If you’re someone with ADHD, it probably takes you a little bit longer to get things done than other people. In school you may find yourself struggling with the information. When you get down to work it may take longer for you to focus and accomplish the assignment or test. To make sure you’re not at a disadvantage, adjustments are made in the way you are taught so that you learn the same things everyone else does and have the same chances of success. These are just simple accommodations.
I often hear from college students struggling with ADHD that they’re uncomfortable or embarrassed to ask for accommodations, wondering if they really deserve them. But you are as entitled as the next person with a disability to be accommodated so that you can be on the same playing field when it comes to learning and competing for grades. Even if you don’t use them, it’s better to have them available to you just in case.
Here is what I recommend you do to line up accommodations for college. Keep in mind though, that private universities or colleges only have to meet federal guidelines for accommodations if they are on the receiving end of federal funding, and this does include Pell Grants.
As soon as you receive your acceptance letter from college, apply for your accommodations. To determine whether you will need to be accommodated for ADHD, use the following guidelines:
- You received accommodations while in high school or when you attended another college and realized they were essential for you to do your best;
- You tried to get exceptions or “informal” accommodations on your own, and this has been unsuccessful so far;
- For you to work to your full ability, you require extra time when taking standardized tests;
- You think your time in college will be full of frustration, and possibly detrimental on some level if you don’t receive some additional help.
The process for requesting accommodations should be detailed on the Office for Student Disabilities Services’ website and explain what you must provide. Go to your university’s website and search things like “student disabilities,” or “disability services.” This will most likely include:
- A clinician’s report detailing testing and the diagnosis of ADHD, with a list of recommended accommodations. This report can be from anytime in your lifetime, NOT just within the past 5 years, as long as it meets the criteria of the Office for Student Disability Services;
- Your Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan from the high school you attended. If you did not receive accommodations in high school, or ever before, that’s fine;
- A list of the accommodations you are requesting.
Accommodations you should consider would be:
- Additional time on tests. This usually comes to “time and a half.” If you intend to apply for accommodations for taking exams for grad school, such as the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or MCAT, accommodations for college must already be in place;
- Testing in a quite room separated from others;
- A notetaker in class, who is there anonymously;
- Priority registration so that you can most likely get into the classes you need at the times that are best for you. Smaller class sizes are better for those with ADHD as there are fewer distractions, it’s easier to pay attention and process the information. With priority registration you can sigh up for late morning or classes in the afternoon, as you most likely have trouble waking up due to problems sleeping;
- Given all course and/or class instructions in writing;
- Allowed to tape record all lectures. Permission to use your own recording equipment or from the Office for Student Disabilities Services;
- A lighter course load – taking classes part-time but qualifying as a full-time student;
- Revised test formats – if, in addition to having ADHD, you have a learning disability, which half the people with ADHD have, and you do meet the criteria for a particular learning disorder, like dyslexia, you can have your tests read out loud to you and/or you can dictate your answers back. However, standardized testing for graduate schools may not permit these.
If you are turned down for accommodations, you are within your rights to file an appeal of this decision. The Office for Student Disability Services at the college or university you are attending will explain how to start the appeals process.
Even if you do not think you need accommodations, it is important that you have them at least for the first semester. It is so much easier to have official approval to take more time on a test, rather than realize after the fact that there is no way you can finish the test you’re taking within the time limit.
Call Purohit Psychology Services, LLC. today for an appointment.
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