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ADHD at School

Help with 504 vs. IEP


originally posted by jazzymom to ADHD at School on Jan 08, 2014 at 4:37pm

My son is having a really hard time in Kindergarten, he has been diagnosed with ADHD and possibly anxiety. His school has been really helpful, but his behavior is not improving with the adjustments that have been made so far.

We are trying to hold off on medication for now because we are doing some additional testing for other emotional disorders.

My question is do any of your children have a 504 or IEP? Is this something I should pursue and what are the benefits of having one? What are some things to include?



Hi jazzymom!

The laws around school accommodations and services are so confusing! You could request either but they are different programs.

There’s a great webinar archive on that explains the two and how to go about requesting school accommodations.

As well, there’s a lot of information on 504s and IEPs on the magazine site. Find the IEPs & 504s section of articles here:

Since his behavior is not improving with the current adjustments (accommodations), I would go ahead and request that the school evaluate him. You can find a sample letter to do that here: That is a good place to start. Also, talk with your child’s teacher about what they feel may be of greater help.

ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jan 09, 2014 at 6:08pm

My son is 6 so I have some recent experience with this! Yes I would go ahead and have him tested. I believe you have to formally request through the resource or spec Ed department of your school or school district. This would be for an IEP. I believe they have 30 days to test from your request but I would check as each state has different laws. School district vary greatly in this country on what “qualifies” for an IEP so it’s worthwhile to check your district.

Also, you didn’t mention specifically what your son is having trouble with. Is this the first time you have seen problems with him, or is this ongoing? Is this kindergarten a good place for him? Meaning ADHD kids do well with a small class, lots of structure, but at the same time a caring, understanding teacher. How long is the school day? Is there a lot of sitting or book work? it can be too much for some kindergarteners. These are some questions to ask yourself. ADHD kids NEED great schools and great teachers.

About the anxiety - I was an anxious kid, and my son is also anxious, along with ADHD. To help him, I make life as calm and predictable as possible. School should be, too. Also, and I don’t know your spiritual beliefs, but this is a good age to talk about God/ a higher power! I tell my son that God is in a charge, he doesn’t have to worry because God is taking care of all of us. I tell him to tell his worries to God at bedtime. I’m telling you, it helps him!

Good luck with everything and let us know how it goes. smile

Posted by nycmom on Jan 09, 2014 at 9:19pm

Thanks for the replies! I will definitely check out some more webinars and articles!

All of his issues have been going on for about 3yrs now. He was tested through the school district at 3 and was not eligible for services. Dev Ped diagnosed him ADHD with atypical behaviors and said he may be found to have Aspergers one day and referred us for behavioral counseling with a psychologist.

The Psychologist told us there was a lot of diagnosing of things that start with an A going around and he didn’t like to use labels!

He goes to a great school and the staff has been very helpful and patient working with us to make adjustments to his daily schedule. 

Now we’re trying to figure out if ADHD is the right diagnosis or if he has an ASD or other emotional disorder.

Posted by jazzymom on Jan 09, 2014 at 11:58pm

My son is 4 yrs old and I tried everything. Positive discipline, etc. Being diagnosed is a real illness. I was about to get my son tested in preschool, but I decided to do the medication. I had to be patient with testing different ones. I finally found one. I didn’t want to treat him differently with the ieps and 504, so I’m glad i took this route. He is with the other kids, and his impulsive behavior diminished. He is no longer getting kicked out of daycare. And his teachers say he’s no longer kicking, bitting, spitting, etc. I tried non stimulant and I like the stimulant. It also helps the fact that I too was adhd as a child, and medication helped. I think of it as a vitamin D pill that people take for stronger bones. My son’s medication leaves his body after it wears off. His personality is the same. A very bright boy. I believe he retains more information when he;s medicated. I have to do a lot of soul searching, and researching to finally be comfortable with medicating my son. I no longer think it’s a bad route. Adhd is an illness. I’m a passionate hands on mother, who homeschools my son part time. The things I did just wasn’t working and my son is now stress free. It was stressing him out trying to do good on his own. This is a real illness. I can tell how hard he was trying buy his behavior was just impulsive. I can tell he was trying to figure out why he just couldnt behave. I can tell through his tears that something was wrong. He is now after months of play therapy, which we still go to, changes in medication (which I figured that it was wearing off too early), my one on one hands on positive parenting, that finally my son is proud of himself. Dont be afraid to admit that it’s too much. It does not take away from you being a good mother. I know I’m a great mother. Especially was knowing that it wasn’t my son’s fault. I saw it in his eyes.

