504 for Anxiety: Getting Support in the Classroom

504 Plan for Anxiety
Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues affecting children and teenagers in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety disorders affect about one in three children and adolescents, making it a prevalent issue that affects many students in public schools. 

In this blog, we will discuss what clinical anxiety looks like in children and teens, how anxiety can affect school performance, and how parents can get support for their children through 504 accommodations in the school setting.

What Does Clinical Anxiety Look Like in Children?

Children with anxiety may display a range of emotional and physical symptoms that can impact their daily lives, including their ability to learn and participate in school. As a parent, it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety in your child to ensure they receive the support they need. 

Here are some common signs and symptoms of anxiety in children:

  • Excessive worry and fear about everyday situations
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, or fatigue
  • Avoiding social situations or interactions with peers
  • Clinginess to parents or other trusted adults
  • Refusal to go to school or participate in activities
  • Perfectionism or being overly self-critical
  • Panic attacks or sudden intense fear
  • Difficulty concentrating or completing tasks
  • Irritability or mood swings

If your child exhibits any of these signs or symptoms, it's important to seek support from a mental health professional and communicate with their school to ensure they receive appropriate accommodations and support.

What Does Clinical Anxiety Look Like in Teens?

Anxiety can have a significant impact on the mental health and wellbeing of teenagers, affecting their academic performance, social interactions, and daily life. Clinical anxiety in teenagers can present in various ways, including social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD. Teens with anxiety often lack coping skills and therefore have a low stress and frustration tolerance. 

As a parent, it's essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety in your teen to ensure they receive the support they need. Here are some common signs and symptoms of anxiety in teens:

  • Social withdrawal or avoidance of social situations
  • Excessive worrying or fear about everyday situations
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Panic attacks or sudden intense fear
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Obsessive or compulsive behaviors
  • Perfectionism or being overly self-critical
  • Physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, or fatigue
  • Avoiding school or difficulty completing schoolwork
  • Substance abuse or risky behaviors as a way to cope with anxiety

If your teen exhibits any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your teen in a supportive and loving way and get them help. 

How Can Anxiety Affect School Performance?

As a parent, you want your child to succeed in school and reach their full potential. However, anxiety can be a significant obstacle to academic success. It can make it hard for your child to concentrate, complete assignments, and remember what they've learned. 

Anxiety can also cause test anxiety, making it challenging for your child to perform well on exams or participate in class discussions. Additionally, anxiety can impact your child's social relationships and make it difficult for them to participate in extracurricular activities. It's essential to understand how anxiety can affect your child's school performance and to provide the necessary support to help them overcome these challenges.

Why and How Do I Talk To My Child’s School About Their Anxiety?

As a caring parent, it's important to talk to your child's school about their anxiety to ensure they receive the necessary support and accommodations, so they can thrive in school. The school can’t help your child if they don’t know what is going on and we shouldn’t ever feel ashamed about mental health struggles. 

5 Steps to Talking to the School About Your Child’s Anxiety:

  1. Reach out to your child's teacher or guidance counselor: Start by contacting your child's teacher or guidance counselor and expressing your concerns. They may be able to provide initial support and guidance on next steps.
  2. Request a team meeting: If your child's anxiety is significantly impacting their school performance, it may be helpful to schedule a meeting to discuss your child's needs in more detail.
  3. Share documentation: It's important to share any documentation related to your child's anxiety, such as a diagnosis or treatment plan. This will help provide context for your child's needs and ensure the school can provide appropriate support.
  4. Collaborate on an action plan: Work with the school staff to develop an action plan that outlines specific accommodations and support for your child's anxiety. This may include preferential seating, extra time on assignments, or access to the school counselor or social worker.
  5. Set up a follow-up meeting: A plan is only effective if it is being implemented. Meetings to talk about what is and isn’t working are critical to support your child. 

Remember, you are not alone in supporting your child's mental health needs in the school setting. By working together with the school staff and providing the necessary information and support, you can ensure your child receives the appropriate accommodations and care to manage their anxiety and succeed in school.

How do I Talk to My Child About 504 Accommodations for Anxiety?

How do I Talk to My Child About 504 Accommodations for Anxiety

Discussing 504 accommodations with your child or teen can help them feel empowered and understand the accommodations they may receive. It is essential to talk to your child in a language they can understand and explain how 504 accommodations can help them in the school setting. “This is a plan to bring you some anxiety relief in school.”

Keep the conversation positive and normalize how common anxiety is. I like to talk about school plans in terms of bringing “relief” because no one wants to feel anxious. Liam was a teen whose parents were so nervous about getting school support but when I did Liam was so grateful. 

Have your child be part of the process and encourage them to identify specific accommodations that would help them manage their anxiety, such as preferential seating, extra time on assignments or tests, and participation in small groups.

