Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is characterized by a
persistent pattern of frequent and severe inattention, hyperactivity, and/or
People with AD/HD have many problems in academic settings. Some
of these problems are similar to the problems of people with learning
disabilities: slow and inefficient reading, slow essay-writing, and frequent
errors in math calculation and the mechanics of writing. Although they share
these characteristics and are sometimes comorbid disorders, it should be noted
that AD/HD is NOT a learning disability. Other problems are especially
characteristic of AD/HD; students with AD/HD often have serious problems with
time-management, task-completion, organization, and memory.
For suggestions on working effectively with students who have AD/HD, please
review our section on learning disabilities , as well as the following.
- Students with AD/HD generally perform better if
given a syllabus with clear explanations of tasks and specific due-dates. As
the semester progresses, keep reminding students of impending deadlines:
"Remember, the problem sets are due on Friday."
- Whenever possible, start each lecture with a
summary of material to be covered, or provide a written outline. If you use
broad margins and triple-space, students will be able to take notes directly
onto the outline: an aid to organization. At the conclusion of each lecture,
review major points.
- Students with AD/HD may tend to
"drift" mentally during class, especially during long lectures. They
are better able to stay tuned-in when the class material is stimulating and the
format varied (for example, lecture alternating with presentations and class
discussion). If the class goes on for several hours, be sure to permit several
- Students with AD/HD are often distractible, so
you should invite them to sit near the front of the class, away from possible
sources of distraction (for example, doors, windows, and noisy heaters).
- Avoid making assignments orally, since AD/HD
students may miss them. Always write assignments on the chalkboard, or (even
better) pass them out in written form.
- Provide test-sites that are relatively
distraction-free; and when students are taking tests with extended test-time,
do not ask them to move from one test-site to another.
- For large projects or long papers, help the
student break down the task into its component parts. Set deadlines for each
part; for example, there might be deadlines for the proposal of an essay topic,
for a research plan, for the completion of research, for pre-writing to find
the essay's thesis, for a writing-plan or outline, for a first-draft, and for a
final edited manuscript.
This section adapted
from University of California, Berkeley Disabled Students’ Program