Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and/or inattentiveness. Findings from neuroscience, brain imaging, and clinical research have dramatically changed the old understanding of ADHD as essentially a behavior disorder.

  • ADHD is now seen as a developmental impairment of the brain’s self-management system (executive functions).
  • The executive function impairments that constitute ADHD may underlie other disorders such as learning disabilities.

Symptoms of ADHD may include:
  • Inattention – not paying attention to what is going on
  • Easily distractible – attention or focus is easily diverted away from the task; difficulty listening to others in a conversation; overlooking details; and not completing tasks or projects
  • Hyperactivity – constant motion (touching, moving, climbing, fidgeting, shaking leg, jerking, etc.)
  • Impulsivity – acting without thinking of consequences; interrupting, not waiting turn to speak; being impulsive with their body (often risk-taking behaviors), etc.
  • Disruptive behavior – interrupting others; lowered tolerance levels (may show irritation sooner with challenging tasks); may show impatience in waiting for appropriate times to engage others or take turns; etc.
Some functional limitations and associated accommodations for ADHD:​

Functional Limitation​ Accommodati​o​ns
Time Man​agement
  • Provide checklists, planners, timers, and/or calendars
  • Break large assignments/projects into smaller sections
  • Allow the use of time management and/or organization apps (AT)

  • ​Couple oral instructions with written instructions and/or pictorial cues
  • Repeat directions
  • Extended time
  • Provide graphic organizers
  • Provide checklists, planners, etc.

​Organization and Prioritization
  • Provide a peer mentor/buddy
  • Provide checklists, planners, calendars, etc.
  • Allow the use of “sticky notes”
  • Color code items of importance

​Social Skills
  • Provide a role model/mentor
  • Role play scenarios
  • Adjust communication methods
  • Provide videos demonstrating appropriate work behaviors
  • Make social activities optional

  • ​Provide movement breaks
  • Provide notes and/or study guides
  • Provide extended time for assignments/tests
  • Provide adaptive seating/furniture/workspace
  • Praise for appropriate focus/behaviors

  • ​Small group setting
  • Extended time on assignments and tests
  • Headphones for noise cancellation
  • Distraction free workspace​


Emotional or Behavioral Disorder (EBD) refers to a condition in which behavioral or emotional responses of an individual are so different from his/her generally accepted, age appropriate, ethnic or cultural norms that they adversely affect performance in such areas as:
  • self care
  • social relationships
  • personal adjustment
  • academic progress
  • classroom behavior
  • work adjustment
Many students with EBD also have expressive and receptive language disorders that impact their ability to communicate with peers and adults. Several students with EBD also have learning disabilities.

Each student with EBD will have characteristics that are unique to that individual. These students may have specific emotional characteristics/conditions such as:
  • anxiety disorder
  • mood disorder
  • oppositional defiant disorder
  • autism-spectrum disorder
  • bi-polar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • attentional disorders
Regardless of the diagnosis or label, it is important to recognize the functional limitations of these individuals, so we can provide self-management or self-regulation strategies, interventions and accommodations.

Some functional limitations and associated accommodations for EBD:
Functional Limitation Accommodations
Issues with Communication

  • Allow alternate format(s) for communicating (e.g., written response in lieu of verbal response)
  • Provide advance notice of topics to be discussed to help facilitate communication
  • Provide extended time on assignments, responses, tasks, tests

Difficulty with Authority

  • Provide positive praise and reinforcement when demonstrating appropriate behavior with authoritative figures
  • Provide written job instructions
  • Develop written work agreements that include the agreed upon accommodations, clear expectations of responsibilities, and the consequences of not meeting performance standards
  • Establish written long-term and short-term goals

Difficulty with Change

  • Maintain open channels of communication between the student and the instructors in order to ensure an effective transition
  • Provide weekly or monthly meetings with the student to discuss classroom, workplace, or center issues and production levels—avoid surprising them with negative feedback
  • Use timers/reminders to prepare students for upcoming transitions
  • Practice key transitions with the student (e.g., moving from one assignment/task/class to another; changes in rules/expectations…)

​Social Skills

  • Provide a role model/mentor
  • Teach acceptable social behaviors in different contexts (academics, career technical, recreation, residential)
  • Adjust communication methods (tone, amount of information at one time…)
  • Provide videos demonstrating appropriate social skills and behaviors
  • Make social activities optional


  • Provide movement breaks
  • Provide positive examples of self-control
  • Allow student/staff cues for need of time-out or break
  • Provide adaptive seating/furniture/workspace
  • Praise/positive reinforcement when student demonstrates self-control


  • Small group setting
  • Extended time on assignments and tests
  • Headphones or white noise/environmental sound machine or allow student to play soothing music using a headset
  • Distraction free workspace
  • Allow frequent breaks for refocus
  • Reduce distractions in the work area



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