Writing and ADHD: Explicit Strategies

Writing can be particularly challenging for individuals with ADHD and/or executive functioning (EF) challenges for many reasons, as explained in a recent post on this blog.

This blog post will outline five key areas related to writing in which explicit instruction can enormously benefit students with ADHD and EF issues, and all other students as well.

1) Assist with  and teach strategies to support generation of ideas for writing

  • Engage in a discussion about the topic to get the mental juices flowing
  • —Brainstorm any and all ideas, writing them down, nothing is out of bounds
  • —Use graphic organizers and mind-maps – visual ways to capture and organize thoughts
  • —Use speech to text software to capture ideas
  • Celebrate creativity!

2) Assist and teach ways to organize thoughts

    • Write ideas on index cards or “Post-it,” then group and organize them
    • Use graphic organizers
    • Convert mind maps to outlines
    • —Use discussion to clarify and organize thoughts
    • —Dictate into a tape recorder, then listen to what you taped

3) Teach and demonstrate specific writing formats

  • Link brainstorming process to writing formats
  • —Explicitly teach sentence, paragraph and essay writing
  • Offer guides for paragraph and essay construction
  • —Demonstrate/model the process of writing each of the above
  • —Provide opportunities to practice above formats

4) Assist and teach to extend and enrich writing

  • Encourage frequent reading, or listening to books on tape to enrich vocabulary
  • —Play word games as a family
  • —Demonstrate how to add detail and description to sentences and paragraphs
  • Provide opportunities to practice adding detail and description
  • —Use word-prediction software
  • —Consult lists of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs when writing or editing

5)  Explicitly teach editing and proof-reading

  • Use acronyms to remind of grammar rules, e.g. SPMM – single and plural must match
  • Identify and create a personal list of common  errors to check
  • Read work aloud to listen for errors
  • Proof-read backwards from last sentence to first
  • Encourage use of electronic spell-checkers and dictionaries
  • Provide opportunities for guided practice of editing and proofing

A subsequent blog post will address several additional ways to assist and support students with ADHD and EF challenges in succeeding with the writing process.

For more on ADHD and Writing see this blog post: ADHD and Writing Assignments

References consulted:


photo credit: Poulson Photo, freedigitalphotos.com

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