In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 6.1 million American children had been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, "between two and eight percent of college students in the United States have ADHD."
At Ohio University, ADHD affects how many students navigate their college schedules, classes, extracurriculars and day-to-day life.
"I would definitely say my ADHD affects me on a daily basis, especially with schoolwork and balancing working as an RA– that is a big challenge," said Kelley Lach, a junior studying integrated media. "There's just always something to do, there's usually something I'm forgetting. I think the workload can be overwhelming to me a lot of the time."
Meanwhile, other students find it difficult to focus in classes outside of their majors, especially if it's a course that meets a general education requirement.
"It's fairly difficult, particularly with paying attention in gen-ed classes," said Bandit Palmer, a sophomore studying studio arts. "I usually do pretty well in my studio courses, and then my English class is difficult. I'm like a very low energy person, so I usually cope by drinking exorbitant amounts of energy drinks, like, three or four a day, every day."
Jack Greene, a sophomore studying journalism, says he takes Adderall for his ADHD, but his main resource has been Student Accessibility Services, or SAS, on campus.
"The way I cope with it is I work with SAS," Greene said. "I have three basic things that can help me within the classroom. I get deadline extensions, I get extra time on tasks, I have the ability to take a test in a different location."
Lach also receives accommodations like Greene, which she said were easy for her to receive after having a 504 plan in high school, a service provided by schools to accommodate students and remove barriers to learning.
"My accommodations are life saving," Lach said. "The one that I use the most is probably the flexibility with deadlines policy, which just allows for 48 hours of flexibility in turning stuff in. I use it all the time because I am always underestimating how much time something might take me."
On the other hand, Palmer has not yet received accommodations for their ADHD, nor have many of their friends, which has proven to cause problems daily.
"I haven't personally been able to seek accommodations yet, but I do have a lot of ADHD friends who haven't been able to get accommodations despite being diagnosed formally by a psychiatrist," Palmer said. "With Disability Services, it's kind of hard to get accommodations because you have to prove so much."
Additionally, OU provides students with ADHD with other resources like the Academic Achievement Center at Alden Library, which includes services such as academic coaching, tutoring, and supplemental instruction.
"The other resource that I've been using lately that is really incredible is at the Academic Achievement Center," Lach said. "Just having someone to kind of keep me accountable in terms of like, 'Okay, you said you're going to study this much this week. Did you meet that goal?' It really helps me."
Regarding receiving ADHD medications in college, Lach and Greene have had similar experiences, both receiving their prescriptions from home.
"I have not found it a problem because I get it shipped to me," Lach said. "My mom doesn't even have to forward it, which is really nice. Because it's a controlled substance, they'll only prescribe it 30 days at a time, and they won't give you refills."
Yet, Greene says that he has to be careful where he stores his medication and how he protects it from others who could abuse it.
"Personally, I take Adderall every single day, which could be a struggle just because I have to have a lockbox, I have to put the code in every morning and I have to hide it within my room. because you don't want people stealing," Greene said. "I have to go home to get it because there's Adderall shortages, and sometimes places up here in Athens won't have it readily available."
While many students have received accommodations on campus for their ADHD, Lach says it's important for those struggling to advocate for themselves to mental health professionals and staff, even when it's difficult.
"I think it's really difficult to be someone advocating for yourself with ADHD, because a lot of these processes do not feel ADHD friendly at all where you have to initiate it yourself and call different offices and do different steps on websites and such," Lach said.
Greene also says that SAS needs to become more widely known at OU for students to know of its resources.
"I say make it more known that SAS is there because I know some people that have ADHD but don't know about SAS until I tell them," Greene said. "SAS does pretty good work. Also, I hate the location of the testing center. It's eerie-looking in the basement of Bromley."
To combat the challenges ADHD creates, students say the university needs to make the accommodations process easier and erase the stigma and stress surrounding the condition.
"I think maybe what would feel better for people with ADHD is putting a face to this kind of thing where it's like, 'Hey, we know that this is the easy process, but it's really important that you're advocating for yourself and we want to help you along that way,'" Lach said.