Every 504 Plan Should Include These ADHD Accommodations
Impulsive behavior. Incomplete homework. Inconsistent focus. Whatever your child's school challenges, these teacher-approved accommodations can put some real muscle behind his 504 Plan and put the attention back on learning.
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13 Comments: Every 504 Plan Should Include These ADHD Accommodations
These are great suggestions! I feel strongly that #1 that should be on all 504 or IEP’s is that the teacher changes their “lens” to “Kids do well when they can”. Far too many teachers (and parents) treat these kids as if they are making a choice to misbehave. Dr. Ross Greene (livesinthebalance.org) talks about viewing kids with a different lens and eliminating punitive and consequence/reward based systems. He also talks about how it is important to identify what is appropriate for your child. Every child with ADHD has their own profile and more than half likely have co existing disorders or disabilities. You can offer solutions all day (that work for others) but if they do not work for that particular child you could be exacerbating the problems. Getting information from the child that confirms what is “getting in their way” and then collaborating with the child to come up with ideas/solutions that meet the teacher/parent concern and the student concern really is a much better approach. One major positive with his concept is that no child is getting punished for a symptom, lagging skill, or problem that they can not yet manage. This greatly reduces the maladaptive behaviors that generate from adults misunderstanding and mistreating kids.
Making a statement that EVERY plan should have something sure takes the individual out of the equation.
I’m having a difficult time with my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher and my daughter’s ADHD. A has come home from school almost everyday since the 2nd day of school this year crying that her teacher is mean and she hates her this coming Fri is the end of the 1st 6 weeks. The teacher signs her folder at least twice a week for the smallest of behavior like bending over to pick up a highlighter off the floor that dropped next to her desk. Silly stuff really on the grand scheme of some of the behaviors A has had in the past while we were adjusting her meds. At our school it’s the punishment of choice because a folder being signed more than 3 times in a 6 week period puts them out of the “drawing” for perfect folder or excellent folder where a drawing is held for cash prizes. Literal bribes. And there are award assemblies at the end of each 6 weeks for the entire Elem at once to present awards in front of everyone for these as well as perfect attendance/excellent attendance so what happens usually is everyone in the class get an award except my ADHD child. So this year A is trying so so hard to be good with no avail from this teacher. This new teacher is bent on demanding organization and responsibility from the kids so the students are in charge of writing down thier own homework and putting it in thier own folders going home and doing it and bringing it back and turning it in. This from my child who literally can not focus or remember what she was doing 10 secs in to a task as simple as “walk in to the kitchen and grab an apple off the table” every task at home has to be segmented? And on top of the normal homework she send home extra work as well because “A just sits in class and stares at her work instead of doing it in class”. A says she doesnt understand it and when she asks for help the teacher tells her to put her hand down because she is disrupting class. So what ends up happening is after my shift at work (I’m a nurse) I’m to come home and literally sit at the table and listen to my A scream and cry for 2 1/2 – 3 hours for literally 2 or 3 pages of homework as I try and break down every portion of each problem to where she can understand it then once that problem is done we have to start over for the next one because she already has forgotten what to do. It’s a nightmare! I’m at my wits end! I have written notes to the teacher trying to work out something better, I have had a parent teacher conference at 3 weeks mark (at my own request) where the teacher denied any problems and oh A is so sweet and so smart and then blamed me and A for any issues. My child has not had a 504 or IEP I never even heard of those before i read an article about ADHD in this site. I dont even know where to begin! Changing teachers is not an option, our school is a small 1A district. There only 12 kids in 3rd grade at all so there is only one 3rd grade teacher, and by the way her husband is also the Superintendent so who can I even complain to? I’m so lost. I dont know what to do or where to begin but I’m fired up and I’m angry and I feel like something must be done because I cant deal watching my child emotionally struggle so much!
Write a letter to your child’s school requesting that they evaluate her and provide her with a 504 plan. Hand deliver it, and ask to present it to the administrator in person. If they try to brush you off offer to go to the district.
