ADHD and university: when your child transitions into higher education

Written by: Dr Lars Davidsson
Edited by: Laura Burgess

As your child with ADHD steps into adulthood by starting university, you may wonder how can they prepare and what to expect. Here one of our expert psychiatrists Dr Lars Davidsson offers his advice and explains whether their treatment plan needs to be altered.

A laptop, notebook and backpack on a desk.

Can ADHD become worse as my child starts university?

When a child transitions from secondary school into higher education (HE) such as university, it is unlikely that their ADHD is going to worsen. The concern is more about family support services and how a smooth transfer can be arranged because university life is very different from school.

What changes might they expect?

At university, you are expected to plan your work autonomously and go to lectures without anyone telling you what to do. It is not uncommon that people have undiagnosed ADHD, which goes on for years. They get through school, go to university and suddenly nothing works and are left to their own devices. 

Some people might have trouble failing work or can’t complete their studies. This is not because of the illness but the different demands. If you have issues with focus, concentration, planning, paying attention and procrastinating, university might be hard.

What tips can you recommend during these transitions?

Universities provide support because they encourage and want people to take their courses, so it is important to talk to them. Adjustments can be made if people require them and if the university is made aware, they can discuss a plan, for example, by allowing longer time to do assignments and exams. If the university is aware, they are happy to help.

Do ADHD patients sometimes require additional treatment during these stages of life?

Yes, patients may require intervention. You should continue with your regular medical psychiatric treatment. There are other kinds of interventions available that differ and depend on what kind of demands people are facing. Someone might, for example, require cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) too.

Dr Davidsson is an expert in treating ADHD. Book an appointment with him via his Top Doctor's profile today if either you or your loved one are living with the condition and would like his professional support.

By Dr Lars Davidsson

Dr Lars Davidsson is a highly trained consultant psychiatrist at the Anglo European Clinic with special interests including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, adult ADHD, and anxiety. He is also an expert in medico-legal work.

Since graduating from the University of Lund in Sweden and completing his specialist training he has gained broad experience, undertaking humanitarian work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lithuania before arriving in the UK.

Dr Davidsson’s approach is founded on evidence-based medicine, taking into account the patient's individual needs and preferences. Fundamental to his approach is the aim to return his patients to their normal lives as quickly as possible.

Well respected in his field, he has conducted research, been published extensively and lectured both nationally and internationally.

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