My son was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten. I was one of those people who thought he would eventually grow out of it, because nothing was wrong with MY kid. It was only when I was able to accept that my son had a learning disability that I was able to help him succeed.
As I sit here with tears streaming down my face about to head into my second 504 Plan meeting in 30 days, frustrated and confused, I want to share with you some tips and resources I recently discovered.
What is a 504 Plan?
When I first began the 504 Plan journey, I had no idea what it involved or what it was. The 504 Plan comes from section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It is is a written management plan you create, in conjunction with the school, that addresses how the school will accommodate the needs of your child. My son’s elementary school recommended he be put on one based on his ADHD.
School districts are required to provide students with disabilities appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual needs of students as adequately as the needs of students without disabilities are met. Accommodations must give the child meaningful equal opportunities, consider his or her functional limitations, and offer different ways to show what he or she knows.
Who to Contact
If you believe your child needs a 504 Plan, contact your child’s teacher and school counselor. Suggest a meeting to discuss your concerns and plan of action.
How to Qualify
Your child can qualify for a 504 Plan if they have ADHD, or a number of other learning disabilities. These include things such as a food allergies, epilepsy, and trouble reading or even concentrating.
If your child does not need special education classes, but you feel he or she may benefit educationally from certain accommodations (such as testing in a quiet room, preferential seating, digital textbooks, or tailored homework assignments), you may want to look more into a 504 Plan.
If your child is struggling with learning and attention issues, here is a list of different learning accommodations that can help your child’s specific needs.
What to Bring to Your Meeting
You will need a record of the issues your child has experienced. If he or she is clinically diagnosed as having ADHD, bring this paperwork to the meeting.
Has your child had notes sent home for not focusing in class or misbehaving? You will want bring that note (or in my case – notes) to the meeting. If you no longer have notes, you can document you received a note and include what it stated. Be sure to date it.
What to Expect After the Meeting
Just because your child has a disability does not mean he or she qualifies for a 504 Plan. The school has to conduct an evaluation to see if your child has a general learning disability or trouble learning in a normal classroom setting.
Dealing With a Diagnosis Over the Years
My son is now in middle school, and at first it was a little intimidating asking for help and requesting meetings with his teachers. However now I am confident and am in contact with his teachers several times a week about homework assignments, tests, and quizzes. I also ask questions to make sure he is paying attention in class. Remain calm and respectful in your conversations, keeping in mind you are both working together towards a common goal in helping your child succeed.
While parenting a child with a learning disability can be exhausting and frustrating, utilizing the support and resources available to you as a parent is extremely beneficial. Working with the school and staying involved will not only help you, but your child as well.