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Attention Deficit Disorder is not limited to childhood.

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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 in a variety of academic activities such as lectures, discussions, test taking, writing assignments, or fieldwork. Some students with ADHD will need academic accommodations to succeed in academic pursuits. For example, a student with ADHD might need to tape record lectures to review information that might be missed in written notes, or he might need a quiet room to eliminate distractions during a test. Students often are the best source of information about their needs. Instructors should work with each student and school disability support staff to determine appropriate accommodations.

Accommodations for students with ADD or ADHD may include:

  • Extended time to complete tests or assignments.

  • Notetakers.

  • Tutors or other organizational supports.

  • Reduced course loads.

  • Preferential registration for smaller classes.

  • Preferential seating near the front of class.

  • Copies of overheads/classnotes.

  • Private, quiet rooms for test taking.

  • Tape-recorded lectures and/or books.

  • Printed course material on audiotape.

  • 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.

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 academic requirements such as attendance, fieldwork, test taking, completing assignments, and carrying full course loads. Students may also have difficulty with courses that involve the use of, or exposure to, various chemicals such as science labs or artwork. Examples of accommodations for students with MCS might include flexible attendance due to frequent illness, or alternatives to laboratory courses that involve irritating chemicals or materials. Students are often the best source of information about their needs. Faculty should work with the student and disability service 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 academic performance. Students with TBIs may require academic accommodations such as extended time during tests and reduced course loads. Students with head injuries may also benefit from instructional strategies that involve repetition, routine, and step-by-step instructions. Students are often the best source of information about their needs. Instructors should work with each student and disability support staff to determine appropriate accommodations.

Accommodations for students with traumatic brain injuries may include:

  • Extended time to complete tests or assignments.

  • Notetakers/scribes/readers.

  • Reduced course loads.

  • Preferential registration for smaller classes.

  • Copies of overheads/class notes.

  • Accessibility to classroom, labs, facilities and field experiences.

  • Seizure precautions.

  • Tape-recorded lectures, books, and printed course material on audiotape.

For more information, consult:

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