A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Maurizio Centeno

ADHD: A Diagnosis In High Demand

By Halina Schiffman-Shilo and Courtney Weinstein

Tylenol. Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin. These four drugs are all commonly found at schools. But which one of these things is not like the others? The first (Tylenol) is an over-the-counter medication recommended for minor pains. The other three (Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin) are for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

According to the American Psychiatric Association, only three to seven percent of school-aged children have ADHD. However, the Association concedes that, “studies have estimated higher rates in community samples.”

If those communities are high school, college, and beyond, I believe it.

Common symptoms of ADHD include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. And while most of us have experienced these things at some point in our lives, ADHD is not a myth.

Have you ever read a page in a book and thought: “I don’t have a clue what I just read?” If that happens consistently, despite your best efforts to concentrate, it could be a sign of ADHD. The frustrations and disadvantages that come with not being able to focus, stay alert, or finish things on time, are real, and can be debilitating.

So as not to punish students for their disabilities, most schools allow students with ADHD to take extra time to complete an exam or a homework assignment. Some schools will also designate private rooms to students with ADHD so they can complete their exams with minimal distractions. And even College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, allows students who have been diagnosed with ADHD (and who request an accommodation for their disability) to take extra time—up to double the allotted time—for their exam.

And get this. A school does not, and indeed, cannot, inform potential employers when a 4.0 GPA and 2300 SAT was earned by a student who was granted such an accommodation. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, schools are required to keep this information confidential unless the student consents to such a disclosure.

So what if a company hired such a student, only to learn that she needs double the time to complete her work?  Could the employer fire the new hire?  And could the employee sue if she were fired, even though she’d been hired, practically speaking, under false pretenses?

LASIS investigates.

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