ADHD Symptom Picture
- The primary, or core, symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
- The secondary, or peripheral, symptoms of ADHD may consist of academic/vocational struggles, problems with self-esteem, poor social skills, or difficulties with organization.
- Co-occurs with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and learning disorders
Although attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is usually associated with children, it can be a lifelong disorder. Studies have uncovered statistically significant numbers of adults with ADHD. Estimates on how many Americans are ADHD-afflicted vary, from 1% on the low end to as much as 6%, which equals about 10 million people. Accordingly, several studies show that 80% of ADHD children grow into ADHD adolescents.
The profile of an adult with ADHD can vary from that of a child. Most experts agree that pure hyperactive behavior usually diminishes with maturity. Adults usually have problems with time management, self-control, planning for the future, and being able to persist toward goals.
It is recommended that adults with ADHD:
- Get evaluated. You need a clinician experienced in diagnosing adult ADHD. Also, find out if there's an ADHD support group or organization active in your area.
- Get medication. For many adults, medications lessen the disorder's internal noise and outward chaos, helping them to gain some sense of self-control. The same drugs used for ADHD children can be used for adults.
- Get educated. There is a large and helpful body of literature on adult ADHD you can tap into.
- Get organized. Get a calendar or personal organizer to help you build schedules and routines.
- Get counseling. Adult ADHD can put tremendous strain on a marriage, a relationship, or an entire family. Talking it out can help.
- Get moving. For ADHD adults, exercise is a healthy way to burn off excess energy.
Special Issues for College Students with ADHD
ADHD in college students, largely estimated based on self-report, suggests that the prevalence ranges from 4% to 11% depending on the measures and threshold cutoffs used (Dupaul et al., 2001). Considering that the prevalence of ADHD within the general population for children is estimated to be between 3% and 7% (American Psychiatric Association 2000), it appears that ADHD is carried into adulthood and equally represented on college campuses. Of concern then is how ADHD symptoms impact the academic and social success of young adults with the disorder.
A few peripheral symptoms specific to college students with ADHD symptoms include difficulties with college adjustment, social skills, and self-esteem (Shaw-Zirt, Popali-Lehane, Chaplin, & Bergman, 2005). One study found that college students with ADHD were more likely to be on academic probation, have a lower grade point average, and report more academic problems than students without ADHD (Heiligenstein, Guenther, Levy, Savino, & Fulwiler, 1999). Also, students with ADHD are at risk for repeated exposure to failure, which can lead to feelings of helplessness depending on a student's attribution style (Tominey, 1997).
The increase in eligibility for services of students with ADHD at the post-secondary level (Latham, 1995) requires a current examination of appropriate services and treatments that are available to college students.
- Time management is crucial in making a successful transition to college. College students have more discretionary time, more independence, and more distractions than high school students do. These changes may blindside a student who does not carefully plan and implement time management techniques. It is recommended that students with AD/HD not register for more than 12 credit hours the first term or semester of college, and that they be careful about when they schedule their classes — taking into consideration such things as breaks and intensity. It is essential that students maintain a calendar of all events — assignments, appointments, and social events. They also should plan two hours of study time per credit hour, and consider it a serious commitment.
- However, before students can effectively utilize these time management techniques, they must have some Interventions in place. They have to select a college that has the services and support that they need, and have a complete treatment plan in place, including medication and counseling or coaching. It is critical that students with AD/HD submit documentation of their diagnosis with the appropriate office at the college or university. Upon entry into the postsecondary institution, students may feel they won’t need special accommodations; however, the documentation should be in place in case they decide differently later. The best approach is to submit the documentation and to request accommodations — priority registration, course substitutions, audiotaped textbooks, tutoring, note-takers, proctored tests. It is also valuable, sometimes vital, to sit in the front of the classroom, and to experiment with various study environments to find out what is best for the individual
- Whether students optimally utilize time management and interventions or not, having a Positive attitude is critical to success. It is important that individuals remember that AD/HD is not a character disorder; it is a neurological disorder. They should advocate for themselves appropriately, remembering to use AD/HD as a reason, not an excuse.
