ADHD College Accommodations That Create Opportunities for Success

Success is on the minds of every college student. For students with ADD/ADHD, it can seem more difficult. ADD/ADHD comes with many things to balance and adjust to. Organization and the ability to concentrate on tasks are some of the more difficult issues that can affect success. Routine and structure are the two most effective interventions but often the most difficult. It’s a love-hate relationship with those two. Yet, those with ADHD can succeed in college, and here are a few accommodations to consider. As with all accommodations, not every accommodation is appropriate nor will work for everyone. Read each one and consider if it fits your situation and symptoms.

An Accommodation That Works

Breaks tests/class

I talked about this in another article Common Accommodations for ADD. That article discussed breaks for class. This is a related but different take on breaks. This one is for tests and takes on two variations: breaks for tests and breaks between tests. A common issue for students with ADD/ADHD is they lose focus easily after a certain amount of time. After some downtime, they can refocus and attend to the task, in this case, testing. The amount of time for the break and the number of breaks given will be different for each. Breaks between tests can occur too. This allows for a longer break between two or more tests given on a specific day. Scheduling is a key issue here and a student may also request limiting the number of tests given on a day.

Accommodations You May Never Have Considered

Priority Registration

This means the student gets to sign up for classes before others. Depending on symptom presentation and impact on the student, this accommodation can allow a student to set their schedule for classes according to the times when they can focus more. It sounds great and can work for some students. Be warned, it is not going to mean you get the schedule you want but the schedule you need. There may be classes that only occur at a specific time which may not be the best time for the student. Nothing can be done about that. However, you can have a schedule that is as close to perfect as it can be.

Note Taker

With issues of attention and focus, it can make it difficult to take notes for a class. A student writes down one thing and cannot get the next thing the instructor states. It lacks a lot of information. A note-taker accommodation takes care of that. Nothing is missed and the student gets to listen to the lecture. This accommodation comes with some exceptions such as you won’t get notes for classes you missed and there is no guarantee for the quality of the notes. You get what you get. It’s also not for everyone. So if you can attend to the lecture and take decent notes already, recording the lecture might be better for you.

Books in Alternate Format

This typically is used to give access to the textbooks used for a class. For students with ADHD, some students don’t read textbooks because of comprehension issues due to lapses in focus, skipping lines of text, and getting off track. The books come in a variety of formats, but PDF is the most common. You will have to check with the reader that you use to see what works best, but there are several that are free, and if you use a Mac, the reader is extremely effective. There is also a procedure to follow from the Office of Disability Services (ODS). Be sure to know the time frames of when to make the request and what ODS requires from you. This is usually a receipt that you purchased the books. The books need to be bought by the student, and the student is responsible for having the text-to-speech software

Read test questions aloud

From my interactions with students with ADHD, it became clear that some students when they read things aloud, not only did they not skip lines or words, but also had more comprehension. They also did this for textbooks so having books in an alternate format was not needed. In addition, text-to-speech software is not needed because the student gets off track. There is no interaction with the material, just a voice. So, it can be like being in class listening to a lecture. There’s more opportunity to lose focus and miss something. But when reading the material themselves out loud, there is improved focus and comprehension.

These accommodations are not a comprehensive list and there will never be one. Each student’s presentation of ADD/ADHD will be specific to them and so will the list of accommodations. Thus, the interview with the accessibility staff is key to determining what is appropriate and reasonable for you. Use this only as a guide.