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Attention-Related Disabilities

Students seeking support services from postsecondary institutions in the State of Washington on the basis of an attention disability may be required to submit documentation to verify eligibility. Documentation of disability and related information shall be kept in a separate file in the appropriate office as designated by each institution. The cost and responsibility for providing this documentation shall be borne by the student.

Although the more generic term Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is frequently used, for the purpose of this policy the nomenclature of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) provided in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (DSM-IV) -- or successive editions -- will be utilized.

Documentation should indicate current impact of the disability. The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that the evaluation and report are appropriate for documenting eligibility and identifying reasonable accommodations. The report must clearly state the names, titles, professional credentials, addresses, and phone numbers of the evaluators, indicate date(s) of testing, and be on official letterhead, typed, dated, and signed. The documentation should:

  1. Be prepared by a professional who has comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience working with adolescents and adults with ADHD, which may include: clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevantly trained medical doctors;
  2. be current. The provision of all reasonable accommodations and services is based upon the assessment of the current impact of the disability on academic performance. The diagnostic evaluation should show the current level of functioning and impact of the disability;
  3. be comprehensive. Minimally, areas to be addressed should include:

    a. evidence of early and current impairment. Diagnostic assessment should consist of more than a self-report. A diagnostic feature– as presented in the DSM-IV – is that ADHD is first exhibited in childhood, and manifests itself in more than one setting. Therefore, a comprehensive assessment typically includes a clinical summary of objective historical information garnered from sources such as transcripts, report cards, teacher comments, tutoring evaluations, psycho-educational testing, medical history, employment history, family history, and third party interviews when available;

    b. alternative diagnoses or explanations should be ruled out. Possible alternative diagnoses including medical, psychiatric disorders, and educational or cultural factors affecting the individual that may result in behaviors mimicking ADHD should be explored;

    c. testing information must be relevant. Test scores or subtest scores alone should not be used as a sole measure for the diagnostic decision regarding ADHD. Selected subtest scores from measures of intellectual ability, memory functions tests, attention or tracking tests, or continuous performance tests do not in-and-of-themselves establish the presence or absence of ADHD. Checklists and/or surveys can serve to supplement the diagnostic profile, but are not adequate for the diagnosis of ADHD;

  4. if applicable, present a specific diagnosis of ADHD based on the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. The diagnostician should use direct language in the diagnosis of ADHD, avoiding the use of such terms as: "attention problems," "suggests...," or "is indicative of...."
  5. provide a comprehensive interpretive summary synthesizing the evaluator's judgment for the diagnosis. The report should include: all quantitative information in standard scores and/or percentiles, all relevant developmental, familial, medical, medication, psychosocial, behavioral and academic information; and a clear identification of the substantial limitation of a major life function presented by the ADHD.

With supporting documentation, suggestions regarding academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services may be included. However, the final determination rests with the postsecondary institution.