Excellent article and comments. I write as a mother of an ADHD son before there were 504’s, and as a grandmother of an ADHD grandson who has a 504. As a former teacher I initiated the first 504 plan in my district, and subsequently, as an Intervention Specialist, I wrote all the 504 plans for my school. Yes, teachers should always use best practices. Insist on all these great accommodations. But please understand that teachers have a whole classroom of students and it may not happen because teachers have limited time and resources. (The year almost a third of my fourth grade class had IEP’s or 504’s was particularly challenging. I focused on those accommodations that were feasible for the majority. Providing “preferential seating” for each student was nearly impossible.) 504’s are sometimes vague because we don’t like to box in teachers to specifics. When I wrote the 504’s, I tried to give the teachers some flexibility, such as “Whenever possible, shorten assignments.” Sometimes, it would be a disservice to shorten a test if every question was important to judge learning. But you can suggest that 1/2 the test be given before recess and 1/2 after recess. As a math specialist, I encouraged teachers to give no more than 10 math problems for homework for every student; if the problems are at the right difficultly, 10 problems is all that can be completed accurately by most people before mistakes begin to be made from fatigue. Appreciate the efforts the teacher makes and suggest ways to make it easier for her. For instance, I was not doing a good job of seeing that “Jake’s” Planner was correctly filled out each day; his dad suggested having a classmate do this. Two happy boys, parents, and teacher. This last year I tutored my 3rd grade grandson who has ADHD. His wonderful teacher accepted notes such as, “N understands perimeter, so I had him do only the word problems.” Or, “I helped him edit his writing assignment – my suggestions to him are shown in ink. His own revisions are in blue pencil.” But sometimes, you just get a difficult teacher. In second grade the teacher insisted N had to complete 100 math facts in 5 minutes – even though he had a 2 minute attention span. His parents worked with the counselor who agreed to test him on 20 problems in one minute…then a different set of 20 problems in one minute, and so on. This teacher never seemed to understand that she was testing his attention span, not his mastery of facts. (I regret not encouraging his parents to request a change of teacher instead of toughing it out.) Ask the teacher his preferred communication method. Let the principal know when a teacher is doing a good job of providing accommodations. It is a rare teacher that does not truly care about your child and will do all she can to help him.
My son was diagnosed more than a year ago. I have worked with the school on interventions etc, until they finally decided that 504 should be in place. I’m struggling with what I have requested to be inserted in his 504 and told that is “best practice” and does not need to be included. Examples: My son be given an outline /study guide prior to tests, my son being allowed to submit a draft of his written work for feedback from teacher to make sure he’s on right track, written directions broken into steps if complex, etc….all of this was told that this is best practice and teacher already should be doing that. My son always forgets things in school, and I requested that copies of his assignments be uploaded to the google classroom that some of the teachers are using for every class, and was told this can not be “forced” on teachers if that is not their teaching style. They are entitled to academic freedom. One of his teachers uploads all assignments, notes, outlines etc,and he isn’t as stressed in this class, and is successful So i asked for his other teachers to do the same thing, but was denied. My son always turns in assignments late, I asked that he not be penalized if I communicated with the teacher that the assignment was done if they can que him in class to turn in…NOpe can’t do that either…..I’m at a lost right now for words….
A lot of tactics for accommodations for ADHD are definitely just plain good ideas for everyone. But they tend to become essential or critical for people with attention and impulse problems. And a lot of teachers don’t always use all those “best practices” all the time or enough. If they are things the teachers should be doing anyway, then it won’t hurt them to put it in the 504. It just ensures it will get done for your child. And theoretically it should be the easiest accommodations for them to implement, because they’re already doing them, right?!? Many people don’t understand that what’s nice or a good idea becomes absolutely critical for these kids. Keep at it. You’re on the right track.
