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What are the Legal Rights of Caregivers and Their Children with ADHD (USA)?

Margaret V. Austin, Ph.D., edited by C. E. Zupanick, Psy.D. Updated: Mar 28th 2017

In the United States, there are two federal laws that establish the rights of students with ADHD. Some states have additional laws that pertain to students with disabilities. However, unless the state law provides more protection or rights than the federal laws, the federal law must be followed. These two laws are:

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and,
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - 2004 (IDEA)

scales of justiceThe rights of children with ADHD within the school system are addressed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This civil rights law sought to end various forms of discrimination against disabled persons. Under Section 504, children with disabilities have the right to access and fully participate in a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). These rights stand regardless of the type or severity of the disability.

Section 504 requires schools to provide appropriate educational services to disabled students. They must be of the same standard quality as educational services provided to students without a disability. To qualify under Section 504, students must have:

1) A documented mental or physical disability, or one that is readily apparent;
2) The disability severely impairs their daily functioning; and,
3) The disability must include dysfunction in learning and behavior.

Once a student meets these requirements, the law requires the school to provide accommodations and modifications that enable the student to participate in an educational setting. Many students with ADHD qualify for services under this law. If a student qualifies, these additional services can be quite helpful in furthering the child's education.

Another law that may benefit children with ADHD is called Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - 2004 (IDEA). IDEA is an educational benefit law that offers additional services and protections to students with disabilities. Unlike Section 504 that seeks parity between abled and disabled, the IDEA offers extra benefits not available to non-disabled students. IDEA definition of a disability is stricter than Section 504. It provides a list of 13 qualifying conditions. Students must fall under one of the 13 qualifying conditions and need special education before they are eligible for any services under this law. Students covered by IDEA must be provided an Individual Educational Plan (IEP). The IEP is designed to meet each student's specific needs. It must result in an educational benefit to the student. IDEA establishes the rights of children with special needs to receive additional educational services so that they can make academic progress. Services must always be provided in the least restrictive environment possible. These services are paid by the public through taxes.

Because these two laws have different requirements and provisions, caregivers must determine which legal avenue offers the best option for their child. Caregivers must consider the individual needs and challenges of their child. Children who are likely to do well with little aid, are probably best be served by Section 504, which can be accessed more quickly. Students who need a broader range, of more intense services, might be better served under IDEA. Caregivers can consult with the child's health and educational team to evaluate their choices.

 

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

head injury - fred rosen - Apr 28th 2010

At about age three while being watched by my aunt I was standing on a stone wall about 3 or so feet high. I fell like a wooden sholder and mashed me face into the dirt and rock surface at the bottom edge of the wall. I never knew or had given it a thought in those days 1936. School and learning was a horror. I just made it from High school to college where I finally was graduated with a 75 average. I never questioned Why.  Some 22 years after college I entered a small college who took older students. I was turned down from 9 other schools even with   pull from a couple.  Fortunately most of the testing was done with written reports where i managed a B or B+. The two classes that used standard style testing i passed wiith hours of study. However after the tests most of it disappeared. I did not know I had ADHD, My graduate work as a Clinical Social Worker allowed me the opporunity to work with children as will as adults. One day I became aware that I was doing the same thing that   the kids were doing.  I wrote my symptions in a letter and visited a Neuroligist who told me that if the symptions were as written I had ADHD. Now my problems were with my memory. I couldnt the remember  terms used to describe a patients story in my notes which were periodically examined. I was required to use the jargon to make a professional looking set of notes. I was very perseptive and helped many people.To this day though I suffer with poor memory, absolutly no sense of direction and exceptionally poor facial recognition and name recall. This goes along with all the other items that goes to determine if there actually is ADHD. I should mention that at age 27 not yet a therapist my company paid for a series of psychological testing that took 4days of 8hours a day at New York University testing center. The score was on a percential basis. I scored in the 92nd percentile of all 27year olds that went to college. At least I have that to tell myself Im not stupid because its a constant fight to tell myself taking my age in consideraton with all the things I do.  Last week I was told by an specialist in deslexia that I probably also had deslexia and she is right. I read like a snail and mix up b and d . I hope when I die the cover to my coffin is not put on backwards. Thats all Folks!    

 

 

Zinc supplementation as a solution for ADHD. - Hans de Rycke - Aug 27th 2009

In my profession as a Kinesiologist I have found many children with ADHD, or ADD suffering from allergies, in particular allergies to dairy, and, to a lesser extent, to chlorine. The allergic response causes a release of adrenaline to fight the perceived threat, causing a 'high'. This high can last up to 6 hours, after which time it reduces somewhat. With common foods like dairy it is often consumed more than once a day, leading to a constant allergic response. This, of course, affects the immune system which becomes depleted. The immune system includes the glandular system, including the glands of the brain, which are malfunctioning. Various studies have indicated  supplementation with Zinc to be beneficial for brain function. One test found that alzheimer and other dementia's can and do benefit from Zinc. Doses up to 75 mg are used without any ill effects.

Conditions associated with Zinc deficiency:

  • Frequent and/or severe infections
  • Sleep and behavioral disturbances
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Psychiatric Illness
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Malabsorption syndromes
  • Reduced appetite
  • Anorexia
  • Growth retardation
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Delayed sexual maturation
  • Night blindness
  • Impotence
  • Infertility
  • All dermatological disorders.
  • Abnormal menstruation
  • Dandruff and hair loss
  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Connective tissue disease
  • Diuretic usage
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Most of these conditions are also related to allergies, hence the allergy connection.

Good luck

Hans

C-section - - Jul 19th 2009

I would like to know if there a nexus between iterative cesarean and ADD, and if you have some bibliography. Thanks.

Tried everything - Bobbi - Jun 18th 2009

I have tried every prescription medication for my son. He is now 9 years old and has been medicated since he was 3. As a last resort I did try herbal meds.....the omega fatty acids. It worked almost as well as the other prescribed medications which didnt really help all of his symptoms. I have now taken him off everything and he is doing about the same as when he was on them. I found while trying to help his ADHD symptoms ...the meds were causing other symptoms or side effects like not being able to sleep or feeling dopey. I often wonder why doctors dont do MRI as part of the diagnosis for the disorder.

Jaundyce factor - Silvio j Ponce MD - Jan 30th 2009

I had been studying this matter for a long period of time here in Venezuela south america... I have found out that the kids that develop hyperbillirrubine early at birth (from 9 to 15mg/100dc blood ) develop ADHD....the thing is that those afeccted kid develop intelligence higher lever... we had found too that the dopamine and the noradrenaline dis balance is the common cause of the brain functional disorder.....

We treat all this kids with no medication...we use the poli-insaturated greasy acid(linoleico - decahexanoico) Omega series....with excelent results....

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