IEP or 504?: I have 9 year old twin... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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IEP or 504?

Boymom3 profile image

I have 9 year old twin boys, adopted from foster care. ADHD, ODD and developmental delays. We’ve had behavior issues in school from day one. I requested IEP in first grade and was told they didn’t need it bc grades were good. Last school year, which was hard on everyone bc of covid, was a disaster. I didn’t hear much from the teachers so I thought things were fine. Parent teacher call I find out that they would do their work/cooperate depending on “what kind of mood they were in” and the teacher didn’t think it was “worth the fight” so she let a lot go from what I understand. They did get consequences but minimal. By the last month of the school year, one of them was so disruptive, she couldn’t keep him in the classroom. I tried to request IEP again and was told the same thing, grades are fine, not eligible, end of school year...

So I pushed more, they have a teacher that is actually taking it seriously. She’s not giving them chance after chance. So far, they seem to be doing ok.

However, I feel I need a plan that will follow them when they don’t have this teacher anymore. She is trying to help me, but they are making acceptable grades so it’s hard to say their behavior is interfering with learning. She thinks a 504 maybe the way to go.

I’ve tried researching the web and I just feel lost.

Any advice or direction to a place I can learn what I need to know. We are in TN.

Why do they make it so complicated!!🤯😄


16 Replies

There is a big difference between the 2 types of educational plans. Most children with ADHD struggle with many aspects of public school. Peer relations, organization, executive functioning, excessive talking, etc. They may also have other learning challanges.

Whatever professional diagnosised your children can write you a letter requesting services for the school. Then it is really important that you give a written request to the Special Education department, they are responsible for doing an assessment to determine what impact it has on their educational process.

One thing very few people say is...

The demands of school just get harder and harder, it is great they are doing well now but in the future who knows.

Good luck!

504 can follow them post-college, where IEP can’t. I’ll include a link you may already have seen, but also ask their pediatrician and whomever diagnosed, if possible, how you can find an advocate to help you navigate. We moved out of a “good” school district bcs they were dropping a child’s IEP (not adhd related). Our new district (same state) went above what we asked. They didn’t just accommodate, but provided services so my child could progress. It was very challenging, but they walked with us through the journey. Also a huge hug, and thank you for caring for these sweet boys.

Grades are only a part of what a school should be looking at. My daughter is really smart but due to her mental health impairments she was unable to properly access her education. She qualified for her IEP under Emotional Disability and Other Health Impairment due to her ADHD. IEP's are federally protected where 504's are not which makes them harder to regulate and hold schools accountable for the accommodations. Have you formally, in writing, requested testing to determine whether your child qualifies for and IEP? We were able to get my daughter and educational evaluation, psych evaluation, OT evaluation and a speech evaluation all done by the school. They can't just tell you she doesn't qualify.

Boymom3 profile image
Boymom3 in reply to LalaG

Well they did. More than once. The special education person at the school said I can request it, but she KNOWS they will not qualify even for testing for eligibility. The teacher thinks, based on what I told them before school started, that they need it. She has seen the ODD in the afternoon before they get their afternoon dose of medication. She has been trying to gather enough evidence that behavior is interfering with learning, but so far, she does not think it’s enough for an IEP. She thinks 504 may be possible.

Honestly, the only requirement/accommodation I’d ask for, is that they get an immediate consequence when starting the defiant behavior. If they get too many chances they escalate much more. Is that even something I can ask for if I ever get to that point. I need it in this written form where there is accountability. I tell teachers this every year and they don’t take me seriously. They discipline them the way they do everyone else and that typically doesn’t work for them. I’ve been told by one teacher that she will run her class how she sees fit and she was only telling me how he behaved that particular day so I’d know why his work wasn’t done, not bc she needed my input.

The teacher this year has listened to me and so far she’s having less trouble.

I can't speak to which document would best serve your childrens' needs because so much depends on the school, but I can say that it will take a lot of heavy lifting and persistence from you. It stinks, but nothing will happen unless you create some noise and a paper trail. In your shoes, I would be emailing the teacher weekly asking for behavior reports and sharing what you're seeing at home. If my kids mention struggling in any way, I email the teacher. It's a total pain, and I feel like "that parent" much of the time. But if I hadn't done that, my son would not have gotten any services because his grades were fine. If you request an evaluation from the school, they are required to act. They have to at least hear you out and consider the options. It's useful to send supporting diagnostic documents when you make your request as well. As others have pointed out, emotional disabilities and "other health impairments" are qualifiers for services. Good luck. I'm so sorry you and they are struggling with this right now. It's so much harder than it should be.

I got a masters in teaching and taught 8th grade science for a couple years. I was also a parent and sent a foster child to that school for 8th grade and got to speak with the staff from the other side of the table. I have to say it was quite a shocking difference.

My understanding is that a 504 is documenting a disability, which I thought was a federal thing, but a previous comment is making me question that. By having a documented disability it opens the doors to teacher and schools to offer fairly straightforward accommodations. Many (not all) of these can be implemented without a 504 by a teacher if they chose to do so. The 504 makes them required rather than optional. A simple example might be someone who needs glasses. They are allowed to wear them in class, or they might need to sit closer to the board. Far sighted students might require larger print on assignments. If a student is red/green color blind, then the teacher should not use those colors to indicate differences when writing on a white board.

An IEP is explained to me as a past failure to access the academic content of a class has led them to fall behind in at least one area. When we looked into it here in my state, we were told they have to fall behind by 2 grade levels to qualify for an IEP (which seems a ridiculously high bar). Once a student has caught up to his/her peers, they can be removed from the IEP. A school cannot decide to simply remove a 504. They can request an updated diagnoses by a professional and if you can't provide that, then the 504 can be removed as no longer applicable.

