ADHD and Learning Disorder School Classifications

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A description of the different ADHD and Learning Disorder Classifications.

Book Excerpt from the ADHD e-BOOK

“Section 504” Accommodations

  • Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act (Public Law 93-112) is a Federal civil rights law which aims at eliminating discrimination in any program that receives federal funds (including almost all US schools and colleges).
  • By 504 definition, the disability:
    • can be physical or mental;
    • must substantially limit one or more “life activities” such as learning, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, speaking, hearing, or walking.
  • Parents or the school may initiate a 504 evaluation.
  • Classification under Section 504 will typically require a school meeting, but less formal psychological and educational testing than classification under IDEA (see below.)
  • A written plan for 504 accommodations is not mandated, but certainly makes sense. It should be periodically revised (yearly).
  • 504 “accommodations” may be “easier” to obtain as they generally mandate accommodations more than costly special services.
  • Accommodations like those listed above under “common sense” can be mandated via Federal Law Section 504 if needed.
  • Untimed tests, including SATs, may require 504 classification.

IDEA Classification

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA, Part B) of 1990 provides federal funding to schools which guarantee special needs students with appropriate rights and services, including:

  • A free appropriate public education. If unable to provide an “appropriate” public education, the school must pay for alternate education.
  • IDEA classifiable conditions include:
    • Specific Learning disability (LD),
    • Emotional and Behavioral Disorder (ED)
    • Other Health Impaired (OHI)
    • The US DOE (Dept. of Education) memo of 1991 includes ADHD as a classifying condition under OHI.
  • Parents must be full partners in the process of developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). If nothing else, parents certainly know what has not worked so far.
  • The school has the right to decide what evaluation is needed.
  • The parents may request an independent evaluation if they disagree with the school’s evaluation.
  • IDEA classification evaluations and provided services are usually more comprehensive than 504 plans.
  • Detailed information can be found through the National Information Center for children and Youth with Disabilities at www.nichcy.org.
  • There is annual updating of the IEP, with full re-evaluation every three years. The parents may request review and revision of the IEP at any time.

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