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How important is it to get a 504 or other type of documentation for your homeschooled child with LDs?


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How important is it to get a 504 or other type of documentation for your homeschooled child with ADHD/LDs?

We were advised that even though we homeschool, we should secure a 504 from the local school district in order to create a "paper trail" to demonstrate the need for accommodations. We were told that the paper trail would be important if DS needs testing accommodations down the line. How important is this? I've called the school district and they've pretty much told me it will be an uphill struggle to get any kind of help from them. They said that since I'm already accommodating him by homeschooling him, there is no need for a formal 504. (Basically, what it sounded like to me -- since I'm solving the problem through homeschooling, they don't see any reason why they should document the problem.)  I don't know how hard to push. I don't have tons of time and energy - juggling some elder care stuff and complex health issues for a family member as well right now.

DS has mod-severe ADHD and dysgraphia.  I don't give him any tests because I know he won't test well. He often needs me to scribe for him. He often needs me to read the problem to him, or prompt him to read and re-read (or he'll end up answering the wrong problem).  He would do better with a calculator for math (though I often still make him write out the calculations).  He is very bright and understands concepts, but has a hard time executing his thought process because of the ADHD and dysgraphia. The neuropsych and pediatrician both said (unprompted) something along the lines of thank goodness you're homeschooling because he wouldn't do well in school. 

Any advice on how hard to push the school district on this? Any advice on what to say to the school district to get them to be more sympathetic? There is a piece of me that doesn't even want to try, since that piece of paper (504) isn't going to change what we do at home for now anyway. But I don't want to be shooting myself (or rather, him) in the foot for later, if the documentation is necessary for down the line.

Thanks for reading all this!

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Were you getting this advice from someone local or from an outside source?

Federal law requires all ps to identify students with disabilities affecting their ability to access their education. This means the ps must eval, assuming you present evidence to compel them. However it does NOT require them to do the additional step of writing a 504/IEP. Technically those are separate steps and it is your state law and local interpretations that drive that.

So if your state *allows* or *requires* your ps to write a 504/IEP, then yes you could both get evals *and* get a 504/IEP. However if your state does not require your ps to write a 504/IEP and your ps does not wish to, then tough crunchies.

The dysgraphia is an SLD. He may or may not qualify for an IEP, though he would clearly get a 504 were he enrolled. If your district is not mandated to provide services and not mandated to write the 504, they are unlikely to follow through with that step. You have the federal right to request evals. Since you've already had thorough evals, I'm not sure what you're gaining.

So check your state law. It is true that a 504 is a bit different from an IEP in the way it works (how long it lasts, how long it can be carried forward). I had the ps eval my dd for her late high school evals before college. They were not required to write a 504, so they didn't. However they said that's what she would have gotten. It made zero difference for her in college and has not needed it for employment. In theory the paper trail can follow and be helpful, but I think a lot of people find their way without by selecting jobs that work for their situations. Colleges, same gig. You simply provide your psych evals and you're fine. 

How old is this dc? 

If your state is not requiring districts to write the 504/IEP and your district is not feeling generous, then yes you're plowing uphill. What you might do is ask other homeschoolers in your area how that has turned out for them, word on the street. Then you'll know what you're likely to be able to make happen. 

51 minutes ago, WTM said:

He often needs me to read the problem to him, or prompt him to read and re-read (or he'll end up answering the wrong problem). 

This is the most concerning thing in what you described, because that can be more than the ADHD and dysgraphia. Does he have language issues or some APD or vision issues? If you're SURE there are no developmental vision or language issues explaining this, then you might want to target word problems specifically. I use and really like things like 

https://www.evan-moor.com/daily-word-problems-grade-5-teachers-edition-print

Other publishers have series like this too. I'm also working through a little workbook 

https://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Struggling-Readers-Problems-Resources/dp/0545207177/ref=sr_1_5?crid=BY9PHSTPQ8TF&dchild=1&keywords=teaching+struggling+readers+to+tackle+math+word+problems&qid=1614832557&sprefix=teaching+struggling+reader%2Caps%2C183&sr=8-5

 

Edited by PeterPan
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52 minutes ago, WTM said:

DS has mod-severe ADHD and dysgraphia.

How old is this dc? I'll just toss this out, but you might consider doing the ps evals at some point anyway to see what happens. Or just keep updating your evals. One nice thing about the ps evals is they are *multi-factored*. So instead of being just a psych eval, you're building a team with an OT, SLP, etc. ADHD at the mod/severe end is going to merge into ASD, so functionally there are extra things you would be looking at if you had a team evaling. He might have some narrative language issues or pragmatics issues. Those word problem issues might be a reflection of other stuff going on, maybe some auditory processing (which is really language processing). Does he have any sensory issues? Has he had an OT eval?

So getting those multifactored evals is an argument *for* going through the process, even if you don't anticipate getting a 504/IEP. It might open up things you haven't gotten done yet. Now private evals for those things are always great too. I'm just suggesting they be on your radar. A psych eval, even neuropsych, is NOT the end all be all in evals. It's one part of multi-factored evals. My ds has had an IEP since he was 6, even though we homeschool, and I learn a significant amount going through the process every year with the ps. Depending on what you're seeing, you might want to put this idea of multifactored evals on the table when the time is right. I would especially be concerned about social thinking/pragmatics and narrative language.

Here's an article to get you started.

https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=social-thinking-social-communication-profile

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Posted (edited)

@PeterPanthank you so much. Quick reply then will write more later.

I did try to get an eval through the PS a few years back. It was an incredibly difficult and uphill process, which is why I eventually went with a private neuropsychology eval. He is a rising 6th grader (to answer your question) and 2E.

