IEP and 504 season is upon us! Springtime is when the majority of IEP and 504 meetings take place and, during this time, many parents come to us at Education Team Allies feeling anxious, as they question whether or not their child is getting the most out of their school experience. For children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly referred to as ADHD, school and the many expectations associated with the school day can be a real challenge. Focus, concentration, organization, executive function, and behavior are just a few of the areas where kids with ADHD tend to struggle the most. Ensuring that a solid plan is in place to support a child with ADHD is critical to student success. Whether it be a 504 plan or an IEP, know that support from within the school is available.
1.) Familiarize Yourself With Student Support Plans
A 504 plan or IEP (Individual Education Plan) can offer support to a child who struggles with ADHD. So what is the difference? While an IEP accommodates and modifies the educational environment so that a child can fully participate, a 504 plan simply accommodates a student’s needs throughout the school environment. Regardless of which plan your child qualifies for, know that either will help to set them up for success.
2.) Seek Support
-Pursue an official diagnosis of ADHD if you haven’t done so already from a medical professional.
-Document any issues that your child is having at school and meet with your child’s teacher to discuss these issues in depth so that you have a clear understanding of your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
-Prepare for your child’s meeting by reaching out to Education Team Allies - IEP and 504 meetings are our specialty - we can attend with you!
-Keep everybody in the loop about what is going on with your child so that everyone is on the same page. This is especially critical as you enter into a support plan (be it a 504 or IEP), as you are the most important person at your child’s meeting. More on this later ...
-With your child’s team, draft a support plan that best supports your child
3.) Identify Accommodations
Accommodations can make or break the school experience for your child. At your child’s meeting, the team will propose a list of accommodations that may benefit your child throughout the school day. Remember that you too have a voice and your suggestions may also be taken into consideration. Think about what works at home and any systems that your child positively responds to. Accommodations may look like preferential seating, peer modeling, movement breaks, allowing for extra time for task completion, checking for understanding, etc. These accommodations may be focused on behavior, distractibility, assignments, organization, planning, social help, or any other area in which your child needs support. Remember that accommodations are effective solutions that aid in addressing the challenges that your child may be experiencing within the classroom.
4.) Address Behaviors
Behavior is communication! Children with ADHD may struggle with behavioral issues at school - this is not uncommon or unusual. A lot is expected of all children during the school day and, for those with ADHD, these expectations can seem completely overwhelming at times. Getting to the bottom of the function of the behavior is essential to helping a child with ADHD. “Why is this behavior occurring?” Sometimes, we need to dig deep to find the root cause. In this case, a Functional Behavior Analysis (also known as an FBA) may help to explain the cause of the behavior so that a Behavior Intervention Plan (or BIP) may be put into place to help the child. These tools identify the source of the behavior and offer interventions. The BIP is then incorporated into the student’s support plan to be utilized.
5.) Advocate - Advocate - Advocate
Do you remember earlier when it was mentioned that YOU are the most important person on your child’s team? It’s true! You are the only person who will be at every meeting from now until your child graduates (or no longer requires a support plan). You know your child best and will be the one to pull all of the puzzle pieces together. At Education Team Allies, we are huge proponents of positive communication among all team members, with a huge focus on collaborative teamwork. While we are certainly telling you that you are your child’s best advocate, remember that everybody at the table brings something important to the conversation and it is imperative that mutual respect occur among all team members. Trust in yourself and what you know to be true about your child while always working collaboratively alongside your child’s team. To some parents the thought of advocating for their child in this capacity seems daunting; know that, at Education Team Allies, we are here to help you find your voice as you champion for your child. School doesn’t have to be a struggle when your child is fully supported throughout their educational journey.
About Education Team Allies …
Education Team Allies was founded in 2019 and was born from the realization that parents within our local community, and beyond, were seeking assistance in developing meaningful education plans for their children with special needs. We believe in a positive, collaborative working relationship with your child's education team; a professional relationship that is built upon trust, understanding, patience, kindness, and respect. We truly believe that a collaborative team-based approach is what is best to support a student along their educational journey.