ADHD Module

ADHD at University

As a kid, Aidan was active and energetic. His parents often said he ran through his childhood like he was driven by a motor. He was highly distractible when faced with a task he didn’t like, but able to focus for hours on things he found interesting. In school, his attention often drifted off, he sometimes forgot to complete homework and assignments, and he had to be reminded to study for upcoming tests. Around the middle of high school, Aidan was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Although ADHD could sometimes make school difficult, Aidan was smart. His high school teachers said that he wasn’t living up to his full potential, but his grades were good and he left high school excited to start university.

In his first year of university, Aidan was the life of the party. He lived in residence, and there was always a group of people in his room. People were drawn to Aidan. He made lots of friends, played intramural sports, and was active on campus. Although his grades were lower than they had been in high school, Aidan wasn’t worried.  He knew that most people experienced a drop in their grades as they transitioned from high school to university, and he figured he would be able to maintain decent grades without too much trouble.

In his second year, Aidan found it tougher to keep his grades up. The material he was expected to know increased, and the number of assignments increased as well. At first, he let a few, small assignments slip. But, they were only worth a small percentage and it didn’t seem like big a deal at the time. However, he was starting to fall behind on larger assignments as well, and found himself asking for last minute extensions and getting late penalties. Despite his best intentions to begin early, he often left his work until the last minute. He had trouble getting started and felt as though he was always up against a deadline. By the end of the year, he was frustrated and disappointed. He had dropped intramural sports to focus on school work, and was feeling like his university experience was not as he had imagined.

He was also worried about what would be next: how was he going to make it through third year?


University is a challenge for everyone.

People with ADHD have many characteristics that are critical for success at university:
energy, creativity, intelligence.

However, students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder also face specific challenges.

ADHD & Executive Function

EXECUTIVE FUNCTION is the conscious control of thought and behavior.  It is associated with the frontal lobes of the brain and involves working memory, controlling impulses, shifting attention, and planning.

Executive function allows you to stay organized, focused, and on task.

In other words, many of the skills that people with ADHD struggle with.

ADHD is associated with neurological deficits in executive function.

However, there are strategies that people with ADHD can use to overcome these challenges.

In this module, you will learn strategies and tips to help you with many of the skills students with ADHD have the most trouble with:

Managing time

Getting started

Staying focused & sticking with it

Paying attention to what is important

Maintaining a positive attitude