational needs of the child.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that any institution receiving federal fund must make accommodations for people with recognized disabilities. Because ADD is such a recognized disability, children with ADD are eligible for accommodations in any federally funded school.
Accommodations in school include allotment of extra time to complete tasks and tests, use of teacher signed assignment book, preferential seating and increased frequency of feedback to parents.
The first step in pursuing accommodations under Section 504 is for the parent to express his concerns and accommodations request verbally and in writing to the principal, guidance counselor, or, in college, the disabilities services office. As the appropriate accommodations are defined, it is important that they be formalized in writing; this ensures compliance, accountability, and future accommodations.
Are there other services available for the ADD child who experiences difficulties despite the usual interventions?
When ADD severely compromises the child’s functioning at home and school despite intervention, he may be eligible for Wrap-Around or Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) services through the county or state mental health department.
These services assume different names and forms across the country and are dependent upon the unique needs of the child. For some children, the service involves access to a trained support person in the home to help with behavior management and independent functioning. For others, it involves having a support person accompany the child to each of his classes to facilitate his meeting school expectations.
While it varies from state to state, access to these kinds of services generally require the child be assigned a mental health or medical assistance case manager and to participate in additional comprehensive testing. I recommend to parents whose child can benefit from these services to begin the process by contacting the county or state mental health office.
If you’re ready to secure educational support for your child, you will find Dr. Liden’s book, Accommodations for Success, invaluable. Dr. Liden walks you through every step necessary to get the customized support you need for your child to achieve and succeed.