ADHD Parents Together
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Qualifying for IEP? 504 instead?

Hello, my son 8 yrs old was diagnosed last summer with ADHD and minor ODD. He is extremely hyperactive and his attention span is very limited. He's prone to fidget, wiggle, confrontation, hitting, name calling etc. Now, that diagnoses was a shock to me, I honestly thought it was a phase, perhaps other kids in his school picking on him, driving him crazy.

I changed his school, the one he goes to I thought, has better capability of handling him. It's a larger school with lots of support for kids who need it. What I didn't know, and was never informed of, was that I needed to jump through hoops and processes and large volumes of paperwork to see that he gets the proper treatment or corrections for his behaviors during school.

(I feel I should mention here that most of the year he has been getting minor infractions for name calling, teasing, interrupting class by wiggling, throwing things, etc. Now he has a Major referral because he looked up something called "buttman" on the computer, I have no idea what that is.)

Now, I have been told by his PCP about various medications, starting with Ritalin but I don't want to go down that road. I don't want my son feeling sick from various side effects of different types of drugs. I want him feeling good and being happy, like he is when he's at home.

I expressed to my son's teacher that I don't want him on medication and that I will do what it takes to avoid that. She was not happy about that and informed me that she feels medication is absolutely necessary.

I took my son to see what I thought was a counselor but wasn't exactly a therapist? I'm not exactly sure what his role was besides chatting with my son a few times, passing along his diagnoses with a prescription for drugs and telling us my son needs therapy and have a nice life.? I'm still trying to wrap my head around this but what ever.

Back to the present, I was sharing my frustrations with a friend and she pointed me in the direction of obtaining an IEP which sounded great to me! However, I know very little other than some minor research done on the school board web pages and I printed up the cookie cutter version of an IEP outline some tidbits of useful information and things of that nature. Armed with this and after a call to my son's PCP for a referral to a therapist that my insurance will cover, I called my son's school to speak with the head of special needs and educations department. She said she would look into it for me and I hadn't heard from her for the next few days. Today I called her and she tells me that an IEP is not available for my son because he is not academically challenged and that she is going to send him over to the woman in charge of 504s.

I agree that my son is very smart, his grades reflect his intelligence. However, it's that day to day struggle to keep him focused and not bored to death during class, and at recess being involved in playing that doesn't frustrate or anger him causing him to lash out blindly. When I talk with him about what happens in class he tells me he can't help it, he's so bored and the people around him are so distracting. At recess he tells me that he just gets mad he can't control himself, he just sees red and things happen. He does feel bad about it but sometimes has trouble apologising for it.

I'm just at a loss on what to do, I'm worried that he's going to get kicked out of school for something he can't control. He's being punished or "diciplined" by taking his recess away and so he's stuck in class in a chair the whole time and it's making things worse. I.. don't know what to say or do other than what I'm trying to get done right now.

Sorry for the long post I just, am lost. What can I do if my school won't help with an IEP and I don't know if a 504 will be enough? My concern is that the 504 leaves it up to the classroom teacher what happens as far as discipline goes? Doesn't have to contact the parent to take action? But, the actions taken so far haven't worked out then why continue?

Thanks for reading and offering any advice in advance I appreciate it.


8 Replies


My 7 yr old son has the same diagnosis and had very similar behaviors and feeling's (although I think my son''s behavior was much more severe). Fortunately, his school is extremely supportive and has been nothing short of amazing when it comes to 504 plans and, now, IEP. Like your son, he is extremely bright. His IQ is 123, so he isn't academicallychallenged either. His IEP is qualified as 'other health issues'. I would be more then happy to talk to you about what I did to get his 504 plan in place and his IEP. As a student he has every right's and as his parents you have right too. My email address is If you would like, please email me and I will five you my phone number so we can chat. I, also, was hesitant to put him on medication, but after MANY attempt's at in school therapy and private therapy and parenting therapy, and nothing was making a difference, we finally took him to a pediatric psychiatrist and put him on medication. It took a couple of different tries, but I think we have finally found the right meds and he is so much better and he is so happy with himself and our family is a lot less stressed. He is finally in a place where he will be able to start attending therapy again and it will make a difference. Putting him on meds was the best thing we could do for him. It has been a long stuggle, but, with the right support and help, he is getting better. Your son will too.


Wow! That's impressive! I bet is quite a relief to you all. That gives me hope! His dad and I have been so close to ripping our hair out.


I feel your pain. My son is similar in that his school issue is behavior and not academics. We also are getting push back on implementing a 504. We are lucky that our son goes to Kennedy Krieger for therapy and meds and they have a parent advocate system that we can use. Do you have any facilities like Kennedy Krieger or Child Mind Institute near you?

You may also want to check out this link if you haven’t already.

Best of luck to your son and family. I hope he is able to get what he needs to thrive.


Thank you for the link! No, we do not have one of those near by.


Keep in mind that what is put on a 504 plan isn't determined solely by the school. It's supposed to be put together by the parents and the school. So when you say that recess is being taken away from your son, you actually have a say in this. You can advocate for your son and take this as an opportunity to educate the school about how it's detrimental to remove recess from an ADHD child who needs that time to get their wiggles out. See this article on recess and ADHD children, which includes how you can add recess into the 504 as an accommodation:

Good luck!

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Thank you so much for the link! I printed out a few of those pages. They can only help right, at this point.


So in my state, AZ, I learned from my friend who is a principal that schools do not have to recognize ADHD as a diagnosis for an IEP. Fortunately, my sons school did for him. So my understanding is the 504 plan only makes “accommodations” for him in the classroom.... my questions for you are...Who diagnosed your son? Have you ever asked for your son to be tested for gifted education? So, don’t write me off yet... I found that as wonderful as my school district is, it wasn’t until I had a full blown neuropsychological completed on my son that they would do the IEP or provide services. I also learned my school district does not test for gifted education until third grade. That being said, I would like you to google gifted children and ADHD. It is surprising to see, but gifted children sometimes present as ADHD. Now even if my son ends up one day being classified as gifted I know he is still ADHD and ODD. You are st the beginning of your school struggle. Look up your rights online. There are supposed to be deadlines that need to be followed and things the school should be doing. You can request your son be evaluated and sign some papers in the office usually. Sometimes there are also agencies in your state that will help navigate the school system with you. Do a search and see. Good luck!!

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I just went to the whole process of obtaining 504 plan and EIP. Unfortunately, my daughter only qualified for the 504 for her ADHD diagnosis.

We have an awesome school district that did the full psycho educational testing and we met with 5 specialist + the principal. We had 2 PpT meeting; one for evaluating the need for school accommodations and additional testing and the second one to review results and action plan. We all agreed to start a battery of tests and regroup 3 weeks later to evaluate results. She qualified for 504 but not for EIP based on how good she did in some tests. We also put her on Focalin 15mg XL and she is more focus and less distracted st school. We still battle with the ODD and OCD, but st least, half the battle we won. She is motivated to do her homework and we see a positive change. The school is also providing 2 times a month, check ins with the school psychologist plus we are starting cognitive behavioral therapy outside school.

Based on the behavior you described, therapy alone, won’t do.

I recommend you to watch Dr. Russel Barkley YouTube videos on ADHD. Eye opening!

PS: we didn’t encounter negative side effects with Focalin in terms of loss of appetite , headaches, etc. I only noted my daughter is a little bit more emotional than usual but she is also going through puberty... Hard to tell if ,indeed, the med is too blame.

Best of luck.

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