How to Focus While Reading If You Have ADHD

How to Focus While Reading If You Have ADHD - Discover proven strategies to improve concentration and comprehension while reading for those with ADHD.

ADHD makes reading hard for some people.1 Both kids and grown-ups with ADHD might struggle to keep their focus. It’s also tough to fully get what you’ve just read and remember it.

Reading might seem to take forever. This is especially true if you have to go through the text multiple times to understand it.1 This challenge can be frustrating, leading to worries about doing well in school or at work.

Luckily, there are proven ways to help with these reading issues. This article will share some tips for improving focus and memory when reading, specifically for those with ADHD. But, these methods might also work for folks who don’t have ADHD.

Key Takeaways

  • ADHD can cause problems with understanding what you read, which can affect your grades and how you feel about yourself.
  • By cutting down on distractions and making reading enjoyable, children with ADHD can boost their reading skills.
  • Adults with ADHD can read out loud, listen to audiobooks, and take breaks to help them stay focused.
  • Many people with ADHD have other reading issues, like dyslexia.
  • Getting help from experts and using tools that assist with reading can make a big difference for those with ADHD.

Understanding ADHD and Reading Challenges

ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is a condition that affects focus, behavior, and thought organization. It shows up in various ways.1 People may find it hard to pay attention, start tasks, or stay still. They might also forget things often and act without thinking.1

What is ADHD?

ADHD has three main forms: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and a mix of both. Those mainly inattentive struggle to focus or stay organized. The hyperactive-impulsive type may be restless and act hastily without control. People with combined symptoms face challenges from both categories.1

Common Reading Difficulties with ADHD

Reading difficulties are common for those with ADHD. This is due to attention struggles.1 They might get distracted or miss key parts of what they read. Remembering and using what they’ve read can be hard too.1 Sitting and focusing on reading tasks might also be a challenge because of hyperactivity.1

Although medications can help, ADHD reading problems might persist.1 Remembering key points, staying still, and focusing can remain hard.1

For adults with ADHD, reading difficulties might differ. They could get lost in their thoughts while reading, lose track of where they are, and find it hard to pick out the main ideas.1

Strategies for Improving Focus During Reading

If you have ADHD, reading might not be easy. But there’s hope. Both kids and adults with ADHD can do several things to make reading more enjoyable and easier to understand.

Physical Strategies

Maybe you need to move to focus better. Try fidgeting with a stress ball, chewing gum, or using a standing desk. These activities can use up extra energy and help you pay attention.

Environmental Adjustments

Changing where you read can really help too. Turn off distracting devices and pick a quiet spot with good light. This way, it’s easier for those with ADHD to really get into their reading.

Cognitive Techniques

There are also clever ways to boost focus and understanding. Try reading smaller bits at a time. Actively marking important parts or taking notes as you go can make a big difference. Don’t forget to take breaks to recharge your mind.

Finding the right mix of these strategies is important.1 Experiment and see what helps you focus and do well when reading with ADHD.

adhd reading environment

Reading Aids and Assistive Technologies

People with ADHD can benefit a lot from assistive tech and reading aids.2 These tools make it easier to focus and understand what’s being read. They tackle issues like keeping focus, tracking text, handling distractions, and organizing facts.

Text-to-Speech Tools

Text-to-speech programs work wonders for folks with ADHD.3 They change written words into spoken text. This lets users listen to what’s written instead of reading it all. It enhances word recognition, focus, and understanding, especially for those who find it hard to process words visually.4 Good TTS options are Voice Dream Reader, Kurzweil 3000, and features found on e-readers and smartphones.

E-Reader Customizations

E-readers and digital reading platforms have settings that can be adjusted. These tools are great for folks with ADHD.2 Options include making the text gray, placing a screen mask, and the ability to highlight and take notes digitally. This cuts down on visual distractions and boosts focus.3 Then, there are spelling and grammar checkers like Ginger Software and Ghotit Real Writer. They help people with spelling and writing issues.

