Dear Wellesley News Editor:
I was disappointed at seeing the Oct. 23 opinions article regarding students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I commend the authors’ passion to promote awareness and resources for students with ADHD, but I would like to make sure that our community has the correct information so as to approach awareness raising at the point of greatest need. If I and others had been interviewed for the article, we would have shared some of the following resources and information available to students, staff and faculty.
Currently, there are 77 students who have identified themselves as having ADHD out of a total of 415 total students disclosing a disability. This is the second largest population for whom Accessibility and Disability Resources (ADR) actively provides resources. ADHD is a recognized disability and is addressed in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and its amendments as well as the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and its amendments. Each student’s needs are determined on an individualized basis through an assessment that includes meeting with the student, going over past history, reviewing evaluator and/or treater documentation and considering anything else that may be relevant to the accommodation of the student’s disability.
In ADR, we share accommodation information with faculty at the request of the student. If there are student specific strategies to share with the faculty we do so in consultation with the student, but we do not disclose specifics or the nature of a disability unless the student requests it. We also encourage students to talk with faculty directly, and are available to assist with this conversation if students desire.
Through ADR, examples of accommodations and resources we most often provide to students with ADHD include but are not limited to:
- an informal screening for ADHD and a referral for a neuropsych evaluation, if warranted
- a reduced distraction environment for test taking
- some amount of extended time for test taking, the length of which varies according to the individual student’s needs
- consideration for extensions on assignments where ADR will help the faculty member and student determine a reasonable amount of extended time if needed and on a case-by-case basis
- notetaking services and approved use of audio recording in class via assistive devices such as smart pens
- ADHD specific advising on study strategies and referrals to the Pforzheimer Learning and Teaching Center (PLTC) for further assistance on time management, study skills, test taking strategies, reading strategies, etc.
Through the Stone Center, I am aware students receive:
- referrals for neuropsych evaluations
- counseling that can include a focus on the student’s ADHD
- medication, as long as a student has a neuropsych evaluation indicating ADHD
- workshops on topics such as procrastination that address ADHD needs
- referrals to cognitive behavioral therapists
Through the PLTC:
- professional and peer time management advising sessions
- numerous handouts addressing areas of executive functioning including organizational and time management skills
- an extensive library of ADHD focused books
Through the Class Deans:
- ADHD appropriate advising if students disclose
- consult with ADR, PLTC and Counseling Services to assist students with ADHD
All of the departments listed above also promote universal curriculum design when talking with faculty individually or during faculty orientations or trainings. The goal of universal curriculum design is to structure the delivery of material, expectations for classroom engagement and class assessments to maximize access to all students regardless of ability/disability, gender, race, ethnicity, age, etc. Some common universal design strategies include:
- providing copies of class notes or PowerPoint slides prior to or after class
- creating different types of multimedia presentations and hands-on activities for all types of learners
- providing various opportunities to demonstrate learning, such as offering choice in assignments and using multiple types of assignments and participation in the calculation of grades
- designing exams that could be done with extended time for everyone either in the classroom or as some form of take-home exam
Part of my disappointment with the article is that obviously the Opinions editor and contributing writer were not aware of the number of resources available to students with ADHD. My hope is that my response here provides additional information and helps to reduce stigma, encourage universal curriculum design and encourage more discussion regarding ability and disability on campus. ADHD does not mean the student cannot do something, but instead may thrive by doing things a different way.
Director of Accessibility and Disability Resources