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ADHD at School

7 Year Old - IEP or 504?

Our son will be 8 in March - he was identified as having ADHD in kindergarten (there’s a family history) and now he’s in 2nd grade and the school is hinting again about an IEP. One woman suggested he might qualify for a 504 Plan. I’m nervous about an IEP following him for the rest of his school career.

Thank you.


Heey. I am a fifteen year old girl who has ADHD and PTSD and I have an IEP. I just got it this year but it is making me so much less stressed. I say if the school is hinting about an IEP for your son than go for it. I struggled all through school to keep my marks up and finally I feel like I can relax a little. I am still very stressed but it has taken a lot of the pressure off.

Posted by Catemily on Dec 06, 2012 at 8:12am

Did you have to go through a lot of additional testing at school? What kind of support classes do you take?

Posted by jgoldsm1 on Dec 06, 2012 at 8:14am

If they’re offering an IEP take it!!! My son is now almost 14 and in 8th grade and is really struggling in school. They did the testing and it showed no diagnosed learning disabilities and that means no IEP. I am beyond frustrated with the school and the teachers being frustrated with him. We’ve had year after year after year of the teachers telling us how smart he is, why can’t he just apply himself, he just needs to stop talking and focus, etc. If he could do that I’m sure he would and without the IEP they do not have to (and will not) put anything into place to accommodate him. He’ll be in high school next year and I am terrified.

Posted by stefplus3 on Dec 06, 2012 at 8:25am

So sorry to hear this about your son. I am already frustrated with them being frustrated, and what’s worse, seeming frustrated with us.

I don’t think he needs an IEP but I am not getting through to them.

Quite honestly, our son is in 2nd grade and I am already dreading dealing with these people for years and years to come. It feels like it’s going to be an endless round of meetings with people neither my husband nor I like.

I will be thinking of you and your family!

Posted by jgoldsm1 on Dec 06, 2012 at 8:35am

Yes, the school needs diagnosis from the Dr, then you and his teachers fill out all the paperwork. Then the school psychologist evaluates it with the counselor and they come up with a plan. Generally if they are doing well in school and do not suffer from a learning disability, they might qualify for a 504. If they need more help, then IEP. The school determines it. They reevaluate with school changes and adjust as needed.

Posted by adhdmom2000 on Dec 06, 2012 at 8:41am

Thanks for the information! Of the entire group, the school psychologist was the most difficult to deal with (we didn’t like her generalized commentary about our son) and we made it clear we didn’t want to deal with her in the future, so she has been scarce.

How involved is this process (paperwork) on an ongoing basis? Does this have to be updated with meetings every year?

Posted by jgoldsm1 on Dec 06, 2012 at 8:47am

My 9 yr old son has ADHD.  He has a 504 (for us, it was just a matter of his pediatrician sending a note and stating he needed it). They then gave him a “rubber stamp” ADHD 504.  A year later we made revisions after much research on our part and customized the accommodations to our sons needs.  It is difficult to enforce though… accountability for the school.  I would give anything for an IEP.  The school refuses because they claim his disability does not effect him academically because he very intelligent.  His test scores are falling though and he will soon be struggling without access to special Ed teachers who know and understand his disability.  You have control of classification and can declassify at any time and the record is closed.  He is young.  It doesn’t phase the kids at this age.  You have to sign off on the evaluations too.  It is all layed out in the initial meeting.  At least go and hear them out, then follow your heart as to what you think is best for your son.  Best of luck to you.

Posted by Peacfldove on Dec 06, 2012 at 9:08am

They have offered us a 504 and I feel like our experience will be like Peacfldove…’s sort of a list of suggestions for the teachers to follow, it’s not legally binding like an IEP. We have been told how intelligent our son is and how much potential he has. He had all C+‘s and one D+ in spanish for first term. For someone who is so smart those don’t seem like great grades. As much as I didn’t want the testing to find something I wish it did. Now he’s just the “talkative annoying kid” in the class. My son had a meeting with his guidance counselor and his spanish teacher today because she has called me FOUR times since Sept to tell me he talks in class. Her suggestion? He can go to the library if the class is doing independent work so he’s not tempted to talk. So he’ll be away from the spanish teacher in the library on his own…..and how is that helpful at all????

