Learning style and ADHD

For children, teenagers and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) there is no one learning style. It is best therefore to look at how information is presented and what as families, educators and employers we need to be aware of.


Much of the information around us is received verbally, therefore when presenting information in this way try to:

  • Keep instructions brief and clear
  • Gain the person’s attention before speaking to them by saying their name and keep eye contact when giving important information
  • It is often good to ask the person to repeat the instruction to make sure they have taken it in and understood
  • Monitoring and encouraging the person to keep them focused on the work will also assist

When providing written work or instructions use the following techniques to assist:

  • Use *asterisks*, CAPITAL LETTERS or bold text to draw the person’s attention to important points and content
  • In a classroom limit the amount of information to be copied from the white board and provide ‘hand out’ sheets using the above strategy

The nature of ADHD will most probably mean that the person will struggle with change and will work best if they know what is expected of them. Consider the following to help with providing a structure:

  • Provide a routine but ensure there is flexibility within it so the person doesn’t become fixated on things needing to be the same
  • Classrooms need to be organised and predictable, with advanced warning if things are going to change
  • A daily schedule and classroom rules clearly displayed will help all children not just the student with ADHD
  • Let the child know in advance (whenever possible) of a change in the schedule
  • Keep choices to a minimum as too many become a further distraction

As an individual with ADHD you will begin to develop and understand your preferred learning style and you will be able to share this with family members, educators or employer. Here are some further strategies to consider:

  • One-to-one instruction will assist, but needs to be undertaken sensitively so as not to set the person apart from others
  • In primary school a class ‘buddy’, could be helpful to provide prompts and support
  • Mornings are usually the optimal time for learning, this may change in the teenage years, so try to schedule the most important learning tasks at this time
  • Checklists help to organise and make sense of what needs to be done
  • Teach the child to use mindmaps to help them organise their thoughts
  • Consider the physical environment as this will most probably be the biggest distractor to learning; seating should be at the front of the classroom and plan seating and furniture carefully to decrease distractions
  • At home provide a quiet place without clutter and distractions for homework and study to take place.

The learning style of students and older people with ADHD may change overtime.  Remember to think about the verbal and written information that you present and apply the strategies that work best for the person with ADHD. What is needed is support by family, educational environments and workplaces to help the individual reach their full potential.

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