Assistive Technology for ADHD

Assistive technology for adhd can be helpful for adults or children with symptoms of adhd, whether those symptoms are predominantly inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive or a combination of both inattentive hyperactive ADHD. In its simplest form assistive technology for adhd means any technology (software, hardware or device) that can be used to assist an individual with ADHD to perform tasks that have been difficult to initiate, complete, or even remember to get do. Besides this obvious meaning, this term also carries an official meaning - one that defines certain rights you or your child may have.

The official or legal use of the term Assistive Technology comes from a series of legislative acts and regulations that date back as early as 1973 with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These acts or legislation were designed to ensure that any individual regardless of a disability they might have, would be given the right to equal access to education, employment, and other public venues. Also within this legislation guidelines were included that meant students who qualify may have access to approved technology free of charge. While ADHD is not specifically mentioned, students who have symptoms that interfere with their ability to perform at school may be eligible for assistive technology for adhd.

Technology - Old vs. New

Because of the rapid growth and expansion in technology in the last 30 years, these laws have been updated several times to include access to technologies that would serve to assist students who otherwise might struggle to get their assignments completed. To understand whether you should apply for assistance under these regulations you need to have an overview of the two basic laws which govern this and learn when and how to apply for assistive technology for adhd.

Technology - Rapid Growth and Expansion

The two specific legislative acts which apply to assistive technology for persons with disabilities are:

  1. Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act (IDEA)
  2. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The following table provides a side by side comparison of both of these laws. Practically speaking, the result of both of these laws place a burden on our schools to ensure that all students are given equal access to a good education, as well as providing additional resources such as assistive technology that could enhance students learning. However, it is not practical to expect every school to know every students individual needs. Parents must become advocates for their student, to learn about these resources, learn about assistive technologies that might help your child, discuss with your school staff the best approach to help your child with ADHD, and then, if you feel access to these resources at and through the school might help, make your request known beginning with your school administration.

Section 504 and IDEA Comparison Chart


Section 504


Federal Statute: ensures free and appropriate education for children with disabilities; specific disability categories are defined in this law.

A Broad Civil Rights law protecting rights of individuals with disabilities; covering any institution that receive federal funds - to ensure persons with disabilities an opportunity to fully participate with peers.

Who is Protected

Specifically covers students aged 3-21 with a disability that adversely affects that child's performance in school, and/or their ability to learn/benefit from their education.

Protects any person with disabilities from discrimination in school settings that is based on their disability. 504 defines persons with disability as: a person having a physical or mental impairment which limits one or more major life activity; they have a record of such an impairment; or are regarded as having an impairment.

Brief Description of Services

Provided free of charge to the parent, additional approved supplemental educational services and/or support in addition to normal curriculum and services, designed that the child has access to and actually benefits from that curriculum.

Barriers must be eliminated that prevent students with disabilities from participating fully in programs and services being offered through the general curriculum.

Initial Requirements

Requires a written IEP (Individualized Education Plan); specific content and educational services that address the disability directly will be spelled out in the IEP; Transition Planning for students 16 and over; and BIP (Behavior Intervention Plan) is to be put in place for any student with disability that has a behavior issue. These plans are defined so as to provide "Educational Benefit" to the student.

Does not require a written IEP rather a documents plan. The plan's goal must be designed to be comparable in outcomes to the general education of students. This also requires reasonable accomodations be made for these students, including support and auxiliary aides to allow the child to participate in general curriculum.

Permission for Use of Assistive Technology For ADHD

An adult with ADHD generally will have no problem using assistive technology for adhd at work. While it would be advised to alert your supervisor as to the nature of your need for specific technology at work, you will likely gain approval depending on the nature of that technology. Parents of school aged children who want their child to use assistive technology for school work have two options. First there are many examples of assistive technology that can be used at home to assist in remembering, mastering reading, writing and arithmetic, and even timers to schedule allotted time for various activities including homework. These are all available at your expense and you are encouraged to investigate and see which might help your student the most.

Homework with Technology

If your child's ADHD or behaviors are impacting their learning at school, they may qualify for assistance through one or both of these federally sponsored regulations mentioned earlier. It requires the parent to submit an inquiry/request to the school for approval through one of these acts. You may find that there is specific software, hardware, or devices that will help them focus, remember and complete their assignments. If your child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or is receiving special education services, it does NOT automatically mean he or she will be placed in a special education classroom. IDEA has a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) clause, which states that children should be educated in the least restrictive environment that is still sufficient to meet their academic needs. Therefore if your child can learn in a regular education classroom then that is where the law says she should be placed.

Assistive Technology for ADHD

Practicing Brain Games

The choice of assistive technology for adhd should be focused on the core symptoms or behaviors that are being seen that interfere with studies, learning and homework. The core symptoms of impulsivity, inattention, hyperactivity and distraction can lead to barriers in learning. Noise cancelling ear phones or ear plugs can be used for those who are easily distracted by external noises when they try to study. There are all sorts of either auditory or vibrating alarms that can be used for reminder deadlines or to schedule a 30 minute study time for example. These alarms and a PDA or electronic calendar with reminders are some of the most commonly used items from the assistive technology for adhd choices. Following is a list of resources you may find of interest for students and adults with ADHD.

  • Computer Software: reading, writing, math
  • Brain Training - Printouts, Computer Software
  • Brain Games - Hand Held, On Line Computer Games
  • Software Based Lessons for Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
  • Talking Books
  • Voice Recognition Software
  • PDA's - calendars, timers, reminder messages
  • Invisible Clock - Reminder Timers
  • Noise Cancelling Ear Phones/Ear Plugs
  • Talking Computer Keyboards
  • Screen Magnifiers
  • E Dictionary
  • Alarm Talking Watches
  • Digital Talking Calculators
  • Children's talking calculators

Assistive Technology For ADHD Resources

There are dozens of great websites and books to help you deal with your ADHD or that of your child's ADHD. Following is a list of resources that represent a broad range of information, services, products and resources.

The Family Education Network - Marvelous Resource Website for the Parent, Teacher, and Kids, providing information and resources including one of the top kid friendly website for online games -; Parents -; Teachers -; Kids and

Games For The Brain - Multiple games to grow and stretch the brain ...

Math Games On Line - Multiple math games on line to practice what is taught at school, great to use during breaks and vacations...

Kabongo - Games for Children - Reading and other games for children ages 4-7...

ADDitude The Magazine - ADDitude is a great resource that offers many activities, tips, resources for the person, parent or child with ADD/ADHD.

Learning Games for Kids - Keyboarding - Help your children learn to use the keyboard correctly with a chance to take speed and accuracy tests too...

ATaccess - Alliance for Technology Access Organization...

All-in-One: Phone, PDA, Calendar, Reminders, Alarm

IDEA and Section 504 Background WebSites

Government and Organiztion Websites with more information about IDEA, IEP, and Section 504:

Overview 504 and IDEA - US Department of Education Section 504 defined and how it relates to IDEA

CHADD - Children and Adults with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder Organization: Learn to become a proactive partner in ADHD treatment for your self or your child - stay connected online or through their "Attention" Magazine...

National Resource Center on ADHD - Link with the National Resource Center on ADHD - a resource from CHADD discussing section 504...

ADD Organization - Follow the ADD Organization on line - topics such as: Short movie telling the story of ADHD struggles for new Mets center fielder Andres Torres about to be released: New Mets center fielder Andres Torres knows about struggles. An injury-plagued 2011 season was difficult. But he's dealt with greater adversity. A new documentary is coming out on how he managed his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to become a World Series winner with the San Francisco Giants in 2010. Read more...

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This site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services.