Does ADHD Affect Writing?



Children with ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder face challenges with attention to detail and thus, writing can be a challenging tasks as they may often make spelling or grammar errors. This disorder makes children unable to concentrate and thereby struggle to express themselves while writing than kids without this disorder.

In most cases, students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are tagged as “problem kids”. Though these children do not have any symptoms of developmental disability, they are often enlisted into special education programs. According to psychological studies, their brains work differently. However, it doesn’t prohibit them from being intelligent. Thus, parents, teachers and caregivers must pay special attention to these children and help them to deal with their challenges while supporting them to discover their true potential.


The Process of Writing

The writing process is not as easy as we think. It’s a multi-step process and combination of several skills along with planning, analysing, organisation of thoughts, sequencing information, implementation of grammar, spelling and punctuation rules. Apart from the integration of all these skills and steps, writing requires fine motor coordination and is altogether considered a complex process. 

As children grow up and get promoted to higher classes, the expectations around their writing skills become more demanding. They come across different assignments and projects that require writing communication and determine their academic success. In such a scenario, writing essays, reports and so on can create anxiety in children with ADHD. Getting ideas, processing thoughts and organising them on paper can become an uphill battle for them. 

So, to understand why a person with ADHD struggles to write, let’s understand this disorder in detail. 


What Is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a very common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects children. The symptoms of ADHD develop in childhood and last till adulthood. Children with this disorder find it difficult to focus, pay attention and control their impulses. Thus, most children with ADHD are hyperactive in nature. 

According to research, around 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have this disorder. It is usually diagnosed at school with symptoms that disrupt a child’s academic and curriculum performance. Students with ADHD struggle to produce thoughtful, well-synchronised, grammatically correct writing. 

Though there are no specific causes of ADHD, a few pieces of research and studies believe that this disorder has a genetic contribution. Three out of four children with this disorder have at least one relative with ADHD. Apart from genetics, other factors that may develop ADHD in children are brain injury and premature birth. However, the underlying reason for ADHD is not yet known.


Why Writing is Difficult for Those with ADHD?

As mentioned above, writing is a complex and multi-step process that requires concentration, organisation and other skills for positive outcomes. However, children with ADHD often struggle to produce a thoughtful and carefully written copy. Why? Here are some of the reasons why students with ADHD face challenges with writing.

  • Struggles to keep thoughts and ideas in mind for a longer span
  • Finds it challenging to focus on the chain of thoughts and hence, struggles to maintain the flow of writing
  • Can’t think of a bigger picture while communicating or manipulating thoughts, words and information
  • Due to the delay in thought processing, the person easily gets frustrated and takes time to complete work; because of the shortage of time, the person hardly gets time to review, edit and correct the written piece of work
  • Due to a lack of attention to detail, students often make spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors
  • Hyper activeness and impulsiveness, making one often rush through their assignments and thus, commit careless mistakes
  • Poor motor coordination makes students with ADHD slower and messier, making them struggle to write fast and clean
  • Reviewing and editing is tedious work; So students with ADHD easily lose their focus and interest while attempting the reviewing process 


To deal with ADHD, students should be introduced to strategies that address their learning problems and improve their skills to express in written language.


Strategies to Improve Writing Skills in Students With ADHD

Most students with ADHD struggle to write properly. Thus, a writing assignment like an essay or report seems like torture to them. However, these children often have amazing creative ideas which they fail to process or express on paper. Due to the struggle, they undergo while writing, they try to avoid it at all costs. The students with ADHD are often slow at completing their assignments and have difficulty in processing and synchronising their thoughts while putting them down on paper.


However, the good news is that there are strategies that can help children with ADHD to improve their writing skills. Here, one needs to work on their memory so that they can apply spelling, punctuation and grammar correctly while writing. In addition to this, fine-motor skill development can help children to write and organise print on paper. Parents and teachers should also follow strategies to control their hyper activeness and impulsiveness to improve their focus and attention to detail while processing written expressions.


Here are a few strategies that can help students with ADHD to improve their writing skills. 

  • Ask students to take notes on individual topics. They can further group the notes of similar ideas and identify a major concept. 
  • Let these students start small to build their writing skills. Encourage them to write short paragraphs of only two or three sentences. Let them increase the length of the paragraph gradually with time.
  • Demonstrate essay writing to students with ADHD. As these children are often good visual learners, consider writing an essay in front of them and explain each step. 
  • Encourage students with ADHD to use adjectives and active verbs in sentences. Interesting and powerful sentences are easy to remember. 
  • Children with ADHD, especially those who are impulsive and inattentive in nature, take a longer span to process their thoughts and pen them down. Allow them enough time to complete assignments.
  • Negative feedback can create an adverse impact on children with ADHD. These students often become conscious about their performance. So, don’t assign grades for their early work. Give them enough time to review and edit their work. 
  • Children with ADHD work really hard to process their thoughts and remember facts. In such a scenario, don’t judge them for their poor handwriting or grammar usage. 
  • Encourage these children to write journals about their trips, outings and experiences.

Addressing the problems in students with ADHD will help them find ways to deal with the condition effectively. Just like any normal child, these children have their own perspectives. Thus, being a teacher, parent or caregiver you can channel their unique perspective into creative word art. This will not only help children to improve their writing skills but also fulfil their full potential.

If you would like more strategies to support your child with ADHD and/or handwriting, check out ReadyKids platform where you can access unlimited OT resources in the comfort of your own home. 




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