Blog Post | ADHD and the College Accommodation Process


ADHD and the College Accommodation Process


By now, you’ve been accepted to the college of your choice and have probably already registered for your fall courses. Summer is in full swing and possibly finds you working part-time or full-time, relaxing, and hanging out with friends. While it’s important for you to practice good self-care and make some money this summer, it’s also important that you prepare yourself to be as successful as possible for the fall semester. If you have ADHD and/or executive function challenges related to other issues, this includes understanding and applying for college accommodations.

If you were granted accommodations in high school, you’re probably already somewhat familiar with this. However, it’s important to understand the key differences between high school and college when it comes to accommodations. In high school, you were covered under a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Under this law, the school system is responsible for identifying students with a disability impacting education (including ADHD), and for providing accommodations when they need them. What’s more, the school is required to support and monitor those accommodations to make sure they are taking place.

But in college, things change quite a bit. Colleges are not required to seek out students who need accommodations — it’s up to you, the student, to make your disability (including ADHD and/or any coexisting conditions) known to the college – and ask for help where needed. As such, you can apply for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This federal law provides equal access to all areas of public life – including education – and bans any practices that discriminate due to disability. 

Here is an overview of what the process of applying for accommodations might look like. Your process begins by reaching out to the Disability Services Office at your college or university — before the semester starts. As part of your initial contact, it’s important to find out exactly what documentation is needed to access those services. Typical documentation includes a recent psychoeducational evaluation that documents your ADHD and coexisting conditions. It's also often helpful to submit previous IEPs or 504 plans if you have them. Shortly after that, Disability Services at your college will schedule a meeting with you to discuss your eligibility for accommodations – after which a determination will be made.

Here are some examples of accommodations you might be eligible for, depending on your needs:

  • Extended time on tests
  • Extended time for projects and papers
  • Access to class notes or a note-taker for lectures
  • Recordings of lectures
  • Access to audio textbooks, voice recognition, or text-to-speech software
  • Priority registration

It’s important to keep the following in mind: Even if you are granted one or more accommodations, the Disability Services Office at your college will NOT be required to monitor them. It will be your responsibility to notify your professors at the start of each semester about each of your accommodations so that arrangements can be made. Furthermore, it will be up to you to renew your accommodations with Disability Services before the start of each semester.

Transitioning to college life is an exciting but challenging process – especially if you have ADHD and/or executive functioning challenges. Not only is it important for you to practice good self-care this summer, but it's also essential to set yourself up for success as you approach the fall semester. This often includes reaching out to the Disability Services Office to inquire about their services and to request the accommodations you need.


Andrea Yellinek, MS, OTR/L, CACP
ADHD Coach | Center For Living Well with ADHD, LLC

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