ADHD Students, IEPs, 504s, and More

ADHD IEPS, 504s and more

ADHD and IEPs, 504s and More


If your child has ADHD, chances are you’ve heard of IEPs, 504s, BIPs, DBT, and all types of plans and acronyms.  But you may not really understand all the lingo the schools throw at you.  What does your child need? What are they eligible for?


In this blog, we will chat about the basics of ADHD and Educational plans, what the key differences are, and how to get started.  Next month we’ll have a part two with tips for advocating through the process!


ADHD IEPS, 504s and more





The Basics – IEP, 504, BIP, and others

In the US, we have the IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which requires that all students in the US can receive what is called a “free and appropriate” education in the “least restrictve environments possible.”  These plans – IEPs and 504s, are designed to ensure that all students are able to receive this education, regardless of any phyiscal or mental disability they may have.

An IEP stands for Individualized Education Program.  The IEP outlines special educational instructions, supports, accommodations, and services that a student needs to thrive in school. 

The 504 plan similarly provides educational accommodations that students may need who have a physical or mental impairment that limits their abilities to concentrate, communicate, move, or other similar barriers. The purpose of the 504 plan is to remove barriers to learning.

There are other less “official” tools a school might implement before moving to a 504 or an IEP such as a BIP – Behavioral Intervention Plan.  BIPs are designed to help a student improve their disruptive behaviors, and are sometimes successful. However, for neurodivergent kids, BIPs are often less than helpful.


Key Differences

Schools are likely to try to start with things that are less official than 504s, and especially IEPs.  The main thing to know is that aside from the 504 and IEP, there are no particular oversights making sure the other types of plans are working effectively. My general advice to parents is that if your child has ADHD, Autism, or other neurodivergent brains – ask for the 504 or IEP for best protection for your child. 

The 504 plan is often gone to before the IEP and this is primarily because it is less restrictive and in some ways more flexible.  504 plans do not necessarily include things like regular progress reports to review the goals of the plan. 504 plans are intended to remove barriers to learning and may include things like increased exam time, breaks, reduced assignments, counselor passes and more. 

IEP plans are more formal and are required, by law, to be reviewed at least on a yearly basis with regular progress reports. This plan may include specialized instructions, supportive services such as an aid, PT, transportation, or counseling. 

IEP plans require measured goals and progress reports, 504s do not. IEPs must include post-secondary transition service plans, and the student must fit into one of 13 categories of conditions, whereas 504s are for children who need specialized support but does not specify conditions that must be met.




Getting Started

Getting started with these plans can be a bit challenging.  If you are able, start by getting your child an accurate diagnosis. 

The next step with your school is to write a letter requesting an evaluation of your child to see if they might benedfit from academic accommodations. This should be done in writing and should be addressed to the chairperson of the Committee on Special Education Services (or the Director or Special Education Services).

Once they have received your letter the school is required to meet as a team to review your child’s records, do behavioral assessments, observe in the classroom, and all assessments and recommendations from parents and medical providers.  The evaluation team will then discuss the results together and build the individualized plan for your child.

What’s Next?

Next month, I’ll be bringing you a blog with tips and suggestions about navigating that IEP and 504 process with your student and their schools. Make sure you check back for that.


If you are going through the process, and would like to brainstorm what accommodations may help your student, please consider booking a free, no obligation Discovery Call with me today and let’s chat about how we can partner together to make sure your child has the best accommodations for their brains!


   Book Discovery Call


Thank you, as always, for spending your time with me today. Please  remember – you are amazing!


Kat Sweeney, MCLC


🌻 Don’t Delay Joy ⁠⁠🌻

Kat Sweeney, MCLC



PS – If you are new, here are a couple more of my posts from this year that you may enjoy

Blast Away ADHD Shame

The ADHD Core Four






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