Common Accommodations for Anxiety

There are several 504 Plan accommodations that can help students with anxiety disorders succeed in the classroom, including:

Preferential seating: Students with anxiety may benefit from sitting in the front of the classroom or away from distractions.

Extended time on assignments and tests: Extra time can help students manage test anxiety and complete assignments more thoroughly.

Class participation: Teachers can modify participation requirements to allow students to participate in ways that feel comfortable to them, such as written responses, smaller group discussions, or modification to their physical education program.

Small groups: Participating in small groups can help students feel less overwhelmed and build social connections with peers.

Modified assignments: Teachers can modify assignments to reduce stress and ensure students can complete them with success.

Breaks: Students can take breaks when feeling overwhelmed, such as taking a walk or listening to music.

Check-ins: Regular meetings and check-ins with school support staff such as school counselors can help students lower stress levels.

Schedule modifications: Changing a school start time or order of classes can support a student when they are really struggling or have school refusal

How can parents help students with anxiety in the school setting?

As a parent, you are your child's biggest supporter, especially when it comes to their mental health needs in school. You want to make sure they have the tools and support they need to succeed academically and emotionally, and that includes managing their anxiety. 

By working together with your child's school and providing guidance and encouragement, you can help your child overcome their anxiety and thrive in the school setting.

Here are some ways parents can help your anxious child or teen:

Communicate with school staff: Keep open communication with your child's teacher, guidance counselor, or school psychologist to discuss your child's mental health needs and collaborate on strategies to support them.

Encourage self-advocacy: Teach your child about their mental health needs and encourage them to communicate their needs to school staff.

Create a positive home environment: Ensure that your child has a supportive and safe home environment to reduce stress and anxiety by keeping your own anxiety in check (share your calm!). 

Seek outside support: Consider seeking support from mental health professionals outside of school, such as a therapist or counselor, to help your child manage their anxiety and develop coping skills.

There are also many evidence-based natural remedies for anxiety that can help a child or teen with anxiety. Including diet changes, exercise, neurofeedback, PEMF and supplements for anxiety.

Encourage healthy habits: Encourage your child to prioritize self-care habits, such as exercise, good nutrition, and enough sleep, to help manage anxiety symptoms.

Encourage healthy habits

Anxiety disorders are prevalent among children and teenagers in the United States and across the globe, and they can significantly impact academic performance and social relationships. Moreover, anxiety can follow a child throughout their life when not properly addressed. 

By advocating for your child or teen with open communication and collaboration between parents and school staff, students with anxiety disorders can thrive academically and emotionally. Through 504 accommodations or an individualized education plan, students can receive the specific accommodations and related services they need to succeed in the school setting. 

As a parent, you want the best for your child and family, and dealing with anxiety can be overwhelming. However, getting the right help can make a world of difference in improving your child's mental health and overall wellbeing. Our trademarked BrainBehaviorReset™ program is specifically designed to help children and families manage anxiety effectively and improve their quality of life. 

When you are accepted into our program, you'll have access to expert guidance, tools, and strategies that can help them overcome their anxiety and thrive in the school setting. With our support, your child can develop the necessary skills to manage their anxiety, boost their academic performance, and improve their social relationships. Don't let anxiety hold your child back – take the first step towards a better future by applying to be in our BrainBehaviorReset™ program today.

Download The Ultimate Guide to School Accommodations to Become Your Child’s Best Advocate

➡️ Get the ultimate accommodations guide that has all of “the meat and none of the potatoes” with accommodations for more than 30 common issues and conditions
➡️ The exact accommodations you need for any school meeting or letter from a seasoned school psychologist and IEP and 504 meeting veteran
➡️Come prepared with the accommodations requests that actually can help your child at school

Grab my Ultimate Guide to 504 Accommodations to get detailed 504 accommodations for the biggest issues impacting children and teens with anxiety at school: attention, memory, anxiety, behavior, and more than 20 issues that impact learning, attention, and emotional functioning at school.


U.S. Department of Education. (2016). Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/504-resource-guide-201612.pdf

Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

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You can get her books for parents and professionals, including: It’s Gonna Be OK™: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health, Teletherapy Toolkit™ and Brain Under Attack: A Resource For Parents and Caregivers of Children With PANS, PANDAS, and Autoimmune Encephalopathy.

If you are a business or organization that needs proactive guidance to support employee mental health or an organization looking for a brand representative, check out Dr. Roseann’s media page and professional speaking page to see how we can work together. 


Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of  media outlets including, CBS, NBC, FOX News, PIX11 NYC, The New York Times, The Washington Post,, Business Insider, USA Today, CNET, Marth Stewart, and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.” 

Dr. Roseann - Brain Behavior Reset Parent Toolkit

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Medicine Mental Health Provider (CMHIMP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) and The Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

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