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The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders, 2nd Edition by Sandra F. Rief

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5.6 Why Writing Is a Struggle

Written language is the most common area of academic weakness in children and teens with ADHD and learning disabilities because the process is complex and places a very high demand on executive functions. Producing a writing assignment requires the integration and often simultaneous use of numerous skills and brain processes, many of which are areas of significant weakness for them. This includes, for example, planning and organization, memory, self-monitoring, cognitive flexibility, as well as skill and facility with language, spelling, and mechanical skills, speed of processing, and more. Therefore, the act of writing is often tedious, overwhelming, and aversive for students with ADHD or LD.

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These children are often verbal and knowledgeable but struggle to show what they know on paper because of their impairments in the following areas.

Planning and Organization

Writing requires being able to generate, plan, and organize ideas. When given a written assignment, students with ADHD often get stuck here. They do not know what to write about, how to organize and begin, or how to narrow down and focus on a topic.

  • Writing requires taking the time to first think carefully about what one wants to communicate and planning what and how to write it before actually beginning to write.
  • There is a specific organizational structure for different types of writing ...

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