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Gifted ADHD Children

gifted ADHD kid on 504 plan - rights with respect to honors class

My 14 year old son is very bright, but also struggles in a major way with organization, focus, etc. This year, he was finally diagnosed with ADHD, and started meds. He is on a 504 plan at his school. He is also in honors classes. He has no difficulty at all with the work in his classes, and his teachers all say he is one of the brightest kids they have worked with. The problem is, even with meds he is still having trouble getting assignments in. He does the work and then forgets to hand things in. This has pushed his grades down to B’s rather than A’s. That wouldn’t be a big deal, because we all know he can do the work - but our school district will not let him continue in the honors/AP course track next year. Their rule is that all kids must have a 92 average or above to continue. So my very smart, academic kid who dreams of being a scientist is being forced into the non-honors classes. He is devastated, depressed beyond belief, and says he doesn’t even feel like bothering any more.

My question is - since the only reason his grades are below a 92 is due to his trouble with getting his work handed in, and since he is on a 504 plan for ADHD, does he have any rights here?  Is there any argument I can make to force the school to allow him to continue in the honors track?


I don’t know the answer to this, but obviously, as you know, it is imperative to figure something out (homeschool/virtual/community college - many are very welcoming to homeschool kids -, if nothing else). I suggest mining the Wrights law website - lots of info there.  Hoagies Gifted may have some answers. Check your state gifted organization. Good luck - we need vastly-above-average scientists in our future!

Anyway, why can’t his teachers make sure they get the assignments from him - doesn’t a 504 help with that? (my 2E kid has an IEP, so I don’t know).

Posted by Katherine85 on Mar 25, 2014 at 5:46pm

My 15 yr old son is the same way, honors classes, get’s A’s, forget to turn in work. I have to keep on him to put the work in front of his binder and remind him to turn it in. It’s just part of the day for us.

Posted by Pink ginger on Mar 25, 2014 at 6:08pm

You have rights.  My son is a gifted 3rd grader does his homework all the time and always forgets to turn it in.  We remind him in the morning when he is dropped off and he gets distracted by the time he needs to turn it in.  He also daydreams in class and misses important instructions for assignments.  We just had and IEP meeting that he did not qualify for, but DID qualify for a 504.  It is in the 504 that he forgets to turn in homework and you can help him with this in a 504 in many different ways. 1. We are starting with a checklist on his desk.  Which says to turn in his homework.  2.  You can ask that the teacher discreetly (so he is not singled out and embarresed) ask him for his homework everyday.  3.  You can ask that the teacher walk up and down th isle and ask every child for their homework everyday.  I am sure the Principle,Teachers and school Psychologist have other ideas on how to help your son turn in his homework everyday.  This is VERY common with ADHD kids and the District should know this and have put accomodations in place for him already.  Send and e-mail (in writing for documentation) today that you want this put in his 504.  There are also advocates for special needs kids.  I am in Sacramento, CA and Area Board 3 is AMAZING in helping me understand my son’s rights with a disability and getting accomodations.  You can call them and Kaytie who answers the phone is amazing, but not sure if other States have different laws on this let her know if you are in a different State? My son is in a GATE contained class and is highly gifted and still gets bored in class.  I have to fight for everything for him.  Best of luck and don’t let them take him out of the Honor classes.

Posted by NaturalMom on Mar 25, 2014 at 7:28pm

Pink ginger -  HELP!  My 13yo daughter (8th grade) is not turning things in A LOT.  How do I “help” her without actually taking over???

Posted by hitwcidb on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:27pm

The thing is we do have to help and remind them every day. We have had my son make lists but he forgets his list, etc. It’s just another day at our home. We have never told the schools he has ADHD/ADD. We wanted no special treatment for him. Plus the schools really don’t do anything to help these kids. Most kids in gifted classes are ADHD/ADD now so teachers are aware of it. We also email the teachers and they do help us out. They want our son to succeed believe or not. Looks good for them.

Posted by Pink ginger on Mar 26, 2014 at 4:15am

My first question is can he raise his average to a 92?  Would the teacher help you accomplish this?  You know that being in a regular class will send him into boredom and possibly undesirable behavior.  I suggest being a squeaky wheel.  Climb up the chain of authority:  teacher, school Special Education office, principal, district Special Education office, school board.  Learn some educator lingo.  Like NaturalMom said above, not turning in work is very common with ADHD’ers and other disabilities as well.  This is related to his disability.  To discriminate against him because of his disability is illegal.  I’m sure the school will be able to say why this isn’t discrimination.  However, they should be figuring out how to make him successful.  To all of us it is a no-brainer:  put him in the AP program and test him in the way he can give back. (rant)  The 504 should have things in it that set him up for success.  I was able to put things in my son’s 504 that I thought would help him. 

