The College Student with

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition that affects learning and behavior and occurs in approximately three to ten percent of the population. It begins in childhood, and although it was initially thought to be outgrown in adolescence, we now know that this is probably true for only about 40 to 60 percent of people with ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD may not be as bothersome in adulthood, but they are still present to some degree.

The American Psychiatric Association recognizes three types of ADHD: ADHD Predominantly Hyperactive Impulsive Type, characterized by motor and impulse control problems; ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type, problems in attention or arousal; and ADHD Combined Type, significant problems in both areas.

Many of the characteristics of ADHD have an impact on academic performance.   Students with ADHD may have trouble with time management; initiating, maintaining, or shifting focus; completing assignments on time; organizing; and setting priorities.

Characteristics of ADHD may include disinhibition, impaired attention and effort,  impulsiveness, hyperactivity, mood swings, low tolerance for frustration, and difficulty falling asleep at night. Some people may daydream, have difficulty completing tasks or self regulating behaviors, and  others may be disorganized and forgetful, and may find it difficult to concentrate on reading.

Other characteristics may include:
ADHD on the College Campus
Problems experienced by ADHD students are often compounded by college living conditions, which may mean a drastic change in the student’s access to familiar support systems, such as family. Life in a residence hall can be full of distractions and provide very little privacy and/or few quiet places.

Interacting with People with ADHD
Remember that people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are not being inattentive on purpose. Be patient and try to keep their attention by continually reengaging them and making the conversation as personable as possible.

When conversing with a person with ADHD, select a quiet place without distractions.

People with ADHD may be impulsive and may act without much thought or planning. This may manifest itself in frequent interruptions or in changing the subject frequently and without warning. These actions are not meant to be rude or impolite.

People with ADHD most often have difficulty with time management and may frequently be late for appointments or meetings, or miss them entirely. Although there are certain actions that the person with ADHD can take to compensate or remedy this problem, they cannot eliminate it completely. Therefore, it is important that instructors be patient and build reminders into the scheduling of appointments, etc. (appointment cards)

Disorganization may also be a serious problem. This is not a sign that the person with ADHD does not respect others or the task at hand.

Attention Deficit Disorder IS NOT a form of mental illness. College students with ADHD often have average to above average intelligence . However, some individuals with ADHD may have co-existing conditions such as learning disabilities, depression, or other psychological disorders.

Suggestions for Helping Students with ADHD Succeed in the Classroom