View Full Version : IEP for add/ADHD and or learning disabilities

11-05-2011, 10:02 PM
Anyone's kid have an IEP where eligibility is based on add or ADHD or learning disability? If add/ADHD does it fall under learning disability or other medical? Or something else? How hard was it to get your kid qualified? Did you take in an outside eval? What does the IEP look like? Mostly accommodations? Or services too? What do the services look like?

I think we may be facing this possibility with ds. We have been down this road before but the need was a lot clearer (at least to me) and ds definitely needed OT and ST so the services were pretty clear too.

Thank you for any input!

11-05-2011, 10:24 PM
I think it is difficult to get an IEP for ADHD alone. That normally would warrant a 504 plan, which is a bit different. If there is a documented learning disability, though, that should be enough to qualify for an IEP.

My son has an IEP for Asperger's/ADHD. When we had his end-of-kindergarten meeting, the team was relieved to learn that I had a diagnosis from a doctor for the Asperger's. They said they would have had trouble keeping him qualified without that. His ADHD was not enough, despite his numerous struggles in the classroom.

DS is in 2nd grade now. His IEP deals primarily with social issues. He receives about 30 minutes of Speech a week, where he does role-playing and other "peer oriented" activities. Otherwise his IEP delineates accommodations to help him not to become overwrought in the classroom. He is rigid and puts himself into his own little box sometimes. If things are not exactly how he thinks they should be, he gets upset and starts arguing with the authority figure.

Last year he probably would have been expelled if not for the protection offered by his IEP. An incident early in the year got him so worked up that he hit the teacher, which is an expellable (<--word?) offense. But since his IEP described exactly the behavior displayed, the school could not expel him without taking certain actions. A re-evaluation of his IEP and needs went a long way toward his finding success in first grade. Surprise! That's why he has an IEP. Duh.

What does an IEP look like? They vary as much as children vary. In general they consist of measurable goals with specific "yardsticks" and a timeline. So for example, my son's IEP is rewritten in January. One goal might be "By 6/2010, DS will follow directions as measured by behavioral charting and positive reinforcement with 70% accuracy in a 30 day period." The next period will extend to 11/2010. The final period will extend to the next meeting in January. The percentages increase each period, to 80% and then 90%.

It is important for the goals to include the measurement goal. Otherwise they are pretty useless. And the teacher has to chart the goals, which is where IEPs often break down. Teachers simply don't have the time to track the number of IEPs they are expected to be responsible for.

I actually just requested an IEP meeting (a couple of months early) because I don't think DS's new teacher is following it appropriately. Fortunately DS has matured to the point where his outbursts are few and easier to control. But he still needs that IEP, and his teacher has been making comments about his behaviors in class that lead me to think she doesn't understand his IEP at all.

For example, she made him sit out of an activity in order to finish a math paper. I said I would rather have him finish work at home than miss activities. She replied that he wasn't finished only because "he wasn't paying attention." Well, duh again. That's why he has an IEP. And it doesn't seem as though she is taking any steps to accommodate his needs.

Sorry to ramble on. Just one more thing: DS does not have specific academic deficits. He struggles with the work only because of his attention issues and his tendency to create his own boxes and then be unable to "think outside the box." So he gets stuck. So he does not have a learning disability, but his deficits do affect his academic success. Does that make sense?

11-05-2011, 11:01 PM
Thanks! Yes, that totally makes sense. I am not sure whether ds has some sort of processing issue in addition to attention issues. He received speech therapy for five years, first for articulation problems and expressive language delays and then for pragmatic language difficulties. He has only minor behavioral issues (his teacher reports that he is too chatty, yet his table was consistently the first to earn the behavioral awards so I can't imagine it is that bad) and, at this point, hardly any social issues.

I think attention to task and organization difficulties are areas where he could use additional support. I am thinking preferential seating and maybe some other accommodations? And maybe some services related to organizational difficulties? I'm not sure what those could look like or who would provide them? I also think he needs extra reading help.

I think this is going to be a hard road to getting him help though. I have never had to fight for an IEP, he qualified with no argument the first time around. At this point we are thinking we might be well served by a private evaluation to take in with us when we request the district's evaluation.

