Basis for Determining Accommodations 

Eligibility for academic accommodations is based on the data in the documentation and accompanying school information that clearly demonstrates that a student has one or more functional limitations in the academic setting and that these limitations require accommodation in order to achieve equal access. Accommodations are intended to provide equal access, not guarantee success or maximize a student’s potential. A school plan such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan should be submitted, but it may not provide sufficient information to determine accommodations. 

Criteria for Comprehensive Assessment 

Documentation should build a case for and provide a sound rationale for the ADHD diagnosis.
Because of the challenge of distinguishing the range of normal behaviors and developmental patterns of adolescents and adults (e.g. procrastination, disorganization, distractibility, boredom, academic underachievement, test anxiety, chronic tardiness, etc.) from clinically significant impairment, a multifaceted evaluation should address the severity and frequency of the symptoms and whether these behaviors constitute substantial functional impairment in the major life activity of learning. Individuals who only report problems with daily organization, test anxiety, difficulty with timed testing, memory, or concentration in selective situations do not fit the prescribed diagnostic criteria for ADHD. Individual “learning styles”, “learning differences”, “academic problems”, and “test difficulty/anxiety” in and of themselves do not constitute a disability. It is important to rule out alternative explanations such as emotional or motivational problems that may be interfering with academic performance but do not constitute a disability.

Accommodations are not granted on the basis of a diagnostic label and disorders found in the DSM-IV are not always disabling conditions. Determining reasonable accommodations based on a disabling condition requires more extensive information than that which may be acceptable for treatment purposes only. Each accommodation recommended by the evaluator must include a rationale and be linked to data. Documentation should address the effects of treatment and/or medication on the individual's present functioning.

  1. Currency of Documentation
    Since reasonable accommodations are based on the current impact of the disability, documentation must be current, preferably within the last three years. Older information, while providing history of impairment, will not adequately detail the current impact of the disabling condition.
  2. Qualifications of the Diagnostician
    Professionals rendering a diagnosis of ADHD must have comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience working with adolescents and adults with ADHD. The following professionals are considered qualified to evaluate and diagnose ADHD: clinical or school psychologists (Ph.D.), neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other qualified physicians. The report must include official letterhead with name, titles, professional credentials, address, and phone/fax numbers of the evaluator as well as the date(s) of testing. The report must include the diagnostician’s signature.
  3. ADHD diagnosis must meet basic DSM-IV-TR (or later) criteria, including the following:
    • Demonstrating that student exhibit a sufficient number of symptoms (listed in DSM-IVTR) of Inattention and/or Hyperactivity/Impulsivity that have been persistent and maladaptive. The exact symptoms should be specified and described in detail and it should be clear that the student meets criteria for a long-standing history of impairment.
    • Since ADHD is by definition a disorder that is first exhibited in childhood or early adolescence, the documentation must provide evidence to support a childhood onset of symptoms and associated impairment. Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), 504 Plans, early psycho-educational academic reports, teacher comments, documentation from tutors or learning specialists, and disciplinary records may all be useful sources of collateral information (but, in and of themselves, are not considered clinical documentation for the purpose of granting accommodations. 
    • Providing objective evidence demonstrating that current impairment and symptoms are present in two or more settings. Since ADHD tends to affect people over time and across situations in multiple life domains, it is necessary to show that the impairment is not confined to only the academic setting or to only one circumscribed area of functioning. 
    • A determination that the symptoms of ADHD are not a function of another mental disorder (such as mood, anxiety, or personality disorders, substance abuse, low cognitive ability, etc.) or situational stressors (such as relationship issues, family, or financial crisis, etc.). 
  4. Diagnostic Battery and Report
    ​Diagnostic assessment must consist of more than a self-report. Results from a diagnostic battery can be helpful in identifying the individual’s pattern of strengths and weaknesses and whether there are patterns supportive of attention problems. However, a testing battery alone, without illuminating a pattern of real world functional impairment will not be sufficient to establish a need for accommodations and services. Assessment should include standardized measures for inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity as delineated in the DSM-IV-TR. A combination of assessment measures is required. Examples include: rating scales (self and relevant third party), continuous performance tests (e.g., TOVA, IVA), neuropsychological testing (e.g. WAISIII), and psychoeducational testing (e.g., Woodcock-Johnson III). 

    The diagnostic report must be a comprehensive, interpretive summary synthesizing the evaluator's judgment for the diagnosis of ADHD. All quantitative information should be in standard scores and/or percentiles; and all relevant developmental, familial, medical, medication, psychosocial, behavioral and academic information should be included as well.

  5. Additional Diagnostic Information & Summary
    A detailed academic history should be provided directly from the student’s previous schools. Because developmental disabilities such as an ADHD are evident during early childhood (though not always diagnosed), historical information regarding the individual's academic and behavioral functioning in elementary and secondary education should be provided. An evaluator’s report alone, without any accompanying historical data may not be sufficient. School personnel need to document academic problems experienced by the student and any accommodations and/or support services received by the student. This might include objective and narrative teacher reports, report cards and transcripts, IEP’s or 504 Plans, achievement testing, tutoring reports, job performance evaluations, past psycho-educational testing and other historical records.

Process for Requesting Accommodations 

Students requesting support services and/or reasonable accommodations from the University of Colorado at Boulder are required to submit documentation of a disabling condition to verify eligibility under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Disability Services’ policies. CU documentation requirements can be found here on this website. The following process is required for all students requesting accommodations and services:

Step 1

Submit a completed Application and Request for Accommodations and Services and your documentation of disability.

Step 2

Schedule an Intake Appointment with a Specialist. Accommodations will not be provided until after student has met with a Disability Specialist for an intake appointment. The process and procedures for using any approved accommodations will be discussed during this meeting. 

Newly Admitted Students   Already on Campus
Summer Intakes: Contact DS to schedule an intake meeting during your summer orientation program. OR You may schedule your intake appointment when you submit your documentation. DS requires 5 business days to review your submitted materials.

Step 3

If approved for accommodations, you will be sent a letter, via email, to be given to your professors each semester. Print these letters and meet with each professor to discuss the arrangements for receiving your accommodations.

All documentation is confidential. Inadequate information, incomplete answers and /or illegible handwriting will delay the eligibility review process and place additional burdens on the student.