What Is the Difference in an IEP and 504 Plan for an ADHD Child?

Any student with a disability can have a Section 504 Plan, but only students with one of the specified types of disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act can have an Individualized Education Program, according to the New Hampshire Department of Education. A student cannot have both a Section 504 Plan and an IEP.

A student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may qualify for an IEP under the "other health impairment" section of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, according to Special Education Guide. The act states that this includes "a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment that is due to chronic or acute health problems" and includes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as a qualifying condition as long as the disorder "adversely affects a child’s educational performance."

If a student is eligible for an IEP, the school cannot choose to provide a Section 504 Plan instead, according to the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology program at the University of Washington-Seattle. Not all students with disabilities require specialized instruction. A Section 504 Plan provides students with disabilities accommodations that allow them to access educational opportunities. An IEP provides students with disabilities with specialized instruction. The federal government requires that only elementary and secondary educational institutions that receive federal funding provide Section 504 Plans or IEPs to students with disabilities.