Please don’t quote as I may edit later:  Later I sought a different private consultation from a supposed 2E expert psychologist and it was just overwhelming and not super helpful. I was basically advised to get a boatload of additional evals or get him into lots of additional therapy / classes but offered no advice on how to deal with the primary issue for which I consulted them, which was anxiety. I only have a limited amount of time and energy, so I need to discern the most urgent or high-yield items to pursue.  

He’s had a recent optometry eval - no issues found. 

If additional evaluations really are necessary, I will need to pace them and space them out. I guess I'm questioning which are truly necessary, and which are theoretically nice to have.

I’m basically trying to triage all the recommendations I’m getting - rank order them by must do, nice to do, not really necessary for the long run… 

 

Edited by WTM
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We got a 504 plan when my older son was 12 as one part of a paper trail for SAT/ACT accommodations.  The other parts were evaluations at age 7, 10, 12, and 14.  The last evaluation was done by a person familiar with getting SAT/ACT accommodations for homeschooled 2E students.  It was easy to get the 504 plan because my son attended the district's homeschool support program.

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4 minutes ago, EKS said:

We got a 504 plan when my older son was 12 as one part of a paper trail for SAT/ACT accommodations.  The other parts were evaluations at age 7, 10, 12, and 14.  The last evaluation was done by a person familiar with getting SAT/ACT accommodations for homeschooled 2E students.  It was easy to get the 504 plan because my son attended the district's homeschool support program.

Could I ask what state you’re in?

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4 hours ago, PeterPan said:

How old is this dc? I'll just toss this out, but you might consider doing the ps evals at some point anyway to see what happens. Or just keep updating your evals. One nice thing about the ps evals is they are *multi-factored*. So instead of being just a psych eval, you're building a team with an OT, SLP, etc. ADHD at the mod/severe end is going to merge into ASD, so functionally there are extra things you would be looking at if you had a team evaling. He might have some narrative language issues or pragmatics issues. Those word problem issues might be a reflection of other stuff going on, maybe some auditory processing (which is really language processing). Does he have any sensory issues? Has he had an OT eval?

So getting those multifactored evals is an argument *for* going through the process, even if you don't anticipate getting a 504/IEP. It might open up things you haven't gotten done yet. Now private evals for those things are always great too. I'm just suggesting they be on your radar. A psych eval, even neuropsych, is NOT the end all be all in evals. It's one part of multi-factored evals. My ds has had an IEP since he was 6, even though we homeschool, and I learn a significant amount going through the process every year with the ps. Depending on what you're seeing, you might want to put this idea of multifactored evals on the table when the time is right. I would especially be concerned about social thinking/pragmatics and narrative language.

Here's an article to get you started.

https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=social-thinking-social-communication-profile

I'm not opposed in theory to getting a PS eval. I did try (as I detailed in the other post) but was not successful. Yes, I think there may be some overlap with ASD as you mentioned. That part of the neuropsych eval could not be completed because the eval straddled the height of the pandemic shut down. We haven't had an OT eval. He was in Social Thinking class a few years back but it didn't seem helpful enough to warrant the drive (it was far for us).

If we could get multi-modal evals in a one stop shopping type of situation (like PS), I would do it. It's just that I have been told no, and when I spoke with the school district a few months ago, they made it sound like it would still be a no (I was told to call back in August when school starts). And piecing it together from private providers is way overwhelming (and $$). Hence the need to triage and prioritize. I need to know that the juice is worth the squeeze, YKWIM?  That's why I'm wondering how important this 504 is - maybe my time and energy would be better spent seeking out more resources to help with the anxiety - this is what I'm trying to weigh.

I guess it might help to know how hard it is to get accommodations for things like SAT? And I guess with many colleges and universities going test-optional, maybe this will be a moot point? Though he will need to learn to take tests at some point...

 

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5 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Were you getting this advice from someone local or from an outside source?

I think I heard it from a couple of places -- from local parent group forums, maybe on this forum?, and also at a how to homeschool highschool seminar that I attended once. The psychologist also mentioned it would be helpful to have a paper trail.

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You need years of documentation if you want extended time on SAT/ACT testing. If your child is a public school student, the school submits it (at least here), but it's a grind if you are homeschooling and arranging things yourself.

Private testing is the way to go. We've dealt with school districts in a few states, and their testing is meager and inadequate at best.  This is especially true if you think autism is in the mix. And, I think that's something you need to sort out as it opens doors to more services.

I'll be super blunt and say a few things of my BTDT, bought the t-shirt, burned it down in the driveway experiences:

1. If you think community college may be a struggle for your kid in the future (ie--they need to graduate high school able to do algebra 2--do you think you'll get there?), I would seriously consider an accredited public school diploma for high school, even if you "homeschool" through a charter. 

2. In our experience, if the dysgraphia is severe, get the kid typing well now.  Seriously.  You aren't going to be able to scribe for him for forever, and by 6th grade you kind of know whether handwriting is ever going to be functional. You can do all of the OT you want, in our experience, but some things are just kind of hardwired in.

3. Deal with the anxiety.  Let go of all of the shame surrounding meds and deal with the biochemistry in front of you. If I were you (and I've been in a BTDT with my own), I'd just get a full neuropsych done privately and knock it all out.  Done well, it should give you all of the info you need.  There are bad neuropsychs out there, and sometimes some practitioners are more helpful than others, but a good neuropsych set of exams should give you answers about anxiety, autism, depression, processing speed, attention, learning disabilities, etc.

 

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