Do accommodations give ADHD students an unfair advantage?

The short answer to the question "do accommodations give ADHD students an unfair advantage" is: no.

ADHD student supportThe longer answer is one we thought worth addressing. Because many people continue to believe that accommodations are "unfair," this often translates to a false belief that their teachers will be resistant to offering appropriate support, or students being hesitant to seek support they may truly benefit from because they don't want to get a "handout" from others.

In reality, accommodations such as extra time on tests, actually help level the playing field for an ADHD student so they have a better chance to succeed academically - on par with their "non-ADHD" counterparts.

One article that we came across called Encouraging Equality in the Classroom speaks to this issue of fairness and equality. Essentially, the point they make is that when an ADHD student is denied extra support in the interest of treating everyone "equally," they're actually not being treated fairly because they face many additional challenges that prevent them from being "equal" to other students. Got that?

In fact, the laws around accommodations for post-secondary students illustrate this issue of equality quite nicely. While elementary and high school students have a specific amendment within the Education Act (called Bill 82) that allows any student identified as an "exceptional" learner access to accommodation support, the rules for university and college are actually based on human rights legislation. In a nutshell, if a student with a disability is being impaired, and this impairment is interfering with their ability to participate equally in their academic environment, they are legally entitled to appropriate accommodation support to help minimize these barriers.

Of course, accommodations shouldn't be given out blindly - they need to be individualized and based on specific needs. But the point is, accommodations are more fair than unfair - they help give students access to equal (and thus fair) standards of education so they can better meet their potential.

If you need more help understanding and navigating the world of academic accommodations, check out Springboard's Health Education Consulting services to see what a consultation with our in-house health education professional might look like!


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