Thanks for the feedback! I am one of those people who processes by talking and I don't know a ton of people irl who can talk this through with me.


11-05-2011, 11:37 PM
We have one for ADD. It was easy to get. We had an outside evaluation for the dx. Ds1 doesn't have much attached to the IEP except certain seating arrangements and access to sensory group and social skills' group. Those have been helpful (well, at least enjoyable, for him). It is nice that the teacher can reframe expectations with the IEP. When he had the dx but before the IEP was written, he got a "not satisfactory" in "organizes materials..." I pointed out his dx and the teacher changed the grade.

His teacher was the one that brought up her concerns and worries that he was quirky and needed to be evaluated so the school was primed and ready to help.


11-05-2011, 11:44 PM
Thanks! Is the ADD classified as a learning disability or as other medical or something else for eligibility?


11-05-2011, 11:50 PM
In general, if a student only needs accommodations, a 504 plan is appropriate. If "special" education services (special class, resource room, etcetera) are also needed, then an IEP is appropriate. This is a general guideline and districts are notorious for varying in their approaches to 504's and IEP's. In my district, there are students with ADHD who have IEP's and they are usually classified as Other Health Impaired. These students receive multiple services and are those who struggle more significantly. Students with ADHD who only require some accommodations have 504 plans.

11-06-2011, 12:00 AM
Yep, I asked about a 504 plan when ds was discharged from special Ed last year but was told that he hadn't been using any of the accommodations in his IEP really so it wasn't appropriate. Hard to know at this point, but I'm thinking some extra reading help is going to be essential, whether the proble is attention to task or language processing difficulty or both. So I think we are going to want to try for an IEP.

Thank you!

11-06-2011, 12:13 AM
I think the fact that he didn't need to use the accommodations could be an issue for you. I can't think of an IEP that doesn't have some accommodations on it though surely there must be some.
I think that extra reading help is often a building level service and less frequently a special education service. It would be good if you knew what the conventions were in your district because of the variation from district to district. In my district the reading teacher is part of general education and therefore doesn't even get entered on the IEP. If reading services are special education in your district, then I could see getting an IEP.

11-06-2011, 12:33 AM
The OP is in California, where schools have had to cut to the bone and then some. Reading specialists are a luxury most schools cannot afford. Some classrooms can have upwards of 35 students. Without an IEP or 504 plan, OP's child is likely to get lost in the morass of budget cuts.

crl, may I ask why your DS was discharged? Why did they feel then that he no longer needed services? Were they wrong, or has something changed? If he was discharged inappropriately, that might be the avenue to follow. Was it like my DS almost was, that without a medical diagnosis they could not justify the qualification?

When you say he wasn't using any of his accommodations, was that because he didn't need them? Maybe he just needed an updated IEP? My DH insisted that DS's IEP include academic skills, and for a while it did. But eventually the team said he didn't need any academic support, at least not in that way. So we dropped the academic skills and more carefully crafted his other goals. So is it possible your DS's IEP just wasn't suited to his needs at that time?

I hope you can work with your district to get him the support he needs, whatever that may be. If your family can do it, I definitely recommend getting outside substantiation of the need. It can be added to your DS's file with the district as evidence to support the providing of services.

11-06-2011, 12:41 AM
Well, he also wasn't having academic or behavioral difficulties last year and now he is. So even if he didn't need accommodations last year, he may this year. The academic work and the behavioral expectations have stepped up this year and he seems to be struggling as a result. Also, I suspect his teacher last year just naturally accommodated him in some ways (seating, etc), so he didn't need a document to provide them. That doesn't seem to be happening this year. Despite his teacher telling me that he is too chatty and disorganized and my expressing concerns about ds and attention to task, ds came home on Friday telling me that he is now sitting next to the most disruptive child in class. Ds told me that he is trying to ignore this child, but it is hard because he is "so funny."

