Common Characteristics of ADHD


Following are some typical characteristics of persons with AD/HD. This is only a partial list, and not meant to be diagnostic:

  • Often seems inattentive to details, makes frequent errors in school work 
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention 
  • May seem not to listen when spoken to directly 
  • Difficulty with "following through"/ fails to complete tasks 
  • Has trouble organizing tasks and activities 
  • Avoids tasks requiring sustained mental effort 
  • Loses things necessary for tasks 
  • Is easily distracted by the environment 
  • Frequently forgets appointments or other daily activities 
  • Fidgets or squirms restlessly 
  • Inability to engage in leisure activities quietly 
  • Is always "on the go" 
  • Talks excessively 
  • Blurts out answers before questions are completed
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others

As the public and professional awareness of AD/HD increases, the number of students who have been identified and treated for this disability is increasing. AD/HD often appears with other neuro-biological disabilities. Like other students with disabilities, those with AD/HD may have frequently been misunderstood. They often try to control their symptoms and appear as if they have no disability. To avoid being embarrassed, they try to keep up with everyone else. This can cause poor academic performance, low self-esteem, difficulty in relationships with peers, depression and/or anxiety, substance abuse, and procrastination.

New students have a great deal of anxiety regarding increased expectations at the post-secondary level. Some externalize this anxiety by expressing frustration and blaming problems on faculty or advisors. They often have difficulty with change, complex procedures and understanding rules.

Suggested Modifications for Students with AD/HD Disabilities

  1. Extended time and/or private room for exams.
  2. Use of a computer or word processor for written work and personal organization.
  3. Permission to tape record lectures.
  4. Eligibility on a case-by-case basis, for a course substitution from an approved list of courses.
  5. Use of a calculator, speller’s dictionary, proofreader and/or word processing equipment.
  6. Use of a note taker based on their inability to concentrate on listening and simultaneously taking notes.
  7. Ability to receive textbooks on tape.
  8. Allowing the student to sit up front in the classroom.
  9. Clear course syllabi with information about course content, work expectations and definitive time lines for when work is due.
  10. Use of visual references for auditory instructions such as writing instructions on the blackboard and giving verbal directions.
  11. Making eye contact with the student before calling on him/her or giving instructions.
  12. Prompt, explicit feedback, both written and oral.
  13. Use of multi-media presentations.
  14. Technological tools that assist in compensation for problems with organization that include: personal organizers, tape players and time management training.

Additional accommodations may include those listed for students with learning disabilities.

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