Newsletter 2.1

Meeting the Needs of Post-Secondary Students with ADHD

Many disabilities are hidden from the eye. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of them. ADHD is a neurological impairment characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity. Statistically, nearly half of all children with ADHD will have symptoms that persist into adulthood. As a result, we are seeing increasing numbers of students with ADHD in the post-secondary setting. ADHD may have an impact on post-secondary activities such as lectures, discussions, test-taking, writing assignments, or fieldwork. 

Possible Student Characteristics

Many students who are blind / visually impaired rely on technology to process visual information.  Technology has greatly helped students access the college environment.

  • Inability to maintain focus on tasks over a long period of time
  • Tendency to get bored easily, particularly during lectures
  • Difficulty with change
  • Variable performance (good days and bad days)
  • Impulsivity, inappropriate comments
  • Social challenges
  • Fidgety, restless
  • Difficulty with time management and organization

Possible Accommodations

  • Distraction-reduced room for testing
  • Note-takers
  • Tape recorder
  • Lecture outline available before class
  • Additional time for tests/assignments
  • Ability to take breaks/stretch, move around
  • Preferential seating
  • Textbooks on tape
  • Computer with speech input

Universal Design theory supports utilizing certain strategies in curriculum development and classroom management that assist all students, including those with disabilities, to succeed in post-secondary education.  Some easy strategies to implement are listed below.

Universal Design Strategies

  • Include a statement in your syllabus inviting students to talk with the Accessibility Services Department (ASD) about any disability-related concerns.   Syllabus Statement
  • Point out campus resources available to all students such as tutoring centers, study skills labs, counseling centers, and computer labs.
  • When teaching a lesson, state objectives, review previous lessons, and summarize periodically.
  • Use more than one way to demonstrate or explain information.
  • Keep instructions brief and uncomplicated. Repeat them word-for-word.
  • Allow time for clarification of directions and essential information.
  • Provide study guides or review sheets.

Remember, you are not alone in accommodating students with ADHD.  The Accessibility Services Department is here to assist you and the student in implementing reasonable accommodations.  Remember the Accessibility Services Department understands the various laws regarding reasonable accommodations, as well as what is required for medical documentation.  Refer your questions to the ASD office at (801) 863-8747.  We will be happy to assist you. 

Key Rulings

A student approved for extra time on tests claimed that her grade on an exam was affected because the school denied her extra time.  The instructor gave all students 5 hours to take a 3-hour exam.  He therefore reasoned that her approved accommodation of time and a half on tests was not necessary.  The student alleged that, since he allowed other students 5 hours for the test, she should have been afforded the time and a half based on 5 hours.  OCR agreed with the student.  Letter to:  Lewis and Clark College, No. 10092092 (OCR 01/08/10).

A student claimed a professor failed to provide academic adjustments during a quiz; subjected him to different treatment by not allowing him to take an open-book, open-note test provided to his peers; and created a hostile environment by discussing his situation with other department members.  The University agreed to resolve the complaint before OCR closed its investigation.  It will take steps to ensure that its policies and procedures comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and provide notice and training to administrators and instructors at the school.  Letter to:  Berkeley City College,  No. 09-08-2137 (OCR 06/18/09)

If you have questions or concerns regarding any disability accommodations, please contact the ASD at (801) 863-8747. We are here to help you provide equal access to all UVU students.  


By Laura Loree


Accessibility Services Department