Often times a physician or psychologist may offer a diagnosis of ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Autism or other difficulty and suggest that you pursue Special Education services based on that diagnosis. The school may agree that Special Education is needed, or they may respond that your child does meet the criteria. The reason why schools and doctors sometimes disagree is that an educational diagnosis is different than a medical diagnosis. In order to qualify for Special Education, the student must demonstrate a disability and that disability must be severely impacting their education. If your child is achieving at or close to grade level, Special Education may not be the answer. But there’s still help.
If your child has been diagnosed with a medical condition or other disability that requires classroom support, you may ask your child’s Principal about a 504 Plan. With a 504 Plan, your child may be eligible to receive supports for learning within the general education classroom. For example, if your child has ADHD but does not need Special Ed, a 504 Plan may provide the child with a behavior plan to provide additional support for learning to control his impulses. A 504 Plan will also provide the same protection as an IEP for discipline issues that are a result of the disability.
If your child is struggling but does not meet the criteria for Special Education, your school may offer student supports through Response to Intervention. RTI is a data-driven process schools use to actively support students in developing specific skills to improve their overall learning. In addition, students often benefit most from receiving help without being labeled as “disabled”. The Student Study Team is the best avenue to discuss RTI supports or other interventions at your child’s school.