To Have an IEP or 504 Plan or not to have?

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  conhud 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #101391



    My daughter was diagnosed with ADD in ability to focus last year in 3rd grade. I finally had her tested although the teachers kept saying she was fine, due to her suddenly making C’s and D’s and becoming very emotional. I noticed a big change in her self esteem. After a long discussion with her doctor we started her on a very low dose of Folcin XR (5mg). The change we saw was amazing, my happy girl was back. I wasn’t sure if it was from the medication or that talking to her doctor made her feel better. My guess was a little of both. We finished 3rd grade well.

    Then the new year rolled around, 4th grade. She was a wreck again. The doctor said we should increase her medication. I didn’t want to but I could see the negative emotional state again. There were too many changes of routine for her. I immedately had a teacher with her teachers to remind them as we discussed in orientation that she had ADD. They seem to think she was fine, I was overreacting.

    One too many nights of battling over the simplest of Homework assignments lead me to call the doctor. We also schedule another meeting with the School Administrator. I felt if she was going to require a medication increase that I should talk to the school about possible IEP’s or 504 plans. The Administrator seem to present things that those plans would have a negative impact on my childs life, especially when she got to highschool and would be planning for college. I thought these plans were in place to help children?

    We do attend a small private Christian School, so I am usually able to talk to teachers and administrators directly and make necessary changes that seem to help my child. My question is though, Which is better to continue through elementary, middle, and high school talking it out and making accommodations without an IEP or 504 or to attempt to get one because it will help her when college roles around? Assuming she still needs help in some areas? We are very diligent on making behavior modifications and learning of life skills to handle her specific difficulties.

    Thanks for any advice you can give.

  • #101437


    If I could offer any advice, speaking from experience as I have ADHD & I got accommodations in elementary, middle, and high school from the IEP. IT IS A HUGE BENEFIT. As much of a pain it was for my mom to review it every year with administrators, she knew it would help me do well in school. I wouldn’t have passed my junior year of high school if I didn’t have the accommodations that I had. I got extra time on my exams (which helped me pass Physics), I had tutoring available for me (this helped me in 10th & 11th grade Math).

    The biggest benefit: The A..C..T!
    Trust me when I tell you, this will be like a God-send for you & your daughter as she gets older & begins preparing for the ACT to apply for college. Since she has been medically diagnosed with ADHD, with the IEP in place with the administrators, she’ll be able to have extra time to take the exam. Anyway, the group of students who had extra time for the ACT along with me was EXTREMELY SMALL (maybe 10 out of 1500 at the entire school). The extra time was extremely helpful, as I made a 23 ACT under usual conditions, and a 27 ACT under my ADHD accommodated conditions (**covered by the IEP**). My ACT score is mostly the reason that I’m on a scholarship right now that covers about HALF of my college tuition. Although they still pay the other half, the fact that my education is covered is enough for them.

    I couldn’t understand this until I first started college last year at 18 years old. Now I thank God & my parents for maintaining that IEP for me since I was 4 years old. LOL!

    I would suggest discussing possible school accommodations with her doctor, just like you discuss her medication, just so you’ll know what specific accommodations you want for her before going to the administrators. Basically, work with her doctor more-so than the administrators to get the accommodations you’re looking for. There is a reason doctor’s notes work for excusing children from school. LOL.

    I’m only 19 so I don’t have much life experience yet but I did have accommodations in school (I still do in college). I’ll always be willing to give advice or help to other people who deal with ADHD. Although it’s tough to deal with, ADHD just means your daughter is different & unique from everyone else.

    Happy to be-of-help,
    Kendall Boults Jr.

  • #101528


    A private school is exempt from the Section 504 and IDEA laws (the laws that you get a 504 or IEP under). They do not have to offer any accommodations or services at all. The fact that they deny her diagnosis is a red flag.

    My opinion is that having low grades and being an emotional wreck all the time is far more detrimental than a 504 Plan or IEP. Most colleges today like seeing that a student with learning differences is using the accommodations available so they can succeed. And you do need them if you want accommodations for SAT and ACT testing.

    It is really too early to be worrying about college though. Right now, you’re daughter is having a really hard time. What is going to help her with that? The answer to that question is what you need to focus on.

    ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #102551


    Like someone mentioned, private schools don’t need to accommodate students with learning difficulties. I think she’s too young for you to be concerned about high school and college. 504 plans you don’t need to let colleges know about if you don’t want to and aren’t seeking accommodations, however an iep goes on a child’s academic record, at least in our state they do.
    My son went on a 504 for about six months in middle school and it didn’t do much for him. He didn’t need extra time for test taking. All they did was move him to the front of the class. No cutback in homework which is what we were seeking. He was smart and they knew it so they pushed him.
    He’s in his senior year now of high school. He’s been managing to get by all these years, sometimes barely, and sometimes he hits it out of the ball park. Of course we’d prefer his grades to always be high Bs and As but he’s doing it on his own and he’s proud of it. We had tutors after school at home to help him so no one at school needed to know and this year he’s flying solo and doing rather well. For him, he didn’t want to be different from other kids so it was important to him that he didn’t have accommodations that separated and labeled him from others. High school is an awkward time at best for kids so I respected his concerns and as long as he passes I’m happy for him. For us, our thinking is: life isn’t going to accommodate you when you’re out in the work force. Try to deal the best you can with what you have.
    Everyone’s child is different but for us this was the best for him.

