The Struggle of Being a Student with ADHD

-Sebastian Murdoch, Contributing Writer

College courses demand a lot of attention, but some students are finding that hard to give. Today more and more students are coming onto campus with a poorly-dealt hand thanks to genetics. ADHD is one of the most common and well-known learning disabilities in the United States. But it is also one of the more misunderstood disorders in that most people assume that ADHD eventually disappears when a person reaches a certain age. This idea that people can just “grow out” of a lifelong disability is one that can wield a hugely negative impact on students, especially college students.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD that most severely disrupt a student’s ability to perform well in college courses are:

  • A shorter attention span and distractible nature
  • Frequent forgetfulness due to an impaired short-term memory
  • Poor impulse control resulting in actions taken without acknowledging consequences
  • Procrastination due to a bigger need for the stimulus that comes with a deadline

For some students, medication like Adderall is necessary to aid in dealing with the more severe symptoms. But obtaining medication is often a challenge for college students, as the requirements to fill a prescription can be difficult to fulfill, such as receiving a diagnosis and prescription from a psychiatrist. Legislation that often acts as a gatekeeper concerning who is and is not deserving of the medication can make life more difficult for many students who struggle financially or in some other way that keeps them from being privileged enough to find an affordable doctor who will help them manage their symptoms.

However, other students have found ways to cope with the disorder without the use of medication, either because of personal choice or simply circumstances that preclude them from getting the prescriptions. For some it’s a matter of creating their own deadlines to help stimulate the part of their brain that needs the adrenaline of being close to a deadline and not having finished the project yet. Kevin McCully, a student of Mississippi College who deals with ADHD, copes with his tendency to zone out in class by taking detailed notes. “It helps when I’m actively writing,” he says, going on to explain that it helps him “engage more” with what the teacher is saying.

In other cases, it means talking to the school counseling center about receiving appropriate accommodations. The process takes several steps and includes providing an official diagnosis, which as has been stated is more difficult for some than for others. But the accommodations, like extended time on tests, the school can and often does provide when the student asks are sometimes key to making college life more bearable for the student.

The Writing Center, located in the back of library and described as a place where students can come for personal tutoring and help with writing assignments, is also known for its work is ESL (English as a Second Language) students. But as more students make their specific needs known, as in the case of students with ADHD, the center is working towards accommodating those needs. Dr. Steven Price, one of the leaders of the WC, says that the center currently does not do anything special regarding learning disabilities, but he hopes that their attempts “to get to know the writer” make the center a more supportive place where students can feel free to disclose specific needs.

As more students enter the campus, it has become necessary for students and faculty to better understand what ADHD is and how it affects students specifically, if it is to be a place where students can feel comfortable and supported.

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