Is a Child With ADHD Considered Special Needs?

Is a child with ADHD considered special needs? A little girl lays on her stomach in the grass, smiling at the camera.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a parent, you might ask yourself, “Is a child with ADHD considered special needs?” This question goes beyond simple labels; it affects the support and resources your child can access. In this blog post, we’ll delve into whether ADHD is classified as a special need and how understanding this can help you advocate for your neurodivergent child.

Understanding ADHD and Special Needs

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impacts an individual’s ability to focus, control impulses, and manage energy levels. It’s crucial to recognize that kids with ADHD have unique strengths and challenges, just like any other child.

In the world of education and support services, the term “special needs” usually refers to kids who need extra assistance or accommodations due to physical, cognitive, or emotional differences. So, is a child with ADHD considered special needs? The answer is yes. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ADHD falls within the category of “Other Health Impairment,” which qualifies children for special education services and accommodations.

Read More: Free Neurodivergent Test
Is a child with ADHD considered special needs? A little girl sits on a swing, and looks into the camera.
Read more: IEP Learning Disability

Why Does This Classification Matter?

Access to important resources and assistance can be provided by understanding that a child with ADHD is classified as having special needs. Here are some benefits:

  • Individualized Education Plan (IEP): An IEP is a customized educational plan designed to meet your child’s specific needs. It outlines goals, accommodations, and support services that will help your child succeed in school.
  • Section 504 Plan: If your child doesn’t qualify for an IEP but still requires accommodations in school, they may be eligible for a Section 504 Plan. This plan ensures that your child receives appropriate accommodations to level the playing field in the classroom.
  • Access to Support Services: Depending on your child’s needs, they may be eligible for additional support services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, or counseling.

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between an IEP and a Section 504 Plan:

IEPSection 504 Plan
Designed for students with disabilities who require specialized instructionDesigned for students with disabilities who need accommodations but not specialized instruction
Requires a formal evaluation and eligibility determination processRequires documentation of disability but may have a less formal evaluation process
Involves an annual review and periodic reevaluation of eligibilityDoes not require annual review or periodic reevaluation, but schools often do so anyway

"My kid with ADHD/ODD is so far very motivated to earn stars. It's very customizable. The steps help so much so I am not hovering and nagging." — Goally Mom
Learn more →

How to Advocate for Your Child with ADHD

It’s important to note that advocating for a child with ADHD is crucial, as they are classified as having special needs. Effective advocacy skills can make a significant difference in their wellbeing and success. Here are some tips:

  1. Stay Informed: Educate yourself about ADHD and the resources available to your child. Knowledge is power when it comes to advocating for your child’s needs.
  2. Communicate with School Staff: Establish open lines of communication with teachers, counselors, and administrators. Share information about your child’s strengths and challenges and collaborate on strategies to support their success.
  3. Participate in IEP or Section 504 Meetings: Attend meetings and actively participate in the development of your child’s educational plan. Make sure you understand the accommodations being offered and ask questions if something is unclear.
  4. Keep Records: Maintain documentation of your child’s progress, assessments, and any correspondence with school staff. This can be helpful in future advocacy efforts or if any disputes arise.
Is a child with ADHD considered special needs? A student shows his teacher some of his work, and she smiles approvingly.
Read more: What is a 504 Plan?

To help you stay organized, consider creating a binder or digital folder with the following sections:

  • Evaluations and assessments
  • IEP or Section 504 Plan documents
  • Progress reports and report cards
  • Correspondence with school staff
  • Notes from meetings

Finding Support Outside of School

In addition to school-based resources, there are many other avenues of support available for kids with ADHD and their families. Consider exploring the following options:

  • Parent Support Groups: Connecting with other parents who have children with ADHD can provide valuable insights, advice, and emotional support.
  • ADHD Coaches: ADHD coaches specialize in helping individuals with ADHD develop strategies to manage their symptoms and achieve their goals.
  • Therapy and Counseling: Mental health professionals can help your child develop coping skills, improve self-esteem, and address any co-occurring conditions such as anxiety or depression.

You might also consider researching local organizations that offer workshops, seminars, or conferences on ADHD. These events can provide valuable information and connect you with other families and professionals in your community.

With Goally, kids stay on task. A boy brushes his teeth while he follows along with a goally Bedtime routine.

Try Goally For Your Child With ADHD

Goally helps kids with ADHD stay focused and build skills. Unlike a Kindle or an iPad that kids get easily distracted on, Goally has no YouTube, no social media, no web browser, and especially no ads.

Goally uses game play as a points-based motivator for your kiddo with ADHD and helps them learn emotional regulation skills. It’s simple to set up and has an expert-informed design.

Get Goally’s Tablet and a year of all premium apps for $249.

The recognition of ADHD children as special needs allows for the provision of the resources and assistance they require. By staying informed, collaborating with school staff, and seeking additional support outside of school, you can help your neurodivergent child thrive.

FAQs About Is ADHD Considered Special Needs?

Is ADHD considered a special needs condition?
Yes, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is typically classified as a special needs condition, as it can impact a child's learning and behavior significantly.
How does ADHD affect a child's learning?
ADHD can cause difficulty in focusing, organizing tasks, and following instructions, and it may lead to impulsive behavior, which can affect learning.
Can children with ADHD lead normal lives?
Absolutely; with the right strategies, therapies, and support, children with ADHD can lead successful and fulfilling lives.
What learning tools can support a child with ADHD?
Visual schedules, emotional regulation apps, and reward systems can effectively support a child with ADHD.
Are there special educational services for children with ADHD?
Yes, schools often provide special education services, including individualized education programs (IEPs), for students with ADHD.

This post was originally published on 05/05/2023. It was updated on 11/22/2023.

Article by
Goally
We help parents teach their kids life skills, like doing bedtime and morning independently. Backed by science, we incorporate evidence-based practices and expert-informed designs in all of our apps.
Website