Our 2010 American Freshman Survey, released in January, offered insight into a growing population on college campuses–students with “hidden” disabilities. Due to both the growth in the number of these students, and to help institutions better understand and serve this student population, we have updated the results we published in January with a newly released research brief. Our research brief takes an in-depth look at the experiences and expectations of these students.
The number of students arriving on campus who self-identify with a “hidden” disability has steadily increased since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. “Hidden” disabilities include ADHD, learning disabilities, and psychological disorders. In 2010 freshman survey, we reported that 5.0% of entering students identified as having ADHD; 3.8% identified as having a psychological disorder; and 2.9% identified as having a learning disability.
As we discuss in our research brief, students with “hidden” disabilities, and in particular ADHD, are at a greater risk for psychosocial and academic challenges during college. They begin college with lower academic self-concepts than other students, and based on reported behavior during high school, are at a higher risk of being involved in behaviors such as alcohol use during college.
Though these students face challenges, they also begin college more likely to have developed the academic habits of mind needed to succeed in a college setting. Given this, assisting these students to build upon and recognize their strengths, especially as they relate to their academic habits will be one way that those providing services to this population can help these students succeed in college.
For further information on this growing population of students click here.
If you are interested in reading the scholarly work we cite in our research brief, please follow the links below:
Wolf, L. E. (2001). College students with ADHD and other “hidden” disabilities. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 93, p. 385-395.
Wolf, L. E., Simkowitz, P., & Carlson, H. (2009). College students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Current Psychiatry Reports, 11 p. 415-421.