Attention Deficits

Attention Deficit Disorder is a neurological impairment characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. Individuals may be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Other learning and social-emotional problems can co-occur with ADHD. Individuals with ADHD may appear easily distracted, disorganized, and lose things frequently. Employment, relationships, and other life areas may be affected by attention deficits and associated difficulties. A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is typically made by psychoeducational or medical professionals following a comprehensive evaluation.

Attention deficits may impact a person’s behavior as a student, as a client in a student services office, or as an employee—in lectures, discussions, test taking, writing assignments, work assignments, personal relationships, or fieldwork. Some students with ADHD will need accommodations to succeed. For example, a student with ADHD might need to record lectures to review information that might be missed in written notes, or he might need a quiet room to eliminate distractions during a test. Students often are the best source of information about their needs. Instructors and supervisors should work with each student and school disability support staff to determine appropriate accommodations.


Accommodations for students with ADD or ADHD may include:

  • extended time to complete tests or assignments
  • note takers
  • tutors or other organizational supports
  • reduced course loads
  • preferential registration for smaller classes
  • preferential seating near the front of a class or meeting
  • copies of class or meeting notes
  • private, quiet work and testing rooms
  • recorded lectures and/or books
  • printed material on audiotape or in electronic format
  • written directions

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Explore DO-IT Publications, Knowledge Base articles, and websites on this topic at Accommodation Resources: Attention Deficits. To learn about specific accommodations for an academic activity, select from the list below.