Do not accept this. As a student with a diagnosed disability that negatively impacts his learning, he has a right to accommodations and assistance to access the same education as his neurotypical peers. A 504 plan and an IEP are both instructional documents for teachers, by their very nature. First, I would contact the Director of Special Education/Services for your district’s governing Board of Education. Share this story with them and ask them how you should proceed to get your child the disability services he has a legal right to. If that individual doesn’t immediately act to rectify this situation, then go to your state’s Department of Ed, Disability Services Department. File a state complaint if you have to. Of course, if you can, hire an advocate to help you navigate this and affect change. Sometimes, seeing that there’s a professional advocate involved is enough to make school personnel shape up and do what they must.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
How can we ask teachers to ignore even small amounts of inappropriate behavior? Should we really be teaching them that it’s okay and they can get away with it instead of helping them self-manage and giving them a firm “no” once in a while? Also, why is the answer less work, fewer problems, or shorter assignments? Don’t you think we are setting them up for failure in life if we reinforce to them that they don’t have to do the same amount of work the other kids have to do? Not only that, when we shorten assignments, lower the standard, or require less work of him than the other kids, what does that teach him? Don’t you think he wonders WHY the teacher doesn’t think he can do it? When he loses or forgets or doesn’t feel like finishing a multi-part assignment, like a research paper, what does he learn if he doesn’t have to do it? He learns that if he just waits long enough, the work will go away. Sooner or later, they give up on themselves and don’t even care if they get an F. What if another of his teachers isn’t so understanding? What if next year’s teachers expect him to know that material that he was exempted from having to learn?
I agree that we have to be careful not to set them up for future failure (and in my case, not set him up for lots of loopholes to take advantage of), or that they never hear the word “no”. But the accommodations should be set up to help them learn the same material that works for them, not to excuse them from learning. These kids learn differently. And all kids learn best in positive experiences.
Ignoring minor misbehavior actually teaches them that that kind of behavior won’t get attention, and will therefore decrease overtime. And if not, then at least they’re not getting negative interactions for stuff that doesn’t matter a whole lot. It’s often times just not worth it. The book “The Power of Positive Parenting” explains all this.
As for the accommodations for homework, in-class work modifications, etc., with nothing to address their challenges, that’s like telling someone who’s nearsighted that they can’t have glasses or sit closer to the board, but expecting the same output, and even punishing them if they can’t do it right, maybe all the while saying, “just keep trying harder”.
When we teach children how to tie shoes, we show them, help them, talk and walk them through it, break it down into little steps until they can do it. And we don’t berate them or punish them, or leave them to learn from their mistakes on their own. We don’t expect 2 yr olds to open heavy doors on their own just because we told them how. It’s sometimes very, very difficult to know what expectations there should be for what their abilities truly are. I think of ADHD as an explanation and not an excuse (I probably err on the side of being too hard on my son). It is important that there should be a little struggle, because that’s how we learn and grow best sometimes, but it shouldn’t break us. These kids generally have a lot of struggle already built in — they have to work 10 times as hard to do 1/2 of what most kids do naturally. If they are doing pretty well with the accommodations in place, then, you’ve probably found a pretty good balance. If they hate school and are demoralized, then they obviously need some help. I wish I’d had a better handle on this when my son was younger — looking back I still ache at the pain he went through at such a tender age.
It’s not about reducing what they learn, it’s about evening the playing field so kids with disabilities that impact learning and academic performance have an equal opportunity. Reduced assignments are only appropriate when a student needs them. For instance, your child is spending 3 hours on math homework every time, but peers are spending 30 minutes or less, and the teacher expects 30 minutes or less. Requiring your child to spend those three hours so he or she is doing exactly the same volume as everyone else is really punishing them for having a disability.
It’s not at all about lowering standards, but about teaching the child to work with and around weaknesses and struggles to still be able to succeed. It’s about being sure that your child isn’t doing schoolwork every moment of every day, greatly reducing their quality of life (as well as the family’s). When you discuss things like this with your child, you frame it in a way that doesn’t point out that they don’t have to “do as much as everyone else.” They’re putting in the same effort and hard work, they’re just not being punished for have a neuro atypical brain.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
All of your articles are encouraging and help explain concepts. This article sets itself apart that it answers the question “how?” I will be able to use several suggestions here with our school 504 plan discussions. Thank you and keep up the great work.