Skip to main content

Expert Q&A

How do you get an ADHD child evaluated if the school says that they don’t have to test the child because the child doesn’t have a learning disability?

My son has just turned 15, recently began high school and was diagnosed with ADHD before the 1st grade. I have kept documentation of all his school work and doctors’ notes since that time. His grades were a little below average in elementary school and worsened as the grades increased.

High school has been very difficult for him, as I knew it would be, because ADHD kids hate change. He has received persistent F’s and does not complete his work due to frustration. The teachers ignore him as they think he just does not care or is a trouble maker. He becomes bored in class due to lack of understanding the material andbecomes distracting to other students by engaging in conversation.

I was totally unaware that an IEP or a 504 existed and now that I have found out, I have pushed for an evaluation and went in for the results of the testing with his school. They said he does not have a learning disability and does not qualify for any special programs. How is this possible?

I was also told by a teacher under the table that the school is railroading me due to overcrowding and they do not want to dish out money for any extra IEPs. What are my options? What are my rights as a parent to combat these people?


You report academic problems for your child that are apparently based on your child’s ADHD. Your school district has denied services on the grounds that your child doesn’t have a learning disability. It would appear that the school is evaluating your child based on LD criteria, without considering whether your child meets the eligibility criteria for Other Health Impaired, which specifically references Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or if he doesn’t qualify for special education, whether he qualifies for a Section 504 plan.

Notably, the IDEA Amendments of 2004, which govern the evaluation process for special education, expanded the evaluation rules to require that schools assess not only academic performance, but a child’s developmental and functional performance at school as well. For many children with ADHD, this has significance, as they may be making passing grades, but still having a variety of problems with organization, behavior, study skills or other issues that interfere with their functioning at school. These developmental and functional issues must be considered in determining eligibility, as well as whether the child is making passing grades or making progress as measured on an achievement test.

In fact, the federal regulations provide that a child is entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) even if the child is receiving passing grades, progressing from year to year, or has not been retained from progressing to the next grade level.

Back to Top