ADHD and Special Education FAQ

Do you have any of the these questions about ADHD?  Here are the questions that are most frequently asked.
If my child has a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), does he qualify for special education?

A child who has been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD will not automatically receive special education services once the diagnosis is made or be given an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The diagnosis will be considered as part of the process for determining eligibility for special education services. Many students with ADHD will not need special education support and will learn to compensate within a regular education classroom. However, there are also a good deal of students that need the supports to address organizational issues, inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

To be eligible for special education services, one must have two things: a disability and a documented need for special education services to be successful. Educational impact must be evident in order to receive special education services. Various methods for determining educational impact are used in schools. Some school systems look to see if the student is performing at his or her expected ability level (they compare cognitive scores with educational scores on testing), while some systems look for below grade level scores or grades.

How do I find out if my child qualifies for special education?

If you suspect your child has a disability or if you want the school to consider if your child should receive special education services to address ADHD, talk to your child’s teacher or principal immediately. There is a process within each school that usually begins with a meeting. This meeting will involve teachers, principals, other school personnel (maybe a School Psychologist). At this meeting, interventions to attempt with the child will be decided. If those interventions are unsuccessful, the committee may recommend a full evaluation for special education services. See sped testing for more info
As a parent you have a right to request a full evaluation, even if the team does not feel that it is appropriate. A parent can request in writing to the director of special education that a student be evaluated for special education services.

The school said no to an IEP, can we get a 504 Plan?

A 504 Plan is less restrictive than an IEP and is typically implementing in the regular education classroom. It is often easier for a student with ADHD to receive support from a 504 Plan than an IEP, especially when educational impact is not evident. To receive services from a 504 Plan, one must have a disability and that disability must cause impairment in a “major life function.” Talk to your principal if you would like to consider a 504 Plan.

What is OHI?

OHI stands for Other Health Impairment and is a category for special education services. In special education, there are 13 categories in which a student can qualify for special education services. The Other Health Impairment is any medically documented health impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. When a student receives special education services for ADHD, it will be under the category of Other Health Impairment or OHI.

If my child receives special education for ADHD, do we have to have him on medication?

No, a child receiving medication is a personal decision made by the parents with the medical provider. A school can not legally recommend medication or insist that a child be on medicine. No school personnel should be making this recommendation. However, it is helpful for a teacher and parent to discuss how a student is doing on or off medication. That information should be provided with the medical provider.


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