ERIC Identifier: ED352747
Publication Date: 1992-00-00
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and
Gifted Children Reston VA.
Providing an Appropriate Education to Children with Attention Deficit Disorder. ERIC Digest #E512.
Throughout this digest, ADD will be used to refer to "attention deficit
disorder," or "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" (ADHD). In the past,
the term "minimal brain dysfunction" was also used.
CHILDREN WITH ADD
It is estimated that children with ADD
constitute 3% to 5% of the current school-age population, which would represent
1.35 to 2.25 million children. Most experts agree that ADD is a neurobiological
disorder that can have multiple causes. Research indicates that children with
ADD are likely to have a biological relative with ADD. In addition, evidence
also suggests that neurologic, neurochemical or, in some cases, toxic factors
may be involved. Other factors such as medical conditions, medication side
effects, familial functioning, or environmental conditions may exacerbate an
existing disorder or contribute to the development of ADD-like problems in some
children (Parker, 1992).
As with all other disabling conditions,
evaluation of children suspected of having ADD should be a multistep,
multidisciplinary procedure. First the assessment should determine whether a
child meets criteria for diagnosis of ADD; then, further assessment should
determine the degree to which the child's educational performance is adversely
affected. This information will help determine what types of educational
services are necessary to assist the student.
The first step requires gathering information about the child from a number
of sources and in a variety of ways. Medical information; parent or guardian
descriptions of the child's physical, mental, social, and emotional development;
school information; descriptions of social behavior and classroom adjustment;
and assessment of the child's cognitive functioning are essential to making an
accurate diagnosis. Because the behavior of children thought to have ADD can
vary widely in different situations and environments, experts recommend
obtaining information from many sources, and observing the child in different
settings and at different times. Evaluations of children suspected of having ADD
often include rating scales completed by parents and teachers.
Schools must provide appropriate
educational services to students who have been identified as having ADD. In
September 1991, the Department of Education issued a policy clarification on the
topic of children with attention deficit disorder (Davila, Williams, & MacDonalt, 1991). The memorandum was intended to clarify state and local
responsibility under federal law for meeting the needs of children with ADD in
the educational system as a whole.
The responsibility for meeting the educational needs of children with ADD
rests with the entire educational system, not just with particular sectors.
Thus, if the needs of these children are to be fully met in the schools (whether
through general or special education programs), increased coordination,
collaboration, and consultation will have to occur among regular educators,
special educators, administrators, and related services personnel. The report
*Regular classroom teachers are important in identifying appropriate
educational adaptations and interventions for many children with ADD.
*State and local districts should take the necessary steps to promote
coordination between special education and regular education programs.
*Regular education teachers and other personnel need training to develop a
greater awareness of children with ADD and of adaptations that can be
implemented in regular education programs to address the instructional needs of
Children who are experiencing educational difficulties, whether from ADD or
some other cause, often fail to receive any assistance until after difficulties,
such as distractibility, disorganization, or inability to complete assignments
on time, have caused them to fall significantly behind their classmates. By the
time children have experienced such failure, they generally have already lost a
great deal of academic ground. In addition, school failure may contribute to, or
worsen, a student's feelings of low self-esteem, depression, or anxiety.
FEDERAL LAWS AFFECTING CHILDREN WITH ADD
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provide coverage for children with ADD. When the
disability adversely affects educational performance, eligibility for special
education should be approached through the processes of IDEA. When the
disability does not affect educational performance but does substantially limit
one or more major life activities, eligibility should be approached through
Section 504. The following are highlights of each law as it affects the
education of children with ADD.
1. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part B:
*Requires that state and local districts make a free appropriate public
education (FAPE) available to all eligible children with disabilities.
*Requires that the rights and protections of Part B of IDEA are extended to
children with ADD and their parents.
*Requires that an evaluation be done, without undue delay, to determine if
the child has one or more of 13 specified disabling conditions and requires
special education and related services.
*Requires that children with ADD be classified as eligible for services under
the "other health impaired" category in instances where ADD is a chronic or
acute health problem that results in limited alertness that adversely affects a
child's educational performance. Children with ADD can also be served under the
categories of "learning disabilities" or "seriously emotionally disturbed," if
the evaluation finds these conditions are also present.
*Does not allow local districts to refuse to evaluate the possible need for
special education and related services of a child with a prior medical diagnosis
of ADD solely by reason of that medical diagnosis. On the other hand, a medical
diagnosis of ADD does not automatically make a child eligible for services under
Part B (IDEA).
*Requires that a full and individual evaluation of the child's educational
needs must be conducted in accordance with requirements in Part B (IDEA). These
A multidisciplinary team must perform the evaluation. At least one teacher or
other specialist with knowledge in the area of ADD must be on the team.
*Requires that a due process hearing take place, at the request of the
parents, if there is disagreement between the local district and the parent over
the request for evaluation, the evaluation, or the determinations for services.
2. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973:
*Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal
*Provides appropriate education for children who do not fall within the
disability categories specified in Part B (IDEA). Examples of potential
conditions not typically covered under Part B (IDEA) are:
communicable diseases (HIV, tuberculosis)
medical conditions (asthma, allergies, diabetes, heart disease)
temporary medical conditions due to illness or accident, drug/alcohol
*Requires that a free appropriate public education be provided to each
qualified child who is disabled but does not require special education and
related services under Part B (IDEA). A free appropriate education (FAPE) under
Section 504 includes:
Regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed
to meet the individual student's needs and are based on adherence to the
regulatory requirements on education setting, evaluation, placement, and
*Guarantees parents the right to contest the outcome of an evaluation if a
local district determines that a child is not disabled under Section 504.
*Requires the local district to make an individualized determination of the
child's educational needs for regular or special education or related aids and
services if the child is found eligible under Section 504.
*Requires the implementation of an individualized education program (IEP).
One means of meeting the free appropriate public education requirements of
Section 504 is to follow the IEP guidelines as set forth in the regulations for
Part B (IDEA).
*Requires that the child's education must be provided in the regular
education classroom unless it is demonstrated that education in the regular
environment with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved
*Requires that necessary adjustments be made in the regular classroom for
children who qualify under Section 504.
Davila, R. R., Williams, M. L., & MacDonalt,
J. T. (September 16, 1991). "Clarification of policy to address the needs of
children with attention deficit disorders within general and/or special
education." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special
Education and Rehabilitation Services.
Parker, H. (1992). "The ADD hyperactivity handbook for schools." Plantation,
Note. This digest is adapted from two sources:
"Children with ADD: A Shared Responsibility. Based on a Report of The Council
for Exceptional Children's Task Force on Children with Attention Deficit
Disorder (1992)." Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children, 1920
Association Drive, Reston, VA 22091. Order No. P385.
Irland, B. (1992, Winter). "Making It Perfectly Clear; ADD/ADHD Students Can
Qualify for Services." THE SCOOP. National Learning Differences Network, 82 S.
Townline Road, Sandusky, MI 48471.