Monday, May 14, 2012

Disability Taboo – Embracing tools available for ADHD.

I have to admit I was very reluctant to have my daughter evaluated over a year ago to determine if she was ADHD. In the back of my head I had the fear that teachers would be biased if they knew. I thought they would give up more easily on her if she had a label of an ADHD kid. I thought other kids would label her too.

What I have now come to realize is that we have come a long way from the times where that happened. Teachers are more informed about ADHD, and we as parents have more tools to afford us a better teaching environment for our kids with ADHD.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a major tool ADHD parents should take advantage of and not shy away from it. The reason why I fear some my not use it is the same reason why my family did, the fear of using the word “disability”. For whatever reason you want to list, we are all a little reluctant to admit any differences we may have. We like to fit it. And “disability” is still very much a taboo word in many households, many schools, and even in many workplaces. But this act is there for a reason, to help us.

My child is extremely bright. She is supper good at math, great at spelling, but bad at focusing when it isn't her favorite subject, bad at waiting her turn, easily board. She struggles with executive functions: such as planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, multi-tasking, initiation and monitoring of actions. She has a hard time getting out of the shower simply because bubbles on the shower wall are more entertaining than taking off the shampoo from her head. So what if this is labeled a disability? Is it hindering her performance at school? Yes! So let the label be used! It is up to us as parents to use this word in the appropriate settings so it isn’t taboo anymore.

We wouldn’t blame a person in a wheelchair for asking to have a ramp available, so why would we shy away from other similar tools for our ADHD children? And Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is that “ramp” for our ADHD children.

Here are some helpful FAQs from :

What types of accommodations will my child receive if determined eligible under Section 504? 

Each child’s needs are determined individually. Determination of what is appropriate for each child is based on the nature of the disabling condition and what that child needs in order to have an equal opportunity to compete when compared to the non-disabled. There is no guarantee of A’s or B’s or even that the student will not fail. Students are still expected to produce. The ultimate goal of education for all students, with or without disabilities, is to give students the knowledge and compensating skills they will need to be able to function in life after graduation. 

Accommodations that may be used, but are not limited to, include:

  • Highlighted textbooks
  • Extended time on tests or assignments
  • Peer assistance with note taking
  • Frequent feedback
  • Extra set of textbooks for home use
  • Computer aided instruction
  • Enlarged print
  • Positive reinforcements
  • Behavior intervention plans
  • Rearranging class schedules
  • Visual aids
  • Preferred seating assignments
  • Taping lectures
  • Oral tests
  • Individual contracts

Will my child still be in the regular classroom or will he be in a “special class”?

A Section 504 eligible child will always be in the regular classroom unless (according to federal regulations): “... the student with a disability is so disruptive in a regular classroom that the education of other students is significantly impaired, then the needs of the student with a disability cannot be met in that environment. Therefore, regular placement would not be appropriate to his or her needs and would not be required by §104.34” (34 C.F.R. §104.34, Appendix A, #24).

So far, any special accommodations she has needed we have addressed directly with her teacher, such as the use of a special timer for her assignments while at school. She is in second grade, and so far we have't needed to use a 504 Plan, but I am more that ready to go talk to my daughter's schools at the first sign that she needs more help.

Do you know what special help your school can provide?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

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