Reviewed by Lauren Guilbeault
If you or your child has ADHD, are planning on seeking treatment, or are in the middle of the diagnostic process, you may be wondering what accommodations are available in school for people with ADHD. A 504 Plan is a formal plan of accommodations for a student with disabilities. This article will describe ADHD, the rights of the disabled, and what some of those accommodations look like.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a mental disorder that revolves around the symptoms of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattentiveness. Symptoms show in many ways, but some of the most common difficulties include time management, organization, employment, educational, and relationship issues.
These symptoms can have major implications for accommodation. Since people with ADHD may have significant troubles with employment, they may require significant accommodation. However, many employees and students with ADHD prove worth the extra time gave their alternative thinking way.
ADHD can be present at any age, and people with ADHD may deal with various issues. Childhood ADHD and its implications for education are common. Yet, many people can lead full, productive, and rewarding lives despite their ADHD diagnosis.
If you or your child wants to learn more about ADHD, consider taking a free and confidential diagnostic test: https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/adhd-test. By going through a free diagnostic for yourself or your child, you can take the first steps towards learning about the disorder, how it affects you or your child, and how the law protects people with ADHD with accommodations.
To receive official accommodations from a school or employer, you will need to be formally diagnosed by a doctor. Although a Mind Diagnostics test can help guide you as to whether you need a diagnosis from a professional, it is not a substitute from an official medical professional’s documentation.
The Americans With Disabilities Act Of 1990
First, this article will go over the basics of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While the ADA is most often applied to the workplace, it is vital to this discussion because it is the United States legislation at the root of protecting Americans with disabilities at school and work. The ADA is the most important, significant, and powerful legislation passed for people with disabilities in the US.
Once you have received official documentation from a doctor, you can file for certain protections under the ADA. As someone with a disability, in this case, ADHD, you have the rights to prevent discrimination from places such as school or a workplace.
Passed by the US Congress in 1990, the ADA sought to provide equal opportunities for those with disabilities in education and work. The ADA applies to any school or employer with more than 15 employees. The ADA also applies to state, local, and federal governments, unions, employment agencies, and other organizations.
While the ADA covers ADHD, the following requirements must be met, set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. To receive accommodations under the ADA, ADHD (as well as other mental illnesses) must be considered a disability, and the disabled must have a documented record of the disability.
Additionally, the EEOC states, “An individual with a disability must also be qualified to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation, to be protected by the ADA.” The student/employee must “satisfy your job requirements for educational background, employment experience, skills, licenses, and any other qualification standards that are job-related; and be able to perform those tasks that are essential to the job, with or without reasonable accommodation.”
Proving ADHD as a disability is further complicated by how you handle the disease. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc., and also in Murphy v. United Parcel Service, Inc., that if a person has little to no trouble navigating major life activities due to a helping factor (such as medication), then that person does not meet the definition of disability under the ADA.
For example, if you have trouble seeing normally, but your glasses clear up your vision problems, you are not considered disabled under the ADA. Thus, if your ADHD is fully managed through medication and other therapies, you might not be able to claim disability.
While an employer is not allowed to ask if you have ADHD (or any other disability) during or after the hiring or application process, you must disclose that you have ADHD to receive accommodation.
People with ADHD are allowed to request “reasonable accommodations,” which the EEOC defines as “any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.”
Meanwhile, the school or employer can defend themselves against unreasonable requests. The EEOC defines, “Undue hardship means that an accommodation would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.”
Overall, the Americans with Disabilities Act allows you or your reasonable child accommodation to compete in education and employment without discrimination due to a disability. It is not a cure for your problems with school and ADHD, but the ADA is a solid foundation for preventing discrimination of ADHD.
Rehabilitation Act Of 1973
Before the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the most important legislation on Americans with disabilities. When an education plan developed for a disabled student is called a 504 plan, the “504” refers to section 504 of the Act, which guarantees freedom of discrimination. A 504 plan is for basic accommodations through written approval.
The Act faced a great deal of reluctance, governments and employers stalled their utilization, and protests followed. The ADA strengthened, redefined, and clarified many of the guarantees and terms of the Rehabilitation Act.
Accommodations For ADHD
As discussed in the last section, the definitions for accommodations for ADHD are very loose under the ADA. Essentially, any accommodation is legally on the table as long it is “reasonable” and does not cause “undue hardship” to your school or employer. Thus, accommodations are going to vary greatly from person to person and situation to situation.
Some common accommodations for people with ADHD include restructuring duties, modifying schedules, and extra time on assignments, tests, training materials, or other policies.
There are several tips and tricks beyond official accommodation that a teacher can employ. With an ADHD student, a teacher can structure the physical layout to accommodate an ADHD student by giving them a less busy area, seating close to the teacher, and be clear about expectations over-rules, and schedules.
A parent could keep an extra set of books at home, help with scheduling, provide clear organization patterns through colored folders and book coverings, and help with studying notes.
A therapist could help develop a behavior plan with a reward system. They could talk through behavior problems one on one, and the therapist could check-in and monitor the child’s progress.
Essentially, while legal accommodation can be important for someone with ADHD, a holistic treatment plan is
Essentially, while legal accommodation can be important for someone with ADHD, a holistic treatment plan is encouraged for school, home, and elsewhere. The more resources involved, like an understanding teacher and therapist, the better for the student is.
504 Plan Of ADHD
A 504 Plan is a plan created to guarantee that a child with a disability as defined by law and documented by medical professionals in attending grade school or high school will receive a promising education and be allowed to succeed in their learning. The rest of what you need to know is written above and summarized below.
First, you or your child must have written documentation of disability due to ADHD from a medical professional. Without a medical professional’s involvement, schools and employers are not obligated to act.
Second, it is important to know your rights as an American with a disability, specifically as described by the ADA with your diagnosis.
Lastly, you can work with your school and medical professional to come to terms with reasonable accommodations that do not cause undue hardship. These are the basics of written accommodations, often referred to as a 504 plan.
IEP For ADHD
An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is similar but has key differences from a 504 Plan. An IEP is generally defined as a plan for a disabled child as defined by law in attending grade school or high school should receive specialized instruction to meet their full educational potential.
The main difference between the two is the need for specialized instruction, in which not everybody on a 504 Plan receives specialized instruction. Furthermore, the documentation required is different for IEP, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act largely governs an IEP.
Accommodations for you or your child do not need to be intimidating. In fact, your rights to accommodation are guaranteed by law. This article should give some basic understanding of your rights to reasonable accommodation.