How to Teach a Child with ADHD How to Read: Part 1



My son is in 1st grade and teaching him to read has been a challenge. Our process goes something like this:

My son begins to read while moving his legs and moving his body in some weird position: “The dog and cat run ____”. I don’t know the word, tell me.

Me: Sound it out.

My son proceeds to wiggle his body really fast and whine saying “no! I can’t do it!”.

Me: I ask him again to sound the word out. I ask what does the first letter sound make.

My son: He sounds out each individual word and complains saying he doesn’t get it while he is still wiggling around.

Me: I tell him to please stay seated.

Eventually, he either gets the word or I tell him the word. It’s a battle many nights because it can be difficult and frustrating when he himself gets frustrated if he doesn’t know a word immediately. Does this sound familiar to you?

I always thought there was some magic formula that would help my son to read. I don’t know what the magic formula is, but I do know patience and consistency is the key.

Beginning Reading Tips

  • First and foremost, I highly suggest you have your child’s vision evaluated every year. In May of 2012, my son passed his regular eye checkup at the pediatrician’s office. In May 2013, his vision was 20/50. I took him to the optometrist, and now he wears glasses full time at school. My gut tells me his vision was not 20/20 at the visit in 2012. I had no idea he needed glasses, so just because your child seems fine, doesn’t mean his vision is perfect. A child doesn’t know any different because that is what he or she is accustomed to. I feel very bad about this because I think it may have contributed to his problems at school.
  • Pick the correct reading book level: If you pick a book to hard, your child will get very frustrated. Although the goal is to increase reading level, if you start higher than your child’s ability, he will feel lost confidence.
  • Each time your child correctly completes a page by himself or reads a word that has been difficult for him, “go crazy!” in the words of Yo Gabba Gabba. You know when your child learns to pee in the potty and you jump up and down and act silly congratulating your child?  This actually works with my son.
  • Make a list of the words your child doesn’t recognize or know. Play “Roll a sight word” with the words your child doesn’t know.
  • Pick a quiet place to read the book. Turn the TV off. Don’t let your other children distract your child while reading (which has been a problem in this house!).
  • Use computer games to help (check resources below).
  • Try to read to your child every day!

Teaching Kids with ADHD how to read resources:

Read part 2 on how to teach your child with ADHD to read here.

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