Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder ("ADD") is a chronic condition most commonly attributed to a chemical imbalance in the brain. The student with ADD "experiences an information overload because the brain fails to filter out extraneous environmental distractions, an overload that affects the individual's cognitive, behavioral, and neurological functioning. ADD is characterized by an inability to focus and maintain attention and the tendency to be highly distracted by either auditory or visual stimuli, or both. Behaviorally, the disorder manifests itself in develop-mentally inappropriate inattention and impulsivity." American Psychiatric Association, (1994).

Frequently a student's "executive function," the ability to plan and organize, is affected. ADD in adults may or may not be accompanied by hyperactivity ("ADHD").

Due Dates

If a student misses a deadline, call it to his/her attention. If the problem persists, consult with Disabilities Services.


Help the student break down the task/ assignment into steps and time deadlines. Encourage the student to work with the Learning Center to develop study, time management and organizational skills. Offer to identify the areas of study/ information that are critical to the course/program. A student with ADD can feel overwhelmed by large quantities of material because he/she has difficulty identifying central themes and key concepts.

Presenting Materials

Provide opportunities for students to participate, e.g. group discussions, hands-on activities, and/or demonstrations. Use a variety of delivery techniques: auditory, visual, and sensory. When possible, augment orally presented information with a written summary. This is especially helpful when giving instructions.

In some cases the use of an FM assistive listening device can help a student maintain focus during an oral presentation. FM systems are available on loan at Disabilities Services.