Children and Teens

Academic Support for Children with ADHD

Speaking up to meet the needs of an ADHD child

Parents of children with ADHD have an important role. Children with ADHD need support and guidance from their parents so that they won’t suffer in school. To best advocate for their child, parents need to know about the existing laws in place for students with disabilities.

There are two laws that protect an ADHD child's right to a free and public education:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

There are differences between the two laws that parents, teachers, administrators, and counselors should know.


Section 504

Applies to students who require special education (either within the mainstream classroom or a resource room) or related services.

Applies to students even if they do not require special education.

Parents have an equal role in deciding what happens to their child.

The amount of involvement that a parent may have is unclear.

Parents, teachers, administrators, and doctors must evaluate the student's needs together.

The school does not have to include the parent in the student evaluation.

Each student has an education plan based on his or her initial evaluation. The plan includes goals and objectives.

Each student has a learning plan based on non-discriminatory testing.

A parent has the right to have a hearing to change the plan if not satisfied.

Does not permit parents to challenge the school's decisions if there are disagreements.

A parent can see their student's school records.

Does not assure a parent's right to see their child's school records.

If appropriate, students are taught in the same classroom as their peers who don’t have ADHD.

Students can be taught in a mainstream classroom, or in a classroom that has other special needs students.

Parents who know their rights—and their child’s rights—can make sure that the necessary accommodations are made to foster classroom success.


National Institute of Mental Health. (2008). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (NIH Publication No. 96-3572).

U.S. Department of Education. (2006). Building the legacy: IDEA 2004. Retrieved from 

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. (2011). Protecting students with disabilities: Frequently asked questions about Section 504 and the education of children with disabilities. Retrieved from