Some students with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder experience scrutiny from teachers and peers over the existence of their learning disability. People need to be aware that these are real conditions that need to be acknowledged.

Students with ADD or ADHD suffer from being constantly late and disorganized, distracted and forgetful, and overwhelmed by responsibilities.
Randy Neilson/UVU Review

It is common knowledge that college students can be lazy, impulsive and procrastinate often. These are all characteristics that someone with ADD and ADHD have, so does the disorder exist or is it a myth?

The issue of whether ADD and ADHD are real disorders is quite the controversial topic on campuses throughout the country. At times, there are professors and students who doubt the credibility of the diagnosed disorder.


“There appear to be a number of studies, especially around neurology, that are compelling that ADD and ADHD are real diagnoses,” said Director of Accessibility Services Ed Martinelli. “I think it’s harder for students nowadays to maintain attention just because the way our world is structured, but there is a decided difference between those who don’t maintain attention for a long time and those who have some sort of attention disorder.”

According to Martinelli, approximately 300 to 400 students on campus have documented and diagnosed ADD and ADHD that they struggle to overcome on a daily basis. These are fellow classmates and friends and they are a part of the university’s educational and learning environment.

In a national survey that the United States Government Accountability Office conducted in 2008, 20 percent of college students answered that they had been diagnosed with ADD. These numbers are only increasing over time with more accurate diagnostic procedures. As students are diagnosed efficiently and in time, more students can improve their education or suit it to their needs.

Although many people doubt the existence of the disorder, those in the educational world who do acknowledge it often assume that there is no hope for students with it. They feel they are lost causes and do not believe they will be able to catch up in the classroom.

Fortunately, there are examples in the work force of successful people with ADD and ADHD who attribute their disabilities as contributing factors to their success.

David Neeleman, CEO of Jet Blue Airlines, stated in the article “Flying High” in ADDitude: Living well with Attention Deficit magazine, “With the disorganization, procrastination, inability to focus and all the other bad things that come with ADD, there also comes creativity and the ability to take risks.”

Though there will always be speed bumps in the road for people with ADD and ADHD, it can be overcome and those with it can be recognized for their real brilliancy. If that natural ability for a creative mind is not recognized by society, then society is missing out.

Martinelli said, “The best thing students and professors can do is recognize it as a real disorder. As with any other condition, it doesn’t mean you’re stupid or can’t function.”

Perhaps the most important step for ADD and ADHD students to take if they want to succeed educationally and in their careers is to be assertive and ask for help.

Students can receive accommodations for classroom needs with presenting proof of legal documentation of their disorder through Accessibility Services. Students also greatly benefit by developing study strategies, developing supporting relationships and can take medication if needed to regulate their neurotransmitters.

The disorder is not something to fear or be ashamed of; it is something to harness and embrace because it is there and it is real.