Reading help in his school is not limited to special education services, but is currently provided (at least in part) by a special education teacher. If his reading difficulties are related to attention to task or language processing issues, I would think they would be properly addressed in an IEP. After all, some inclusion special education students in this district have individualized curriculums written into their ieps. Also I would think that the underlying issue would impact the strategies used to help with reading difficulties. For example, some of the students with reading difficulties at ds' school are ESL learners. They struggle for entirely different reasons than ds. Also it is my understanding that for a special education student, any change to the setting or curriculum or provision of services resulting from the eligibility for special education should be documented in the IEP, otherwise the school is not allowed to deviate from the standard curriculum, etc.


11-06-2011, 12:52 AM
Cross posted, sorry.

His eligibility in CA had always been speech and language. He had caught up in that area. The test results showed he had, his speech therapist said he had (and I do trust her) and our observation was that he had.

I tried to explore changing his eligibility to other medical on the basis of ADHD and/or anxiety. Reports from school were that he was not showing signs of either in the school setting. At the time, he was in the middle of his class academically.

I agreed to have him taken out of special education because I couldn't see where I had an argument to keep him in. I was concerned that these issues would come up as the behavioral and academic expectations increased. I feel like that is what has happened.

His accommodations were preferential seating, access to noise buffeting devices (he used to freak out at loud noises) and the ability to retreat to a quiet room with a known adult (he had done when overwhelmed this as an inclusion student in K a few times, when he lost his inclusion designation in the middle of K due to not needing an aid in the room ever and so on, I insisted in having this written into his IEP specifically). He had not ever used the noise buffeting headphones at grade school--it was an accommodation left over from preschool and he had not used the ability to retreat in nearly a year. I think his teacher last year just naturally seated him appropriately.

I hope I have answered all the questions.


11-06-2011, 12:57 AM
I think you make a good case for your son receiving an IEP. Good luck! I hope the process goes smoothly. :)

11-06-2011, 01:05 AM
Okay, here is what I would suggest: Do as much research as you can within your district. Find out what kinds of things they tend to focus on with their services. Then do whatever you can to get your DS the diagnosis he needs to get those services. Once you get him qualified, then you can focus on precisely what accommodations he needs.

I hate to suggest that because it sounds like "working the system," and it is. By IME that often is what is necessary to get your child what he needs. Our district has a strong (less than it used to be, though) program for children with autism. Having that outside diagnosis really helped us. Even though most of DS's deficits probably derive more from his ADHD than his Asperger's, the important step was getting him into the program in the first place. Now that he is there, we can rework his IEP as necessary to meet his actual needs.

FTR, we did not seek out a diagnosis of autism. That's just how things worked out for us. But I would have fought for it for the sake of my son, if I had needed to.

If you have not already done so, you probably should research the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, as well. I was fortunate to have a teaching background, which required me to study the law. Had I not had a basic knowledge of the law, I would not have known where to look when the school tried to expel my son last year. They were trying to "sweep him under the rug" instead of providing the services they are required to provide. When I started using terminology directly from the law, they stopped all talk of transferring him to another school. They knew I knew my/his rights, and they backed down.

Here is a site you might find helpful:


It is a southern CA group, but I found the Web Links and Resources tab to be very useful.

11-06-2011, 09:48 AM
Thanks. We are pretty good on the law (both of us are attorneys). I am just struggling a bit with strategy. Waiting for a private eval will slow things down (and that presents an additional dilemma in that the wait will be longer if we want to be able to use our insurance. Out of pocket is a lot of money and our insurance doesn't reimburse for out of network mental health) but I think it will increase our odds of getting an IEP. I am impatient to get him some help. But as I think this through, I think we had better wait for the private evaluation since ds is probably so borderline and if the district denies him before we get the results of a private eval, they may feel stuck defending that denial. . . .

I am also wondering what kind of help he might get. And if I can manage to get some of that before starting the IEP process. For example, reading help is available to all kids who are a year behind. Ds isn't quite that far behind, but he is a year older than the other kids. So maybe I can make the case that he should be getting it now. And I was assured last year that the school would continue to provide basic accommodations like preferential seating without the special education designation. That's not happening, but I doubt his teacher this year knows I was given that assurance; I wonder if I simply request it if she will implement it.

Thanks again everyone!