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College Students with Anxiety: Best ADA Accommodations



The college experience is a time of transition which is full of academic challenges, social opportunities, and personal growth. However, for students dealing with anxiety, these challenges can seem insurmountable. The good news is that colleges and universities are increasingly recognizing the importance of supporting students with mental health conditions through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In this article, we will explore some of the best ADA accommodations available for college students diagnosed with anxiety.


1.Extended Testing Time:


Anxiety can significantly impact a student's ability to perform well in exams. The pressure of timed tests can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, hindering cognitive function and test-taking abilities. Extended testing time is a crucial ADA accommodation that provides students with the extra time they need to showcase their knowledge without the added stress of a ticking clock. This accommodation not only levels the playing field but also allows students with anxiety to demonstrate their true acadmic capabilities.


2. Quiet or Low-Stimulation Testing Environments:

For many students with anxiety, external stimuli can be overwhelming and distracting. In a crowded and noisy testing room, anxiety levels can skyrocket, making it difficult for these students to concentrate. Providing a quiet or low-stimulation testing environment is a thoughtful accommodation that recognizes the impact of surroundings on anxiety levels. This adjustment allows students to focus on their exams without the interference of external factors, promoting a fair and supportive testing environment.


3. Flexible Attendance Policies:

Anxiety is unpredictable, and its symptoms can vary from day to day. Students with anxiety may find it challenging to maintain consistent attendance due to flare-ups of their condition. Although granted more rarely than other accommodations, flexible attendance policies can provide students with the flexibility to miss classes without facing academic penalties, provided they communicate with instructors in advance. This accommodation fosters an understanding and compassionate approach to attendance, acknowledging that mental health is just as important as physical health. As mentioned above, this accommodation is more difficult to receive as many institutions believe modifying course attendance policies to be "altering fundamental aspects" of a college course.


4. Note-Taking Assistance:

In a fast-paced lecture hall, students with anxiety may struggle to concentrate and retain information. Note-taking assistance is a valuable ADA accommodation that helps alleviate this challenge. Whether through access to lecture notes or a designated note-taker, this accommodation ensures that students with anxiety have the necessary resources to succeed academically. By reducing the stress associated with keeping up in class, note-taking assistance contributes to a more inclusive learning environment.


5. Emotional Support Animals (ESAs):

The therapeutic benefits of animals are well-documented, and for students with anxiety, having an emotional support animal (ESA) can be a game-changer. While policies regarding ESAs vary between institutions, some colleges allow students to bring their support animals to campus housing. The presence of an ESA can provide comfort, alleviate stress, and contribute to an overall improved mental health environment. This accommodation recognizes the positive impact of the human-animal bond on emotional well-being.


ADA accommodations play a vital role in ensuring that students with anxiety can navigate the challenges of higher education with the support they need. By implementing these accommodations, colleges and universities create an inclusive and empathetic environment that values the mental health of all students. Through thoughtful and comprehensive ADA accommodations, colleges can empower students with anxiety to not only survive but thrive during their college years.

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