Posted by vabronxboogie on Jan 10, 2014 at 1:52am

My son is five and we are using playattention because we also felt he was just too little to be put on medication but we did not dismiss them but researched other alternatives. We learned a great deal from this site about 504/IEP check it out, it is free information and it is your right to know.
Our motto as usual now: We can CHANGE OUR MINDS. Hope with helps you and yours. CHEERS..

Posted by Elly on Jan 10, 2014 at 2:29am

Hi Jazzymom! That gives me a better sense of what’s going on with your son. I understand why your child psychologist doesn’t like labels, but in your case it would help you to get him tested for aspbergers. The more “labels” a child has, the more services and accommodations they will get in school. The school will have to give him an IEP or find him another suitable class for him. Also, a proper evaluation will help you and the school understand how to teach him, relate to him and help him. And yes, you are looking at an IEP, not a 504.

Posted by nycmom on Jan 10, 2014 at 4:41am

Hello Jazzymom!

I have a couple of different perspectives here as someone with ADHD, a mom of a 5 year old child who is demonstrating VERY strong indications of ADHD symptoms, and also the head of a special education department. Many parents come to me at this stage and ask questions about IEPs and 504s. As I am not a doctor, I would not give medical advice. However, as a parent and someone with ADHD, I can tell you that more and more research is coming out on the effects of gluten. I have a gene mutation that causes me to create a significantly lower amount neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine (which is what people who struggle with ADHD have incorrect amounts of). The MTHFR gene mutation is proving to have a huge impact on the medical field. In addition, 98% of people with Autism also test positive for the MTHFR gene mutation. A diet and nutrient change can have HUGE positive impact on common symptoms and struggles.

As to your question on whether or not to get an IEP or 504, I would caution you against immediately going for an IEP. A 504 provides legal accommodations, modifications, or support based on what the child/person needs because of a medical diagnosis. If you are going for an IEP, then you are saying that your child CANNOT learn without specialized instruction. If you had stomach problems and went to the doctor, they wouldn’t jump to surgery as a first intervention. I would request a Functional Behavioral Analysis in order to develop a Behavior Intervention Plan, which would identify where, how, how long, how often, and the environmental factors that are occurring when your son struggles.

I would recommend baby steps. This is your sons first or second year in school, and it takes time to learn how to learn. Consider diet, a solid and consistent routine at home, and plenty of exercise. It’s also very possible that he may or may not be able to process the correct amount of vitamins and nutrients needed to have good neurological health.

Having an ADHD or ASD diagnosis does not automatically qualify you for an IEP. The evaluation process is used to determine if the child will meet state criteria and they do need to demonstrate a significant educational impairment. The guiding question behind everything should be if your child is able to access the curriculum within the least restrictive environment. If they can, but need support, a 504 plan may be your best option.

Hope this helps, I know it was a little wordy. Every state is different, and I’m coming from Missouri, so I’m offering advice from those standards. You are mom. Talk to the people at your school. They will be able to guide you through any and all processes that are available.


Posted by allison.brewer on Jan 10, 2014 at 10:01am

Thank you all so much for your advice! This has been so overwhelming and it helps to hear from others in similar situations!

Posted by jazzymom on Jan 10, 2014 at 11:52pm

Hi Jazzymom

My 7yr old daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD and I got a referral from her neurologist for the school to put in under the 504 plan. After doing my own research and talking to the staff and teachers at my daughter’s school we came to the conclusion that the 504 plan wouldn’t help her. From my understanding with the 504 plan they only evaluate the child about once per year. My daughter needed a more involved plan so we went with something called SBRI plan (Scientific Research Based Intervention). This plan maybe on the same lines as the IEP plan you asked about.

This program makes accommodations based on your child’s needs. It has 3 tiers to help make sure your child stays on track with their school work. Their is a support staff at the school which includes the principal, the teacher, special ed teacher, psychologist, etc, that will meet about the children within the program every 4wks or so to see if any of the accommodations are working for them. The SBRI works on a 3 tier level in which a child will fit into so the supporting staff can figure out what type of accommodations will help them throughout the school year. They even allow for the parents to attend the meetings if you want.

You can also talk to your pediatrician who can guide you in the process. I also have a therapist that is extremely helpful with the entire process of what to expect from these type of programs and the school system. A therapist will also help with ways to improve your child’s behavior. I hope this helps. Good luck!

Posted by Donny on Feb 08, 2014 at 2:33am

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