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McBurney Disability Resource Center

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Documentation Guidelines


The McBurney Disability Resource Center provides academic services and accommodations for students with diagnosed disabilities. Students are required to provide sufficient comprehensive documentation to verify that a diagnosed disorder meets the legal definition of a disability covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended (ADAAA 2009). The ADAAA defines disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities." Eligibility for academic accommodations is based on educational information in the documentation that may need to include standardized psycho-educational assessments to establish a substantial limitation to learning. Taken together, documentation should clearly demonstrate that a student has one or more functional limitations in the academic setting and that these limitations are severe enough to require accommodation in order to achieve equal access. In addition, documentation will guide on-going, appropriate services for students with disabling conditions.

Definition: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

The University of Wisconsin-Madison recognizes the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) definition of Attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder and its subtypes, AD/HD, Predominantly Inattentive Type, AD/HD Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type and AD/HD, Combined Type. The DSM-IV states the "essential feature of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development." In addition UW-Madison recognizes that "AD/HD is a problem of Executive Functions" (Attention Deficit Disorder Association) which include planning, organizing, and managing time and space.

Disability Documentation

Comprehensive AD/HD documentation consists of the following two items:
  1. Current McBurney AD/HD Disability Assessment form completed (within the last year) by the treating or diagnosing healthcare professional.
  2. Current comprehensive AD/HD diagnostic evaluation report (within approximately the last three years)

Guidelines for a Comprehensive AD/HD Diagnostic Evaluation

  1. The healthcare professional conducting the assessment and/or making the diagnosis of AD/HD must be qualified to do so. Qualified professionals have received comprehensive training and have relevant experience in differential diagnosis and the full range of psychiatric disorders (e.g. licensed clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist, psychiatrist or members of a medical specialty with specific training in the diagnosis of AD/HD).
  2. Documentation sufficiently supports the diagnosis of AD/HD based on prevailing guidelines for the diagnosis of this disorder which include:
    • Behavioral observations
    • Developmental history
    • Standardized rating scales administered to student and relevant others (e.g., parents, teachers, employers, spouses or partners)
    • Clinical interview with student that includes a thorough case history
    • Collateral interviews and information regarding behavior from two or more settings
      • Teacher comments from elementary, middle school and high school report card
      • Parents/guardians/others
      • Documentation from tutors/learning specialists
      • Discipline records
      • Transcripts (K-12, College)
      • Employment
  3. Documentation sufficiently establishes the educational impact on learning to merit formal accommodation. This may include:
    • Disability-related documents including IEP and Summary of Performance, 504 Plan
    • Response to Intervention (RTI) documentation
    • A record of formal accommodations for standardized testing (ACT, SAT, GRE) usually provided in the form of an official letter from the testing service (e.g., ETS)
    • A record of informal accommodations including assistance from teachers, resource room support, tutors, testing in an alternative location
    • Current (within approximately the last three years) psycho-educational or neuropsychological measures that provide norm-based comparisons on cognitive and achievement performance.
  4. Documentation addresses the student's response to interventions typically associated with AD/HD including benefit from medication, counseling and coaching.

Guidelines for a Comprehensive AD/HD Diagnostic Evaluation Report

  1. A diagnostic statement identifying the disability, a specific DSM-IV diagnosis, and recommendations that are consistent with assessment findings
  2. Relevant student history including early evidence of AD/HD in more than one setting, and psychosocial, pharmacological and educational histories.
  3. Justification for the requested accommodations by describing the current (within the last year) impact of AD/HD on the individual's academic life.
  4. Differential diagnoses that were considered and ruled out (e.g., learning disability, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol or other drug abuse, sleep disorders, etc).
  5. Cognitive and/or achievement measures that substantiate the ongoing impact of the disability on academic performance are very valuable in establishing the need for an academic accommodation. Such an evaluation need not include a full battery of tests but may include selected academic or information processing tests and subtests deemed appropriate to support a current need for accommodations. There should be an explanation of why certain subtests were selected, interpretation of the reported scores, and a discussion of how any error patterns in the candidate's performance reflect a substantial limitation to learning and/or test taking.

The university reserves the right to request additional assessment when documentation is not current (within approximately the past three years) or comprehensive enough to support the provision of accommodation. All testing costs are incurred by the student.

Guidelines for Acceptable Clinical Assessment

Acceptable clinical assessment utilizing multiple forms of evidence must answer the following questions:
  1. What is the client's disability?
  2. How severe is the disability? (Include evidence that the client's performance is unusual relative to the general population)
  3. How do the identified deficit areas ( skill areas, cognitive profile, processing deficits or achievement areas) functionally limit post-secondary learning, e.g. taking notes, testing in a typical classroom setting, testing under typical time standards, reading, writing, etc.?
File last updated: December 17, 2013. 10:30:34 am
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