University of Texas at AustinDivision of Diversity and Community Engagement

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is officially called Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It is a neurologically-based, developmental disability characterized by deficits in inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity, or a combination of the two factors.

ADHD is very heterogeneous and it is important to remember that students with the disorder may have very different needs. While many individuals may experience some of the symptoms of ADHD during any given time period, individuals with the disorder experience them more often than not and to an extent that is substantially limiting. ADHD is most frequently diagnosed during childhood, but may not be identified until college or adulthood if the individual has successfully compensated for the symptoms and/or the symptoms were masked by other difficulties that frequently co-occur with the disorder (e.g., social and behavior problems, emotional difficulties, learning disabilities). Individuals with ADHD often have the most difficulty in the academic environment because of the increased demands for organization and structure. The greater demand for these skills in the college setting often exacerbates the needs of these students when they enter college.

Individuals with ADHD are often prescribed medication for their difficulties. While pharmacological treatment may ameliorate the symptoms for some students, for others it is less effective. In addition, some students cope with side effects related to the medication that necessitate certain accommodations (e.g., priority registration because of a disrupted sleep schedule).

Individuals with ADHD may experience the following in mild, moderate, or severe form:

  • Impaired concentration
  • Poor listening skills
  • Trouble starting, organizing, and completing tasks
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty making transitions
  • Trouble interacting with others
  • Difficulty organizing problems that involve multiple steps
  • Poor time management skills
  • Slowed reading speed and problems with reading comprehension
  • Motor restlessness
  • Problems with memory

Note: All disability related information including medical documentation, educational correspondence, and educational accommodation records are considered confidential. The University of Texas and SSD have an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of such documentation.

For more information, see Working with Students with ADHD.