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ADHD and Special Education
Q: My son has ADHD. He is a polite and respectful child and does not have behavioral problems in school. However, he misses most recesses in order to complete or correct his schoolwork. He was told that if he can't keep up with the reading group, he will have to work own his own and if he can't finish his work, he's restricted from special privileges.
At my request, the school tested him for auditory processing problems and learning disabilities. They said he doesn't have a disability, but he has low cognitive skills and it takes longer for him to process information. They claim that ADHD doesn't qualify as a learning disability. They would not put him on a 504 Plan or give him any accommodations. Is this legal?
A: Your school is right that ADHD is not listed as a specific learning disability in the law. Traditionally, however, children who have academic difficulties because of ADHD are listed as "other health impaired" and are eligible to receive services. At very least, it certainly sounds like your son should be eligible for Section 504 accommodations.
I would call Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) at 1-800-233-4050 or go to their website at http://www.chadd.org and ask them to help you walk through the system of getting appropriate services for your son. Attorney Lawrence M. Siegel's book, The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child might also be a helpful resource to you.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.