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.

Impulsive behaviors, such as flying paper planes in class, might be improved by 504 accomodations for adhd.
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Manage Impulsivity in the Classroom

Many children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) struggle with impulsivity and self-control. If your child speaks out of turn at school:

  • Seat him front and center, near the teacher, and away from distractions
  • Discuss the behavior in private rather than calling him out in front of the class
  • Have him sit next to a well-behaved role model
  • Increase the distance between desks, if possible
  •  For younger students, mark an area with tape around his desk in which he can move freely
Low grades on assignments can be improved by 504 accomodations for adhd.
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Help for Half-Done or Incomplete Assignments

ADHD also walks hand-in-hand with executive function deficits, which impact a student's ability to plan, execute, and complete his work. If your child's grades are suffering due to unfinished work:

  • Allow extra time to complete assigned work
  • Break long assignments into smaller segments, each with a deadline
  • Shorten assignments or work periods
  • Pair written instructions with oral instructions
  • Set a timer for 10-minute intervals and have the student get up and show the teacher her work
Two kids in a classroom focusing on their work aided by 504 accomodations for adhd.
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Help Classroom Focus

If your child doesn’t participate, drifts off when taking notes, or turns in work with mistakes:

  • Have a peer assist him in note taking
  • Have the teacher ask questions to encourage participation
  • Enlist him to help present the lesson
  • Cue him to stay on task with a private signal — a gentle tap on the shoulder
  • Schedule a five-minute period for him to check over work before turning in assignments

[Free Download: Creating An IEP/504 Plan for Your ADHD Child]

A student causing a distruption in class which might be alleviated by 504 accomodations for adhd.
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End Disruptive Classroom Behavior

If your child is disrupting other students' learning:

  • Ask the teacher to ignore minor inappropriate behavior
  • Allow the student to play with paper clips or doodle
  • Designate a place in advance where he or she can let off steam
  • Adjust assignments so that they are not too long or too hard
  • Develop a behavior contract with the student and parents (share info about what works at home or vice versa)
A student daydreaming in class which 504 accomodations for adhd could improve by encouraging focus and engagement.
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Help a Daydreamer Focus

If your child is inattentive:

  • Have the teacher use clear verbal signals, such as “Freeze,” "This is important,” or “One, two, three…eyes on me”
  • Allow the student to earn the right to daydream for 5-10 minutes after completing her assignment
  • Use a flashlight or a laser pointer to illuminate objects or words to pay attention to
  • Illustrate vocabulary words and science concepts with small drawings or stick figures
A student fidgeting during a test which 504 accomodations for adhd can help ease and mitigate.
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Settle Fidgety, Restless Behaviors

If your child taps his foot or pencil nervously in class or gets up out of his seat a lot:

  • Allow him to run errands, to hand out papers to students, clean off bookshelves, or to stand at times while working
  • Give him a fidget toy in class to increase concentration
  • Slot in short exercise breaks between assignments
  • Give him a standing desk or an air-filled rubber disk to sit on so he can wiggle around
A teacher assigning homework on the blackboard, which 504 accomodations for adhd can help your child to complete by improving communication.
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Keep Track of Homework and Books

If your child forgets to bring home homework assignments or books, return papers to school, or to put his name on his paper:

  • Use an assignment notebook/student planner
  • Allow students to dictate assignments into a Memo Minder, a small three-minute tape recorder, or their phone
  • Staple the teacher’s weekly lesson plan in the student’s planner
  • Reduce the number of papers that are sent home to be signed
  • Appoint monitors to make sure that students write down homework assignments
  • Allow student to keep a second set of books at home

[Free Template: A Sample 504 Plan]

A teacher spending extra time explaining a concept to a student in accordance with 504 accomodations for adhd.
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Put Time on His Side

If your child has trouble with due dates and deadlines:

  • Give advanced notice about upcoming projects and report
  • Stand next to the student to make sure that the assigned task is begun quickly
  • Present all assignments and due dates verbally and visually
  • Use timers to mark transitions — putting materials away before starting a new subject or project
A student is isolated and gossiped about in class, which 504 plan accomodations can assist in by allowing her to expand her social network.
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Expand Her Social Network

If your child is clueless about social cues, doesn’t work well with others, or isn’t respected by peers:

  • Set up social-behavior goals with her and implement a reward program
  • Request that the school establish a social skills group
  • Encourage cooperative learning tasks
  • Assign her special responsibilities or a leadership role
  • Compliment positive behavior and work
  • Acknowledge appropriate behavior and good work frequently
An apprehensive student contemplating his writing assignment, which 504 accomodations for adhd can help manage.
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Take the Fear Out of Writing

If your child is challenged by written assignments:

  • Allow more time for written assignments and essay questions
  • Shorten reports or assignments
  • Allow students to print; don’t require cursive writing
  • Allow the option of a recorded or oral report in lieu of writing
  • Encourage students to use a computer for written work
  • Allow the use of spell check and grammar check software
Student with ADHD writing out math problem on blackboard with teacher looking on
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Reduce Math Anxiety

If your child does not finish math tests, is slow to finish homework, or has problems with multi-step problems:

  • Photocopy pages for students so they do not have to rewrite math problems
  • Keep sample math problems on the board
  • Allow use of a calculator for class and homework
  • Give review summaries for math exams
  • Give extended time on tests

[Free Resource: A Sample Accommodations Request Letter]

12 Related Links

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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

    2. 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.

  3. 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….

    1. 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

    2. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

    1. 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.

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