If someone’s not good at writing by hand, they can use PDF note software. Tools such as Adobe Reader or Mac Preview make it possible to type notes.2 On top of that, there are note-taking gadgets such as the Livescribe Smartpen, Notability, or Microsoft OneNote. They help with class notes by letting students add audio or images.2

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With assistive tech, people with ADHD can get past many hurdles. They can focus better, understand, and get more involved in what they read.234

How to Focus While Reading If You Have ADHD

Leveraging Hyperfocus

People with ADHD often delve deeply into tasks they find absorbing. This state is called hyperfocus.1 Reading can be hard for them, but using this ability to focus deeply can help. By choosing materials that match their interests, those with ADHD can use their hyperfocus skill. This way, they can keep their attention and understanding sharp while reading.1

Finding Engaging and Interesting Content

Aside from hyperfocus, selecting material that’s truly interesting is crucial for keeping focused.1 This involves exploring different genres, topics, and even how the content is presented, like through graphic novels or audiobooks. By doing so, individuals can find what really clicks with them. This personalized choice makes reading more enjoyable and helps in maintaining interest.1

To truly enhance the reading experience, it’s essential to understand the particular strengths and challenges of ADHD.1 Personalized strategies are key. These can help those with ADHD improve their focus and enjoyment of reading.1

Building Reading Habits and Routines

Having regular reading times helps a lot, especially for those with ADHD.5 These individuals might find it hard to stay focused.5 But, they can improve by setting easy goals and adding rewards.

Setting Goals and Rewards

It’s good to set goals, like reading a few pages every day.5 This gives structure and keeps you going.5 Kids with ADHD respond well to rewards, so positive feedback is key.6 Since a book can have up to 90,000 words, it’s a lot to take in. Setting small, achievable targets can make things feel more doable.

Rewards can be treats or fun activities.7 Also, using charts to track reading time can motivate.5 This way, the focus is more on the joy of reading, creating a better attitude towards it.

Incorporating Movement Breaks

A good setting for reading can help.5 Quick breaks like stretching or walking can aid focus, too.6 Stress and ADHD can make it hard to concentrate. Moving a bit can balance this and make reading better.

Joining book clubs or discussing reads can deepen your understanding.6 Thinking about what you’ve read helps you remember and use the info in your life. It makes reading more valuable.

Accommodations for Students with ADHD

For students with ADHD, specific help in school is very important. It supports their growth in reading, writing, and math.1They might find it hard to focus on reading, writing, and math. These tasks need a lot of attention.


Classroom Accommodations

In the classroom, they might need special things. This could be taking tests in a quiet room, sitting where there are fewer distractions, or taking short breaks.8Such changes are good for focusing better.


Testing Accommodations

During tests, they could use more time or breaks. A calm place to test without distractions can also be helpful.8All this helps them show their true skills in tests.

Schools can do a lot to help. By making changes in the classroom and during tests, they support students more.1They help in learning to read and understand better.1This all-around help makes an environment that’s good for students with ADHD. It helps them succeed in school.

Seeking Professional Support

Getting help from a professional is key for those with ADHD and reading struggles.9 A specialist like a therapist or ADHD coach can create steps tailored just for you. They guide on how to handle the mind and actions that affect reading.

Working with a Therapist or Coach

A therapist or ADHD coach will help build ways to tackle reading hurdles.9 They make coping with the issues less of a hassle, especially when it gets tough.9 Talking openly about your difficulties in reading is the first step to getting needed help for school.9 Patterson recommends finding unique reading methods, exploring diverse ways until you discover what clicks.

Medication Management

10 It’s important to seek help from a pro for complete ADHD support. They offer care and routes that fit your needs. Managing medicine with a doctor’s help is crucial. It can help control ADHD signs and make focusing on reading easier.11 Plus, cognitive behavioral therapy can aid in breaking bad habits and forming better strategies for learning and reading.

