Strategies for ADHD Students to Improve Writing Skills

According to The American Psychiatric Association (APA), more than 5% of children in the United States have ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The National Survey of Children’s Health has found that approximately 9.4% of children aged 2-17, that is, around 6.1 million, had been diagnosed with ADHD since 2016. The percent of children receiving medical treatment is considered to be about 5.2% of the total of 9.4%.

WebMD defines ADHD as the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. Kids suffering from this deficit experience impulsive behaviors and have problems concentrating on the task at hand. Since the number of children suffering from ADHD is quickly increasing and only about half of the children diagnosed receive medical treatment, we consider it crucial to discuss coping strategies.

Writing skills are essential for any student’s long-time development, so by no means should we neglect the importance of enhancing these qualities in ADHD patients. Since they might have a challenging time focusing on their improvement, we provide you with tips on how to help them upgrade their writing skills. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact us.

1. Offer Extra Time

Deadlines are not encouraging for students with ADHD. You might want to consider changing your strategy when it comes to working with them. Even if your standard method of teaching proves beneficial for your class, it might not prove favorable to children suffering from ADHD. They might take a longer time to process the information that’s being delivered. Thus, consider outside the box thinking and be more lenient when working with them.

You could extend their deadlines if they need to or offer them extra time on tests. Don’t let them abuse your kindness and take you for granted, as smart children could use this technique to impress you. Consult with their parents before allowing any extra time or extended deadlines.

After checking, make sure you explain to the rest of the classroom why you must make some adjustments for certain individuals. It’s important that the children suffering from this deficiency to not feel excluded or abandoned, but rather understood and loved.

2. Help Them Make Decisions

Studies at the University Clinics for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry show that children with ADHD use less differentiated learning patterns and thus, make less optimal decisions for themselves. Instead of acting in self-interest as most of us do, they rely on their instinct, which, because of their deficiency, cannot be accurately perceived.

As a teacher, you might have to guide your student through the decision-making process. You should not make decisions for them, but definitely be supportive and involved when they need your help (even when they do not ask!).

For example, they might be stressed about picking a writing topic to develop on. Instead of choosing for them, help them cross out the alternatives that don’t fit their interests. If they are left with two choices and cannot decide even now, flip a coin or play a fun game to see which one the winner is. Be interactive and fun and don’t ever let them think they’re slower than the rest!

3. Teach Organizational Skills

You could experience the next situation many times in the future: your student has forgotten their school supplies at home. They did not do their homework because they claimed they did not have enough time. Instead of getting mad and punish them immediately, you should consider teaching them something new: organizational skills.

The executive function of the brain for kids suffering from ADHD shows impairment because abnormal dopamine levels are present in their frontal lobe. Thus, punishment will not constitute a good incentive to move forward, even if at first, their attitudes seem to develop out of laziness and disinterest.

To help them come prepared for class, provide them with additional supplies (for example, two sets of books, one for home and one for class) and have them use proper supplies (for instance, a large notebook is a smart choice, since they could experience problems with writing in small spaces).

Don’t forget to print out the writing instructions and hand them a hard copy (or two!). This way, they will remember what to do and what to avoid, making the process clear for them once more. You could also teach them to use different colors for different subjects; for example, pink for Math, yellow for English, and green for Geography. Also, help them keep all of their files in one large folder so that they never misplace anything.

4. Guide Them Step by Step

“If students struggle with the writing process, pull a chair and sit next to them. Be patient and attentive to their needs. Assure them that, even though it might take some time to complete the writing assignment, their results are going to be outstanding. Encourage them as much as you can, as often as you can – they need it!” shares Clement Harrington, former teacher and freelance writer at book review service.

You could insert various ideas while helping them practice their writing skills. Don’t be too straight and authoritative, give them the chance to correct their mistakes. For instance, if the first sentence of a larger paper does not fit the context, ask them, “Is there any way in which you could reformulate this sentence?” but don’t say, “Reformulate the first sentence because it sounds odd.” Compare and contrast these two approaches and understand why picking the second one would discourage your students.

5. Explain Editing

Students with ADHD can have a hard time writing long papers and don’t understand the need to do so. After explaining to them why polishing their writing skills is important, teach them how they can edit their papers accordingly. Show them how using adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors can enhance their masterpiece! Encourage them to use the dictionary and thesaurus as well. Make sure they have a rough draft before the deadline so that they can focus solely on editing afterward.

6. Encourage the Use of Resources

As I mentioned previously, having a thesaurus at hand will be a great help to your students. The same goes for grammar, spell checkers, or writing services. If they need to check with a third party to make sure their work is flawless, let them do it.

The most common mistakes students with ADHD do: omitting words or phrases and misspelling content. So, let them use whichever form of writing comes most naturally to them (not necessarily cursive!) or let them type their papers. Help them proofread at the end if they haven’t one so already. Ask them to have their paper reviewed by a family member or an older friend before submitting it.

Wrapping Up

The unique perspectives of children with ADHD will help them be creative problem-solvers and hard-workers. They will not let you down as long as you are willing to help them overcome obstacles, even when they won’t admit it. It’s important to keep track of their progress and make learning sessions fun, even when your patience might be running out. In the end, a teacher-student relationship is symbiotic: you teach them something, and they’ll always teach you something in return!

Tiffany Harper began her career as a journalist in the educational publishing house, in New York. Now she works as an expert writer in the education area with Paper Writing Pro. Please, contact her on Twitter.


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