LD-ADHD and Other Neurological Difficulties

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The BSC recognizes that each person learns in their own unique way, and we are committed to providing learning support services tailored to students' individual needs and learning abilities. Academic counseling and learning support services are available to all students, including those with Learning Disorders (LD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), concussion, and other neurological difficulties. All students can benefit from developing their reading, writing, and study skills, but for students with neurocognitive disorders, support for developing these skills is especially important.


The BSC offers workshops and handouts related to LD-ADHD as well as individual academic counseling, workshops on topics related to student life and learning, and one-on-one academic peer tutoring. Sample workshop topics include attention, procrastination, perfectionism, time management, learning styles, reading, and speaking up in class.

Eligibility: BSC services are available to enrolled degree candidates in Harvard College. Degree candidates in the Harvard Extension School are eligible by referral from the Extension School.

Additional Resources at Harvard for Undergraduates

For assessment, diagnosis, and treatment:

Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
HUHS, 75 Mt. Auburn Street, 4th Floor, 617-495-2042

For disability accommodations:
Harvard College

Accessible Education Office (AEO)
Smith Campus Center, 4th Floor, 617-496-8707, AEO@fas.harvard.edu

Harvard Extension School

Disability Services Office  
51 Brattle Street, 617-495-0977, disabilities@dcemail.harvard.edu


The BSC offers workshops and handouts related to LD-ADHD as well as individual academic counselingworkshops on topics related to student life and learning, and one-on-one academic peer tutoring. Sample workshop topics include attention, procrastination, perfectionism, time management, learning styles, reading, and speaking up in class.

Eligibility: BSC services are available to enrolled degree candidates in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Education, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Business School Doctoral Programs. Degree candidates in the Harvard Extension School are eligible by referral from the Extension School.

Additional Resources at Harvard for Graduate Students

For assessment, diagnosis, and treatment:

Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
HUHS, 75 Mt. Auburn Street, 4th Floor, 617-495-2042

For disability accommodations:
GSAS Students:

Accessible Education Office (AEO)
Smith Campus Center, 4th Floor, 617-496-8707, AEO@fas.harvard.edu

HGSE Students:

Access and Disability Services Office
124 A&B Gutman Library, 6 Appian Way, 617-495-9608, ads@gse.harvard.edu

HKS Students:

Disability Accommodation and Access Services

HBS Doctoral Students:

Contact Jen Mucciarone, 617-496-0479, jmucciarone@hbs.edu

Harvard Extension School:

Disability Services Office
51 Brattle Street, 617-495-0977, disabilities@dcemail.harvard.edu

Other Graduate Students:

Contact your program director.

Parents of students with attention and/or learning difficulties play an important role in encouraging students to seek out the support that will help them to learn and succeed at Harvard.

The BSC offers individual academic counseling, workshops on topics such as attention and concentration, time management and organization, procrastination, and perfectionism as well as peer tutoring for content-based academic support.

Additional Harvard Resources

Other resources on campus include accommodations from the Accessible Education Office, and assessment, diagnosis, and treatment from the Counseling and Mental Health Services.

The Importance of Communication

Communicating regularly with your student about their learning experience is crucial to helping them find resources.

  • At home, you can improve your student’s experience of any difficulties associated with attention or learning by acknowledging with them that the transition from high school to college is challenging and that such a transition can heighten. 
  • Once your student is at college, you can provide support, by maintaining consistent contact with your student and encouraging your student to utilize the support services available on campus.

Here are some helpful topics to explore with your student to help them begin to identify when to seek out support. BSC academic counselors can help your student develop strategies to manage the following difficulties:

Difficulty meeting deadlines and managing their time effectively
  • The college environment does not readily provide external cues and supports for time management (e.g., bells between classes, wake up calls in the morning, homework monitoring). This can be particularly disruptive for students whose parents provided such external support during high school.
  • For resources to help your student identify the means that work best for them to successfully get to class on time, to follow through with and complete homework, and to prioritize long-term assignments, please encourage your student to meet with a BSC academic counselor.
Difficulty getting started on a homework assignment
  • With the freedom and choice that the college environment provides, problems with activation are often intensified, and distractions can become rationalizations for not beginning homework or other projects.
  • For helpful strategies for students on structuring their environment, reducing distractibility, and managing procrastination, please encourage your student to meet with a BSC academic counselor.
Lower performance on exams than in class or on papers
  • Some students find that error rates on exams are intensified because of the time pressure. Others vacillate between hyper focusing and being distracted by everything going on around them.
  • For ideas on how to minimize this discrepancy through more effective study strategies and exam-taking skills as well as and a better understanding of their learning styles please encourage your student to meet with a BSC academic counselor.
Difficulty recalling information during tests
  • College learning typically places great demands on working memory.
  • For study strategies related to memory, please encourage your student to meet with a BSC academic counselor.
Repeatedly pulling all-nighters to study for a test or to finish a paper
  • Many students do not fully understand the connection between good health (sleep, diet, exercise) and learning. For students with attention and learning concerns, the impact of poor self-care on memory and learning functions can exacerbate already existing academic difficulties.
  • If you notice your student referring to sleepless nights, an increased use of substances (e.g., caffeine, alcohol, prescription or other drugs), increased feelings of anxiety or depression (e.g., feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, hopeless, etc.), please encourage your student to meet with a BSC academic counselor or CAMHS clinician.

BSC academic counselors are available to university faculty and staff to discuss concerns about a student’s academic performance, to offer ideas for how to support students with attention or learning difficulties, and to consult about different learning styles.

When to Consult the BSC

You might want to consult with a BSC academic counselor or refer a student to the BSC when, for example:

  • A student lets you know that performance on exams has been a problem in the past.
  • A student is not performing consistently on exams versus in class versus on papers.
  • A student seems distracted or disorganized; misses classes or appointments.
  • A student identifies him/herself as having a diagnosis of LD, ADHD, or ADD.
  • You would like to incorporate time management or reading tips into your class meetings or materials.

The BSC offers individual study academic counseling, workshops on topics such as attention and concentration, time management and organization, procrastination, and perfectionism as well as peer tutoring for content-based academic support.

Additional Harvard Resources

Other resources on campus include accommodations from the Accessible Education Office, and assessment, diagnosis, and treatment from the Counseling and Mental Health Services.

Recommended Readings

Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution
by Jonathan Mooney and David Cole

Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder 
by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.

ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life 
by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.

Survival Guide for College Students with ADD or LD 
by Kathleen G. Nadeau, Ph.D.

ADD and the College Student: A Guide for High School and College Students with Attention Deficit Disorder 
edited by Patricia O. Quinn, M.D.

You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?! 
by Katie Kelly and Peggy Ramundo

Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Guide to Living with the Challenges Associated with Post Concussion Syndrome and Brain Trauma
by Diane Roberts Stoler and Barbara Albers Hill

IMAGE CREDIT

Illustration. Diffusion MRI images of the human brain. From: Pushing the limits of in vivo diffusion MRI for the Human Connectome Project. Setsompop, K.; Kimmlingen, R.; Eberlein, E.; et al. Neuroimage. 2013 Oct 15. 80:220-33.  Reproduced with permission from Van J. Wedeen, Director of Contectomics, Martinos Center, Massachusetts General Hospital.