It is estimated that 5-12% of all American kids have some type of ADHD. If you found this Accommodations Guide, chances are you have a child or student with ADHD.

So I’m not going to go into the different types of ADHD and all that. This is going to focus on understanding 504 plans and accommodations. And whether or not your child needs an IEP for ADHD, or if a 504 plan for ADHD is sufficient.

Being able to maintain sustained focus is a struggle for many students with ADHD.

Remember, this concept: When a child lacks a skill, you either teach the skill or make accommodations for the child lacking that skill.

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However, you can certainly accommodate the lack of skill and teach the skill at the same time.

504 Plan ADHD

Still, think of that concept and that will help you decide if you want your child to have an IEP or 504. A 504 will accommodate the child lacking the skill.

An IEP will provide specialized instruction to teach the skill. The specialized instruction that your child receives is special education.

That’s what is at the heart of an IEP. The only reason I’m rambling on about this is to demonstrate why I’m not including ways to teach various skills. This is a list of accommodations for ADHD.

ADHD looks different in different kids.

It has many different components to it. I’m going to try to address as many of them as possible.

As my friend Judi often says, “ADHD rarely travels alone!” So I am including several one-offs from ADHD.

504 Plans for ADHD

It is very common to give kids with ADHD a Section 504 plan and not an IEP.

Sometimes this is appropriate. In my professional opinion, it is an abused practice. I see too many kids who need to be taught skills, not just given extra time on a test or something.

Accommodations do not teach a skill.

In particular, this comes up with a child’s behavior. If a child has unsupported needs, inappropriate behaviors may start to come out.

This may be due to an inability to focus, to frustration and everything in between.

middle school students with adhd
Middle school can be rough for students with ADHD.

However, you can not reward and punish a skill set into a child. If you do not teach the skills, and address the underlying cause of the behavior, it will be a band-aid at best.

Sure, you can eliminate distractions for a student. But if they do not have the executive functioning skills to complete the work, the student will find another distraction or behavior that satisfies the need they are craving.

I have a whole ‘nother post on positive behavior and behavior plans. If your child’s lack of skills is being punished rather than taught, I strongly suggest your read that hyperlink.

I also have a post on hyperfixations and ADHD, which can interrupt a school day.

Section 504 ADHD

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically says: When determining whether a student has a physical or mental impairment, the school district must not consider the improvement of a disability caused by a “mitigating measure” such as medication, hearing aids, prosthetics, mobility devices, or other means.

Know your Rights!

Here is the letter/guidance from the Dept of Ed as far as what they expect schools to do with ADHD students.

I have included a Fact Sheet at the end of this article about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It was compiled by both HHS and OCR. Both of those federal agencies oversee 504s.

Does Section 504 require schools to do evaluations?

Yes. The school must conduct an evaluation to determine if the student has a disability as defined under this act. It likely will not be as comprehensive as IEP Eligibility Evaluations.

Based on documented information from varied sources, decisions must be made by a group of school personnel who are knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the data, and the placement options.

student doing homework

If your child qualifies for an IEP, ADHD falls under Other Health Impairment. You can read that link to see the specific language.

But, IDEA specifically mentions ADHD under OHI, so there is no “with ADHD we have to give a 504.”

Does the disability substantially limit one or more major life activities?

Under Section 504, disability is defined broadly. A student is determined to have a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment affecting a body system.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines a physical or mental impairment as “any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.”

This impairment or disability must substantially limit one or more major life activities. (bold is mine!) These activities include such things as

  • walking
  • seeing
  • hearing
  • speaking
  • breathing
  • learning
  • working
  • caring for oneself
  • performing manual tasks
  • eating
  • sleeping
  • standing
  • lifting
  • bending
  • reading
  • concentrating
  • thinking
  • communicating
  • and more (Hey, it’s Lisa again–the “and more” is in their wording. So, this is not a closed list.)

The legislation also states that the school district must not consider the improvement caused by a “mitigating measure” such as medication, hearing aids, prosthetics, mobility devices, or other means when determining whether a student has a physical or mental impairment.

Determine an education plan comparable to that provided to non-disabled students: School districts are required to provide students with disabilities appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual needs of students as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met.

Again, bold is mine. But this is taken directly from their website.

Whew! Ok, now on to the accommodations I promised you.

Wait, one more thing!

504 Accommodations

How Section 504 defines (ADHD) Accommodations: When a child is determined to be eligible for services under Section 504, the school must eliminate barriers to his or her access to full participation in school activities, including the general education curriculum.

Accommodations must give the child meaningful equal opportunities, consider his or her functional limitations, and offer different ways to show what he or she knows.

Examples of accommodations include testing in a quiet room, preferential seating, digital textbooks, tailored homework assignments, or a sign language interpreter for a track meet.

ADHD Accommodations

What accommodations can be in a 504 plan for ADHD? Well, it would be determined by the student’s needs. I have several listed below.

  1. {Executive Functioning} IEP Goals | Accommodations | Apps | Strategies |
  2. {Working Memory} IEP goals | Strategies | Accommodations
  3. {Inference} Definition | Examples | Strategies | IEP Goals
  4. Essential List of 500+ Accommodations and Strategies for your IEP or 504.
  5. Anxiety: IEP and 504 Accommodations and Strategies {free printable list!}
  6. Executive Functioning Tests | What IEP Assessments to Look For
  7. Retaking Tests | Why IEP Teams Should Rethink this Accommodation
  8. How to Get Extended Time on Tests | IEP | 504 | Best Practices
  9. Strategies and Interventions to overcome Task Paralysis

And last but not least, here is a great printable with lots of accommodation ideas for various disabilities.

But, since it is put together alphabetically, ADHD is one of the first ones. The printables are the same–sometimes it doesn’t show in the window as a preview first, sorry!

Good luck and I hope this helps.

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