ADHD can affect learning and development from a very young age. Child Find, public school systems, some private schools and even colleges and universities are required to help students with ADHD and other disabilities rise to meet educational challenges.

Children with all three presentations of ADHD, predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and combined presentation, may face many challenges in a traditional school setting and may qualify for educational services and accommodations, even if their needs are minor. Two laws in particular, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, are specifically designed to ensure that students with disabilities receive equal access to education and school activities. Both acts guarantee a free and appropriate public education(FAPE) to all children, regardless of ability. From simple accommodations intended to “even the playing field” to special education services in typical classrooms with supplemental services, the laws are in place to provide valuable services to eligible children with disabilities.

For an overview, see The special education process: Step-by-step diagram.

This diagram may be found in the National Resource Center’s guide,  Educational Rights for Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A Primer for Parents (this single guide is printed in both English and Spanish).


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Other Websites:

  • Know Your Rights, a July 2016 publication from the U.S. Department of Education for parents and guardians of students with ADHD in public elementary or secondary schools, including charter schools, summarizing the rights of students with ADHD and the legal obligations of school districts under Section 504.
  • Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy. A rich and in-depth resource for parents and professionals on all aspects of special education law.
  • PACER Center.The Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) goal is to create opportunity and enhance the quality of life of children and youth with disabilities and their families. PACER addresses special needs for all stages of childhood and all disabilities.
  • The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) serves as a central resource of information and products to the community of Parent Training Information (PTI) Centers and the Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs), so that they can focus their efforts on serving families of children with disabilities.

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