Why Students with ADHD Can’t Read

WHOA WHOA WHOA, pump the brakes lady…How DARE you say something like that?…How close-minded can you possibly be?  I’m sure these are thoughts going through some of your heads.  Let me explain myself.  I am by no means saying that children with ADHD can’t read.  That would be absolutely ridiculous.  I not only have family with ADHD who are avid readers, but have also tutored students with ADHD that are very successful readers.  Still this is the way that some children with alternate learning needs feel.  They think they can’t read or they are embarrassed to read…and they don’t.

Are you tired of throwing things at the wall to see what sticks? Are you burnt out from all the resources, research, and restarts? Join us as we walk you step by step through how to have the most impact you have ever had in your classroom. No burnout necessary! CLICK HERE to get started.

Phonemic Awareness

This is the process most teachers are familiar with when they think of “sounding out” words, stretching sounds, etc.  A…aaah…apple, B…buh…bird.  This is how many children learn to read and are taught to read.  The problem that occurs with this method is that some kids struggle with putting sounds together to make words.  It’s not that they can’t read, they just read differently.  Their struggle with the traditional approach combined with their lack of confidence creates a reading anxiety and causes a brain block.  They hate reading.  They think they’re not any good at it and they don’t want to try.


Children with ADHD have a slower processing speed.  Essentially, if we’re thinking of the brain like a computer, trying to string multiple phonemes together is like clicking the mouse 20 times to get the computer to respond.  The more commands we send it, the slower the processing speed.  After speaking to family members with ADHD, I came to the conclusion that “sounding out” words is an ineffective approach for some children.  You can read more in this article.

Word Recognition

Continuing with the computer analogy, when students recognize a word, there is no need to process it.  There is no sounding out, just identifying.  There is only one command for the computer to complete.  The more singular commands the students can perform, the more fluid their reading will be and the more brain space they will have for comprehension.  This is the idea we use in our emergent readers.

Virtual Learning with Emergent Readers

You can now access our game-changing emergent readers on Boom Learning. We’ve included comprehension questions, phonics questions, vocabulary identification, and even recorded songs!

Our Boom Emergent Readers are perfect for at-home instruction or classroom literacy centers. The paid subscription even gives you the option to assess your students’ progress. This is a simple way to differentiate for your students and teach them valuable content-area vocabulary. Here’s the feedback we’ve heard so far:

These emergent readers are great for my guided reading in Kindergarten! My ELL students really benefit from the real photos. I love how I can teach science and social studies vocabulary at the same time and my students like singing the words as well!

I have some students who are very interested in science, and this product was a fantastic find to meet that need and get them learning at home! I am using more Boom cards with my class now, and this is something I will definitely use when we are able to be together in the classroom again.

I LOVE the song, and my students will too! I also like all of the skills that are included with this product.

Learn more about why we love Boom!

Check out our emergent readers on Boom!  


Grab a free Boom reader from us!

Word Crumbs and Families

This strategy is like phonemic awareness and word recognition having a baby.  Students identify patterns in words that allow them to decode them more quickly.  For example: -an, -at, -ill, -an.  If students recognize the word family their word belongs to, they will have an easier time “sounding it out.”  Word crumbs are smaller words or sounds within larger words.  For example: literate.  I can find the word “it” and the word “ate.”  I recognize “er” from the -er family.  Now I sound it out from there: l-it-er-ate.  I’m putting words and groups together rather than sounds.  It reduces the number of commands.


Story Analysis 

Give them copies of books they can write on.  You can use our Daily Concept Builders™ books or a book of your choosing.  The benefit of our books is that they are all written using specific thematic vocabulary and use real photos so the students can match words to pictures. I always tell them “Pictures match the words.”

Tell them rather than reading, they are going to analyze the text. 

This helps your students who have anxiety about the idea of reading.  You can also tell them they are word detectives and give them small magnifying glasses.   Have them highlight or circle the words they know.  Once they have found all the words they know, see if they can guess what is happening in the picture.  See what words they can decipher based on context clues, and have them highlight those.  If there are still words they don’t know, go over the words with them.  Have them point to the word.  You say the word.  Have them point while they repeat it.  Repeat this process 3 times.  Once this is completed, have them try to read the whole sentence.  Complete the repeating process for each page.  After their analysis, see if they can read the book more fluidly. There are also comprehension questions in the back of the books.

All of these strategies can work together toward the success of all your students reading in the classroom.  Each student learns differently and the more options we offer, the more we can ensure our students thriving in the classroom.

Are you tired of throwing things at the wall to see what sticks? Are you burnt out from all the resources, research, and restarts? Join us as we walk you step by step through how to have the most impact you have ever had in your classroom. No burnout necessary! CLICK HERE to get started.


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