Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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 read well.  Still this is the way that some children with learning disabilities feel.  They think they can't read or they are embarrassed to read...and they don't.

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 don't want to read.  They think they're not any good at it.

ADHD: 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.  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 and the more brain space that's freed up for comprehension.  This is the idea we use in our Word of the Day products.

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 Word of the Day products, or books out of our bundles.  They are all written using specific keywords.  I would laminate the pages and have them use a dry/wet erase marker.  Tell them rather than reading, they are going to analyze the text.  Or, you can 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.

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.

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