A 504 plan is a legal document that ensures that your child will get the attention that he or she needs to succeed in a regular public school classroom. (It is not the same as an IEP).
Here are the steps you would take:
- Get the diagnosis in writing
- Contact your child’s school counselor or one of the school administrators and request a meeting
- The meeting will be held with the parents, the student, his/her teachers and school counselor and an administrator. Sometimes there are other participants, such as your child’s ADD coach!
- A plan is developed that addresses your child’s learning needs. This often ends up covering their emotional and social needs also. The parents and the child, as well as the teachers and some of the staff, will have responsibilities to fulfill. Remember, this is a legal document and must be adhered to.
- A review date is set which gives everyone the chance to talk about how the plan is working out. You can also request a review meeting before that date.
Some suggestions for accommodations
One of the problems parents face when asking for accommodations is that school staff will say “It’s too much work for the teacher.” Uhhhhh, not really, and it’s part of the job. I’ve done it countless times as a teacher.
School personnel may try to short-change you, giving you the usual accommodations, whether your child needs them or not. Here are some good ones I’ve seen (and that I’ve pushed through on behalf of a family).
- preferential seating (this is different that sitting in the front row). Some ADD kids actually do better in the back or near a door (even if the door is closed).
- silent signal between student and teacher if student is off-task
- projects or assignments that take more than two days are broken down into separate parts and given due dates. Push the hell out of this one. This takes zero time for a teacher to do and is crucial for an ADD kid.
- sometimes kids totally understand the assignment when it’s given, but they get home and don’t have a clue what to do. they may look at their notes or their online resource and still not understand. I like to say that if the child emails the teacher that night, the child gets an extra day to turn it in but he/she HAS to get clarification from the teacher.
What about younger kids – ages 4 – 6, for example?
- It’s going to be important for your child and your family to establish a partnership with the school and the teacher. You don’t want an adversarial relationship.
- Kids need to be reminded more and parents may need to be in daily contact with the teacher (at least briefly for an update)
- Ask if your child can use some sort of “fidget” (as above). What works is different for each child but they should be allowed to hold something, even when the teacher is talking. For younger kids it could be a ball or a stuffed animal.
- Even ADD kids shouldn’t get away with outlandish behavior like name-calling, spitting, and hitting, to name a few. Whatever accommodations the school sets up, you’ll need to “enforce” or support them at home as well. It’s very confusing if the school has one set of rules and the parents have another.
In my experience, the only possible negative to having a 504 Plan would be if the staff at your child’s school is particularly inept and isn’t discreet about the accommodations, causing embarrassment to your child.
Most school personnel, however, are very professional, kind, and discreet.
Helping parents with 504 plans is one of my services.
What questions do you have about 504 plans or IEPs?
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Copyright 2016 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved
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