Recommended Accommodations for College Students with ADHD

The transition from high school to college is a critical and sensitive stage, especially for those with ADHD. College students with ADHD face many challenges in the new college community with more distraction, less external structure, more responsibilities, and new friends and teachers. While pre-college educational systems allocate resources, both formal and information, to provide well-tailored educational services, students in college have to rely upon their own skills, support, and resources to a much greater degree. It is exceedingly important that college students learn to advocate for themselves and seek out support to ensure success in the classroom and beyond.

What officials can provide to students with ADHD

  1. Tests:
    • Extended time on tests and assignments,
    • Testing in a separate and quiet place,
    • Testing over several sessions
  2. Lectures:
    • Permission to record lectures,
    • Audio-taped text book,
    • Assistance with writing class notes (i.e., note-taking service),
    • Reading assistance service (i.e., reading group)
  3. Courses:
    • Written instructions from professors,
    • Priority registration with a professional in the disability services office,
    • The possibility of class substitution within the curriculum,
    • Reduced course load

What students with ADHD can provide for themselves:

  1. Choosing:
    • Right college: with reasonable accommodations for students with ADHD, Support group for students with ADHD,
    • College with large number of ADHD-LD specialists,
    • College with many registered ADHD students
    • To disclose your ADHD diagnosis at the earliest possible opportunity to trusted student services staff and advisors to request appropriate accommodations including those that the school may not readily offer but you can justify the need.
  2. Contact:
    • School’s office of disability and be familiar with its resources;
    • Health officials to provide them with documentations that prove your ADHD status and proof that ADHD affects your academic performance;
    • Writing center and utilize it properly;
    • Professors beyond the classroom, make use of office hours, if only to introduce yourself. Set up appointments to clarify assignments.
  3. Find:
    • How and where to access support from tutors, whether on campus or online;
    • Healthy study environment early on: proper time management (including a schedule that includes time for studying, socializing and exercising), distraction free study environment;
    • A study buddy or study group: sign up for classes with friends, or make friends in the classes you have so that you will support each other in and out of class;
    • An academic coach (through the college counseling office or privately) that will check in with you throughout the week to ensure success.
  4. Improve your:
    • Self-advocacy skills, -Self-esteem and avoid frustrations,
    • Socializing time and social skills,
    • Perspective to your future goals and carrier,
    • Perseverance and procrastination,
    • Sleep habits to be able to get up early in the morning to catch your classes,
    • Self-expectations: sometimes kids with ADHD think that they are cured after high school so they are not in need for further treatment.

Hence, students may have poor time management with possible “crash and burn syndrome” due to study overload and coping to spend lot of hours in studying. It is critical that deliberate and proactive steps are taken to prepare the child and family as they transition to college education.

Guide for Online Colleges & Disabilities by

What College Students with ADHD Need to Know About Advocacy and Accommodations

  1. Thank you for a great article! This is very helpful. I am an adult with ADD. I have a vision disability too and was never diagnosed because all the accommodations and focus was on my vision. I am going back to college and have been trying to learn what accommodations are available for ADD. I would apppreciate anyone’s feedback about the first accommodation listed under tests – extended time on tests and assignments. In my experience Disability Support Services and college administratives have not allowed extended time on assignments only on tests. Also, I have not been allowed to break the tests into smaller session times. I am very curious what strategies others have used to request, gain , and receive extra time for assignments? For assignments I am referring to homework not in -class assignments. This is important to me not only from an ADD accommodation but for a vision disability accommodation too.

    • December 25, 2019

    Excellent site .
    Need to know about some university for my son having ADHD support ( Psychotherapy normal /cognitive ) to boast his morale and overcome ADHD symptoms. He has done 12 grade; and he wants to do Bachelor program in business ( any good field).
    Currently we are in Qatar but plan to relocate to USA.

    • Tony
    • December 3, 2019

    One thing that the professor can do, in many cases this is what I was offered is that the professor find a student in the class that takes impeccable notes, and provide a copy of those to me. I found it really helpful. You can also get permission to record the instruction, and when you realize you weren’t paying attention, or forgot to write something down, just write down the timestamp from the recording. then you can fill in the gaps when replaying the recording from right before that timestamp. it was a HUGE help for me.

