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Many research cases have associated ADD/ADHD with the brain's inability to produce sufficient neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals produced in the brain that maintain the synaptic connections of the neural pathways. These same neurotransmitters can also be responsible for stimulating the areas of the brain responsible for focused attention and mental arousal. Another potential reason for difficulty for a student with ADD/ADHD is that the areas of the brain that are responsible for filtering stimuli cannot keep up with the demands that is put upon it by the overall environment of the person. The behaviors resulting from this condition can include: inability to stay on task, impulsive behavior, and lack of organization to daily responsibilities. In addition, ADD/ADHD undermines mental health, especially after these individuals have made continual efforts to produce quality work academically without success. Many students diagnosed with ADD/ADHD take prescribed medication as part of the treatment process. This medication can be a stimulant, and aids in helping the student to focus and stay on task. Medication by itself is rarely enough to address the specific difficulties encountered and therefore, a student may need accommodations in order to be able to succeed.


  • It is your legal responsibility to provide the student anonymity from the other students (e.g., avoid pointing out the student or explicitly mentioning their accommodation need to the class).
  • Those with ADD/ADHD cannot voluntarily pay attention and suppress interfering activity that is going on around them.

Instructional Strategies-ADD/ADHD

  • Include a statement in your course syllabus regarding accommodation issues for students with disabilities. See the Suggested Disability Statement for course syllabi.
  • Students who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD often find it helpful when the course syllabus is written with clearly defined assignment deadlines as organization may be challenging for them.
  • If a student appears to be distracted, it might be appropriate to recommend to the student that they sit in the front of the classroom, away from windows, doorways, heating/cooling systems, or any other sources of potential distraction.
  • Break information into small steps while instructing on new tasks.
  • Students with ADD/ADHD frequently find it difficult to stay on task for long periods of time. If a class is longer than the traditional, 50-60 minute session, then offering a break after 45 minutes would be helpful.
  • Keep instructions brief and uncomplicated as much as possible. When repeating instructions, repeat exactly without paraphrasing.
  • Encourage the usage of spell-check and grammar-assistive devices.
  • For students needing other academic assistance, remind them of campus services such as the Writing Center and the Center for Academic Achievement.
  • Providing review or study sheets for exams is helpful.

Accommodations Commonly Used by Students with ADD/ADHD

The following list includes examples of accommodations that are commonly used by students with ADD / ADHD. Not all students with ADD / ADHD are eligible to receive all of following listed accommodations, nor are they limited to those listed when receiving accommodations. Eligibility for receiving any kind of accommodation depends upon factors specific to the nature of the student's disability and the nature of the course in which the accommodations are to be used. The accommodations included on the Student Accommdoation Letter are approved by Disability Services and are considered to be both appropriate and required for that particular student.

  • Extended Time on Exams and Quizzes (exams)
  • Reduced Distraction Environment (exams)
  • Tape Record Lectures
  • Note taking Assistance


Main Campus Building Room E108

300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115


For more information regarding Disability Services, please contact:

Timothy Rogers
Director of Disability Services

Erin Glover
Coordinator, Disability Services

For appointments, call 617-521-2474.