Many people come in inquiring about a 504 Plan for their child.  It’s important to know what you are seeking.

With 504 plans (which come out of Americans with Disabilities Act  legislation  or ADA , we are saying that the child  has a disability and needs to have accommodations to assist the child enough so that the playing field becomes leveled.

The notion is that without such accommodations, it would be fundamentally unfair for the child with the disability.

Finding the right accommodations for your child can be tricky.  Too often a 504 Plan becomes a boilerplate check-off exercise that is not necessarily related to the child’s needs or may be simply too accommodating.

For example, some years ago I remember a mom insisted that the school provide an extra set of books for the child because his ADHD precluded him (theoretically) from being able to remember to take his books home for his homework.

I happened to know this kid quite well.  When he left the school building carrying nothing (because the school had to supply an extra set of materials at home), I imagined this kid was saying something to himself like, “Haha you suckers…you have to carry your books home, but I get to go home without them.”

For this individual, even if he did have “ADHD,” which I questioned, I never thought the accommodation was necessary and always perceived that it fit into his general sense of over-entitlement.

In short, the accommodation was the wrong message to give the kid.

Another child tested recently was extremely rapid on almost all of the tasks that he completed.  Calling him “impulsive” was an understatement.

The parents reported that he was given a 504 plan because of his ADHD (previously diagnosed by the neurologist.)  At the top of the accommodation list on the boilerplate document was “extra time.”

Extra time???  As he  blitzed through his work at light speed, the last thing he needed was extra time.

Takeaway Point

Accommodations are tricky.  Sometimes they just don’t hit the mark. 504 Plans are meant to be individualized (in theory).  Ask yourself what can be done to help “level the playing field?  What does my child legitimately need to help him function better in the classroom?”