An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and a 504 Accommodation Plan are both legal documents based on federal laws. These documents are generated to assist students with disabilities who attend schools that receive federal funding. Which of these documents is the most appropriate for a student with TS is complicated by regulations that vary from state to state, inconsistent school policies, and the specific needs of the particular student. Both an IEP and 504 Plan should be based on the results of an education assessment/evaluation and the student’s needs.
Both IEPs and 504 Plans have advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation. There are specific guidelines regarding eligibility. A diagnosis of TS does not automatically make a child eligible for either an IEP or 504 Plan. Generally, if a student needs services that involve an additional person who provides significant support, an IEP will be written. If, however, the student needs accommodations and/or modifications that provide equal access to an education similar to that given to students without disabilities, a 504 Plan may be sufficient to meet his/her needs.
IEPs are based on detailed parameters that are regulated by state education departments. These include specific criteria regarding eligibility, individuals involved in creating an IEP, how it is to be written, and when it must be reviewed. For a child to be eligible for services under an IEP, the disability must adversely affect the student’s educational performance. TS is included in the definition of ‘Other Health Impairment’ and generally is the definition under which students with TS are classified.
504 Plans are less regulated. This sometimes allows for increased creativity, which often is helpful in meeting the unique needs of children with TS.
If the student requires accommodations or modifications such as extended time, test/quizzes in a separate location, use of computer, or homework modification, then a 504 Plan may be sufficient. However, if special education services are necessary, such as counseling, consultant teacher, resource room support, speech or occupational therapy support, then an IEP may be necessary.
Watch a video presentation on the difference between 504 Plans and IEPs