Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most commonly diagnosed disorders among children, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A child diagnosed with ADHD may suffer from impulsivity, inattentiveness and/or hyperactivity making it difficult to succeed in school or complete tasks at home. A thorough understanding of the laws regarding ADHD can help children with the disorder get the educational support they need to succeed.
Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 strictly prohibits any federally-funded program from discriminating against children with disabilities, according to PBS "Frontline." In specific circumstances under this civil rights law, school districts are required to make special accommodations for an ADHD student. To qualify for the special treatment and educational assistance Section 504 provides, it must be documented that a child "has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity," reports The National Resource Center on ADHD. Though qualification is dependent upon evaluation, learning is considered to be a major life activity, and therefore, a child diagnosed with ADHD may be covered. Children eligible for help under Section 504 receive instruction through the same educational curriculum as their peers, but are offered additional accommodations, such as a quiet work space, a tape recorder for note taking or use of a computer for written work. The statute notes that an ADHD child is not enrolled in special education classes and must take any state mandated assessment tests, though certain adjustments, like lenient time restrictions, may be made during the test taking.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides children with a qualified disability special education. If a child with ADHD has serious difficulty learning or behaving in school, he might qualify for additional educational help under IDEA. Eligibility is determined by multiple professionals including the child's teacher, doctor, psychologist, counselor, principal, or other school personnel. Under IDEA, a qualifying child with ADHD may be instructed alongside his peers with modified resources as well as in a special-education classroom depending on the severity of the disorder.
When a child with ADHD lives in a state with ADHD-specific laws that are different than the federal laws, the school must adhere to the federal laws, unless the state laws provide the child more protection or rights. Currently, there are only a handful of states with initiatives regarding ADHD and most are centered around the use of psychiatric drugs that are commonly prescribed to treat children diagnosed with ADHD.
Beneficial Classroom Specific Rules
Whether covered under Section 504, IDEA or neither, the U.S. Department of Education suggests a child with ADHD can benefit from a classroom that integrates academic instruction, behavioral interventions and classroom accommodations. Teachers and students can brainstorm specific classroom rules including behaviors that are difficult for ADHD kids, like raising your hand before speaking, along with consequences. Educators are encouraged to speak directly and concisely when giving directions, in addition to breaking down multiple instructions for an assignment and posting a checklist on the board, to keep an ADHD child focused on the task at hand or redirect him if he gets off track. Also, publicly praising when a child does something positive and creating a reward system to gain privileges can help to encourage a child with ADHD.