ADHD in the Classroom: Navigating Essential Accommodations for Student Success

executive functioning

For many students with ADHD, school can be incredibly challenging. ADHD can affect many aspects of your child’s academic life, from their focus in class to their ability to keep up with the work. While it may be difficult for you or your child to admit that they need extra support, the right accommodations can make a world of difference. Students with ADHD face unique executive functioning challenges that may cause them problems in school, such as impulsivity, lack of focus, and an inability to plan and properly execute assignments. For these students, unique solutions are required, too, which is why parents should consider a 504 plan with accommodations for their child’s individual needs.

Because 504 accommodations are individualized to the needs of a particular student, there are a nearly infinite number of possible accommodations a child might receive. Accommodations are tailored to the particular struggles your child is having in school, but you might not know what the best solutions are for the challenges that your student is facing! Figuring out what type of accommodations to pursue for your child can be half the battle.

For students with the hyperactive type of ADHD, their restlessness and impulsivity can create issues in the classroom. They may speak out of turn in class or exhibit behaviors that affect the learning environment for other students as well. For these students, 504 accommodations may include being seated close to the teacher, having access to a fidget toy, or having the teacher speak to the student privately when behavioral issues arise, rather than in front of the entire class.

Some children, especially girls, more commonly exhibit the inattentive type of ADHD, formerly referred to as ADD. For these students, different accommodations can be used to help them focus. For example, a student’s 504 plan may request that teachers use a clear, specified verbal signal to gain their attention or indicate that information is particularly important. Other accommodations might include the use of tools like highlighters or even laser pointers. For older students for whom music helps promote focus, they may be permitted to listen to music with headphones while taking a test.

Students with ADHD face other academic struggles that accommodations can alleviate, too. Many children with ADHD struggle with planning and task initiation, which affects their ability to complete larger projects or meet due dates. Accommodations for these students may include receiving advanced notice of projects, receiving extended time to complete assignments, or having “checkpoints” for larger assignments and breaking them up into smaller segments. Finally, one of the most common accommodations that students receive is extra time on tests. This is useful for many students with ADHD who struggle with time management or maintaining their sustained attention during a lengthy test.

With all of these options for accommodations for your child, how do you actually go about ensuring your student’s needs are met?

Students with disabilities or learning differences like ADHD may receive either an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan that grants them accommodations in school. An IEP, as the name suggests, is more individualized, whereas a 504 Plan provides changes to the learning environment to meet the student’s needs while singling them out from other students as little as possible. 504 Plans tend to be easier to obtain, whereas IEPs are reserved with students for more complex individualized needs.

For students to receive a 504 Plan, the first step is an evaluation. In some cases, your child’s teacher may notice that they are struggling and order a 504 evaluation, which the school does not need your permission for. However, if you would like your child to receive a 504 evaluation, you can also request one. Each school district has a 504 point of contact that you need to speak to for this – you can find out who it is by calling the school. If your child is approved for 504 services, the school will work with you to create a plan that meets your child’s needs. This is a great time to bring up some of the potential accommodations we discussed!

In the event that your request for a 504 evaluation is not approved, the school will provide its reasoning, and you will have a chance to appeal the decision.

For many students with ADHD, the right classroom accommodations can be the key that finally sets them up for academic success. At The Enrichery, we know that school can be especially challenging for these students with learning differences and executive functioning deficits, and we pride ourselves on being able to provide them with a little bit of extra support. If you find that your student with ADHD needs some extra help with academics or study skills, even after they receive accommodations, don’t hesitate to contact us! We take great pride in being able to help students thrive, regardless of their needs.