Dept. of Education Issues New Guidelines Prohibiting Discrimination Against Students With ADHD

Here’s some good news for children with ADHD. On the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Department of Education announced that schools must provide equal rights and access to education for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Research shows that between 5-11% of children suffer from the attention disorder, so this move by the U.S. Department of Education will affect a significant number of children.

The “Guidance On Civil Rights of Students with ADHD” that the department unveiled does the following:

  • Explains that schools must evaluate a student when he or she needs or is believed to need special education or related services.

  • Discusses the obligation to provide services based on students’ specific needs and not based on generalizations about disabilities, or ADHD, in particular. For example, the guidance makes clear that schools must not rely on the generalization that students who perform well academically cannot also be substantially limited in major life activities, such as reading, learning, writing and thinking; and that such a student can, in fact, be a person with a disability.

  • Clarifies that students who experience behavioral challenges, or present as unfocused or distractible, could have ADHD and may need an evaluation to determine their educational needs.

  • Reminds schools that they must provide parents and guardians with due process and allow them to appeal decisions regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of students with disabilities, including students with ADHD.

Before this announcement, many students who might have been suffering from ADHD were not properly evaluated at all, or at least they were not tested in a timely manner. They also often missed out on the opportunity for special education or aids that could have helped them. Hopefully this measure will result more children getting the help they need.