Other Impairments

There are numerous disabilities that do not fall under the general disability categories listed in these Web pages. Several of the more common of these disabilities, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and Traumatic Brain Injury are described below.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder is a neurological impairment characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity. Individuals may be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Other learning and social-emotional problems can co-occur with ADHD. Individuals with ADHD may appear easily distracted, disorganized, and lose things frequently. Employment, relationships, and other life areas may be affected by attention deficits and associated difficulties. A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is typically made by psychoeducational or medical professionals following a comprehensive evaluation.

Attention deficits may impact a student's behavior as a client or performance as an employee in a campus services office. Some students with ADHD will need accommodations to succeed. For example, a student with ADHD might need a quiet work area in order to minimize distractions. Students are the best sources of information about their needs. Supervisors should work with each student and consult the disability service staff or human resources staff to determine appropriate accommodations.

Accommodations for students with ADD or ADHD may include:

  • Extended time to complete tasks or assignments.
  • Preferential seating.
  • Copies of meeting notes.
  • Private, quiet work areas.
  • Printed materials on audiotape or in electronic format.
  • Written directions.

For further information, consult the following resources:

Heath Resource Center. (1993). Students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
General information on attention deficits, diagnosis, treatment and academic accommodations.

National Attention Deficit Disorder Association
General information on attention deficits.

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
Advocacy and information organization for those with ADHD.

Autism Spectrum Disorders/Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome or Asperger Disorder is a neurological disorder characterized by significant difficulties with the use of language in social situations, poor social relatedness, and the presence of unusual and repetitive behaviors. Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism are terms applied to the mildest and highest functioning end of what are known Asperger Syndrome Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Individuals with Asperger Syndrome have normal intelligence and many (although not all), demonstrate exceptional skills or talents in a specific area. However, many of the social and communicative problems associated with Asperger Syndrome make social interactions, relationships and participation difficult. For example, persons with Asperger Syndrome may show anxiety in social situations, have poor eye contact, and have difficulty understanding non-verbal cues. They often have rigid routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. They may prefer sameness and have difficulties with transitions or changes. Persons with Asperger Syndrome may also be overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights. They may demonstrate unusual behaviors such as handflapping, which may increase with stress.

In addition to academic accommodations, the symptoms associated with Asperger syndrome may require accommodations for students accessing postsecondary student services such Asperger Syndrome housing and residential life, tutoring and learning centers, registration and financial aid.

Reasonable accommodations for a student with Asperger Syndrome include:

  • Private room in residence halls.
  • Reduced course loads.
  • Preferential registration for smaller classes.

For more information on Asperger Syndrome consult the following resources:

Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support

MAAP Services for Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome Fact Sheet

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a disorder triggered by exposure to chemicals in the environment. Exposure can occur through the air, food, water, or skin contact. Like allergies, symptoms tend to come and go with various exposures, although some people's reactions may be delayed.

Symptoms typically occur in more than one organ system in the body, such as the nervous system and the lungs. MCS typically impairs many bodily functions including the nervous system and digestion. MCS also affects the overall health and well being of those with the disorder. Each individual affected by MCS has a unique set of health problems. Some symptoms of MCS that could impact academic performance include headaches, asthma or breathing problems, memory loss, fatigue, and depression.

Students with MCS may experience difficulties with regular attendance and completing work assignments. Tasks that involve the use of, or exposure to, various chemicals such as those used science labs or artwork may be particularly difficult to complete. Examples of accommodations for students with MCS might include flexible attendance due to frequent illness, or alternatives to assignments that involve irritating chemicals or materials. Students are the best sources of information about their needs. Supervisors should work with the student and disability service staff or human resources staff to determine the necessary accommodations for each student.

Accommodations for students with multiple chemical sensitivity may include:

  • Preferential seating near windows that open.
  • Providing a well-ventilated space that is free of pollutants such as tobacco smoke, pesticides, toxic and fragrant-laden cleaning products, deodorizers, and exhaust fumes.
  • Flexible attendance requirements.
  • Attention to chemicals in laboratory work and artwork.
  • Alternative assignments.

For more information, consult the following resource:

General Information on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are head injuries typically caused by accidents (e.g., motor vehicle accidents or falls) which result in physical, cognitive, and/or psychosocial impairments. Individuals with TBIs face various difficulties and functional limitations based on the nature and location of the head injury. Some common consequences of head injuries include changes in cognition, attention, memory, judgement, and organization; physical, sensory, and perceptual impairments; and social, behavioral, and personality changes. Students with TBIs may eventually regain function, or must cope with permanent loss of function. Any one or a combination of these problems can impact learning and performance. Students are the best sources of information about their needs. Staff should work with each student and disability service or human resources staff to determine appropriate accommodations.

Accommodations for students with traumatic brain injury may include:

  • Extended time to complete tasks or assignments.
  • Copies of meeting notes.
  • Seizure precautions if needed.
  • Tape-recorded meetings.
  • Instructions on audiotape or in printed form.

For more information, consult:

Brain Injury Association-USA
General information on head injuries and rehabilitation.