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Dealing with ADHD for College Kids

Updated on August 23, 2012

Most of the attention devoted to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is focused on elementary, middle and high school students who are still at home. ADHD doesn't go away when you reach legal voting age, however. Many adults still have to deal with the disorder's effects on their ability to pay attention and succeed at work and in higher education. That's why it's so important to think about to deal with ADHD for college kids.

The new environment, additional freedom, and wide range of distractions present in college can make dealing with it as an ADHD sufferer a nightmare. Often, students find themselves losing control and don't know how to pick the pieces back up. The good news is that there are a number of useful strategies available if you have ADHD and are about to attend college, or if you know someone in this situation. Here's a look at some of the things that can be done about ADHD for college kids.

Structured Schedules

ADHD sufferers tend to thrive on a schedule with some structure. Unfortunately, college adds extra challenges for people who have had a lot of structure through high school, since most students can create their own schedules, especially out of class. It's important to learn to impose that structure on your own in order to keep yourself from drifting.

This can be difficult, especially if you spend a lot of time with people who don't need that structure. It may involve forcing yourself to say no to social activities or insisting on quiet time by yourself. In the end, however, you can rarely rely on your college to provide the kind of environment where ADHD sufferers can thrive, so you have to create it yourself to avoid becoming a victim of the "sink or swim" mentality.

Disability Services

That doesn't mean that you can't expect your college to accommodate you at least somewhat. ADHD is a legitimate disability and many schools provide special adjustments to help people with this problem learn more effectively. That might include being able to take a reduced course load but still qualify as being full time, having access to someone to help you take notes, or getting extra time on tests. If you know that your ADHD is likely to be a problem, get in touch with the schools office of student disability services when you first enroll.

You can also look for schools that specifically have a good track record in dealing with ADHD students, that have good free tutoring and writing assistance services, and that have a campus health center that is equipped to help with ADHD. By choosing your school appropriately, you'll increase your chances of success.

Lifestyle Changes

Even if you're on medication for ADHD, there's a good chance that paying attention to your lifestyle choices can help. These can include a basic routine at the beginning and end of every day to keep messes from getting out of hand. After all, you don't have parents around to help keep it under control, and you could lose important papers or have to deal with roommate strife if things get too bad.

Think about what you're eating, too. A lot of ADHD people seem to have sensitivities to artificial ingredients like synthetic colors and flavors. Some are very sensitive to sugar or extremely processed foods. Since you now have the option to eat a wide range of foods in the cafeteria, order out regularly, or live on ramen and soda, keeping an eye on your diet might be important. In some cases, herbal and homeopathic supplements or fish oil and similar nutrients might be important in helping you keep your ADHD under control.

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