      • Maggie Dunn
      • April 2, 2020

      I would listen and then when I had free time, I would go back and listen and take notes. I found that I enjoyed his class better because I was just able to listen. then I could fast forward, rewind or pause when I needed a break.

    • michael
    • November 30, 2018

    I saw my school ofice today regarding accomodations and they declined to offer me this on the letter of accomodations: “Written instructions from professors,”

    instead they offered me tons of things that I did not ask for and don’t intend to use. The lady didn’t seem to believe me when I told her that some of my professors do not provide clear written instructions in one place. She responded by saying that “all professors should do this anyway” and left it at that. I have since contacted her with more concrete proof of instances where they have not and they have stated that my less than perfect grade would be the result of this missed verbal instruction.

    How do I document the problem correctly in order to ensure I can get this accomodation that I actually need more than the others? I feel like I went in there and I begged for what the accomodation of having written instructions, and I was given all other things. As if I went to the doctors dehydrated and I’m given an apple.

      • Tony
      • December 3, 2019

      One thing that the professor can do, in many cases this is what I was offered is that the professor find a student in the class that takes impeccable notes, and provide a copy of those to me. I found it really helpful. You can also get permission to record the instruction, and when you realize you weren’t paying attention, or forgot to write something down, just write down the timestamp from the recording. then you can fill in the gaps when replaying the recording from right before that timestamp. it was a HUGE help for me.

      • Brittany Daniels
      • June 23, 2019

      You need to join a local support group for adults diagnosed with ADHD and one that includes college students diagnosed with ADHD, taking classes and getting accommodations through disability services. If that doesn’t work, maybe you can find an Occupational Therapist to work with instead, to come with you and/or be on the phone when you are meeting with people at the disability center at your college about the accommodation of written instructions from professors. If they don’t provide you that at all, then the person on the other end can pull out the Americans with Disabilities Act on them and if that still doesn’t work then you can file a grievance against Disability Services for not providing you the reasonable accommodation of Written Instructions from Professors. The college you are taking classes from should have a grievance procedure you can easily find on their website that you can follow, which usually involves filling out some kind of paperwork and turning that paperwork into the ada coordinator which every college, public and private getting federal funds is required to have. If you get a response afterwards not to your liking or it still doesn’t solve your problem, you have every right to fight that. If that doesn’t work I would find out who is the dean/president of the whole college you are currently a student at and tell them about your problems with getting the one accommodation, written instructions from professors and that disability services is not giving you that as a reasonable accommodation and if they don’t you will take your services to another college and/or sue them.

      • Ben
      • February 21, 2019

      Haha missed verbal instructions. AKA ADHD. Can’t stand how ignorant people are. (I’m talking about the stuff you have to deal with, with administrators. 1.) A lot don’t really know that people have a completely different experience from them. Concentration comes naturally and they like to think that you can just will ADHD away by paying attention. Its like telling a depressed person “hey man stop being depressed. 2.) Its always someone else’s problem when dealing with beauracracies and systems. They mostly just send you to a different person or department. It’ll take Doctors appointments. Many Documents, multiple meetings with several people before you get accommodations like “directions”. Like thats somehow cheating to have instructions, thats called being a good student and preparing. 3.) the professors that don’t show grace are basically saying you aren’t worth the time. And they are lazy.

