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Indi­vid­u­als with atten­tion-deficit/hy­per­ac­tiv­i­ty dis­or­der can at times find school­work to be more dif­fi­cult, but with the right approach and assis­tance, the path to a col­lege degree can be made sig­nif­i­cant­ly more man­age­able. As all col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties are required to com­ply with the Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Act of 1973, stu­dents with ADHD are guar­an­teed access to the assis­tance they require to suc­ceed. Whether you are look­ing for a col­lege for your­self or some­one else, it’s impor­tant to under­stand how ADHD is treat­ed at uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges in order to get the best pos­si­ble results for the student.

ADHD Explained: What it Is and How it Affects Students

ADHD is a brain dis­or­der that is most vis­i­ble as dif­fi­cul­ty stay­ing focused and hyper­ac­tive behav­ior, such as fid­get­ing or ver­bal out­bursts. Indi­vid­u­als with ADHD are also more prone to impul­sive behav­ior. It is pos­si­ble to look for signs of ADHD in an indi­vid­u­al’s dai­ly life that can assist in the process of diag­no­sis, includ­ing inat­ten­tion to detail, not appear­ing to lis­ten when spo­ken to, fre­quent fid­get­ing, con­stant talk­ing, and being eas­i­ly dis­tract­ed. Although these indi­ca­tors do not on their own con­sti­tute a diag­no­sis, they should be dis­cussed with a health professional.

Although ADHD and ADD are often treat­ed as syn­onyms, the two dis­or­ders are not exact­ly the same. ADD is a sub­type of ADHD, and indi­vid­u­als with ADD do not dis­play the same hyper­ac­tive ten­den­cies as those with ADHD. Although tasks requir­ing extend­ed focus often still present a chal­lenge to an indi­vid­ual with ADD, they are more like­ly to dis­play their dis­or­der in the form of appar­ent dis­in­ter­est or day­dream­ing than phys­i­cal or ver­bal outbursts.

Building a Platform for Success at College With ADHD

The key to earn­ing a degree at a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty while deal­ing with ADHD is to treat the dis­or­der seri­ous­ly and attain the assis­tance that will help the stu­dent to suc­ceed in class. Pri­or to the start of class­es, the school’s office for stu­dent dis­abil­i­ties should be con­tact­ed in order to ascer­tain what resources are avail­able to stu­dents with ADHD and to ensure that those resources are in place when the school year begins. Although all schools offer assis­tance for stu­dents with spe­cial needs, the specifics avail­able will vary by school, so be sure to check with the office at each insti­tu­tion being con­sid­ered to help deter­mine the best fit.

It is like­ly that doc­u­men­ta­tion of the stu­den­t’s ADHD diag­no­sis will be request­ed in order to best pre­pare an effec­tive accom­mo­da­tion plan. This may include a note from the stu­den­t’s doc­tor regard­ing the ADHD diag­no­sis as well as infor­ma­tion from pri­or school­ing per­tain­ing to any indi­vid­u­al­ized edu­ca­tion pro­gram or Sec­tion 504 plan. This serves both as ver­i­fi­ca­tion of the stu­den­t’s need and a frame­work from which the school can deter­mine what has and has not worked in the past for the student.

Finding the Right Resources for Success

Just as no two indi­vid­u­als’ ADHD will present exact­ly the same, no two indi­vid­u­als’ assis­tance needs will be iden­ti­cal. A wide range of pos­si­ble accom­mo­da­tions are avail­able to stu­dents with ADHD, and the goal is the build the best pos­si­ble plan to help the stu­dent earn a degree.

Test-tak­ing is often an area of dif­fi­cul­ty for indi­vid­u­als with ADHD, who can strug­gle with time lim­its due to atten­tion prob­lems and be dis­tract­ed in a busy class­room. Pos­si­ble reme­dies include addi­tion­al time for tests as well as chang­ing the time or loca­tion of the test to cre­ate a set­ting more con­ducive to aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess. If a stu­dent has dif­fi­cul­ty focus­ing dur­ing lec­tures, a note-tak­er may be assigned to take down impor­tant infor­ma­tion dur­ing class so that it is avail­able for the stu­dent to study lat­er, or a tutor could be made avail­able to assist with sup­ple­men­tal study­ing. A stu­dent may even be eli­gi­ble for a struc­tur­al change to the for­mat of the class, includ­ing alter­ations to assigned work or time commitments.

The most impor­tant thing to remem­ber when seek­ing the best fit for a stu­dent with ADHD is that the school and pro­fes­sors also want the stu­dent to suc­ceed. If strug­gles occur, the stu­dent or a rep­re­sen­ta­tive should always attempt to dis­cuss them with the school or pro­fes­sors direct­ly in order to find poten­tial solu­tions. Nobody at a school wants any stu­dent who comes through the door as a fresh­man to leave with­out earn­ing a degree, so when a stu­dent is try­ing their best, they should be able to count on the school to do like­wise in assist­ing them. By work­ing togeth­er to find the right plan, the stu­dent and the col­lege’s staff can all achieve the end goal every­one is look­ing for: the joy of the stu­den­t’s grad­u­a­tion day.


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