Reading Strategies for Children with ADHD

Reading can be tough for kids with ADHD. They might find it hard to understand what they read, stay focused, or find it fun.1 Yet, there are ways to help them enjoy reading more, understand better, and stay engaged.

Active Reading Techniques

Teaching them to read actively is key. They can read out loud, jot down notes, mark important parts, and take breaks to review.1 These steps can keep their focus sharp and help them remember what they’ve read.1

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Making Reading Fun and Engaging

It’s important to make reading fun for these kids.5 You can choose books they like, let them read a bit then take a break, and use rewards.5 A quiet, cozy spot for reading and reading as a family can also do wonders.1

Remember, every child is different. A plan tailored to their needs works best to boost their reading skills and interest.15

Addressing Comorbid Conditions

People with ADHD often face other conditions that can affect how they read. It’s crucial to deal with these other problems to fully help them.

Reading Disabilities

ADHD and reading issues often go together.9 Many kids and teens have both reading problems and mental health issues.12 Researchers believe genes might play a role in these challenges, affecting boys and girls alike.12 Exploring the links between dyslexia, ADHD, and other conditions is ongoing.12

Seeing a psychologist can be key. They can help create plans to improve things and find ways to make school easier.9 The CDC has useful resources for kids and students with ADHD.9

Anxiety and Depression

People with ADHD might also get anxiety and depression at high rates. This can worsen their reading skills and understanding. Getting help for these mental health issues, like counseling or medication, is important for doing better in school and life.

Working on all aspects of ADHD, including any extra problems, helps folks with ADHD do well. They can tackle reading and reach their goals.

Overcoming Procrastination and Motivation Issues

Many people with ADHD find it hard to start and finish reading tasks.13 They often put off studying subjects they don’t like or that are too much to handle.13 An ADHD symptom is lacking the drive to study, which relates to how the brain works with dopamine. This makes getting motivated tough.14 ADHD can also make tasks like starting work, organizing, and staying with it difficult. This leads to boredom, feeling stuck, and low energy.14 Mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, or ADHD apathy, can also play a part in low motivation.

To tackle these issues, those with ADHD can use some special strategies to up their reading motivation and make their reading environment better.13 They can set doable goals, break tasks into smaller bits, and turn studying into a game. These can help boost motivation and keep them on task.13 Reducing distractions with app blockers, noise-cancelling headphones, and a peaceful study spot can really help.13 Adding action and stimulating the senses can also be useful, like using bright colors, listening to white noise, or having something to fidget with.

Moving on,13 the Pomodoro Technique is a great way to manage time. It splits work into periods of focus, with short breaks, to keep attention sharp and improve how much gets done.13 Techniques like flashcards, spaced repetition, and mind mapping can help store and understand information better for those with ADHD.13 Having someone around while working, known as body doubling, can keep focus and make the work more accountable.

By using these tips and tools, individuals with ADHD can beat procrastination and low motivation. This improves their reading motivation and makes studying more enjoyable and effective.

Audiobooks and Multimedia Resources

For people with ADHD, reading can be tough. Audiobooks and other media help a lot. Listening improves how well you understand, stay interested, and focus. It’s like a personal reading assistant.15

Benefits of Audiobooks for ADHD

ADHD folks find audiobooks really useful. They offer an easier way to connect with information. For those with vision issues or dyslexia, the tech is a big help.15 Audiobooks also make understanding and remembering info easier for those with ADHD.15

Kids with ADHD might wiggle a lot and find quiet hard. Audiobooks make reading fun and easy for them. It’s good to invest in ebooks and audiobooks for them.16

Combining Audiobooks with Reading

Reading along with audiobook narration is powerful. It helps ADHD readers catch words and meanings better and faster. This teamwork of reading and listening boosts your focus and makes you understand more.15

If taking notes is hard, syncing notes with apps like Evernote and OneNote is a lifesaver. These tools help readers with ADHD. They smooth out the reading process.17 This way, reading becomes more enjoyable for them.

