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Education Rights of Students with Attention Deficit Disorder | LegalMatch Law Library

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What is ADD?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a now-outdated term that is used to describe inattentive-type Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Common symptoms of ADD include lack of focus, disorganization, and forgetfulness.

One of the defining differences with inattentive-type ADHD (ADD) and ADHD is that children and adults with the former are not hyper or impulsive. ADHD qualifies as a disability under the Other Health Impairment (OHI) category of special education law and is a disability under Section 504.

How Does ADHD Affect My Child’s Education?

If your child has been diagnosed with inattentive-type ADHD, or ADD, it may come as no surprise that he or she may have been experiencing difficulties in school. ADHD/ADD can affect anyone, regardless of IQ level. For students, ADHD/ADD may make paying attention and remaining on task more difficult than for those who do not have the diagnosis.

If your child is struggling in school, he or she may be eligible for special education accommodations. In order to qualify for special education services, you must be able to show that the diagnosis is interfering with your child’s learning processes.

If My Child Is Diagnosed with ADD, What are Their Educational Rights?

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children who have been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD may be eligible for special education services if the ADHD/ADD adversely affects the child’s educational performance. Under the IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, schools are required to make reasonable modifications and adaptations for students who are significantly impaired by ADHD/ADD.

If you want to file a lawsuit to force your child’s school district with comply with IDEA, then learn more about the process: How to Exhaust Remedies Through IDEA.

What are the Criteria for Eligibility for Special Education?

To qualify for and Individualized Education Program (IEP) under IDEA, a child must meet the criteria in at least one of 13 disability categories. Commonly, children with ADHD/ADD will meet criteria under the Other Health Impairment (OHI) category. Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) or Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED) are also categories that children with an ADHD/ADD diagnosis may fall under.

In order for a child to become eligible for special education and related services, two components must be determined. One, is that the child actually has a disability, and two, that said child is in need of special education and related services. The evaluation team at school will go over your child’s test results and decide if he or she is eligible for special education services.

If it is determined that those services are not necessary, it is possible the team will recommend support and accommodations through a 504 plan. If your child is found to have long-lasting or severe effects of ADHD/ADD, that adversely affect academic performance and limit his or her alertness, then it is likely that the criteria will be met.

Who Determines If a Child is Eligible?

The school is responsible for evaluating your child to determine special education eligibility. The evaluation team will review your child’s test results and make the final decision on eligibility. If, for some reason, you don’t agree with the results, you can make arrangements for a private evaluation and ask the school to take those results into consideration.

What Kinds of Special Education Can Students with ADHD Be Eligible For?

Students with ADHD/ADD may be eligible for a few types of assistance, including:

  • Untimed tests;
  • Preferential seating (such as front row, near the teacher);
  • Students are given shorter tests or assignments; and/or
  • A tutor or assistant to aid in learning and staying on task.

Placing a child in a special education classroom is usually avoided, and is a last resort for most cases. When an individual qualifies for an Individualized Education Program (IEP), the starting point for discussion are the support needed to succeed in the least restrictive environment—a general education classroom.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Not yet. If you want to challenge your child's IEP or believe that your child's school district is violating IDEA, then learn more about how to start the process by read about IDEA and exhausting all remedies. Only after you exhausted remedies under IDEA, can you file a civil suit against the school district.

Photo of page author Sarah Tipton

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 05-25-2018 03:16 PM PDT

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