504 Plan: Male student with books

Did you know that your child has a right to a free and appropriate education regardless of his/her illness? This is stipulated under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is often accomplished by creating a 504 plan. A 504 plan is a written document that addresses special accommodations or modifications your child may need in order to perform at the same level as his/her peers without an illness. Not every child with an illness requires a 504 plan, but as a parent it is helpful to know that they are available. 

As a parent, you can request a 504 plan by talking with your child's teacher and/or principal. It's helpful to schedule a meeting in advance to talk about your child's illness and special needs. Go prepared with information about his/her diagnosis and medications. It also helps to have letters from your physician regarding diagnoses, medication doses, restricted activities, or special needs. For more information talk to your local school district and healthcare provider.

Keep in mind that not all schools need to comply with a 504 plan. Typically those excluded are private schools, which don't receive any public funding. Private schools may still be an appropriate choice for your child, but as a parent you will need to meet and interview with them in order to assess this. A 504 plan can be carried over to college, but it's important to discuss this with the university/college. You can start by contacting the Office of Disabilities and the Student Health Center.