ADHD Supports Project

As part of International Disability Week Dr. Alison Doyle and Dr. Kieran Lewis presented an overview of the DS ADHD Supports Project, initiated in February 2022 and culminating in a presentation of findings from the ADHD in Higher Education research study. This session introduced the three project strands and included a panel discussion featuring student representatives, Trinity staff, and ADHD Ireland, providing a well-rounded perspective on the topic.

Project strands

The ADHD Supports Project sits within the Trinity Neurodivergent Project together with the Sensory Project. The ADHD Project functions in accordance with the University’s Strategic Plan, and with the Disability Service Strategic Plan to empower students with disabilities by:

  • Creating a more inclusive campus (Civic Action).
  • Providing an effective and dynamic service that anticipates and responds to the emerging needs of our diverse students with disabilities (Organisation).
  • Providing professional, evidence-based services to impact students with disabilities positively (Research).
  • Empowering students with disabilities to develop their full potential and inspire them to meet the challenges of the future (Education).

In February 2022 DS embarked on a major project to:

  1. To determine the challenges, barriers, and facilitators to successful progression through college for students with ADHD.
  2. To investigate current opportunities for referral, assessment, and diagnosis of ADHD for college students and establish any gaps in service.
  3. To identify current and potential supports and services in college which will enhance the experience of students with ADHD, as an evidence-based practice.

Strand 1: ADHD in HE research study: Mixed method, triangulated: students, services. QUANT: Survey all TCD students, data analysis DS students, measure Executive Function traits. QUAL: Open -ended survey questions, interview DS students, focus group Student Counselling, College Health Centre, Disability Service. Strand 2: Registration Pathway and ADHD Clinic: ADHD consultation with signposting assessment and diagnosis pathways. Evidence of arrangements for further referral. Consultation and collaboration with Health Centre and Coulselling Service for ADHD Clinic and referral pathway. Strand 3: ADHD Resources and Community Links: Peer led ADHD support group in DS. ASKDS Blackboard resources. ADHD Supports web pages. Signposting ADHD Ireland resources and support groups.

Strand 1

The aim of the research was to investigate how the experiences of students with ADHD can inform evidence-based practice for effective support systems at all stages in the student journey from university entrance to graduation. This was a mixed method study situated within a transformative paradigm using primary data sources collected from the existing Trinity College student body, DS service users, and student services. Quantitative data was gathered from:

  1. An online survey to all Trinity students to capture i) potential incidence of ADHD in the general student population, ii) facilitators and barriers to academic progression, iii) social and academic impact of ADHD on the college experience.
  2. A statistical analysis of demographic and progression and retention data for n=687 students with ADHD registered with the DS over the past 20 years.

Qualitative data was gathered from:

  1. open-ended survey questions,
  2. in-depth interviews with self-selecting students with ADHD focusing on diagnosis and access to services, transition and progression through college, barriers, and facilitators, and
  3. focus groups with student services (Counselling, College Health Centre) to determine engagement with students with ADHD and to provide a triangulation of the data. The principal themes that emerged were:
Navigating college with ADHD What does an ADHD-friendly college look like? Advice for prospective students My ADHD

Awareness and understanding


Academic skills and activities

Achievement and attainment

Deadlines and stress

Orientation and information

Reasonable Accommodations

Universal Design for Learning

Medical and therapeutic supports

Staff awareness and understanding

Physical environment

Removing systemic barriers

Signposting ADHD supports

Coping mechanisms

Human supports

Managing academic tasks



Practical strategies


Executive function

Cognitive and behavioural factors

Coping mechanisms


Mental health

Physical and sensory preferences

Sensory triggers

A pdf copy of the slides from the ADHD presentation, including a summary of the research findings, is available to download here.

Strand 2

The Disability Service initiated a pilot Reasonable Accommodation Project targeted at Students with a diagnosis of ADHD or who are awaiting a diagnosis of ADHD to address their immediate and long-term needs for successful study in College. The number of students with ADHD applying for Reasonable Accommodations through the DS has grown significantly over the past number of years (currently 254 students – 191 as primary disability and 63 as secondary). In addition, there has been a sharp increase in the number of students contacting the Disability Service, the College Health Service, and Student Counselling Service seeking assessment, as well as ongoing intervention. These services are currently reviewing how best to meet the needs of these students in the context of a lack of resources nationally. DS has worked collaboratively with the College Health Centre and the Student Counselling Service to create a new clinical care pathway for students who have been diagnosed with ADHD. This pathway dovetails with the recently launched National Clinical

Programme Model of Care for Adults with ADHD, by the Health Service Executive. Students referred to the ADHD clinic can avail of Occupational Therapy support and Reasonable Accommodations through the DS. Further information on accessing this clinical pathway can be found at A small-scale pilot study with students availing of ADHD consultations in semesters 1 and were offered a baseline support pathway pending a formal assessment and diagnosis with a qualified clinician.

Strand 3

This strand undertook to 1) continuously monitor best practice in supporting students with ADHD in HE and make related resources available to Trinity students, and 2) establish links with community support groups such as ADHD Ireland to share initiatives and resources that will further support Trinity students. DS added ADHD specific web pages to their website and a section within their ASKDS Blackboard module which provides links to ADHD Ireland, video guides which explore ADHD to increase knowledge and understanding, and recommended toolkits to support student development.

Students can self-enroll in this module by searching for disability service supports in the Blackboard module catalogue.

Voices of ADHD

Declan Treanor has been working collaboratively with students to create impactful student-created videos that provide first-hand testimony of the experiences of students with ADHD, highlight the importance of tailored support and inclusive educational practices, and demonstrate the creative and analytical strengths that neurodivergent individuals bring to our academic community.

Looking Forward

The response from our ADHD and neurodivergent students has been overwhelmingly positive. They are eager for more – more recognition, more support, and more initiatives that acknowledge and utilize their unique perspectives. We are now more committed than ever to:

  • Implement the changes and ideas proposed during the session.
  • Continue our engagement with the neurodivergent community to ensure our educational practices are inclusive and empowering.
  • Develop more platforms where neurodiverse voices are heard and valued.

We invite educators, students, and professionals to join us in this exciting journey of learning and growth. Your insights, experiences, and support are invaluable as we strive to create an educational environment where every student can thrive.