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Guidelines for Documentation of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Guidelines for Documentation of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

In accordance with the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Amherst College provides to students with documented disabilities those reasonable accommodations needed to ensure equal access to the programs and activities of the College. In order for a student to be eligible for coverage under Section 504 or the ADA, the student must be shown to have a physical or mental impairment that imposes a substantial limitation on a major life activity. A student who requests auxiliary aids, support services, academic modifications and/or other accommodations on the basis of a disability is required to submit appropriate professional documentation supporting the legitimacy of the request. In particular, documentation submitted in support of accommodation requests based on a learning disability must comply with the following guidelines:

Diagnosis Clearly Stated

Documentation should state the specific disability as diagnosed. The ADHD diagnosis should be made by someone with appropriate professional credentials; should be specific; and should reference the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 or whichever edition was current at the time of diagnosis).

Information Current

Because disabilities and accommodation needs change over time, documentation must be up to date. In most ADHD cases, the educational evaluation and testing should be no more than five years old. Cognitive testing may be older than five years, but testing performed before third grade may not provide a valid indication of the student’s current ability. Medical or psychiatric testing should have a current update, completed within the last year.

History Presented

Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history in support of the ADHD diagnosis and the functional limitation. Information about the student’s history of receiving school accommodations and current use of accommodations is helpful.

 Diagnosis Supported

Documentation should describe the comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the ADHD diagnosis. Provide the evaluator’s full report, including the following:

  • A summary of the assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis 
  • A narrative summary of the evaluation results 
  • Test results with subtest scores (standard or scaled scores)

Tests used to diagnose ADHD may differ, depending on the accommodations being requested. For instance, requests for extended time should be supported by comprehensive cognitive and academic assessments that are:

  • Individually administered
  • Nationally normed 
  • Administered under standardized conditions

Functional Limitation Described

Explain how ADHD impacts the student’s daily functioning and ability to participate in exams. For example, does the student work more slowly than other students? Is the student able to read the test? Write an essay?

Functional limitation can be documented in a variety of ways:

  • Psychoeducational evaluations, including both test scores and narrative
  • Standardized test scores, including standard and scaled scores. Use national norms to support both the diagnosis and functional limitation
  • Summary of the student's developmental, educational, and/or medical history

Current needs of the student

Reasons requested accommodations are needed.  Requests for extended time should document difficulty taking timed tasks, include the amount of extended time required.

Professional Credentials Listed

Establish the evaluator’s professional credentials. Evaluators must be authorized by the state in which they practice to administer the necessary tests and to diagnose ADHD.