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Documentation Necessary To Validate The Existence Of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- A Qualified Professional Must Conduct the Evaluation - Professionals who generally would be considered qualified to evaluate and diagnose are clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other trained counseling professionals with training in the evaluation of ADHD in adolescents and adults. All reports should be on letterhead, typed, dated, and include the signature, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator.
- Documentation Must Be Current - Because the provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based on the assessment of the current impact of the disability on academic performance, it is in an individual’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation. If inadequate in scope or content, or if it does not address the current level of functioning, documentation may need to be reevaluated and updated. An update should include an assessment of the current impact of ADHD and summary of relevant information.
- Documentation Must Be Comprehensive - Documentation needs to show evidence of early and current impairment and alternative diagnoses should be ruled out. Neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessment is important in determining the current impact that ADHD has on the individual’s ability to function in the academic setting. Relevant background information to support the diagnosis must be included. Test scores alone should not be the measure for the ADHD diagnosis and do not substitute for clinical observations and sound diagnostic judgment. Data must logically reflect a substantial limitation to learning for which the individual is requesting the accommodation.
A diagnostic report should include a review of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th edition (DSM-V) criteria for ADHD and specify which symptoms are present.
Documentation must include a specific diagnosis based on the DSM-V criteria stated in direct language. The use of terms such as “suggest,” “is indicative of,” or “attention problems” should be avoided.
An interpretive summary must include:
- Indication of how patterns of inattentiveness, impulsivity, and/or hyperactivity across the life span and setting are used to determine the presence of ADHD
- Indication of whether the individual was evaluated while on medication, and whether that treatment produced a positive response
- Indication and discussion of the substantial limitation to learning presented by ADHD
- Indication as to why specific accommodations are needed and how the effects of ADHD are mediated by the accommodations
- Each Accommodation Recommended by the Evaluator Must Include a Rationale - The evaluator must describe the impact, if any, of the diagnosed ADHD on a specific major life activity as well as the degree of impact on the individual. The report must include specific recommendations for accommodations that are realistic and that can be reasonably provided by the college. A detailed explanation of why each accommodation is recommended must be provided and should be correlated with specific functional limitations determined through interview, observation, and/or testing. Current documentation must validate the need for services based on the individual’s present level of functioning in the academic setting. An IEP or 504 Plan may be included as part of a comprehensive report; however, it is insufficient documentation in and of itself. Documentation must include any report of prior accommodations, conditions under which used, and whether or not they benefited the individual. If the requested accommodations are not clearly identified in the diagnostic report, the college will seek clarification and, if necessary, more information. The college will make the final determination of whether appropriate and reasonable accommodations are warranted and can be provided.
Adapted from Guidelines for Documentation of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder in Adolescents and Adults, Consortium on ADHD Documentation, 1998