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What Is a 504 Plan for ADHD?

A child with ADHD playing.
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  • Written By: T. Broderick
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 July 2014
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A 504 plan for ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a list of modifications and accommodations a student with ADHD receives in order to succeed in a normal classroom environment. A 504 plan for ADHD provides modifications in the general education classroom that will assist a student in his or her learning. The plan was mandated in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a piece of legislation passed by the United States government to limit discrimination of individuals with physical and mental disabilities in schools and organizations that receive federal funding. 504 plans also exist for students with different, even temporary disabilities. If the ADHD is severe enough or exists alongside another emotional or mental disorder, a student may be eligible for an IEP, Individualized Education Plan.

Though a 504 plan for ADHD makes modifications to a student's learning environment, the school does not provide special education services. A general education teacher is responsible for all the modifications. For example, a 504 plan may require that a student receive all instruction for assignments in writing and have extra time on tests. If a teacher has multiple students with a 504 plan for ADHD, he or she might use certain modifications for all students to create a more streamlined classroom environment. These modifications do not generally disrupt the learning of students without ADHD.

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Many types of 504 plans exist outside of those for ADHD. Before 1973, public schools regularly denied education to children with physical and mental disabilities. Many children with mental, visual and aural impairments lived in institutions that made little to no attempt at providing a proper education. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 laid the groundwork of inclusion in public schools by mandating that institutions that received federal funding could not discriminate on the basis on disability. For students with disabilities, the law mandated reasonable, though limited, accommodations.

504 plans also apply to students who have a temporary disability. For example, a student who broke the wrist of his or her dominant hand requires someone else to write his or her notes. A student with a cast on his or her leg needs to leave class a few minutes early to avoid the crowd of students between classes. Meetings between parents and school officials are necessary to both implement these accommodations and bring them to a close after the student's injury has healed.

If a student's ADHD is so extreme that it causes outbursts in class or other mental disabilities exist alongside ADHD, a 504 plan for ADHD becomes insufficient. The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), passed in 1975, governs how public schools distribute and manage special education services. Though the law does not mandate that schools provide special education services to students with ADHD, the examples listed above are two occasions when schools generally create an IEP for the student in question. An IEP, a cornerstone of IDEA, describes in detail the special education services a student will receive, modifications in the general education classroom and the student's specific learning goals. Annual or semi-annual meetings with parents, teachers, and the student adjust the IEP so it can best serve the student's interests.

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