Ask the Experts

Is 16 Too Old for a 504 Plan?

My high school junior was just diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and now I’m wondering if it’s too late for a 504 Plan to help with his executive dysfunction and motivation problems related to ADHD. Can it make a difference with homework at this late stage?

Q: “What is your opinion about putting a 16-year-old boy on a 504 Plan? Helpful, or not? He has not been on a plan, but struggles mostly with executive functions and homework. He was recently diagnosed with ADHD.” — PNWMOM


Whenever I suggest to a parent that their child would benefit from a IEP or 504 Plan for ADHD, I usually know more about the child’s diagnosis and difficulties, as well as the type of services their school offers.

That said, my short answer to you is YES! It sounds as if your son, since he is struggling with homework and executive dysfunction, could use the support and scaffolding of a 504 Plan so he has access to the same education as his classmates.

With a 504 Plan, your son may be eligible to receive accommodations such as reduced homework, extended test-taking time, intensive tutoring, or a study-skills class that focuses on organization and time-management skills.

Again, I am not sure of your son’s plans after high school, but if he is thinking of attending college then having a 504 Plan in place NOW will benefit him AFTER. For example, if your son struggles with time on tests and needs that extra time to be successful, or taking a test in the resource room or library helps to minimize distractions, you are going to want to apply for those accommodations when taking standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. Getting approval for these accommodations is not easy (definitely speak with your son’s guidance counselor, as you will need his or her help in this process); showing a history of accommodations will be very helpful.

Although your son’s 504 Plan won’t travel with him to college, he can still receive certain accommodations for ADHD in college. And though each college varies in its requirements for documentation, each will want to receive past copies of 504 or IEP plans that detail the services given.

If you are looking for more detailed information about how to begin the process or what to ask for, look no further than ADDitude magazine. The ADDitude site an abundance of resources and guides, but I would recommend getting started with this informative article:

Good Luck!

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