October Is ADHD Awareness Month, But MC’s Office of Disability Support Services Responds All Year
According to a report published by the National Institutes of Health*, there is an increasing proportion of college students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a developmental condition characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity and experienced by at least 4% of the adult population in the United States.
“In spring 2023, the College had 401 students whose primary disability was ADD/ADHD. This was a 23% increase over fall 2019, the last semester before the pandemic,” says Shalawn Childs, interim chair of disability support services (DSS).
“ADHD is more pervasive these days. Whether it’s a specific diagnosis—or whether it’s the manifestation of another illness, perhaps a mental health issue or anxiety,” says Lori Ulrich, a DSS learning center coordinator at the Rockville Campus. “What we know about ADHD is that organization, time management, and study skills are an issue—and there is a big need for those support services,” she says.
DSS staff at all campuses offer four seminars per semester to help ADHD students get organized, develop study habits, overcome procrastination, and manage test anxiety: Start Smart for Success (developing a college mindset, increasing self-advocacy skills, and accessing resources), Managing Your Time Effectively (addressing procrastination issues, using effective strategies, and using resources), Study Skills and Test Taking Strategies (identifying effective study habits, reviewing test-taking techniques, managing test anxiety), and Final Projects and Research Papers (developing a plan for final projects, identifying organization strategies, overcoming barriers to completion).
The College has an Office of Disability Support Services on every campus. DSS provides students with a counselor who works with them to determine classroom and testing accommodations. DSS counselors serve as a resource for students throughout their academic career at MC. In addition, each DSS office contains a support center.
“We hire student tutors, who typically come to us from the Montgomery Scholars, Renaissance Scholars, or Macklin Business Scholars honors programs,” Ulrich says. DSS staff interview students and review transcripts of potential student tutors, but moreover, they train them to receive International Peer Educator Training Program Certification through the College Reading and Learning Association.
“The cosmos seems to richly bless us,” says Ulrich. “One semester, a student with a traumatic brain injury lost her ability to speak English. We paired her with a young man who spoke Farsi, her native language. He tutored her in a first-year English class, Critical Reading, Writing, and Research at Work. We get such extraordinary talent.”
Learning center coordinators carefully match peer tutors with specific student needs. DSS’s 20 peer tutors work with students face to face and via Zoom.
“When we pivoted to provide tutoring resources remotely during the pandemic, we discovered some students felt more comfortable with Zoom,” Ulrich says. Now, students who need in-person tutoring can receive it on campus, but those who do well with Zoom can access it anywhere. In a situation in which DSS staff cannot match students with successful peer tutoring, they encourage students to visit their professors or the academic support centers on every campus.
The notable difference in DSS facilities and academic support centers is that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act affords DSS students privacy and confidentiality, so the facilities are closed to the public. “Some of our students need to come to a place to be safe,” Ulrich says. “They may not want their disability to be disclosed.”
“The people who avail themselves of our services are intelligent people. Their ADHD, anxiety, autism, mental health issues, and manifestations of other disabilities sometimes cause gaps in learning. The accommodations we provide afford them access to the things they may have missed.”
To find out more about student information and resources, transitioning from high school to college, and accommodations, visit montgomerycollege.edu/dss.
*A National Cross-Sectional Study of the Characteristics, Strengths, and Challenges of College Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Cureus. 2022 Jan 23