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Do children and adolescents with ADHD get special treatment in schools?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Kids and teens with ADHD do get special treatment to help them learn in school. However, that doesn’t mean if your teen consistently forgets to turn in his math homework or your child disrupts class more often than not, they’re off the hook. What it does mean, though, is that the law guarantees every student free and appropriate public education (FAPE). This includes whatever special accommodations and services are needed for children and teens with disabilities, like ADHD.

There are two federal mandates that require schools to assist students whose ADHD makes it difficult for them to learn. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require that schools provide special education or make changes so that the educational needs of these students are met. Changes may include adjusting the content of their classes, rearranging the classroom setting, specialized teaching, behavioral management, and improved parent-teacher meetings. Not all school aged children with ADHD qualify for these benefits as only those whose ADHD interferes with their ability to learn are eligible.
Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
There are several protections for young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who are having trouble succeeding in school. Some of these provisions include free and appropriate public education (FAPE), Section 504, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Public schools must provide special services to meet particular educational needs for those who qualify for FAPE under Section 504 and IDEA.

Under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 ensures that all individuals with disabilities have rights equal to others. Under Section 504, individuals with ADHD are protected from discrimination in programs and activities that receive federal funds. Students with ADHD whose educational lives are impaired by their ADHD symptoms can qualify for special services under this law and are entitled to a free and appropriate public education.

Also protecting children and adolescents between the ages of 3 and 21, IDEA ensures that young people have access to FAPE. To qualify for assistance under IDEA, children and adolescents with ADHD must have a diagnosis of ADHD and specific learning disabilities. A team of professionals can test your child to see if he or she qualifies for IDEA.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.