Do IEPs Cover Executive-Function Problems?


"The school psychologist told me that an IEP doesn’t cover my daughter’s executive-function problems. True or false?"

ADDitude contributor Robert Tudisco is a practicing attorney with ADHD and an expert on special education law and disability advocacy.

False. Executive-function problems are covered under IEPs. ADHD, essentially an executive-function impairment, is specifically covered under the Other Health Impaired (OHI) category in IDEA.

Many school districts, though, will try to direct parents toward a 504 Plan. In some cases, they don’t know any better. Some school administrators mistakenly believe that ADHD is covered only under a 504. In other cases, the school may find it easier to set up and administer a 504 rather than an IEP.

Depending upon your child’s needs and the extent of her impairment -- all of which should be documented by your child’s doctor -- she may need a formal IEP, which has more procedural protections than a 504 Plan and allows more latitude in providing special-education services. Some school districts do what is easier or more cost-effective for them instead of what the law requires.

Since Robert Tudisco was diagnosed with ADHD, he has researched and written extensively on the subject of special education law and disability advocacy, and now specializes in the area as a practicing attorney. He is a former Executive Director of the Edge Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides specialized coaches for students with ADHD and Executive Functioning Impairment. He has served on the National Board of Directors of CHADD and is a former Vice President of ADDA. He is a frequent resource for the media, including CBS News, New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, ABC News, The BBC, The Today Show, CNN, USA Today, and The Seattle Times.
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