        • Brittany
        • June 22, 2019

        I had a Voc Rehab Counselor/person tell me in 2016 when I had my temporary internship at disABILITY LINK (an independent living center who helps people with disabilities for free) that written instructions is a reasonable accommodation. I don’t have ADHD, but instead I am currently diagnosed with autism, generalized anxiety disorder and dyspraxia. The autism causes me sensory issues that affect my learning and make it very difficult, almost sometimes impossible to learn in an auditory lecture college class, especially when the professor is talking so fast and/or saying so much at one time, my brain cannot process the auditory information presented that way fast enough to take my own notes. I have tried note takers as a reasonable accommodation and I have had different problems with each volunteer note taker I had each time I took an art history class, that note taker never worked for me at all. I also was given the reasonable accommodation of recording the lecture, but I never had any luck with that at all. I am more of a visual learner, because of the autism (visual learning is common among people diagnosed with autism and I am not saying everyone with autism learns best in a visual way either) and what I need is written instructions that would augment, meaning go along, with the auditory/orally represented information in these art history classes. I failed out of Georgia State University Atlanta Campus at the end of Spring 2013 semester partly because professors didn’t know how to teach me and I wasn’t being allowed to have written instructions in the classroom for all of the art history classes I had to take as an art student. I also took a film history class my first semester, Fall 2009 at Georgia State University Atlanta Campus and the professor teaching that class said she had to provide written instruction in the classroom and if she didn’t, she said she could be sued otherwise. In that semester, she ended up providing me with a copy, sometimes before class, of her PowerPoint Presentations for me via my student email address. I don’t think anybody else in taking that class at the time got that. Now I am at a 2 year public Technical College this time working on getting another Associates (A.A.S.) in Design and Media Production Technology, mostly focusing on taking the graphic design and web interface design (beginning web design) classes the college currently offers and is currently teaching.

    • MS.Lillie
    • May 18, 2018

    Hello, where can i find a list of official recommended accommodations? I am having trouble completing my college ” Homework Assignments” in the allotted time; I emailed the SOD and they stated that they do not offer “extended time on Assignments”. I have talked to my professor but he keeps saying “ALl StuDEnTs ArE GraDed WitH tHE SaME YaRd STicK” even refused to change my timed QUIZ because my Letter of Accommodations said EXAMS.

      • Admin
      • May 22, 2018

      Discrimination laws are extremely complex and vary from place to place. We highly recommend you contact resources in your area who have expertise in academic accommodations.

      Robert Tudisco, a disability attorney and noted ADHD activist ( recommended several resources that may be able to help you, or at least find someone local who can help.

      He suggested a great resource named COPAA. COPAA is the Council of Parents Attorneys and Advocates. The Web site is Their site has a directory of disability and education attorneys in most jurisdictions as well as a lot of advocacy information.

      AHEAD is the Association for Higher Education and Disabilities (, and they have a testing accommodation committee. In addition, the American Bar Association has a disability committee that actually led the fight in stopping the flagging of accommodated scores for the LSAT (unfortunately, we don’t know if the committee has a specific website). (I know testing isn’t your main problem now, but these groups may be able to help with assignments as well.)

      There is also an attorney in New York named Joanne Simon. She does a lot of work in accommodations, especially for post-secondary students. Her website is

      Good luck!

    • Marie Cimetti
    • May 10, 2018

    I have read and re-read all there is to know about the ADA and accommodations for college students with ADHD, and what they are entitled to by law. However, this student has refused to admit he has a problem of to subject himself to a comprehensive evaluation. His professors are aware that he has a problem but do not feel they can help him due to HIPAA regulations. He is flunking out at the moment. He was evaluated when he was younger; however, does not want to admit it now. At the present time he will not graduate. I am not his parent; they are divorced, and I know more than either of them will ever know about his needs. Can his college intervene without breaking the law? What can I do? Can they request a comprehensive evaluation without going into detail. I went through this with both my son and daughter, both of whom were able to graduate. My daughter became a teacher after graduation by addressing her struggles and how she wanted to prevent other students from going through the agonizing time she had in college. I need your advice as to what, if any, I can do on this young man’s behalf. He is my grandson. Please let me know your thoughts. Time is running out for him…… Thank you.

      • Krischa
      • August 26, 2018

      I am an adult with ADHD and I am sorry that your grandson is not doing well. You never mentioned his age but I am guessing that since he is in College he must be at least 18 and because of this it must be up to him. It is wonderful that you care about what happens and it must feel horrible not being able to intervene but at this point he has to discover what he needs and wants to do. Admitting that you are struggling, or different from others, is extremely difficult but having to disclose this to people at school or work can pose even more challenges such as stigma and discrimination. I know that for my family it was extremely helpful to read about how to support someone living with disabilities. There are many amazing websites and organizations that can help you through the tough times. He may not be ready for help right now but the best thing you can do for him, and yourself, is to accept his decision and support him. Educate yourself so that you have the tools necessary to guide him and yourself. Good luck.

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