My understanding is that they cannot refuse a 504. Although there are some more ambiguous diagnoses that may not qualify, ADHD is not one of them.

A fairly common tool teachers can use with a 504 is to implement a "Behavioral Modification Plan". It's pretty open ended, but it is basically trying to modify 1 or 2 behaviors at most through a series of rules. They should be quantitative and easy to check off. If students do something good, X number of times, they get this reward. Most are setup in positive/reward ways rather than punitive. However, they could be used to limit the number of warning/chances a student will get, at least IMO. Often times they are setup with parent input and parents can them implement a similar strategy at home.

Boymom3 profile image
Boymom3 in reply to BTV65

I understand how beneficial positive reinforcement is and I think it’s a given that they will receive plenty of that at school even without a plan. With these guys though, they can’t get positive reinforcement for everything. They will and have run over teachers that won’t stand their ground. I’m all for praise and reward but the teachers need to be allowed to and willing to let them know “hey, that behavior is not acceptable, you won’t do that in here. Period.”

That’s really all they need (and medication)but I’ve been surprised by how much resistance I’ve gotten at that recommendation.

BTV65 profile image
BTV65 in reply to Boymom3

Every child/person is unique and the most effective techniques are the ones that work for them. That being said, teachers are taught "best practices" and are loathe to deviate from them. Bring in the diagnoses from the Dr. Give to the school and tell them you want them on a 504. Period. They will likely do testing at that point, but if they have a diagnoses I don't believe the school can say "no" regardless how well they are performing in school. Now special ed department and you will negotiate on what accommodations to put in the 504. The 504 can be changed. Multiple times during the year. It's typically reviewed at least once a year in the Spring with the parents to make sure it's working and to see if any changes are needed for the following year. You can request a meeting to review it earlier in the year if you think it's not working for whatever reason. Those meetings are your opportunity to push for what you feel is needed.

Why not try testing for IEP and if they don’t qualify you have all that info to push forward for a 504. Put the testing request in writing copying principal, Sped Department and teacher. They have 50 school days to complete no questions asked. My school psychologist always says testing gives answers even if it is that the kid didn’t qualify. You learn learning styles and strengths.

Also, if you noticed behaviors occurring before afternoon dose of meds, can the meds occur sooner?

The public school is required to perform a complete evaluation of your child upon your written request within 60 day of the request. This is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is federal law and must be followed by Tennessee. This law governs which children are entitled to and IEP. However, even if your child does not qualify for an IEP, a child with ADHD does qualify for a 504 plan (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973). All that is required is a formal, medical diagnosis of ADHD. The school does not get to decide this and it cannot be refused. Your child's grades are irrelevant. A child is entitled to reasonable accommodations to provide him or her with the same opportunity for success as a child without the disability. Please write a letter to the school counselor or principle and copy the district specifically requesting a full evaluation for needed services. You can find sample letters on line, but even a simple letter will do the trick. As noted, the school must comply and must complete the evaluation within 60 days of the letter. They know this. Public schools struggle with allocation of scarce resources and make every effort to convince parents that children do not require the services to which they are entitled. Politics and policy are not my problems to solve. My responsibility is to my child and it takes advocating to get what your child needs. Good luck to you.

Supermom24 profile image
Supermom24 in reply to ADHD_DAD

Your input was most helpful. I am very grateful that you shared your knowledge. Thank you!

ADHD_DAD profile image
ADHD_DAD in reply to Supermom24

You're welcome. If you click on my profile avatar (which was assigned to me; no idea what it pictures) and click on my "Replies," you'll see that I have replied relating to IEP and 504 plans and the corresponding laws many times. Sometime I "rant" more than other times and relay my own frustration with the process and other times I stick more to the law. You can decide which type you like better, but I hope you find the information contained in the replies helpful. Reach out any time for advice more specific to your situation and I will try to help. We are all in this together! Be well!

Supermom24 profile image
Supermom24 in reply to ADHD_DAD

You are most kind. I am truly grateful.

I agree with parents suggesting written request for full evaluation. My daughter is twice exceptional- her grades were fine, but when evaluated there was a big discrepancy between her aptitude and her achievement. Her IEP requires that she have special education support that allows her to fully access the curriculum, which for her is honors and AP classes. She went from feeling not so bright to thriving. A psychoeducational evaluation should identify the twins' strengths as well as challenges and provide a substantial list of recommendations to be used in school- for an IEP if they are found eligible or a 504 plan.

Supermom24 profile image
Supermom24 in reply to abryans

Thanks a million!!!

I'm not sure how much more I have to offer. My son has an IEP for add but he doesn't have any behavorial issues. He has classmates with IEP's and behavorial issues. I believe on one of their IEP's it said something like "Child will have less than 2 outbursts per week defined by not talking out of turn or something like that. Then the IEP records weekly was the child successful or not. Reward can be the child picking the story to be read or leading the class in an activity with the teacher. Every 9 weeks, I would receive a report on my child on how successfull he would be and any changes to be made. Some kids won't sit in their seat. So they will write, child remained in seat 40 minutes out of 45. It kinda goes on like this but becomes more rigid as time passes. I would think if your pediatrician wrote a letter to the school for an IEP or 504, they would have to comply. The pediatrician could request the school psychologist to sit in the class and observe the boys. I also know where I live, twins are not allowed in the same classrooms together.

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