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Office of Disability Services

About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder


What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized by chronic inattention, and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity.  Once considered to be a childhood disorder, it is now known that many symptoms continue into adulthood. Adults with ADHD are often restless, easily distracted, have difficulty sustaining attention and concentrating, are impulsive and impatient, have frequent mood swings and short tempers, are disorganized and fail to plan ahead.

An abnormal sense of time passage may lead a student to delay work on a project, while organizational problems delay completion. A student with ADHD has difficulty in focusing attention, problems sustaining attention, or difficulty shifting attention from one task to another.

The students with ADHD may become impatient while waiting. Impulsivity may lead to nonproductive activity. In some cases, the "harder they try", the less productive they become.  Awareness of time and personal organization are often disrupted. A student may hand in careless work. showing little attention to details, have difficulty with organizational skills, and may be forgetful and impulsive. They might also not turn in work by the due date in which they have invested much time, because they do not deem it their best work. The instructor may notice performance variability from day to day.


Instructor Tips

  • Verbal and visual instruction combined will aid the student with ADHD.  Powerpoint notes accompanying the lecture will be helpful.  These are most helpful when made available prior to the lecture, so the student can print out and make short notes on the printout.
  • Activities or group projects may prove more productive than lectures
  • Extended time on tests is often requested to counteract the effects of distractibility.  Testing in an alternate, less-distracting location is also very helpful. In some cases, an oral examination will prove more successful than a written format
  • ADHD symptoms vary, so what works for one student may not work for another. Inquire of the student about specific strategies that might be most helpful to them.


Student Tips

  • Structure is key. The more structure you can build into your life, the easier it will be for you.
  • Make a daily to-do list of tasks that need to be done.  Buy a planner and learn to use it!  Carry it with you everywhere.  You may be able to substitute a PDA or smartphone for the paper planner.
  • If you are taking medication to treat your ADHD, develop a system for taking it.  Medication can be very helpful in managing symptoms.
  • Coaching may help the student work through organizational difficulties.
  • Sitting near the front of the classroom can help you avoid distractions. 
  • Be sure to follow the procedures for arranging testing accommodations with the instructor well in advance. 
  • Peer tutors in the Learning Center can be a valuable resource for you.  They can help with general study skills or help you prepare for a specific exam, and there is no cost of the service.
  • The tutors in the Writing Center can help you prepare your papers and help you work through the writing process.  If it's easier for you to talk through a topic than to write it down, using software like Dragon Naturally Speaking may be helpful.


Any further assistance or accommodations needed should be discussed with the Director of Disability Services located in Murray Library 115C.