I would proceed in a two pronged approach.  Talk with your son and let him know everything you are going to do to try to get him in the AP program.  But tell him you need him to show his teachers he deserves the spot.  You need him to keep trying.  He needs the teachers on his side, and to do that he needs to show he’s trying.

He could put sticky notes in his notebooks to remind him to turn in his homework.  Does he have a phone?  He could program a vibrate alarm at the time he needs to turn in his homework.

If the public school is unbending, you may need to reevaluate whether they can meet his educational needs and what options you have going forward.  You may be interested in reading the book “5 levels of gifted, School Issues and Educational Options”  by Deborah Ruf.

If it encourages you at all, my son was disorganized, lost his homework, forgot to turn it in, was emotionally young and sensitive…  We made it through middle school with a few scars, but wiser.  As he went through high school, he was progressively able to do and turn in his homework with less and less Mom oversight.  By his junior year he was pretty much doing it all himself.  I checked in regularly so he knew I was watching.  He is at college.  He didn’t get into the engineering major he wanted, not because he isn’t smart enough, but he still has time issues and getting in homework issues.  He switched schools and I am hopeful he will get a degree in his chosen major.  He will be a wonderful engineer someday.

My encouragement to you is to keep advocating for your son.  A 504 is a legal document, but often ignored by teachers.  Get everything in there you believe will help your son.  Let all new teachers know about the 504, gently and kindly.  Keep reminding him of his strengths and that you love him no matter what.  This is a tough but good learning lesson that he will struggle with most likely for a long time - how to get done what needs to get done despite the ADD.

Posted by whizinc on Mar 26, 2014 at 8:34am

We are on week 3 or 4 of not handing in a particular math homework to the advanced teacher.  There was a sub. There was a shortened day due to assembly, today they had computers on the desk and nobody said to open their folders where the item has been all this time. I think I am going to have the child ask the teachers if the homework can be scanned and e-mailed in.

Posted by Juggler on Mar 28, 2014 at 1:37am

Juggler: I think that’s a brilliant idea (we have the exact same “there was a sub” issue compounded with, from what I gather, the fact that apparently “neurotypical” students are just expected to know they need to turn in homework—either no prompts or irregularly prompted).  I’m starting to wonder if all the neurotypical students also do NOT just assume that subs don’t take homework…

Posted by BC on Mar 28, 2014 at 2:04am

My son had the exact same problem. It drove me totally crazy because the teachers would NOT ask him for his homework. He would have it finished and flagged in his pack and constantly forget to turn it in. His grade would drop 10 points a day. Ugh. He is highly gifted and was frustrated and bored in school, even in the honors classes, and basically gave up. I pulled him out and he has been homeschooling and taking college classes. College classes are MUCH better because they meet once a week, are condensed, and are seminar based where the homework is discussed (usually a weekly paper), so of course he will remember to pull it out. Also because the other students are much older he is not so distracted. The public school was terrible and I am so glad he is not there anymore. ALso he will be able to graduated a year early and move on.

Posted by oursideofthestreet on Apr 11, 2014 at 4:12am

NaturalMom, thanks for the idea of taping a checklist to the kids’ desk. I think that is a simple but brilliant idea!

Posted by EDondo on Apr 23, 2014 at 11:47pm

I think you have three options:
1.) Take the AP or Honors course at a separate tutoring center and/or as an online class.  This by-passes the schools’ stupid track rule.

2.) Get your son to take an organization seminar, class or get a coach, whatever it takes to improve his Ex Function capabilities (which he is going to need in force in college anyway.) 

3.) Pull out of the honors classes and let him excel at the average class pace until his EF abilities improve to handle the workload.

Posted by Suxie on May 02, 2014 at 9:17pm

My 14 yr old ( 8th grade) Son passed the gifted tests on his own starting in 2nd grade. He has gotten more disorganized, forgetful etc. After yrs. of trying to ‘figure him out’, he was recently diagnosed with ADD. The symtoms, this website and reading these posts have helped me a lot. He had gotten terribly depressed & spoke a lot about death and giving up. Since being diagnosed and started meds he sees that there is hope. Because of his self esteem, I am recommending that he take NO Advanced classes in 9th grade. He even says he needs/wants to excell & take a breather as well as build his confidence up. He also says that later, when he’s more mature, organized etc. that he plans to start taking honors and advanced courses again. I also think he needs to learn to enjoy life and living again and focus on Executive skills ( turning things in, prioritizing, etc).