Managing Distractions and Environment

For those with ADHD, reducing distractions is key to boost focus and understanding.18 ADHD often makes it hard to ignore what’s going on around us. This can make focusing tough.18 Experts say people with ADHD may struggle more to filter out background noise and activity, making concentration hard.18

Minimizing External Distractions

Making a good place to read is very important for those with ADHD.19 Kids with ADHD might find it harder than others to ignore distractions.19 You can help by making sure the reading area is quiet, bright, and without too many things to look at or hear. Using things like special headphones, keeping away from screens, and having a special spot just for reading can really help.

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Dealing with Internal Distractions

18 Inside, the thoughts of someone with ADHD might jump around a lot. This can get in the way of staying on track.18 To help, remember this is because of ADHD, taking medicine, and focusing on who’s talking can all be useful. Sitting where you can see well and taking notes can also keep your mind from wandering too much.1820 Other good ways to cut down on distractions include managing your time well and using tech that blocks out interruptions from your phone and social apps.20


Reading can be hard for people with ADHD. But, with the right help, they can get better at it. They can improve their focus, comprehension, and how they feel about reading.21

To do this, they can use hyperfocus and look for interesting books. Also, making it a habit to read regularly helps a lot.21 Using tools like text-to-speech and e-readers can also make reading easier for them.21

Reading might feel overwhelming for those with ADHD, especially complex materials.22 But, creating a space that fits their needs and using special methods can make it better.22 Getting help from experts, like therapists or doctors, is crucial. They can give advice on how to tackle reading challenges.2122

With the right approach and support, people with ADHD can become great readers. They just need to focus on what they’re good at and manage their difficulties well. This way, they can boost their reading comprehension and focus. Plus, they’ll be happier and more successful in school and work.2122


What is ADHD and how does it affect reading?

ADHD is a disorder that affects how well people can stay focused, mostly while reading. It makes understanding and remembering what you read hard. You might find yourself daydreaming, forgetting things, and feeling impulsive.

What are some common reading difficulties experienced by individuals with ADHD?

Those with ADHD might feel like reading takes too long, needing to re-read to understand, and missing small but important details. This often leads to frustration and worry about doing well in school or work.

What strategies can help individuals with ADHD improve their focus and comprehension while reading?

Use fidget toys, lessen distractions around you, and break down reading into smaller parts. Creating a reading routine that’s the same every day can also help.

What assistive technologies and reading aids are available for people with ADHD?

Look into text-to-speech, custom e-readers, and reading apps. They can all help make reading more engaging and keep your attention.

How can individuals with ADHD leverage their tendency towards hyperfocus to improve reading?

Hyperfocus, or intense focus, is common in ADHD. You can use it to dive deep into reading if the topic interests you.

What are some educational accommodations that can support students with ADHD in reading?

Students might get more time on tests, the option to take breaks, or use audiobooks. These help make reading tasks more manageable.

How can working with a professional help individuals with ADHD overcome reading challenges?

Professionals can offer tools to manage both the cognitive and behavioral sides of ADHD that affect reading. This can make a big difference in how you approach reading.

What specific reading strategies are effective for children with ADHD?

For kids with ADHD, making reading active and fun is key. Adding in movement breaks can also help them stay focused.

How do comorbid conditions affect reading for individuals with ADHD?

Other conditions like learning disabilities or anxiety often go along with ADHD. They make reading even harder. Treating all issues together is crucial for better support.

How can individuals with ADHD overcome procrastination and motivation challenges related to reading?

Setting doable goals, creating good reading habits, and rewarding progress are effective. They tackle the common issues of putting off reading and feeling unmotivated.

What are the benefits of using audiobooks and multimedia resources for individuals with ADHD?

Audiobooks and multimedia make reading less daunting and more appealing to those with ADHD. They especially help when used alongside physical books.

How can individuals with ADHD minimize distractions to improve their reading experience?

It’s vital to reduce both outside and inside distractions for better focus and understanding. This step is key for an improved reading experience.

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