Was I always confident in my requests? Absolutely not, it took a least two years worth of educational advocacy training provided free-of-charge to our family through the organization that provided my son's ABA Therapy services during the start of our special education journey.
During that time, I learned some school systems are great at thinking they know what they're doing, others put a great plan in place on paper and can't seem to follow through with it, and then some want to do the very best they can with the limited resources they have and are not purposely out to sabotage your child...but will do the bare minimum they you let them get away with. Last year, we put a nix to all that nonsense and finally changes are being made...because we knew that the upcoming eligibility testing would show the exact concerns I had been raising, and now there was no choice but to address them in the educational setting. This we deemed as better late than never, and while not the point of this post, it sets the stage for what today held.
Middle school...it's rough. Not only are the pre-adolescent hormones enough to drive anyway crazy, add in the fast-paced educational setting, a new school with multiple teachers, and everything else that changes in the tween years - it's harder to receive educational support from the school, especially if it wasn't established in elementary school. In fact, it's even harder when the child you are sitting in a meeting about is overall doing fine inside the new academic setting. Discussing a 504 was something new for me, as we didn't even discuss one with our son diagnosed with autism, we knew and the school knew that wasn't going to be an option for him. And our school today was very prepared to tell me that since October my child was still doing fine and expected me to say "okay, great we don't need to put a plan in place for her."
* Why should we settle for just fine, when she could be doing great with the right supports in place?
* Why should I tell her "you're struggling, but not enough for someone to help you just yet?"
* She has a qualifying diagnosis and a working memory score on an independent psych. eval that shows academics are at risk.
* So what she knows how to take a test, it doesn't mean she is retaining the material and able to access it when necessary, just that she can use her astronomically high critical thinking skills (over 200).
* If her test scores are so high, why is her overall grade considerably lower - insert impaired working memory skills again.
* She cannot be refused a 504 based on her test scores - she is eligible based on diagnosis itself, and she needs supports in place, nothing crazy, but just enough to help her truly succeed in school.
And I bet you can guess how well it was received...the special education coordinator was not thrilled, and under-prepared for it...to the point, her student file was not even brought to the meeting. Why you ask? Because they weren't prepared to need it, and only did when they had to copy down verbatim the exact diagnosis from the independent psych evaluation we had done. The school was not prepared to receive push back, much less that amount an intensity of push back over each statement presented. I may not know everything there is to know about the special education system, but I know enough and can access enough information to make a case.
YOU CAN TOO - be the squeaky wheel! I added a couple links on 504 for children with ADD and ADHD that can help you advocated for your own child. Advocate...fight...and push back so fiercely they realize you are not a parent to be fooled or lied too. Why should our children have to be near failing as the school wanted to tell me, before they offer supports in place? How hard is it to factor in some of these things? This link lists some of the common and helpful accommodations available to students with ADD and ADHD. If you read through them at the bottom, it is not asking the school system to move the Cascade Mountains to the most southern tip of Florida because a parent wants their child to have the beach and the snowy mountains within close proximity to each other. These accommodations are not cookie cutter lists on paper either - they are tailored to your child and their needs. If your child doesn't need access to an oral exam, great...it doesn't go in their 504, but if they could benefit from small group testing in a different location away from the distractions of a large class, then that goes in.
www.wrightslaw.com is one of the best resources for special education concerns, bookmark it should you or someone you know ever need support or guidance...and remember, do not give up. Our children are worth so much more than someone else's misunderstanding of who they are on paper.