Often, bright students with attentional difficulties “fall between the cracks” of services available in the school system. While Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not included in the 13 disability categories covered under special education law, some students qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and special education services through a label of “Other Health Impaired.” However, in order to qualify for such services in most school systems, the student typically needs to be failing. This is not an entirely accurate interpretation of the law, however, which merely states that the disability must “adversely affect educational performance.” Nonetheless, to qualify for an IEP in most school systems, the child needs to be struggling academically and deemed to require specialized instruction (or special education).
But what about the student doing “just well enough,” who manages, through extra hard work and effort—and the more-than-occasional parental “rescue” to make adequate grades? With some strong parental advocacy, that student may qualify for accommodations via a “504 Plan,” which is supported by federal civil rights law and provides accommodations to the learning environment (but no direct, or “specialized” instruction).
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