Posted by stefplus3 on Dec 06, 2012 at 9:42am

How our process worked was I had to put a request in writing to the special ed coordinator of the school requesting testing based on poor academic performance. The school has 45 school days to schedule it, I sent the letter last spring so by the time they received it there were less than 45 days so he didn’t get tested until October of this year. Once it was done we had a meeting with the special ed coordiantor, the school psychologist and his homerooom teacher (who insists “boys will be boys”, it makes me crazy every time he says it!!) to go over the testing. If it shows a documentable learning disability then the next step is drafting the iep, in our case it showed nothing documentable so I just had to sign a form saying I agreed that the testing showed no learning disabilities. We’re supposedly drafting the 504 plan in January. The IEP and 504 both last 12 months so the school feels it’s better to do it in the spring this year, that way it will be active thru spring of his freshman year. Then the teachers at the high school will re-do it for the following 12 months. By that point in the school year they should know him. If we’d done it in the fall they would have had to re-do it next fall and the teachers wouldn’t know him well enough to do it to his best interests. I have no idea what is going to be included as far as accomodations go…..hopefully not more nonsense like sending him to the library alone to do his spanish work.

Posted by stefplus3 on Dec 06, 2012 at 9:48am

Thank you for your advice. I am afraid of acting too hastily and then being locked into an ongoing process with this group if it’s really not needed. Plus, I think my dislike of the school and some of these people is not helping, as there’s a part of me that thinks they want this as a way to “deal” with a kid they don’t like. I just feel somehow like an IEP would give them some leverage over our son.

Is this what school years are going to be like? I used to think I liked most people but I really don’t like or trust this group. After three years of teachers, none of them have connected with our son - so that could be a big part of it.

Anyhow, thank you and best to everyone!!!

Posted by jgoldsm1 on Dec 06, 2012 at 10:36am

Best advice I have is talk to his teachers and stay in contact. I have a letter I send at the beginning of each school year introducing my son with reference to his 504 and suggestions. They always thank me for the heads up and work with me to help him because they know I’m doing work on my end too. Stay involved and it will make things better.

Posted by adhdmom2000 on Dec 06, 2012 at 10:57am

Thanks again! I think my problem is how I feel is affecting my involvement level - it’s like I’m avoiding them, and they (being smart enough folks) know it. I need it to be better for our son’s sake but I wonder how I will be his best advocate until I feel like I’m dealing with someone I relate to and like. The last teacher conference was so bad I actually felt physically crushed coming out of it.

Posted by jgoldsm1 on Dec 06, 2012 at 11:02am

My 9 yr old son has ADHD.  He has a 504 (for us, it was just a matter of his pediatrician sending a note and stating he needed it). They then gave him a “rubber stamp” ADHD 504.  A year later we made revisions after much research on our part and customized the accommodations to our sons needs.  It is difficult to enforce though… accountability for the school.  I would give anything for an IEP.  The school refuses because they claim his disability does not effect him academically because he very intelligent.  His test scores are falling though and he will soon be struggling without access to special Ed teachers who know and understand his disability.  You have control of classification and can declassify at any time and the record is closed.  He is young.  It doesn’t phase the kids at this age.  You have to sign off on the evaluations too.  It is all layed out in the initial meeting.  At least go and hear them out, then follow your heart as to what you think is best for your son.  Best of luck to you.

Posted by Peacfldove on Dec 06, 2012 at 5:37pm

I advise you, whichever your decision, don’t just let the school take control.  Research and learn before the meetings.  An IEP in my opinion actually gives themess leverage.  You must all agree in the meeting and set the goals and if the goals are not met, they are on the taw to come up with a solution.  Those goals must be specific to your child’s needs.  Know what is allowed in 504’s.  Research online.  Additude online magazine as well as hard copy is an excellent source of info.  Look for samples so you know what to suggest and expect.  They tried to tell me he can only have 3 to 4 accomodations.  This is not true, he can have as many as it requires for him to succeed and compensate for his disabilities.  Collect all your info and make the decision you think is best for your son.  It’s not always easy unfortunately but you can do it.

