Reading Problems-Getting inattentive ADHD Children to Read


Reading problems plague every parent sooner or later-How do you get an ADHD child with inattentiveness to read?

What is the key to getting an ADHD child with mostly inattentive type to read during the summer or even during the rest of the year? Understanding what goes on inside of the ADHDer’s brain and a lot of patience is the quick answer.

Read on, and you’ll discover more why children with ADHD primarily inattentive type don’t like to read and suggestions to help prevent learning problems due to poor reading habits.

Why children and teens with ADHD-inattentive type don’t like to read

It’s important to realize that reading is often a difficult for the ADHD child, whether inattentive or not. ADHD kids think of reading as a chore, when it doesn’t fulfill one of their basic needs:
• The need for immediate gratification and satisfaction
• The need for excitement and hyper-stimulation
• The need to meet or exceed a set or desired goal
• The need for recognition and a measure of self-esteem.

These are often the reasons ADHD and sometimes non-ADHD kids and teens give for playing video games and participating in on-line competitive activities. Every child desires these things to one extent or another, but it’s usually the ADHD child that expects or demands their needs to be met or else-everyone suffers when they suffer.

Also, let me remind everyone that children’s learning styles come in several different flavors. Many ADHD primarily inattentive type kids are hands-on auditory and visual learners. That means they learn better when they see and hear what they are to learn and can touch something that makes them store the memory so they can remember.

Children with problems focusing or with inattentiveness just don’t seem to connect with books that don’t fit their learning style.

What can a parent do to help their inattentive type ADHD child want to read or to deal with reading problems in ADHD kids?

• Allow your child to choose his or her reading based on interest, not academics. A child can read a manual about building a tree house and while doing so will build vocabulary, learn punctuation and practice comprehension
• Mix reading with a real hands-on experience…if your child loves animals, buy books about animal, zoos or farms and then schedule an outing and take the book with you as you visit a farm or the zoo…this provides both auditory, visual and tactile reinforcement for what has been read and stimulates desire for future reading
• Create excitement while your child reads. Let him or her have an overnight in the house or backyard camping adventure or a spend-the-night party where everyone takes turns reading and telling stories. Both of these fulfill the ADHD child’s basic needs-immediate gratification, rewards for performance and reading self-esteem.
• Consider buying a digital book reader that provides not only written words (text) and colorful pictures and illustrations, but has sounds and recorded commentaries about what the ADHD teen or child is reading.

These tips on getting children with ADHD-inattentive type will work regardless of whether used during the summer or the rest of the year. Many parents have told me they discovered the suggestions worked with their other children who were not ADHD, while using them with their ADHD child or teen.

In addition, I’d advise Pat Wyman’s learning skills inventory to get an idea of what type of learning style your ADHD child has. You can find it at

Last week, I ran across a blog dealing with the topic of getting a ten-year-old with primarily inattentive-type ADHD to read during the summer. ( There were many good comments and you might just want to take a look at it for more ideas on solving reading problems and getting an ADHD child with inattentiveness to read.
Dr. Frank

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