504 Plan for Students with Hidradenitis Suppurativa
What is a 504 plan and who qualifies?
To be eligible for a 504 plan your child must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) be regarded as having such an impairment.
Section 504 is a federal civil rights law and protects students from disability discrimination by public schools, and by any college, trade school or private school that gets federal funding.
Provides people with disabilities the right to reasonable accommodations giving them equal access to learning and school activities. Schools don’t need to change their programs - just make sure they’re accessible.
Applies to students of all ages who have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits a major life activity; this can include reading, learning and concentrating.
A 504 plan can include the following:
Accommodations: Changes in the classroom to how the child learns the curriculum. Examples: Extra time on tests, seating near the front of the class
Assistive Technology: Tools that help the child work around barriers to learning. Examples: Calculators, graphic organizers, keyboards.
School Services: Services that help get access to general education. Examples: Speech therapy, transportation.
How and What to Request in a 504 Plan
Get Involved: Contact the school to request a 504 plan. Let the school know that you’d like to be included and participate in all meetings regarding your child’s 504 plan. Share how your child learns best and how that has worked past classrooms
Personalized Plan: There is a lot of leeway in what can be included in a 504 plan. Some schools have one general plan per diagnosis (such as ADHD), this may sound efficient, but does not fit every child’s needs. Advocate for a plan that fits your child’s specific needs.
Cover all areas of help needed: While things in the classroom may be easily identified as areas for accommodations, also think outside the classroom. What about physical education, field trips, or assemblies?
Be specific about the needs: Being vague creates opportunities for misunderstandings. If your plan calls for assistive devices, be specific in naming the technology as well as where and when your child will use it. If your child is to use assistive devices in the classroom, but not on tests, that should be noted specifically.
Add teacher and staff names to the plan: This helps with accountability and also enables you to know who is responsible for each facet of the plan. The plan should also include the name of the 504 coordinator responsible for helping you with the overall plan. Be sure to keep a copy of the plan.
Check in with your child and teachers: Make a point of checking in with your child and the teachers to see how the plan is working. Is it helping for your child to sit in the front of the class or more distracting since they are by the door to the hallway? Asking questions help determine if the plan is helpful and working.
Review and update the plan yearly: Meet with the school to review and revise the plan annually. This will help ensure that the plan represents the current situation and struggles that your child may be facing. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the school to request a meeting to review your plan if they haven’t reached out to you.
Tips and Tricks for 504s
Rules for 504 plans are more loose than for IEPs so parents can overlook or misunderstand key steps in the process. Here are a few things to try and avoid:
Approaching the 504 process with a spirit of teamwork
It takes everyone to make a 504 plan come together and work. The people on your 504 team are just that, on your team. These people have experience with these types of plans and can offer suggestions based on your child’s needs and may have experienced things in their time with your child that they can contribute.
Explore all that is possible with a 504 plan
Schools can sometimes skim over what is possible or what accommodations can be made as part of a 504 plan. Prepare ahead of time, do your research, and know what accommodations can be made. This knowledge will ensure your child gets the help they need with your guidance.
Being active and participate
The law doesn’t guarantee the parent’s right to participate in their child’s 504 plan, however, most schools are happy to include parents in the process. If you plan to be part of the process, don’t wait for an invitation, let the school know that you want to be a part of any meeting where your child’s 504 will be discussed.
When it’s finalized, it’s not over! Ask for a copy of the 504 plan and stay involved, check in, ask questions and make sure you have it on your calendar to check in prior to the 1 year mark to set up your meeting to review for the following school year.
Don’t accept the school’s “standard” 504 plan
Not all children are created equal and 504 plans are not a “one size fits all”, just like your child’s HS. Most schools have not authored a 504 plan for something like HS, so this may be a new experience for them. There may be things you can take from existing 504 plans that would be helpful to include in your child’s 504 plan, so don’t count out the other plans entirely. It helps to talk about your child’s weaknesses and some accommodations you think may be helpful to get the process started. Reviewing other 504 plans may give you some ideas about what to include in your own plan.
Don’t assume 504 is being followed
Once the plan has been finalized, relax, but don’t totally let go yet! Check in with your child, monitor homework and test scores. Check in with the 504 contact if you have questions or concerns.
Annual review and updates
Don’t count on the school to ensure that the annual review will happen, it’s imperative that you are a driving force behind this and that you reach out to set up a review. Discuss what things need to change, revisions, new struggles, success that no longer require accommodation, etc. Don’t forget to take into account that the academic load grows as each year passes and accommodations may need to change to keep up with this workload change.
References and Additional resources:
View our Kids & Adolescent section here
Review our letter for your child's school regarding Hidradenitis Suppurativa here
Content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website.
Written by Brindley Brooks