Posted by Peacfldove on Dec 06, 2012 at 6:03pm

I have two boys with ADHD (and an ADD husband).  I have done a tremendous amount of research this year since the school was trying to take away my son’s occupational therapy he receives for dysgraphia (because he made such good grades).  I have found A LOT of schools don’t know squat about the law when it comes to 504s and IEPs!  You must educate yourself.  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.  You are your son’s best advocate.  No one will advocate for your son as much as you will.  Go to  It has tons of legal info and describes in detail what is entailed in IEPs and how to write good ones.  Also, fantastic info on 504s as well.  That being said, as long as his pediatrician has diagnosed him with ADHD then no one in the school can refute that including the psychologist.  If his ADHD is causing him any problems in learning or paying attention in school REGARDLESS OF WHETHER HE TAKES MEDICATION OR HAS LEARNED SELF TAUGHT ACCOMMODATIONS then he should be eligible for an IEP or 504 depending on the problems.  A 504 is just as legally binding as an IEP only it does not cover as many areas as an IEP.  You can remove him from an IEP or 504 at anytime.  But, having an IEP or 504 won’t be on any record of any consequence until high school.  Even then it may not make any difference that’s worth worrying about.  With an IEP you have to meet at least yearly, 504 is only stated as “regularly” so it has wiggle room.  And talking excessively IS A SYMPTOM of ADHD.  They can not ban your son to another room due to this disability.  That would be like banning a child in a wheelchair to another room because he couldn’t walk around the room on his own.  Unheard of!  Please educate yourself so they can’t pull the wool over your eyes by going the the wrightslaw website.  It is fantastic!

Posted by Cameo on Dec 06, 2012 at 8:23pm

I have an 8 year old son with ADHD who was on an IEP in kindergarten for reading. He lost the IEP after one year and is still reading very well. I say go for it. His teacher will be less frustrated if she has more support and your son will probably enjoy the academic success that can come through additional help. It can really be a wonderful service. I say “can” because it entirely depends on the people implementing the plan. There is no reason to think this will follow him through the rest of his school career.

I received special education services for dyslexia in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade back before IEP plans existed. I was reading well above grade level by 4th grade and began leaving my classroom to attend an advanced reading group in another classroom. It was a wonderful feeling after struggling for the first three years. I believe the help I got from a marvelous reading specialist was entirely responsible for my later success in high school and at a top tier university.

In regards to 504 plans, I have less positive feedback. In our experience with my son who is on a 504 plan for the first time this year, most of the responsibility of supporting the accommodations fall on the teachers and there is very little oversight or way to measure progress or success. An already frustrated teacher could end up feeling completely overwhelmed and become passive aggressive in their behavior toward you and your child. Although, I believe most teachers are better educated in regards to ADHD and would not react this way. In theory it should take some of the pressure off a child with ADHD who is struggling with inattention and impulsiveness and help them develop other skills that may be missing. If you feel frustrated by the schools response to your son and feel they lack an understanding of ADHD and how to best manage associated behaviors, you could think about hiring an educational advocate. It’s expensive but it could be a sanity saver.

Posted by Mom of Three on Dec 07, 2012 at 3:23am

I have a 14 y/o in eighth grade and I have been fighting for services for my son for years!  My son was diagnosed w/ adhd inattentive type in 4th grade.  I dislike school administrators and school psychologists immensely. They lie to parents and I feel they have blamed my child for years rather than addressing his disabillty and helping him succeed.  Yet, I have learned to wear a mask when dealing with members of the school district.  I purchased books from Wrightslaw and learned how to address the school, how to keep records on my son, etc…  I am proud to say (several years later) that I am an expert on my son and I am his best advocate.

In my case the 504 was a useless, unamendale piece of trash.  My son was initially denied an IEP as I was told that he does not have a learning disablilty.  He is very smart and just needs to pay attention and be responsible for organizing and not losing his belongings (I could go on and on here, sorry!)  I ended rejecting the schools initial finding of no eligibility 14 months later.  (Stefplus3, please note this, you can change your mind, you have 16 months to do so!) 
The school was then legally obligated to hire an outside neuropsychologist to re-evalute him.  I had already hired my own private neuropsych to retest my son as my insurance company paid for it) I received a new diagnosis of adhd as well as aspergers syndrome.  The spectrum disorders have traits so similar that it is important to learn what your childs strengths and weaknesses truly are.  how your child processes information, if he is a visual or verbal learner, is there a processing speed weakness, is
there a disconnect in written output. Iknow this seems overwhelming but you are strong and caring and able.  How do I know that?  because you are here like the rest of us moms and dads looking out for the best interest of your son.

