Dear Lucy: If an enrolled MIT student has a diagnosis of ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] and takes medications for it, does that student qualify as a disabled person under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act? Can that student get additional time to complete exams or papers? —It Takes Me Longer
Dear ITML: Thank you for asking this question. Lucy feels strongly about empowering students and others in the community to ask for help when they need it. That said, while MIT Medical provides many different kinds of support to students with disabilities, our clinicians do not approve or arrange for specific services or accommodations students might need while they are attending school at MIT. To answer that question, Lucy reached out to Associate Dean Kathleen Monagle of MIT’s Student Disabilities Services (SDS).
“Many MIT students with ADHD are approved for special services or accommodations under the ADA,” Monagle tells Lucy. “This might include such accommodations as extended time on tests.” But, she stresses, since everyone’s needs and experiences are different, “the ADA calls for an individualized assessment of each person’s needs and an interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodations might meet those needs.”
And while MIT Medical can’t make the final determination as to “reasonable accommodations” under the ADA, we can help with the process, says MIT Medical Psychologist Xiaolu Hsi. MIT Medical’s Student Mental Health and Counseling Services can provide a number of services to students who come to MIT with a history of ADHD, she notes, including evaluations, neuropsychology consults, counseling, skill training, medication prescriptions, and assistance in coordinating campus support services with SDS. “Many students with ADHD find our group skill-training groups especially helpful,” Hsi says. “We can also work with students individually.”
Lucy encourages you or anyone else who feels that he or she needs specific services or accommodations for a disability to contact SDS. And students who have had an ADD/ADHD diagnosis in the past should check out the services provided by MIT Medical’s Student Mental Health and Counseling Services. A number of MIT students live with a variety of disabilities, and a wealth of support and other resources is available, both at MIT Medical and throughout the Institute. —Lucy
Information contained in Ask Lucy is intended solely for general educational purposes and is not intended as professional medical advice related to individual situations.
Always obtain the advice of a qualified healthcare professional if you need medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Never disregard medical advice you have received, nor delay getting such advice, because of something you read in this column.