ADHD & Exceptional SC
by Betsy A. Fanning
Head of School, Trident Academy
Exceptional SC Board Member
ADHD is prevalent worldwide. According to a meta-analysis of research posted on CHADD.org, ADHD affects 7.2% of children under 18 worldwide. The prevalence in the US was reported in 2016 to be a little higher: 8.4%. Of those 5.4 million children, 14.4% were said to have “severe ADHD”.
Children with ADHD can have a variety of symptoms: inattention, excessive movement, uncontrolled impulsivity, executive functioning deficits and/or heightened distractibility to name a few. Many of these can be successfully treated through medication and/or behavior therapies. Many children with ADHD are able to function successfully in school without added supports. Others are not.
IDEA and Section 504 of the ADA both speak to the needs of children diagnosed with ADHD. Children who meet the requirements for an IEP through IDEA are eligible for special education services. Children who do not meet the requirements are eligible for accommodations through section 504. A disability does not automatically qualify a child for special education services. (See wrightslaw.com for more information).
According to Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children’s Fund signed into law in May, the following criteria were established for defining “exceptional needs child” for funding:
(2) ‘Exceptional needs child’ means a child:
(a) who has been evaluated in accordance with this state’s evaluation criteria, as set forth in S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 43‑243.1, and determined eligible as a child with a disability who needs special education and related services, in accordance with the requirements of Section 300.8 of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; or
(b) who has been diagnosed within the last three years by a licensed speech‑language pathologist, psychiatrist, or medical, mental health, psychoeducational, or other comparable licensed health care provider as having a neurodevelopmental disorder, a substantial sensory or physical impairment such as deaf, blind, or orthopedic disability, or some other disability or acute or chronic condition that significantly impedes the student’s ability to learn and succeed in school without specialized instructional and associated supports and services tailored to the child’s unique needs.
A key phrase in the definition is “…acute or chronic condition that significantly impedes the student’s ability to learn and succeed in school without specialized instructional and associated supports and services tailored to the child’s unique needs.”
Children with severe ADHD fall into this category and would qualify for an IEP through the public school system using criteria from IDEA. Children with moderate to mild ADHD qualify for services through section 504, but do not meet the qualification for grants through Exceptional SC.
In adherence with the requirements of the law passed in May, funding opportunities for children diagnosed ADHD will be limited to those with severe diagnoses.
Definitions of terms & acronyms:
- ADHD: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.
- Section 504: Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (later became ADA) that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. It is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met.
- ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act