Taking Advantage of Special Services
If your child has a learning disability or special needs, special education help may be a good option. Special education services may involve going to a special classroom all day, getting extra help in a particular subject for an hour a week, or anything in between. It may mean having a specially trained teacher come to the regular classroom to work with your child.
Does My Child Qualify?
To qualify, a child's ADHD symptoms must cause significant learning or behavior problems at school. Section 504 of the Individual Education and Development Act legally obligates public schools to ensure that children with a disability have equal access to education. That includes children with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities including learning and behavior.” ADHD falls into this category. Students must receive “appropriate accommodations and modifications” to the regular classroom that are tailored to their individual needs.
To qualify to receive services under Section 504, a student must have a disability that “substantially limits one or more major life functions, including education, learning, and behavior.” Only the school can determine if a child qualifies. If you think your child needs special services, the first step is to submit a written request for an evaluation via certified mail to the school.
Why is it so hard to get my child the special help he needs?
Special education classes are expensive due to the small classroom sizes and advanced degrees of the teachers. Parents may have to be assertive to see that evaluations are handled in a timely manner and that the recommendations are implemented. Be persistent and consider getting support from your child's ADHD specialists.
It is a good idea to request a copy of your school district's policies and procedures for complying with Section 504. It will list your rights and the district's responsibilities. If your complaints are not satisfied, you can call the Office of Civil Rights hotline of the U.S. Department of Education at (800) 421-3481 for information about how to proceed.