Guide to POTS

Hoping this makes a confusing chronic illness diagnosis easier

Do you need a 504 or an IEP?

Disclaimer: I am just going to clarify that I am a teacher so I am speaking from both a teaching perspective and a student perspective who has gone through this but I am not a medical or a legal professional, please consult them if you need them. 

A 504 or an IEP (find out the differences here) are both legally binding documents that provide different services and/or accommodations to help student learning.

So do you need one?

Not really but then you’re leaving it up to each teacher and their goodwill to decide what you / your student needs. In my opinion as an educator and as someone who had a 504, it will never hurt you to have one.

Let me play a scenario for you. You / your student has been sick for the past week and needs an extension on a project they were unable to complete due to not feeling well. Them being out is a frequent occurrence with POTS so teachers are aware that they are out a lot. Teachers are not generally notified as to why a student is out or if there was a doctor’s note, that’s normally an admin thing. 

So you / your student has been out for the past week and the project was assigned the day they left school, it was due the day the student returned. As a teacher I would expect the student to do the work assigned unless they spoke to me and explained the situation. That being said, it is up to each teacher to decide. There are plenty of teachers who would give you / your student as zero for not completing the work. With a 504 / IEP the teacher does not get an opinion they have they have to give that extension if it says in the document.

A 504/IEP takes the guesswork out of what you can and cannot ask for. If you’re out then you know you get an extension, if you don’t feel good you know you can drink and eat in class. There is no reason to not get a 504 or an IEP. Most schools will work with you to create it and it shouldn’t be that much of a challenge. Find out more about what to do if your school is challenging you here.

Further Reading

“Classroom Accommodations for Children with Dysautonomia.” Dysautonomia International, Accessed 4 April 2023.

“IEP vs. 504 Plan: What’s the Difference?”, Accessed 4 April 2023.

JONES, CAROLYN. “Parents’ guide to 504 plans and IEPs: What they are and how they’re different.” EdSource, 29 March 2022, Accessed 4 April 2023.

“School and College Accommodations.” Standing Up To POTS, Accessed 4 April 2023.

“What kinds of accommodations and services can my child get?” MassLegalHelp, Accessed 4 April 2023.

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