Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Framework (What’s Required):
Both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provide protection for children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Under the IDEA Part B regulations, a student with ADD or ADHD may be eligible under the category other health impairment if the student has limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, due to a chronic or acute health problem that adversely affects the student’s educational performance. (34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(9))
Students with ADD or ADHD can be eligible for services under the category specific learning disability if they have an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations due to a deficiency in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language. (34 C.F.R. §§ 300.8(c)(10) and 300.309)
Students with ADHD can be eligible for services under the category emotional disturbance if they exhibit one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects educational performance: an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers; inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. (34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(4))
Under the Section 504 regulations, a student with ADD or ADHD may be eligible for services if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits him/her in a major life activity (e.g. learning, thinking, concentrating). (34 C.F.R. § 104.3(j)(2)(i) and (ii))
- A student having or is suspected of having ADD or ADHD can be referred for a Section 504 or special education evaluation by the parent or school personnel. All parent requests and school referrals are facilitated by the campus Intervention Assistance Teams (IAT).
- The group of qualified professional (Evaluation Specialist, LSSP and/or school nurse) that collects or reviews evaluation data in connection with the determination of the child's eligibility based on other health impairment (OHI) must include a licensed physician.
- A written report of an initial evaluation must be completed not later than the 45th school day following the date on which the local educational agency receives written consent for the evaluation from the child's parent.
Methods (What We Do):
What are the common difficulties seen in students with ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder characterized by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
In preschool, hyperactivity is the most common ADHD symptom. In elementary school, the symptom of inattention may become more prominent and causes academic problems. In adolescence, hyperactivity seems to decrease but inattention and impulsivity may continue.
Inattention Hyperactivity Impulsivity
- cannot sustain focus
- fails to finish assignments on time
- has problem organizing tasks and activities
- is easily distracted
- is forgetful
- lacks persistence
- makes careless mistakes
- not seems to listen when spoken to directly
- overlooks or misses details
- wanders off task
- fidgets and squirms in seat
- gets out of an assigned seat
- is constantly in motion
- runs around the classroom excessively
- talks nonstop
- taps excessively
- unable to play quietly
- blurts out answers
- interrupts the teacher or other students in the class
- gets out of turn in games
- makes decisions without considering the long-term consequences
How is an eligibility evaluation conducted?
A medical diagnosis of ADD or ADHD does not automatically make a child eligible for services under Section 504 or IDEA.
Section 504 Evaluation
Special Education Evaluation
- an individual evaluation
- assesses specific areas of educational need
- conducted by a multidisciplinary evaluation team (evaluation specialist, licensed specialist in school psychology, etc.)
- uses valid tests and evaluation materials to gather information from a variety of sources
- a full and individual evaluation
- assesses the child in all areas related to the suspected disability
- conducted by a multidisciplinary evaluation team (evaluation specialist, licensed specialist in school psychology, a licensed physician, etc.)
- uses a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional and developmental information about the child
*Refer to ADHD Identification Flowchart for more details.
Is a medical diagnosis of ADD/ADHD required to qualify for Section 504 services?
No. While the law requires that an evaluation be conducted before classifying a child with a disability, a medical evaluation of ADD or ADHD is not legally required.
What accommodations and supports are appropriate for students with ADHD?
No single intervention is universally effective for all students with ADHD. A combination of research-based and promising practices is recommended.
- providing instruction that is interesting and engaging
- allowing student to use a computer to type or to use speech-to-text software
- avoiding repetitive tasks
- breaking down tasks into a series of small steps
- following a defined, regular schedule
- giving concise, clear instructions
- giving frequent positive feedback
- giving points or tokens as rewards to be exchanged at a later time for a favorite activity or treat
- having a designated quiet area to work in
- limiting amount of work per page
- providing stimulating activities
- providing work breaks
- providing written directions or steps
- seating in a place that is relatively free from distraction (for example, doors and windows) in a position where the teacher can easily intervene if they are not attending
- using behavioral and environmental prompts to increase desired classroom behaviors
- working in a pair rather than a group
How are accommodations and supports determined?
The support services and placement decisions about a student with a disability are made by the Section 504 Committee or the ARD/IEP Committee which includes persons knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of the evaluation data, the general education curriculum, and the availability of resources and placement options.