    • #102684


      Thank you for sharing! We work with her greatly on aspects that the world will be hard on her with. My main concern is that I’d she dosen’t have a plan now it will hurt her when it comes time to take the ACT and if she needs it in college she won’t be able to get help.

  • #102579


    I’m a 19 yr old college student who has lived through this but you don’t have to take my word for it though. But you and your daughter especially her are better off getting an IEP, I had one and it helped me get through school, especially when it came to tests because of an accommodation I had and still do have to this day and it was extra time. I was allowed to leave class and go to another classroom which was known as a skill development class. I was also allowed to have the test read to me too. I took concerta for majority of my life until I was maybe 15 or 16 yrs old because it wasn’t working as well as it used to now I’m on Adderall, which is helping me better to concentrate.

    Your daughter can get accommodations for her IEP as I did with mine if your daughters’ school has lockers and hers is far away from her next class ask whoever you need to talk to if she can leave a few minutes early if she needs to. It helped me not feel so rushed and worried about being late to class because without it I would’ve been late to my classes.

    I dont know if this helped you any…

    • #102686


      Yes she hates to feel rushed! This is what I worry will be a problem for her later. While we work at life lessons on how to deal with these feelings and how to manage time better to avoid these feelings. However she might need assistance when taking test which is available. I would feel awful if I wait too late to out a plan in place and it be detrimental for her. You know what to help your children all you can. Life is hard on so many levels I just want to help where I can.

  • #102622


    My daughter was diagnosed in middle school,
    Before that we struggled. She had been in a gifted program in a bilingual school so I thought it was too much for her. I did my research and know that small private schools
    Do not have the resources to help students w special needs. My advice to you is to go to the local school district and see which public school would be the best fit. I was raised in religious schools myself, but for your child I would think hard about staying in a place where they are already saying NO to services she needs and deserves.

    • #102689


      She could get a plan through the local public school, we have some kids that do this. I think the main issues is that she makes As and Bs when meds are correct. They do not see that she has any issues.

  • #102627


    I am a retired high school teacher and school counselor. I have children and grandchildren with ADD and have worked with many parents as well as students. You received much good information ans especially from those living with ADD. You need to decide about your school choice, but if your school will allow you to have an IEP you should go for it. Public schools also often try to discourage parents, but the parent and the child have all the rights. A good IEP is a safety net for you and your child. I would also recommend looking for a support group. Best of luck.

    • #102690


      Thank you for.sharing! The docotor seems to think she would be considered boarders line and not be able to get one? But I think we should see?

  • #102643


    It makes me sad that your Christian school isn’t knocking themselves out looking for what is best for your child.
    I have ADD, my high school daughter is off-the-chart ADD, and I have a dear friend who teaches at a school for kids with learning differences. I have two thoughts: (1) if accommodations will let your daughter feel sane and do her best, why not ensure she has them? (2) I don’t think it’s ever too early to be thinking about college and the long term. These years between elementary and high school will help you and your child figure out what works best for her. Remember, you also have puberty coming. AND, as it stands now, if you don’t establish use of a 504 plan in high school, you can’t get it in college. My daughter wasn’t diagnosed until she was 16 and when I look back at the hell she suffered through, it breaks my heart.
    As for “the world” not accommodating her, that only makes it more urgent that you start helping her now with self-awareness and learning what *she* can do that will work for her in the big bad world. Best Wishes & Prayers for you.

    • #102691


      Yes that’s just it I do not want to wait and then it be to late. It’s a hard thing to know which direction to take. Just want what’s best for her.

  • #102659


    Also, if you have a child in private school and they would benefit from additional assistance, contact your child’s public school district. Even though they attend private school, the public school district is legally obligated to provide your child with services. I would never let any school tell me what is best for my two sons . Sometimes you have to be a bully to get what your child needs, however in this case it is appropriate. Make sure you read and understand the IEP before it is put into place . they can and do make mistakes some on purpose some by accident.

    • #102692


      Yes it always amazing me how we parents have to fight so for our children.

  • #102687


    Listen to Penny (ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism.) Do what you need to do for your daughter. You have the write to ask for a 504 plan. They should schedule an SST (student support team) meeting. This is the meeting of the principal, psych, teacher, and parent. Get a parent advocate if you need to. Your daughter is going through something that only others with a disorder can understand. Unfortunately, even teachers don’t have control. It could be a fight with admin.

    Good luck!

    • #102693


      Yes I think penny said it well. I am planning to ask more questions for her docotor who seem to think she wouldn’t qualify for either due to how well the medication helps her? I thinking it’s worth finding g out.

