Centre for Accessibility Services

ADHD

What is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that displays persistent patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity–impulsivity. Those diagnosed can fall into either stream or have a combined presentation. Both conditions can interfere with the functioning and development of the brain and negative impacts on a person’s social, academic and/or occupational activities. ADHD can be present with other prevalent mental health conditions, and display clear evidence that symptoms interfere with or reduce the quality of social, academic and/or occupational functioning. Those diagnosed can identify with mild, moderate, or severe ADHD; determined by the number of symptoms seen below.  

Symptoms of inattention

  • Difficulty with specifics or details; overlooks or misses details.
  • Difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or activities; distracted by extraneous stimuli, limited focus during lectures, conversations and lengthy readings.
  • Difficulty paying attention; wandering mind, absence in conversations or distracted.
  • Difficulty following through with instruction; can start tasks but quickly get sidetracked.
  • Difficulty organizing tasks or duties; can display disorganization, challenged by time management and/ or meeting deadlines.
  • Difficulty remembering daily activities; remembering tasks, errands and/or keeping appointments. 

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity  

  • Displays acts of fidgeting, tapping hands or feet and/or squirms in seat.
  • Difficulty sitting in a seat for some time; requires movement.
  • Displays challenges with boundaries; physical and conversational.
  • Difficulty with quiet activities; uncomfortable being still for some time.
  • Difficulty with conversation; interrupts or intervenes on other’s conversations.
  • Difficulty with waiting their turn; becomes restless.
  • Difficulty talking at a standard pace; may blurt answers before a question has been completed. 

Common types of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders with DSM-5 coding 

Combined presentation – DSM-5 code: 314.01 (F90.2)

Predominantly inattentive presentation – DSM-5 code: 314.00 (F90.0)

Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation – DSM-5 code: 314.01 (F90.1)

Other specified attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – DSM-5 code: 314.01 (F90.8)

Unspecified attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – DSM-5 code: 301.01 (F90.9)

Centre for Accessibility support for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders may include

  • Note-taking services
  • Alternate format materials (texts into PDF/E-text)
  • Time accommodation for exams
  • Separate setting/distraction reduced exam setting
  • Enlarged font for exams
  • Listening to CAS approved music during exams
  • Learning supports; including attendants or tutors 

Statistics

  • ADHD remains under-recognized and under-diagnosed even though it is the most treatable psychiatric disorder in Canada.
  • 80% of children maintain their diagnosis into adolescence and at least 60% remain impaired by symptoms in adulthood.
  • Children, adolescents, and adults with untreated ADHD are at a greater risk for:
    • Learning difficulties, less academic success, school dropout, and fewer years of schooling.
    • Additional mental health disorders and problems with self-esteem.
    • Substance abuse and a greater chance of becoming involved in the justice system.
    • More accidents and sustaining injuries, more automobile accidents, and earlier death.

Sources

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.

Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada

The Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance

Tips and tools for supporting students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Students are more successful when provided with a detailed syllabus earlier in the course. This helps them better prepare and develop time management skills.
  • Provide clear office and drop-in hour information.
  • Allow students to have access to feedback when providing instructions on homework assignments, exams, quizzes or other related projects. This provides students the opportunity to further discuss and remember information.
  • Allow for stretch and bathroom breaks in the classroom, especially during long lectures.
  • Provide an opportunity for draft submissions of projects and/or assignments; allowing students to check their work and ensure they are on track.
  • Due to the individuality of the disability, instructors are encouraged to have conversations with students to discuss their specific needs.
  • Consult with the Centre for Accessibility Services at UFV to get help in understanding how to support your students.

Resources and websites

American Psychiatric Association

ADHD Fact Sheet

Canadian Mental Health Association - BC Division

National Institute of Mental Health

Tips and tools for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Struggling with staying on task? It is human nature to be distracted by our environment, as there is so much to see and do in our world. However, when you are trying to study for an exam or trying to complete a project, it can be hard to tune out the curiosity and focus on the task ahead. The first step to limit the distraction is by identifying the distraction, allowing you to adjust your environment accordingly. Create an environment or access a space that allows you to enter study mode and allow yourself to use this space regularly to create familiarity. A great tip is to create zones in your life. For example, having space(s) in your home or your life just for studying, accessing a computer, or reading and/or socializing. Your body and mind can become familiar with these areas and it will be easier to tune in to your work.

Struggling with following through with instructions on assignments/projects? Taking several classes can be a lot to juggle! Each course will have its requirements and can often conflict with others. The first step is to talk to the instructor and ensure you have a good grasp of the assignment. Break down the assignment into steps or manageable chunks, to limit the overwhelming feeling that comes with the amount of work. Once you have completed each step, be sure to reward yourself as good work should be recognized!

Struggling with staying organized? It is important to get organized to ensure that things in life stay simple and you can focus on the deadlines that come up fast. Having a place for everything can decrease the hours of searching for that piece of paper with your brilliant notes or arriving to class on time. Creating systems with organizational tools including hooks, baskets, clear boxes or visual reminders will simplify your life and help you naturally organize necessary items. As for organization in the classroom, having color-coded binders for each class, clear labels and highlighting important dates can help.

Struggling to meet deadlines? Technology can be difficult to manage at times, but when it comes to supporting us with our everyday tasks, it can be a lifesaver. Our cell phones, laptops, tablets, and computers come with a variety of tools that can help us manage our daily lives. There is an assortment of software and/or apps that can assist with creating to-do lists, events calendars and reminders. These can highlight important tasks and ensure projects meet the required deadlines. In any case, embrace the technology and find an app that works for you. Try to use one device or sync your device to others so information can be easily accessible.

Struggling with staying still, fidgeting or sitting for long periods? When it comes to long lectures, sometimes sitting for a certain amount of time can be unbearable. To reduce the need for movement, the use of fidget toys/gadgets can help with the need for sensory stimulus. As the fidget toy market has expanded, there are a variety of items that can help with any type of sensory need required. Other tips include keeping up with a regular exercise schedule, which can help with a balance of energy. Finding ways to stay active can help with brain function and focus.

Struggling with team activities, projects or assignments? Team exercises can be difficult, as you have to work with others that have different styles, personalities, characteristics, and cultural norms. To decrease the effects of the storming and norming stages of group development, it is important to be open to other people’s conversations, suggestions, and opinions. When directing your own opinion, be mindful of language and speech to ensure your point is being delivered sincerely. Research has found that qualities such as sincerity, honesty, thoughtfulness, being considerate, loyalty, dependability, kindness, and friendliness can help with the initial steps in building relationships.

Resources and websites

Study strategies to help college students with ADD or ADHD

ADHD in the workplace

10 ways to achieve success for university or college students with ADHD

National Resource Center on ADHD

Living with ADHD: a lifespan disorder

Organizing the home and office space

Time management: step-by-step with a day planner

9 ways to master social skills

UFV Academic Success Centre

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