Supports do so much to enhance the experience of students in college and to ensure their success. It is important to seek out accommodating and understanding instructors and to develop a relationship with a supportive counselor, coach, or therapist. Students need to seek support from people who truly understand and empathize with the difficulties that impact their academic success and personal well-being.
The Office of Disability Services at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Central Office Location and Staff:
Lucy Stone Hall
54 Joyce Kilmer Ave., Suite A145
Piscataway, NJ 08854-8045
Phone: (848) 445-6800
Executive Director: William (Bill) Welsh
1. Contact a disability coordinator and arrange a meeting before the start of the semester (if feasible) or within the first two weeks of your arrival on campus. You can find a list of coordinators here: http://disabilityservices.rutgers.edu/
2. At that meeting, provide the coordinator with the documentation (diagnosis from physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist) that establishes the presence of your disability and supports the need for the requested accommodations;
3. Submit completed forms and provide any additional documentation suggested by the coordinator.
*Once you have been approved for accommodations, professors will be notified and the accommodations will generally continue semester-to-semester with periodic updates by the disability committee.
Getting a Learning Assessment
1. Go to your disability coordinator or a counselor at the Office of Disability Services to discuss with them your concerns
3. Ask for a referral to the Learning Centers for a "learning assessment”. This assessment will help identify difficulties in learning
4. If necessary, a referral will be made to a Health Center or CAPS for additional assessment
5. If you have problems along the way, contact your disability coordinator or counselor
Getting Career Counseling
The Office of Career Services
Career Services provides many career development and employment services for students with ADHD. These resources include:
1. Interviewing and resume writing workshops addressing ADHD issues
2. Recruitment events for full time employment and internships
3. Information related to the Americans with Disabilities Act as it relates to employment
4. Links to sites serving individuals with ADHD
5. Counseling with designated counselors that are knowledgeable and sensitive to the needs of this population
Getting Individual and/or Group Counseling
- Call the counseling center at 732-932-7884 and set up your first appointment.
- The first appointment following a brief telephone screening will be an introductory or intake interview, which will be approximately 1 hour
- During the session with the counselor, you will have a chance to describe why you are seeking counseling
- The counselor will work with you to get you the right counselor and/or referral
- Coming to counseling in itself is not recorded in any way on your transcript or any University record which would be sent to others and all our services are free for the students at Rutgers University who are eligible for our services.
Web and Self-Help References
ADD Resources is a national non-profit organization housed online. This organization helps people with ADD/ADHD achieve their full potential through education, support and networking opportunities.
Driven to Distraction --Edward Hallowell and John Ratey, MD's Touchstone Books; ISBN: 0684801280; Reprint edition (March 1995), pgs 319
This clear and valuable book dispels a variety of myths about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since both authors have ADHD themselves, and both are successful medical professionals, perhaps there's no surprise that the two myths they attack most persistently are: (a) that ADHD is an issue only for children; and (b) that ADD corresponds simply to limited intelligence or limited self-discipline. Using numerous case studies and a discussion of the way ADHD intersects with other conditions (e.g., depression, substance abuse, and obsessive-compulsive disorder), they paint a concrete picture of the realities.
Mastering Your Adult ADHD: Client Workbook A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program Steven A. Safren, Susan Sprich, Carol A. Perlman, and Michael W. Otto, Paperback, June 2005
The reader will understand the characteristics of ADHD in adulthood and why symptoms continue in adults even after treatment with medications. The book provides a set agenda for each part of the program, providing the reader with organization and planning skills, methods to reduce distractibility, and adaptive thinking techniques, as well as additional skills to apply to procrastination and to prevent relapse.
Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Studnets with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution. Jonathan Mooney and David Cole,Simon And Schuster (Fireside): New York, 2000. Foreword by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D.