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Dec 01, 2021
If you’ve worked hard to get your child approved for a 504 plan for their ADHD, there can be a “phew!” moment after all those documents are signed. And while it’s a good move forward in leveling the playing field for your child, it’s really just the first step in a more comprehensive process of supporting your child’s academic performance.
Wait - what? (In case you’re new to the world of 504 plans, this article has some helpful info.)
You see, 504 plans generally do not guarantee individualized support that helps students truly use their accommodations for their intended purpose. It’s kind of like having a recipe that lists the ingredients without the detailed instructions for how to prepare those ingredients. Let’s take a look at some typical accommodations seen on 504 plans.
The “ingredients” list for supporting a particular student with ADHD might look something like this:
All these look pretty useful on the surface, right? And they certainly can be game-changing for many students. But do you see what’s missing? Let’s dig a little further into each accommodation we listed to uncover what’s been left out…
Your child may get granted extra time and/or a separate room to take tests - which seems like a good solution to their challenges with managing time and attention - but what are the strategies your child will use while taking tests that will best leverage that extra time and distraction-free area? Depending on the student, they could:
Now that you’re seeing that “extra time” or “separate room for test-taking” can be pretty empty in the absence of explicit instruction on how to use that time and space effectively, let’s look at some more strategies that might complement your child’s 504 accommodations.
Your child may be entitled to preferential seating in classes to help them maintain their focus - but what personal strategies will they use to keep themselves on task while they sit in that front row? Depending on your student’s needs, they may:
Your child may be provided with notes from class - but how will they go about determining what information is important and whether they are comprehending the material? They may need to:
Your child may be granted a workload reduction in their homework assignments (i.e., every other problem on a math worksheet or only odd-numbered questions at the end of a history chapter) - but how will they work toward building their focus, stamina, and ability to get started? Some students may benefit if they:
Maybe your child was granted an end-of-day check-in with a teacher to ensure they have what they need to complete their homework assignments. Now, what strategies will they be learning to make the most of those check-ins - and to help them become more independent over time? Your child may:
Clearly, there’s a big difference between simply getting an accommodation for ADHD at school and developing and applying essential skills, strategies, and tools to become a more effective learner. As Executive Function coaches, we often work with students who have 504 plans, yet are still struggling to fully gain the benefits of those accommodations that parents have worked so hard to have in place. We love helping students make the leap from just having the ingredients for leveling the playing field to having the recipe for real success in school and beyond. And that creates a feast of opportunity to accomplish almost any goal you can imagine (see what I did there?).
Download our infographic on 504 plan accommodations for an easy and shareable reference.
Jackie Hebert is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Beyond BookSmart. Whether it's managing our website, posting on our social media, authoring and editing blog articles, or creating presentations, Jackie oversees all internal and external communications at Beyond BookSmart. Before joining Beyond BookSmart in 2010, Jackie was a Speech-Language Pathologist at Needham High School. She earned her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Boston University, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In addition to her work as Director of Communications, Jackie is an Executive Function Coach for Beyond BookSmart and leads presentations for parent groups throughout Massachusetts. Additionally, Jackie manages the company blog content through editing submissions, writing articles, and collaborating with professionals from outside Beyond BookSmart. She also creates video content and is our webmaster.
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