In response to the Americans with Disabilities Act
and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, colleges which receive
Federal funding have resources of some type to support students with
learning differences--including AD/HD. However, not all resources are
equal in their supportive value.
To Begin the Process:
In general, the department assigned to
provide learning support reviews documentation submitted with each
student and discusses accommodations. Documentation requirements for
students with ADHD usually include an evaluation by a psychiatrist,
neurologist, licensed psychologist, or a Comprehensive Evaluation Report
(CER) by a certified school psychologist containing current information
(no more than 3 years old). The documentation should include a clearly
stated diagnosis of ADHD, a description of the symptoms that meet
the criteria for the diagnosis, instruments used to make the diagnosis
and current medication, dosages and frequencies. This report should also
include recommendations for academic accommodations as well as an
explanation as to the reason for the recommendation.
Together you and the college personnel
establish a list of appropriate adjustments to request from the college
or your professors in order to accommodate your specific learning
difficulties. With your written consent, the department contacts your
professors each semester with a letter which identifies you as eligible
for the academic adjustments
listed. It's your responsibility to seek out the supports you need as
soon as you get to college or as soon as you realize that you need
supports. You can always meet with the department and make adjustments
to your accommodations as needed.
Pieces of the Puzzle
1. Special department.
connecting and accessing services,
Requirements - number of staff, degrees, special training in ADHD,
Number of students currently being served,
description of services including tone.
information can provide clues as to the availability and support of
students with learning differences (i.e.: Services for Students with
Learning Disabilities by the State System of Higher Education, Social
Equity Office for the fourteen PA State colleges).
2. Academic Support.
tutors, writing assistance.
Qualifications range from paid professional with specialized training
and experience, to paid students, to volunteers. Some colleges provide
these services at no additional expense, others charge for the services.
Coaching is not generally available.
group counselling are often available to provide emotional support as
well as problem solving support. Therapists vary in their
qualifications, degrees, experience and training. Individual and group
counselling can range from a set number of sessions (i.e.. 10) for the
duration of your college experience to unlimited counselling sessions
for all four years at no additional cost.
provide regular workshops on a variety of topics to support students
with learning differences.
5. Medication management.
colleges will prescribe and monitor medications to help manage ADHD
others will not. (NOTE: In Australia it is necessary to see a
registered psychiatrist for diagnosis and prescribing of medications)
Books on tape
may be very useful as well as alternatively formatted texts.
Software programs such as Inspiration © can help with writing
There is even a computer that will "read aloud" from
text to help auditory learners Xerox/Kurzweil Personal Reader or voice
activated computers for written assignments. Colleges vary in the
accessibility of these resources.
7. Staff development training.
Commitment of the college to staff development training in working with
students with learning differences.
The purpose of accommodations are to
provide support such that the result would be the minimization of the
effects of any disability resulting in optimal opportunities for
success-to level the playing field. Responsibilities for such an
approach are shared equally between the individual student and the
There is a need for accurate and timely communication..
Accommodations are highly prescriptive and individual due to the need to
match learning difficulties to specific accommodations. Not one size
fits all. And not more is better. Some accommodations need to be
provided by the school and some are things that you can do on your own.
extension, testing duration, successive
administrations, multiple days
administration, small-group administration,
adaptive or special equipment at the regular testing session, or at a
Revised test format
editions, changes in presentation in terms
of line or item spacing, changes in space for answers
Revised text directions
Rewriting or reformatting directions, emphasizing
key words in directions, reading standard directions
Use of aides
To interpret or
respond to test items special equipment such
as auditory tape of test items, masks to cover portion of the test,
markers, magnification devices, proctor assistance/readers, equipment to
record responses such as a tape recorder or lap top computer, scribes or