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Attention Deficit Disorders

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are neurological conditions that affect learning and behavior and have been estimated to occur in 5 to 10 per cent of the population.

Individuals with ADD/ADHD frequently have another disabling condition, such as a learning disability, an anxiety disorder, depression, Tourette’s Syndrome, or an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The diagnostic criteria for ADD/ADHD considers two separate sets of symptoms. One is mainly an inattention problem (AD) while the other includes hyperactive or impulsive behavior (HD).

  1. Inattention
    • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work or other activities
    • Exhibits difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or activities
    • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
    • Does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
    • Avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (e.g., schoolwork or homework)
    • Loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., pencils, books, or tools)
    • Is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
    • Is forgetful in daily activities
  2. (Disability Resource Manual Columbia Basin College)

  3. Hyperactivity
    • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
    • Leaves seat in classroom or other situation in which remaining seated is expected
    • Runs or moves excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, this may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness)
    • Has difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
    • Is “on the go” or acts as if “driven by a motor”
    • Talks excessively
  4. Impulsivity
    • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
    • Has difficulty awaiting turn
    • Interrupts or intrudes on others (i.e., “butting in” to conversations or games)

A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD requires the following:

  • Hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms were present before age 7
  • Impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (i.e., school or work and home)
  • There is clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning
  • The symptoms do not occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorder and are not better accounted for by another mental disorder (i.e., Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or Personality Disorder).

(Disability Resource Manual Columbia Basin College)

Attention Deficit disorders can affect a student’s ability to successfully function in an academic setting. In many cases, after being evaluated by a medical professional, adults with ADD/ADHD have benefited from prescribed medication.

Students can be referred to the college’s Learning Accommodations Center for further evaluation and assistance in obtaining appropriate academic accommodations.

Teaching Students with ADD/ADHD

Many accommodations used by students with learning disabilities (see “Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities”) also have been successful with students who have significant attention/concentration problems. Specific suggestions include the following:

  • Provide extended time, a quiet place for testing, or a space free from visual distractions
  • Use Notetakers
  • Record Lectures
  • Provide information in a variety of formats (e.g., auditory, visual, haptic)
  • Use an “assistive listening device” (Phonic Ear) to aid in maintaining concentration to auditory instruction
  • Use a calendar for scheduling and organizing tasks and assignments