An IEP or 504 Plan is an important part of your child’s academic support strategy.
It may be the middle of summer, but this is the time that many school psychologists are already working on the upcoming year’s IEP and 504 Plans.
Children with ADD/ADHD need to have either an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or a 504 Plan in place in order to get the appropriate classroom accommodations and services they need.
Forming the plans requires a team of specialists (school psychologists, speech and occupational therapists, principals, teachers, etc.) and parents.
For the parents with a child that has ADD/ADHD, attending an IEP or 504 Plan meeting can feel overwhelming. Once the meeting is done and the plans for the school year are set, many parents then feel that everything is out of their control.
As you approach the coming school year, keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your 504 or IEP plan.
TIP #1: Bring a second set of ears to the meeting.
That way, you can discuss everything that happened in the meeting later with another person who was present.
Have them take notes for later review.
If previous efforts have failed to provide adequate support, you may want to arrange for an education lawyer or ADHD Coach to attend the IEP meeting as your second. This communicates to the school that you are an active advocate and that you take this process very seriously.
Parents have reported that their school has been more accommodating to them and their needs when a professional is present.
TIP #2: Come Over Prepared.
Bring all documentation of diagnoses, previous care plans and evaluations, previous IEP or 504 Plans, as well as your own records of what you have noticed in the home.
You know your child best. Write down your child’s struggles – emotional, academic, developmental, and physical, and organize them from the greatest struggle to the smallest.
Be willing to discuss these and prioritize them for your child.
Come with specific ideas for what you think can help your child. Some common accommodations that have proven useful for children with ADD/ADHD are:
1. Students should have a separate location for testing.
2. Request that recess not be taken away as a form of punishment. ADD/ADHD kids need to burn off energy.
3. Scheduled break time.
4. Implement a “secret code” to remind your child to stay on task. You can also request that the teacher place their hand on the child’s arm to get their attention as opposed to being verbally called out.
TIP #3: Follow up regularly during the school year.
You can schedule follow-up meetings for IEP and 504 Plan as often as you’d like. A 30 or 45 day follow-up meeting can be especially helpful after the start of the school year to see how things are going.
You can schedule IEP meetings at any time to make amendments as needed. You and your child’s care team at the school can have ongoing communications about what is working, what isn’t working, what your options are, and what needs to be changed.
Schools have a legal responsibility to provide accommodations for students with disabilities. As the parent, you can take an active role in this process through open communication and involvement with your child’s care specialists.
Have you been through the IEP or 504 Plan process? What was it like for you?