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BHIPP Bulletin

Volume 2, Issue 2
August, 2016
College Students and ADHD
     The prevalence of ADHD among college students is estimated to be 2-8% and 50% of students receiving accommodative services have a diagnosis of ADHD. Transitioning to college can be challenging for students with ADHD. In addition to the challenges an average student faces, students with ADHD also have to work to find and access medical/mental health services, organize their schedule and obtain services to help them succeed academically. Some students struggle when parents and teachers aren’t present to offer additional support, and may have difficulty adapting to the less structured environment and increased academic demands.

     Pediatricians can help college-bound patients with ADHD prepare for this transition by having deliberative discussions as early as possible in the college transition process. These discussions may focus on encouraging self-determination and preparing patients to acquire independent living skills. Treatment issues such as continuing or beginning medication therapy, determining whether their current medication regimen is effective, and discussing the importance of taking medications consistently are also important. Most colleges and universities have a counseling center on campus and oftentimes will have a psychiatrist available to meet with students. Pediatricians should encourage college-bound students to seek out these services prior to the start of the academic year.

     Most individuals with ADHD are diagnosed as a child; however, some people may not begin to experience impairment from their symptoms until they are faced with the academic demands of higher education.  If a college aged student is struggling with symptoms of inattention it is important to also screen for other etiologies, such as anxiety (very common), depression or substance abuse. Psychological testing can be a very useful tool in diagnosing ADHD in this population, especially if they have not had testing previously.

     In treating this population, an additional concern is stimulant misuse. Reports of 5 to 30% of college students misuse or divert their ADHD medication and those with a history of substance abuse or conduct disorder may be at greater risk. Eighteen to 25 year olds are at higher risk for stimulant misuse than any other age group. So what can physicians do? It’s important to educate patients of prescribed stimulants, and remain vigilant for misuse among high-risk individuals. Additionally, physicians should explain the adverse effects associated with the drug, as many college students view stimulants as harmless study aids.
If a student has had prior services in high school, such as an Individualized Education Program (IEP) they will likely benefit from accommodations in college.

Tips for attaining accommodations in college:
  • The student should apply for accommodations as soon as they are accepted to college. The student should contact the Office for Student Disabilities Services (OSDS) at their school who can provide guidance on the process.
  • Accommodations commonly given to college students with ADHD are extended time on tests, testing in a quiet or separate location, having a designated note-taker in class, getting priority registration, a reduced course load, permission to record lectures, and altered test formats.
  • If a student is not granted accommodations, he/she has the right to appeal the decision.
-Dr. Nicole Gloff, BHIPP Consultant
Easton, A. (2016). Colleges are welcoming students with ADHD. Observer.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2016, February 16). Adderall misuse rising among young adults. News Releases. Retrieved from

Quinn, P.O. (2013). Ensuring college success for students with ADHD. Contemporary Pediatrics.

Sarkis, S. (2014, June 26). Why you need ADHD accommodations in college. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Unwin, B.K., Goodie, J., Reamy, B.V., & Quinlan, J. (2013). Care of the college student. American Family Physician, 88(9), 596-604.

Weintraub, K. (2012). Heading to college with ADHD brings extra challenges. USA Today.

For additional information and resources for parents:
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Meet the BHIPP Team
Dr. Nicole Gloff is a clinical consultant with the BHIPP team and has worked with the program since 2014. She is an Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Gloff received her B.A. in Chemistry from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She then earned her medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Gloff completed her general psychiatry residency training at the University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt. Following residency, she completed a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the University of Maryland where she served as Administrative Chief Resident.

Upcoming Events

Maryland Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics 

Educational Event and Leffler Lecture/Awards Luncheon
September 10, 2016

8:00 am - 2:00 pm
MedChi Building, Baltimore, MD

Registration Information

Resources and Information

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a clinical report on Families Affected by Parental Substance Use. The report reviews some of the short-term and long-term sequelae of exposure to substance use, typical medical, psychiatric, and behavioral symptoms of children and adolescents affected by substance use, and suggested proficiencies for pediatricians involved in the care of families affected by substance use (including screening, mandated reporting, and connecting families to resources).  

BHIPP Bulletin Newsletter Archive

July 2016: It's Summertime! ADHD and "Drug Holidays"
June 2016: Understanding Vyvanse
May 2016: Children's Mental Health Awareness Week, May 1-7, 2016
April 2016: "Universal" approaches for child mental health problems
March 2016: Pharmacological interventions for sleep concerns
February 2016: Behavioral interventions for sleep concerns
January 2016: Assessment of sleep disorders
November 2015: 5S's: Key questions for consultation
October 2015: Case discussion regarding school refusal
Copyright © 2016 Maryland Behavioral Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care (BHIPP), All rights reserved.

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