Below is a brief description of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), both of which can provide students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with education related services.
For more detailed information on the education rights for students with ADHD, please refer to the National Resource Center on ADHD website. You may also refer to their publication - Educational Rights for Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A PRIMER FOR PARENTS.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
What is Section 504?
Section 504 is a civil rights law designed to "level the playing field" for individuals with disabilities by ensuring equal access to education and by prohibiting discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 most often involves steps to create an equal learning environment in a regular classroom setting. Accommodations used to "level the playing field" may include, but are not limited to, extended time for tests or assignments, rearranging class schedules or given priority when scheduling courses, note taking assistance, highlighted and/or large print books, positive reinforcement, frequent feedback, behavioral intervention, and video-taping or voice-recording class lectures.
How do I qualify for Section 504?
To qualify for Section 504, you must have an identifiable mental or physical condition that substantially limits a major life activity. Those that are diagnosed with ADHD may be eligible based on the severity of limitations. An evaluation is most often part of the assessment process and includes information from a variety of sources, such as grade history, attendance records, teacher reports, medical reports, and previous assessment/behavioral tests. It is important to note that not all students that qualify for Section 504 are covered by IDEA.
For more information on Section 504, please refer to the U.S. Department of Education website.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
What is IDEA?
IDEA is an educational benefit law that offers additional services and protections for those with disabilities. IDEA is more comprehensive than Section 504 and guarantees special education and related services to eligible children, including those diagnosed with ADHD. IDEA most often involves a modified curriculum in a specialized classroom setting.
How do I qualify for IDEA?
As IDEA is more comprehensive than Section 504, it includes a more specific and complicated qualification process. Parent and school personnel must participate and cooperate with the Department of Education in order for the qualification process and implementation of IDEA to be a success for students. A referral (from a parent, doctor, or counselor) must first be submitted to the school requesting an evaluation for special education services for the student. Upon approval of this request, the school will proceed with testing and an assessment of the student's needs to evaluated his/her eligibility. It is important to note that all students qualifying for IDEA are also covered by Section 504.