504 Accommodation Plan vs. IEP (Individualized Education Plan)

Susan Connors, MEd.Presenter: Susan Conners, MEd.
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Ms. Conners discussed the differences between the 504 and IEP plans, in order help parents and educators understand which is most appropriate for a student with TS, an associated neurological disorder or other special-needs condition.  She discussed what children are eligible and why and how the system works from the perspective of a 30 year veteran of the education system.


  1. tsmom2kids says:

    My question is the school paid for an independent OT evalution for my son. I refused consent for the OT reports done by the school and his NJ Ask scores and writing samples to be shared with the independent OT evaluation. I just found out today that the school stated since I refused to release these documents they are not honoring evaluation. I refused consent because I wanted this person to make there own decision

    • Sue Conners says:

      If the district paid for an independent evaluation, they have to honor it whether the evaluator saw the previous evaluations or not. I would be very direct and ask the school to provide a copy of the law that states what they are saying.

  2. AlexandrK says:

    Regarding the transfer of a 504 to college, does it apply to public colleges only?

    • Sue Conners says:

      No, it applies to all colleges.

  3. Alison J says:

    I have a bright 3rd grader with TS, ADD, OCD, an anxiety disorder and emotional dysregulation. I have watched her become increasingly stressed at home, it is hard to get her to school and cries each night. She holds it together well at school, she does not want to be different. She has a 504 but I have seen her begin to unravel more each year as organizational and academic demands increase. She also has an older brother who was just sent out-of -district due to many of these concerns. Will she have to really fall hard academically before I will be able to get her perhaps school counseling and help with executive functioning/organizational skills?

    • Sue Conners says:

      Failure and/or poor grades are no longer the determining factor in obtaining services for children. The law states that the disability must affect the child in one or more of these areas: performance, social/emotional well-being, functioning. Clearly she is being impacted in at least two of these area.

  4. MeridithR says:

    Who conducts a sensory evaluation, and what can school provide with the results of that evaluation since OT usually focuses on fine motor skills and the impact upon academic functioning.

    • Sue Conners says:

      An OT conducts a sensory evaluation as well as an evaluation for fine motor deficits. OT’s tend to get stuck in the “handwriting” arena. You may have to specifically request a sensory evaluation. OT’s work with several deficits including sensory issues, handwriting deficits, executive dysfunction, etc.

  5. Katherine L says:

    Our school always puts “as needed” in my son’s IEP, then they forget to implement the accommodation. Do you have any suggestions for more specific language in an IEP or ways that I can hold the accountable when they forget to implement the accommodations?

    • Sue Conners says:

      The language needs to be very specific. For example, “the child will use a computer/tablet for all answers longer than 3 or 4 words” or “the child will take all tests and quizzes longer than 15 minutes in a separate location with extended time”. Don’t leave room for interpretation.

  6. Susan B says:

    My son has an IEP this year. He has low tone and handwriting difficulties (disgraphia). He doesn’t use capitals and punctuation. I think this shouldn’t be graded and should be included in his accommodation plan. What do you think?

    • Sue Conners says:

      Absolutely! You may need to request that he be evaluated by an occupational therapist for dysgraphia to obtain this accommodation. I would also make sure that you gather several samples of his work in several subjects at different times of the day. Evaluations are often done under optimum conditions and don’t necessarily show all of the issues.

  7. Laurie F says:

    Talk a little more about addressing tics vs OCD rituals and how they might be properly distinguished in either a 504 or IEP.

    • Sue Conners says:

      It is often difficult to tell whether it’s a tic or an obsession, which is why I always refer to OCD as “tics of my brain”. Either way, they most definitely interfere and must be addressed very specifically in the 504 or IEP. My powerpoint gave several examples of this.