Posted by maggiebell on May 17, 2014 at 6:12am

My son had the same problem.  504 plan: teachers were to ask him for homework.  Still missed some.  Here’s an idea.  Keep him responsible for turning in his work as is required; BUT (maybe even without his knowledge so he doesn’t get lazy) scan and email his work to his teacher (put it on the 504 plan so it will be received as ‘turned in’ and count towards his grades).  Then his grades won’t suffer and he can still grow in his own responsibility of turning in his work.  You just cover the gap (through emailing in his assignments anyway) to keep his grades up.  I scan and email documents at my job daily—it’s really easy to do.

Posted by Mona on May 21, 2014 at 7:03pm

Emailing assignments is in his 504 plan for next year. We couldn’t do it this year because a)many assignments are in thick packets and can’t easily be scanned b) the middle school teachers are not required to read their email in a timely basis and so won’t accept assignments by email

Posted by bkm on May 21, 2014 at 7:24pm

Maybe it should be a part of the teachers’ ‘504 plans’ . . . an accommodation is an accommodation.  I’m glad it’s in his plan for next year.  Tell your son not to be discouraged.  Grades don’t dictate his intelligence and he can learn outside of school as well is inside.  My 14-year-old learned how to build portablized game devices on his own by studying online.  Then he sold them online.  Now he’s attending the University of Minnesota Duluth in computer and electrical engineering.  It takes him longer to ‘get’ what the professor is teaching; but when he spends the extra time working on his notes and assignments outside of class, he is solid on the content and can do as well or better than other students not hampered by ADD.  Your son is bound for success—keep him focused on the positive!  Blessings!

Posted by Mona on May 21, 2014 at 8:34pm

I have a very similar situation.  My son is highly gifted, and despite his ADHD, he got into a centralized gift program for 3-5 grades.  It was rough, homework load was incredible and despite being a “gifted” class, the focus was clearly on achievement vs. gifted. 

Right before the end of a term, we would get a list of 10 things that were missing and end up going crazy trying to find them or do them.  My son had a 504 plan in elementary school, and unfortunately, the teacher pretty much ignored it saying that she was so busy, forgot, etc.  And, the social services person at the school was part-time, so she couldn’t do the check-ins.  Every time we discussed it, the teacher committed to trying harder, and then didn’t. 

Now, in 6th grade, he is in gifted classes and has an IEP.  Again, when issues come up, such as he misses a retake because he needs someone to break down the steps and timeline with him, or, he didn’t write down a major assignment, it is 50-50 whether there will be a resolution, and he is even in a daily resource class.  His grades are primarily As and Bs, with a C and an F due to missing or half completed work. 

Several school sources have verified off the record that the truth is that by the time he hits high school, it will all be about test scores and while can still get and IEP for some help, his ability to advance academically will ultimately be about the grades and scores. 

I will be working with him this summer on creating a system for him and I am looking for an ADHD expert who has experience with Exec. Function issues.  I think that the truth is that the IEP/504 offers some support, but I have rarely seen cases where it truly solves the issues. 

Your son sounds incredibly bright and he is getting excellent grades despite his ADHD.  He will absolutely be successful and have the opportunity to study science.  While honors classes are great, I think that these kids will take their gifts and their incredible ability to hyper focus and truly hit their potential once they are out of the rigid, standardized elementary/middle/high school world.

Posted by HeartMom on May 21, 2014 at 9:20pm

My daughter came up with writing her list of “TO DO” things on her HAND….  She washes it off nightly and writes a new one in the morning…  No more lost list….  When she comes up with the solutions, it works better than when we think of the solutions…  (If they do this, make sure the teacher knows, so they are not accused of cheating.)  Offer to let the teacher read the hand… 

Good Luck!

Posted by ADHD-3in home on Jul 07, 2014 at 4:35pm

She take big black binder clips and due assignments are clipped to the top of her 3 ring binder…  on the outside so when it is on the desk…  she can see it…

She uses colored stick note flags to date assignments…  She has some teachers that will not take an assignment before the due date…

Posted by ADHD-3in home on Jul 07, 2014 at 4:38pm

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