3 Writing Tips for Students with ADD/ADHD

For many students, when they hear the word writing, they let out a groan. Much of the time, their frustration with writing stems from not knowing what to write and not knowing how to organize themselves. And for students with ADHD or ADD, writing can feel like an overwhelming task. The best way I have found for helping improve confidence with and proficiency in writing is to help students break writing down into small tasks and to teach them organization strategies.


Creating small, manageable goals

Depending on the length of the assignment, this could mean coming up with the idea and then taking a break before going on to write, or, for a longer assignment, breaking it up into small chunks, like only writing a paragraph at a time. This also means encouraging students to start well ahead of time. If they have two weeks to complete an essay, have them start brainstorming the day they receive the assignment. Then have them work on one task related to the essay each day until it's finished.


Help them get organized

Two tools I use with all my writing students are mind maps and outlines. Mind maps can take several different forms, but the one I like to use best is a series of connected circles, a circle in the center for the main idea connected to smaller circles with the supporting details. (If you would like a template for this, I can send one to you.) Once a student has created their mind map, they can use it as a guide to create an outline. I still use the traditional outlining method we all learned in school with Roman numerals and letters. (I also have a template for this if you would like to see it.) There is a learning curve here, so practicing using these methods with each writing assignment will help your child become comfortable with them.


Always ask them to spell check and edit their work

Spelling can be challenging for students with ADD/ADHD. Encourage your child to use spell check and dictionaries, and always have them check written work for spelling errors. I am happy to work with them on words they frequently misspell. Editing and revising are two of students’ least favorite activities. But encouraging them to check their work for errors now will make them stronger writers in the future. If you are helping them with their editing and revising, it is good to tell them why something is incorrect so they can understand why the correction is necessary and learn from their mistake. Incorporating these methods into your child’s writing time can help them become more confident, successful writers.​