I did eventually hire an attorney as I am seeking an out of district placement where his educators will embrace my whole child and address his weaknesses and build on his strengths as he has many of both.

I wish you and family well!  Good luck

Posted by lynneb on Dec 07, 2012 at 6:06am

lynneb it’s so good to know that we can challenge the findings after agreeing to what they’d said initially. i was just wondering the other day if there was a way to do it, i was thinking maybe because my husband wasn’t present we could challenge it. your situation sounds exactly like what we are dealing with now with our son. “he’s so smart, it’s his age, he’ll grow out of it, etc”. We also have a 17 yr old boy and he never had any of these issues…..don’t tell me it’s an age related issue!! he scored very high on all areas of the testing except for one. i don’t have the paperwork right here but it was something related to scanning while reading and processing. this area was disproportionately low compared to his actual reading scores so I was really surprised when they didn’t say this was some sort of identifiable condition. I’m going to look at that legal site and see what I can do. It’s so frustrating to feel like I am failing my child!

Posted by stefplus3 on Dec 07, 2012 at 7:12am

Thank you, thank you everyone for your wise words and shared experiences.

My goal: a school year where I am not afraid to attend a parent-teacher conference, and where (and yes, I’ll be honest) I don’t dread any contact from this school. A year where our son connects with a teacher. A year where he is accepted for who he is. In fact, a normal school year - where they (the school) leave all of us alone.

I relate - I know when I write emails that I am saying what I think it will take for me to keep them at bay (and what they want to hear in some respects too) but I really don’t mean what I am telling them, because I really DON’T consider them “part of the team”.

When does it end? Does it ever end? It’s only 2nd grade and I am rapidly losing patience with the entire crew.

Posted by jgoldsm1 on Dec 07, 2012 at 7:33am

Jgoldsm1- Be very meticulous with how you approach the 504/IEP discussion with administrators/teachers. My son was just diagnosed about September. Man has it been a rough road, He was moved up in Kindergarten because his teacher kept telling him to “shut up” HE WAS BORED! So I immediately pulled him out of that class and the 1st grade teacher and principal agreed that moving him up was a wise choice. However, he is only 7 going on 8 and now in the 3rd grade. He too, was recommended for the 504 plan. Make certain that you research it and you know every detail. I made the mistake of assuming his charter academy school would be perfect for him and implement he 504 plan. Boy was I wrong! I pulled him out 4 weeks ago because his teacher had: in 7 weeks given him 4 detentions for talking. I let it ride for about 7 wks and finally he came home with his 4th detention and the next day I pulled him out..put him back in a public school. Mind you, when we enrolled him at the academy they said his teacher was very familiar with the 504 plan and such…yet, when I asked to have a meeting with the “special ed ” teacher, principal & her..None of them had a clue where his form was or that it had even been a main reason why we got him in that school to begin with. (It is very traditional, and it challenges kids with behavioral disorders) HA! I jumped the gun on that one! So here I sit, with un-answered questions, hostility & sadness,  because my poor baby boy isn’t being accommodated properly at school..and has had maybe 5 recesses in 7wks for answering questions out of turn. My son is the I want to whine all the time, everyone hates me, yet He HAS to be the boss and he does not understand people don’t like being told what to do. Lol. So I’m done with my mini rampage..and the other moms are correct DO NOT handle these situations when you are upset or fuming, because it will for sure come back to bite you. wink

Posted by MistyMarie0103 on Dec 07, 2012 at 4:40pm

When your child is very smart, but has ADHD then he is considered “twice-exceptional”.  I learned this term this year.  Google it and there is a world of information out there.  I thought my kids were some kind of weird anomaly.  15% of kids with ADHD are twice-exceptional and schools don’t know what to do with them.  There is even a newsletter out there called “2e:  Twice-exceptional”.  It has a lot of excellent information for those kids needing advanced education in some areas and remedial education in others.  You are not alone!

Posted by Cameo on Dec 07, 2012 at 8:35pm

I also fought section 504,  thinking my daughter would be marked “special” forever more.  Well she will be but it will/can be used at her disgression.  This can also be used in college,  beneficial xtra time on papers ect.  I wish I had that opp. in college!

Posted by heatherlasseter on Dec 10, 2012 at 6:59pm

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