Try for free

Tips for reading with ADHD

Teen girl excited to read on phone

Table of Contents

Many children and adults with ADHD find reading difficult. They may struggle with focus, with sitting still to read, or they may battle distractions. See tips for reading with ADHD

Many children and adults with ADHD find reading difficult. They may struggle with focus, with sitting still to read, or they may battle distractions. All this can impact reading comprehension and retention of the material. Kids may struggle with focus and this difficulty reading can affect their grades. At work, adults may find that difficulty reading with ADHD affects their performance on the job.

These difficulties can cause frustration, low self-esteem, and even lead to depression as both kids and adults become discouraged because they can’t see a way to overcome them.

There is a solution. An exciting technology, Text-to-Speech (TTS) can help by offering children and adults a way to read books and other written material by listening to the text being read to them while they can follow along or just listen. It’s similar to audiobooks, but with greater flexibility and reading material choices.

Best of all, it empowers the individual with ADHD, children and adults alike.

Before we begin, what is ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, affects about 8% of children in the United States and about 4% of adults over 18. According to the CDC, it is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders affecting children – although adults can also be affected.

Individuals who have ADHD often struggle with paying attention or focusing. They might have a hard time with impulse control or have a tendency to be fidgety, overly active or lose interest in things quickly. Any of these symptoms can make reading difficult, but when the person experiences several of them at once, reading can seem impossible.

There are three types of ADHD:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Presentation – The person struggles with focus, making it difficult to stay on task, organize, follow instructions, pay attention to detail, or keep up with a conversation. They are easily distracted and are often forgetful.
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation – The person struggles with sitting still for any period of time. They tend to talk a lot, fidget, and struggle with impulsivity. Adults may feel restless while children may move constantly, running, climbing, or jumping. They interrupt when others are talking, speak at times that are inappropriate, have trouble with controlling the volume of their voice, have trouble waiting their turn, and grab things out of other peoples’ hands.
  3. Combined Presentation – The person exhibits symptoms of both types of ADHD.

You can read more about ADHD here.

How ADHD May Make Reading Difficult for Some People

All types of ADHD have the potential to cause reading difficulties for children and adults. Difficulty sitting still and difficulty focusing are common symptoms and can affect the way the child or adult processes, comprehends, and retains the information.

Memory and retention are two of the most common concerns of adults with ADHD as well as parents of children with ADHD. Processing information for the ADHD brain is a struggle because of distracting thoughts and distractions in the environment. Managing distractions as well as managing time can be difficult and can significantly impact reading. What’s more, just sitting still can be a source of frustration and make reading a struggle.

People with ADHD have a very hard time concentrating and focusing. This is not their fault. It is how their brain processes information. However, it does make it harder for them to retain information that they read and visual track that information to read. This can affect comprehension as well as reading speed. It can also cause them to avoid reading because it’s “just too hard.”

How Can Parents Help their Children with ADHD?

Once a learning or reading disability is ruled out or addressed, parents can support their children with ADHD by educating themselves. Trying to force an ADHD child to be “normal” is a mistake. It makes the child feel defective and less than. This can have a serious emotional impact, causing problems with self-esteem and self-worth.

Instead, find solutions that work with ADHD symptoms. Talk to your child to better understand their personal struggles – ADHD does not look the same in all people. Use that information to launch a plan to not only help them read, but that instills a love of reading. Identify tools that can help.

How Adults and Students with ADHD can Get More from Their Reading Experience

Whether reading for leisure, schoolwork, or job performance, adults and children with ADHD can get more from their reading experience. There is a lot published on ADHD and reading challenges for adults as well as children, and experts stress the importance of minimizing distractions and working with the individual’s unique ADHD presentation.

A counselor can help with finding strategies tailored to the individual that can help increase reading comprehension and speed. Finding a low distraction reading space is another popular solution. Text-to-speech is another common solution that is quickly gaining popularity because it frees the person to do other things while “reading” such as playing with a fidget spinner, doing other work, or walking or exercising – or they can follow along with the text reader.

Tips for Reading with ADHD: Try Text-to-Speech

With text to speech you can have any book or article read aloud. People tend to stay focused on what they are hearing, though they might be doing something else. You or your child with ADHD can do this for a long period of time.

There are ways that people with ADHD can read and review information. There are a number of apps available that help organize information, read text, and provide summaries of larger works. Of course, having someone read to them or using audiobooks are always options.

However, none of these actually empowers the person to read on their own. They do not encourage any independence in reading which can cause the person to feel trapped or limited by their ADHD instead of having the confidence to pursue the activities they enjoy or tasks they need to complete at work or school.

TTS gives them that freedom by empowering them to pursue active reading activities independently. Speechify offers TTS reading solutions that allows users the choice of listening to the text as it is read or following along with the Speechify text highlighter.

This makes it easier to complete schoolwork and adults can experience increased job performance and productivity. It opens the door for them to discover the adventures and excitement of delving into a good book and getting lost in the story without frustration.

But best of all, it gives them the power and freedom to finish reading a piece of content more often than not.


Can you enjoy reading with ADHD?

Reading is an activity that can be enjoyed by just about anyone, including adults and children with ADHD. However, it can be a challenge because the person with ADHD may have trouble sitting still. Focus may also be a problem because their mind is racing. TTS provides a hands-free way to read text, allowing the user to do other things while reading, such as using a fidget spinner, or other focus enhancing activity.

How can I get better at reading with ADHD?

ADHD can make reading a challenge, but it is not impossible. If you have ADHD you can read, comprehend, and retain what you read. These tips can help.

  1. TTS works like audiobooks by providing a hands-free reading experience but gives you the flexibility to expand your library with works that have not been made into audiobooks – and even other types of documents.
  2. Create an area just for reading, where you are comfortable and are free from distractions.
  3. Read daily and set measurable goals for each day.
  4. Choose books that have shorter chapters.
  5. Read books that are illustrated so that your brain is constantly engaged as it goes from reading to viewing the image, then back to reading.
  6. Identify several authors whose styles you like and search for books by them, but also search for other authors like them to expand your interests.
  7. Accept any challenges that ADHD presents and look for ways to work with it. Don’t try to change to fit some preconceived notion of what a reader should be or how you should read and comprehend. Find your way, what works best for you, and stick with that.

Are audiobooks better for ADHD?

People with ADHD often do quite well with audiobooks because they provide a stimulating, hands-free alternative to paper books. They can still get their reading in, satisfying the desire for new information, ideas, and stories, but without being bound to one place, trying to sit still and read. Audiobooks can be liberating for the person with ADHD.

Is TTS good for ADHD?

Text-to-Speech, or TTS, can be a good solution for someone with ADHD, simply because it allows the person to expand their library beyond books that have not been made into audiobooks. TTS applications like Speechify have tools that make reading even easier. A text highlighter allows the reader to follow along by providing a visual marker within the text. It can help train the brain to focus on text, read, and comprehend. This empowers the person with ADHD by encouraging reading on their terms.