    • #102874


      My son was diagnosed in 1st grade. Developmental ped who diagnosed told me to request a 504 plan. I request a full evaluation for services and IEP. It was denied. I told the developmental MD that I was appealing the decision. He said I was wasting my time, that my son didn’t need or qualify for an IEP (mind you, this is a doctor, not a teacher, educational advocate, or educational attorney).

      Two years later, in 3rd grade, it was insanely obvious that he needed an IEP and services, and we got them at that time. He’s now 16 and barely passing his classes, despite still having an IEP (and a gifted IQ), because the school refuses to implement anything in the IEP to accommodate severe executive functioning deficits.

      Even once you get an IEP, the fighting for your child doesn’t stop. It’s maddening, and unconscionable.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #102965


    Yes it will always be a fight, for her too. It breaks my heart! Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement and advice!

  • #102996


    Our son was dx’d with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) in kindergarten. We took him to an excellent Developmental doctor (Mind Institute-CA) who gave him his dx. With that in hand we got an IEP from the public school and he received a 1 on 1 aide mainstreamed in a regular class; speech therapy and other resources. When he was to enter 4th grade we were told he would be in a “special needs” class and bused to the location which could be in the neighboring city. Since he had “adopted” negative behaviors in kindergarten from other children with issues (prompting us to ask for mainstream class) I was not about to let him go into that class. We withdrew him and home schooled through high school. He now is attending college with accommodations (extra time for tests, recording device for seminars, etc.) I would encourage you, as others have, to get the IEP now. You do not know what the future holds. As a Christian mom myself it might be beneficial to put your child in public school to get the IEP and then switch back. But idk if Christian colleges accommodate either but if she goes to public community college it would be a benefit there. Lots of things to think about and now is the time to do it.

  • #106863


    I see that it’s been a couple of months since this thread was added to, but in case the issue hasn’t been resolved yet–I’m curious as to what state you live in? I’m a school psychologist in WI- so my job is essentially determining which students do or don’t qualify for IEPs or 504 plans–and I’d love to try to help if I can, though eligibility criteria does vary state by state. (I also happen to be the mom of an amazing 5-yr-old boy who’s diagnosed with severe ADHD, Autistic Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder:))

    • #106904


      Thank you so much! I live in Alabama. Not much has changed. I need to have her evaluated, I just have to figure how/who can do this. I am own my own. The doctor still says she won’t qualify and gives no pointers. The private school keeps telling me she is fine. But my free is that they her helping her giving her exceptions, which is great for the present time, but what about when she is in college? Any information you can share as I am still learning would be most appreciated!

  • #106903


    Thank you so much! I live in Alabama. Not much has changed. I need to have her evaluated, I just have to figure how/who can do this. I am own my own. The doctor still says she won’t qualify and gives no pointers. The private school keeps telling me she is fine. But my free is that they her helping her giving her exceptions, which is great for the present time, but what about when she is in college? Any information you can share as I am still learning would be most appreciated!

  • #108139

    Dr. Eric

    Some pointers from a school administrator.

    – Private schools can pretty much make their own rules so long as there is not blatant discrimination.
    However, the local school district is required to participate in “Child-Find”.
    See the federal guide on IDEA and private schools here.

    – With that being said, 99% of all private school assessment requests that myself or my staff have ever received have been pushy parents saying “My kid get straight A’s, but has to work really hard for them” or “They won’t get into Harvard if you don’t offer modifications on the SATs” Meanwhile, parents with real needs are silently suffering.

    – If you do get a public school evaluation, they are not looking at a nuanced clinical diagnosis. They are looking at “will the child qualify for special education?” The most common mistake that I see on these forums is that the disability does not drive eligibility, the level of impairment does.

    For special education, you must have a qualifying disability AND cannot get a measurable educational benefit without special education (In IDEA, this is embedded in CFR 300.8. Here in CA, Education Code 56026). A meaningful and measurable educational benefit is called “FAPE” (Free and Appropriate Public Education). This is a high threshold to qualify.

    Another issue with private school evaluation is that eligibility requires the team to rule out the quality of instruction and quality of school experience. If the private school or teacher has a questionable reputation, this could be an issue.

    Once the assessors have met the minimum requirements to determine eligibility, they are done. This may or may not result in a report that is useful for your purposes.

    – 504 Eligibility – 504 requires a student to have a disability AND it impairs a major life function that the school needs to accommodate. It is a more open eligibility criteria, but I am not aware of the public school’s child-find requirement extending to private schools for 504’s.

    Now, once you get an assessment and eligibility is determined, you still have to contend with what a private school is or is not willing to do for you.

  • #108387


    We are legal guardians of an 11 year old boy, our great nephew. We have had custody since he was 18 months. He has been diagnosed with ADHD. We sent him to a private Christian school, but moved a few months ago and he is now attending a public school. We have had several meetings with his teachers this year and they have suggested putting him on a 504 plan. He has been disrespectful, and is a “class clown”. He is a sweet boy, but we go round and round about homework, etc. We are uncertain what questions to ask at the meeting, and would like some input please.

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