Students with
Attention Deficit/
Hyperactivity Disorder

at Florida Atlantic University

An Informational Brochure from the
Office for Students with Disabilities
Division of Student Affairs

Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is defined as a neurological impairment characterized by serious and persistent difficulties in attention span, impulse control, distractibility and/or hyperactivity. Some individuals exhibit outward manifestations of hyperactivity (e.g., fidgetiness, impulsive interruptions, excessive talking) while others daydream and have difficulty in following a train of thought.

ADD is the generic term for Attention Deficit Disorder, but the official nomenclature, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) which is more commonly used in education.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), AD/HD is a chronic disorder that begins in infancy (although it may not have been formally diagnosed) with the onset of symptoms being present before the age of seven years old. Children were thought to have outgrown AD/HD by the time they reached puberty, but current research indicates that a significant number of diagnosed individuals continue to manifest symptoms throughout adolescence and adulthood.

Additionally, the DSM states that some of the following symptoms must occur and must be pervasive in at least two settings, such as at home, school or work:

  • Difficulty sustaining attention
  • Easily distracted
  • Inability to sustain attention on tasks
  • Disorganization
  • Procrastination
  • Poor attention to detail
  • Forgetfulness
  • Excessive talking
  • Verbal impulsivity
  • Restlessness

The term AD/HD is used to indicate three types of Attention Deficit Disorder:

Undifferentiated AD/HD

The primary and most significant characteristic is inattentiveness (students may seem to be daydreaming). Students appear to be quiet and passive. These students tend to be overlooked more easily in the classroom and may be at higher risk for academic failure than those with other types of AD/HD.

AD/HD with Hyperactivity-Impulsivity

These students tend to fidget and squirm, have trouble staying in their seats and talk excessively. They appear to be always “on the go.” They often interrupt others, don’t wait their turn and intrude on others.

Combined Type

Students show characteristics of both the Undifferentiated and Hyperactivity-Impulsivity forms of AD/HD.


Students with AD/HD have tremendous difficulty getting or keeping themselves organized. It is frequently found that these students start numerous projects concurrently, but never really complete any of them. This tendency and a lack of understanding of the characteristics of AD/HD can create a multitude of problems for these students in their abilities to function within the academic parameters of a college setting.



  • Contributions that are highly creative, intuitive, and innovative
  • Difficulty following correct procedures
  • Difficulty with time management and organization (e.g., performing multiple tasks, meeting deadlines and prioritizing assignments)
  • Procrastination (e.g., beginning projects late or not meeting deadlines for assignments)
  • Speaking out inappropriately in class
  • Tuning out during lectures
  • Easily bored
  • Impatience or low frustration tolerance
  • Needless worry
  • Feeling of insecurity or impending doom (e.g., a fear of failing written assignments or exams)
  • Mental or physical restlessness (e.g., tapping a pencil, tapping feet, shaking legs)
  • Inaccurate assessment of own performance or progress
  • Low self-esteem



  • Provide a detailed course syllabus with clear explanation of course expectations and adhere to it as closely as possible.
  • Avoid disruptions (e.g., physical relocations, changes in schedule) as much as possible; however, when changes do occur, provide clear and consistent instructions.
  • Start each class with an outline of material to be covered and summarize key points at the end.
  • Utilize group discussions and visual supports (e.g., graphs, charts, lists, pictures) rather than straight lecture format as much as possible.
  • Give instructions in both verbal and written form. Encourage the student to ask for clarification and rephrase instructions as needed.
  • Break down papers and projects into smaller units with specific due dates.
  • Provide frequent feedback regarding how well course requirements are being met.
  • Provide a review session and study questions before an exam which illustrate both the content and format of the exam.
  • Encourage student to use campus support services (e.g., UCEW, math lab)



To be eligible for academic accommodations at Florida Atlantic University, a student must apply for services from the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). Academic accommodations are determined based on self-report of the disability and effective prior accommodations; observation and interaction with OSD counselor, as well as disability documentation submitted by the student. The documentation must be in the form of an evaluation conducted by a licensed psychologist or other practitioner qualified to conduct such an evaluation. The documentation must address the following areas and should include anticipated effects of the student’s functional limitations within the academic setting, as well as suggestions for accommodating the student:

    Clinical interview with the diagnostician
    A standardized assessment of attention (e.g., Continuous Performance Test, Test of Variable Attention, IVA, TEA) or psycho-educational evaluation with test score report including Index Scores.

It is helpful if documentation includes relevant test scores with interpretation as well as background information about the student’s educational, pertinent medical and family histories that relate to the AD/HD. AD/HD should be clearly diagnosed utilizing DSM codes.

The evaluation must have been conducted within the past five years. However, the OSD reserves the right to make modifications to this time frame.



After a student has submitted an Application for Support Services and appropriate documentation of a disability to the OSD, the student will meet with an OSD counselor for an intake interview. During the intake, the student will be asked to provide information about her or his experience of disability, barriers he or she has encountered, as well as effective and ineffective prior accommodations. Appropriate accommodations are then determined based on an interactive process between the student and OSD counselor.


The student may be eligible for one or more of the following accommodations:

  • Advocacy
  • Professor notification
  • Notetaking assistance
  • Audio recording of classes
  • Exam adaptations (e.g., extended time to take exams, distraction-reduced setting)
  • Time management, study skills and social skills training

These accommodations are necessary for ensuring complete access to, and full participation in, the educational process. Academic standards are not to be lowered, nor should there be an alteration in the essential nature of the course or degree requirements.


For more information:

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder



Note: Professors will be notified of the student’s approved accommodations in an OSD Letter of Notification presented by the student. If the student is not registered with the OSD, please refer her or him to the office.


 Last Modified 8/27/15