Negaunee, Michigan – April 15, 2019 – My 7-year-old son, Holden, has struggled a bit in school since he started pre-school at 3 years old.
At first, it was his speech. He has always been a very smart child, but he had a hard time forming his words.
So, at the suggestion of the amazing staff at Marquette-Alger RESA, we developed an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for him for pre-school, Junior Kindergarten, and Kindergarten.
It worked wonders, as the IEP has requirements and stipulations Holden’s educators had followed. It was a specified plan so that he would be able to learn and succeed at the same rate as all of the other kids in his class.
Shortly after, Holden was diagnosed with Inattentive-ADD.
He was able to “graduate” from his IEP, since it was based on his speech difficulties. Since the speech issues had been resolved, he was no longer eligible for a different IEP, which is considered a Special Education Service.
But, he was continuing to struggle because of his diagnosis of Inattentive-ADD. His grades dropped, he was getting disciplined in class for not finishing work and not paying attention, for forgetting what he was supposed to be doing, and for talking to peers.
So I looked further into what could be done to help my child, who is very bright yet could not pay attention in class to demonstrate that intelligence. That’s when I came across 504 Plans.
When a child needs and is eligible for a 504 Plan, the school and the child’s parents will collaboratively make a 504 Plan specific to that child’s needs. The 504 Plan follows Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act that requires public schools to offer accommodations for students with learning disabilities, or difficulties learning in a regular classroom setting. In Holden’s case, his Inattentive-ADD is considered a learning disability.
The 504 Plan lists the problems the child is having that is affecting their ability to learn, and the help and accommodations that child will be offered. The child’s teacher and all other school staff are required to follow the 504 Plan.
The different between 504 Plans and IEPs are 1. the students served, 2. the type of services provided, and 3. the eligibility process. Any child who has a disability is eligible for 504 services. Students with more severe disabilities are eligible for IEPs.
So, because Holden was initially having trouble with his speech, he was eligible for an IEP. Once his speech improved, he was no longer eligible. However, since he was diagnosed with Inattentive-ADD, he was then eligible for a 504 Plan.
In short, I am very grateful for the 504 Plan. Holden’s grades have improved significantly, along with his confidence and ability to pay attention and learn along with the rest of the students in the class at the same rate.
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