ADHD and Reading: Improving Children’s Reading Abilities

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is one of the most common mental health diagnoses in children. ADHD and reading difficulties are often overlooked.

Does ADHD Hinder Reading?

Yes, it does. Research has shown that children with ADHD are often worse readers than their peers, and are unable to follow text very well. They also have difficulty hearing and following the narrative, and often struggle to maintain focus or stay on task.

These behaviors have negative effects on a child’s learning experience. They often struggle with making meaning and connecting the information into one solid message. The result is that children with ADHD often miss important vocabulary words and the message can go over their head.

These hindrances lead to an unsuccessful school experience for students in general. ADHD symptoms also can make a child’s eyes jump all over the page, which leads to a lack of focus. The child’s brain is not as prepared to process the information as it should be. This has a detrimental effect on understanding the text and the child’s ability to read.

ADHD and Reading Comprehension

The impact of ADHD and reading comprehension is that a child may miss important vocabulary while reading. Children with ADHD often struggle with the following topics: reading comprehension, decoding/grammar, spelling, and math.

If students have a teacher who provides academic support, they can learn and perform better. Students with ADHD may need extra help from their teachers to help them focus. This means that teachers must pay extra attention to helping students with ADHD make academic progress.

Teachers must make sure that there are ample opportunities for the students to practice the skills learned in school. Students with ADHD often require lots of repetition to remember information. They tend to have limited social skills but do not underestimate their importance.

Does ADHD Affect Reading and Writing Skills?

The reading and writing skills of ADHD students can be found in the same range as their non-ADHD peers. The difference is that they likely have to work harder to achieve the same level of reading and writing comprehension.

When educators provide appropriate accommodations for ADHD students, they often have better reading and writing skills than their non-ADHD peers. In addition, the experts recommend giving children with ADHD practice reading and/or writing material to support them in the classroom.

The practice could easily be done as part of a homework assignment or during a break. They feel that this could help children with ADHD learn to be independent at school with the right tools.

What about other Academic Skills? Like most people think, reading and writing are the main focus for students with ADHD. However, it is important to look at the whole “skill set” of ADHD students.

One of the main differences ADHD students have in school is that they tend to have shorter attention spans. This may impede their ability to concentrate on a single task. So how do they enjoy the task they are doing?

How Do People With ADHD Enjoy Reading?

People with ADHD enjoy reading by turning scenes into movies or flashbacks in their minds. By re-reading passages to find the hidden meaning and connections, they may find themselves in a trance of delight. Understanding how to do this can create a significant reading comprehension boost.

It’s important to note that an ADHD mind is most often an active mind; it’s always in motion. It is not that they cannot do the same things as other people. It is that their minds are constantly thinking, analyzing, and sorting. They need to continually shift gears when doing a task.

People with ADHD learn best after solving a problem. This is why they are natural problem-solvers. So make sure to give them problems to solve. Have them solve a puzzle, make a model, or solve a math puzzle. If they are visual learners, have them color in a coloring book or read a magazine. If they are auditory learners, have them listen to a podcast or listen to music.

A young boy practicing reading so that if he has ADHD, it doesn't worsen.
A young boy reading photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

Does ADHD Worsen With Age?

For people with ADHD, as they grow, their condition could get worse or better depending on how they handle it from their diagnosis. However, to reap the advantages of ADHD, people need to leverage their strengths. These can include stronger focus, deep concentration, strong memory, and agility. Work to bolster these strengths as you age.

Cultivating these skills as you grow can help you learn to live with the effects of ADHD throughout your life. There are many ways that individuals living with ADHD can live happy, successful lives.

As with all things, children differ. They all should be encouraged to participate in different areas of their lives. The key is that the brain of the individual with ADHD is wired differently, finding different solutions for the same problems.

Wrap Up: ADHD and Reading Tips to Remember

There are some tips to remember about students with ADHD who are struggling with reading. Reading a text with mature themes and developing their reading abilities through inference rather than following the dialogue word-for-word may work better.

Additionally, students with ADHD may find benefits in applying self-regulation techniques. These include deep breathing and meditation to help them increase focus and concentration, help with organization, and find contentment.

They may also benefit from regular breaks to slow down and re-focus. Finally, being able to take advantage of available support is key for students with ADHD. School support and intervention can prevent problems and lessen the severity of symptoms.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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