Testing Required for Accommodating Attention Deficit Disorders*

Types of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are not specific learning disabilities.  However, they can interfere substantially with academic performance, and a significant number of students with some type of ADHD also have specific learning disabilities.  Accurate and thorough diagnosis is important in determining the nature of the student's problems and needs and the appropriate accommodations.

The diagnosis of an attention deficit disorder requires a careful evaluation that draws on past and present educational, psychological, and medical testing.  Gettysburg College's Office of Academic Advising will not accept a diagnosis of an attention deficit disorder that does not meet the diagnostic criteria detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Students wishing accommodation for a type of ADHD must provide the Office of Academic Advising with documentation substantiating the diagnosis.  Documentation should include the results of a comprehensive clinical interview, including a survey of past and present ADHD symptoms, pertinent developmental medical history, school history, work history, psychiatric history, social adjustment, and general day-to-day adaptive functioning.  The report of this interview should also include evidence that other psychiatric and substance abuse problems were assessed and ruled out.  The interviewer should have obtained corroborating information about early history from at least one other person who knows the student well.  Parents are the preferred resources, but teachers, siblings, or other caregivers from childhood may also be interviewed for this purpose.  The final report should include support for the following information:

  1. A type of ADHD has been present since childhood and relatively persistent over time.
  2. Symptoms of a type of ADHD currently exist to a significant degree.  (Exact symptoms must be specified and must meet DSM-IV criteria.)
  3. Symptoms of a type of ADHD are currently producing significant impairment in one or more domains of current adaptive functioning.  The specific symptoms and resulting problems must be specified in the report.
  4. The evaluation is relatively current (within four years of the request for accommodation).
  5. The evaluation specifically reviewed and ruled out other forms of psychopathology as likely causes of the current maladjustment or impairment.
  6. The student would benefit from specific course accommodations to address the type of ADHD diagnosed.

* These guidelines and criteria are based on Barkley, R.A., and Murphy, K., "Guidelines for a Written Clinical Report Concerning ADHD Adults," ADHD Report, 10/93, V.1.

On the basis of an appropriate report substantiating the diagnosis of an attention deficit disorder, the student may request accommodations that specifically address the disorder.  Some students with attention deficit disorders also have co-existing specific learning disabilities.  If the student requires further accommodation for co-existing specific learning disabilities, the full psychoeducational testing battery required for the accommodation of such disabilities must be presented to the Office of Academic Advising for consideration.