Disclose Disability While Applying? Or Wait?

I’d like to investigate how schools support students with ADHD. How do I go about doing that without disclosing the ADHD to the school? I’m also interested in schools handle mental health but don’t want to draw any unnecessary attention. Looking at all small liberal arts schools with less than 3,000 kids. Thanks!


You can ask the student services office. Not all offices talk to admissions.

But do you really want your child to go to a school that isn’t supportive, or that would look negatively on ADHD? If they aren’t accepting of it in admissions, they aren’t going to be supportive of it once the child arrives.


Admissions is separate and communication with the disabilities office is confidential. Admissions do not discriminate on this basis.

However, you can get a lot more information once accepted. We waited until acceptances and then talked with schools for that reason.

In theory, a person has a right to accommodations and support at every school, sufficient to enable them to do the work they are capable of. (Note that the standard for accommodations is lower than high school, though).

I would choose schools based on other factors- cost, academics, size, location, weather, “vibe” and then, once accepted, probe deeper about how ADHD is handled.

It helps to have a psychiatrist involved, obviously, and help with time management is invaluable. Accommodations like single room (if desired), extensions on assignments, notetakers (often not needed these days), testing in a separate room, extra advising and so on are available at most campuses.

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I usually recommend researching the school’s Student Accessibility Services website to get an idea of possible services and accommodations. Also look into other services available at the schools such as tutoring, peer mentoring, writing and career centers. Some schools offer special services for ADHD such as EF coaches. Does your DC have a curent 504/iep and a transition plan?
Edited to add: I’ve found most SAS offices to be quite friendly and open to answering questions from prospective students over the phone.

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I would recommend that your child not disclose any disability until after acceptance. You can get a lot of information from CC, Reddit, and other internet searches about a specific school’s support atmosphere for students with disabilities before making your list. Once your student has acceptances in hand, they should visit the campus and visit the disability services office (by appointment) and have a discussion with the disability support officer about what could be arranged. But I’d only do that AFTER having been accepted.


Be aware also that the disabilities office is sometimes not the source of most of the support. They often serve more as a filter for requests, and I have seen them referred to as “the guarddog of the curriculum.” Accommodations cannot change the curriculum, or pose an undue burden financially or administratively.

In our experience, deans are the most helpful. Deans will communicate with MD’s and therapists and then tell the professors that they need to accommodate. But most professors are supportive.

The disabilities office just registers you, and gives the student letters to give to professors. It is up to the student to advocate for themselves, and deans and advisors can help with that.

I think it is really hard to get real info before acceptance and even then expect the first year to be a time of learning the ropes.

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This has not been our experience. DC has never spoken to their advisor or Dean about accommodations and has found SAS to be quite helpful at mediating if any conflicts arise, but not all SAS offices are created equal. Self advocacy is so crucial; I wish GCs and 504/IEP coordinators had more time and better resources to implement solid transition plans.


What is “SAS”? My experience is limited to three colleges, all very different schools. Just anecdotal. But I did a lot of reading at the time and found that the purpose of Disabilities Offices is partly to make sure curriculum and standards are maintained. The Americans with Disabilities Act makes reasonable accommodations a requirement, but case law is still being established. Again, accommodations cannot pose an administrative or financial burden or substantially change academic standards.

The human connection with deans, advisors and professors, supported by MD’s or other professionals, seemed more helpful but my direct experience is limited to those three schools.

Mount St Mary’s in Maryland has good program. Very open in giving tours to kids with learning differences. Know of a high school that took bus load of students with learning differences there for field trip, for college visit.
Compare Towson, McDaniel, too.


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I think you start at the website and see what effort has been made to get an idea of what they may offer. You can then compare schools at this very basic level. I looked at some LAC’s just now and found it varied quite a bit.
You should try to sign up for any online info sessions and have your student ask the questions. I think you disclose the disability because the risk of having your student wind up at a school that isn’t able to meet their needs could be too great.

Sorry; it stands for student accessibility services. I’ve only dealt with medium to large publics, so there is probably a difference when it comes to size and organization structure.

I have no doubt it varies and am glad you had a better experience :slight_smile: Just want to caution folks just in case. It took my kids time to figure out how to work the system!

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Which 3 schools? Are they public or private?

Sent you a PM with some specific ideas!