How to Get My Child Testing Accommodations for ADHD
One of the most common questions parents ask after their child is diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is, “How do I get testing accommodations in school?” It may seem complicated with terms like 504 and IEP being thrown around, but the process is straightforward and can make a world of difference for your child. So I’m going to break it down into 5 simple steps that you can start following right now.
1. Obtain a letter stating the diagnosis of ADHD.
Request a letter from the therapist, pediatrician or counselor who made the ADHD diagnosis. It’s important to note that a full psychological evaluation is not necessary to obtain this letter. A diagnosis of ADHD can be made by your doctor or therapist. A full evaluation may be warranted if you are interested in understanding the cognitive or academic impact of ADHD or ruling out other conditions.
2. Contact the school to schedule a 504 meeting.
A 504 Plan is a plan developed by the school to ensure a child is receiving the support they need. It is also the quickest and lowest tier intervention for acquiring testing accommodations in the classroom.
You can obtain a 504 plan by emailing or calling your child’s teacher, counselor, or other contact person at the school and requesting a 504 meeting to discuss accommodations for your child. It is important to say “504 meeting” because then the clock starts. According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the school generally has 10 calendar days to hold the meeting.
3. Gather documentation.
Next you will need to collect some documents for your meeting. Bring any reports from the teacher regarding your child, any emails, or test grades to prove a general pattern of how the ADHD has impacted their school performance. The goal is to show that your child requires testing accommodations to perform at their highest potential. Accommodations may include extra time, breaks, or testing in a smaller room.
4. Attend the meeting.
In this first meeting, you will discuss if your child qualifies for a 504. Go in with all the information gathered and be prepared to hear from an entire team of experts. This meeting can feel overwhelming, but it is important to trust the process. Typically, the principal or vice principal, teacher, counselor, school psychologist or school social worker attends. Sometimes the student may even be present if they are old enough. Stay calm and ask questions if something is unclear.
5. Assess the Decision.
At the end of the meeting, the school team will come to one of three decisions. They will either move forward with the 504 plan, request additional information through a school evaluation, or determine that the student does not require a 504 plan. If you do not agree with the decision or are unsure, you do not need to sign any documents at the meeting. If you need more time, take the documents home and think it over.
If the school decides that a 504 plan is required, the accommodations will be drafted at the following meeting, typically within 30 –60 days. Accommodations may include additional time, testing in a smaller environment, ability to write on the test, test blocks broken down into smaller parts, testing on separate days, etc. These options should be carefully considered and only those absolute necessary should be chosen. Then each year, or sooner if requested, you and the school team will meet to determine if the accommodations are working.
Remember, there are many supports for children with ADHD. The key is knowing what to ask for and staying in communication with the school and other support people. Your child is lucky to have you. The fact that you are reading this means you are doing the best for them. While it may be a long road ahead, getting the supports in place now can mean a more successful and less stressed child in the future.
Are you going through the 504 process right now? Please share your questions or advice in the comments below.
If you would like to sign up for our once-a-month newsletter, click here: http://eepurl.com/dGDPoT