Written Assignments

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Students with ADHD often struggle with fine motor skills, making the mechanics of writing difficult. For younger students this may be having difficulty holding a pencil and writing letters, and for older students this often results in poor handwriting. Students may find handwriting particularly challenging when they are also focusing on recalling information and organizing their thoughts at the same time. Working memory and poor organizational skills also affect students’ ability to structure written assignments. They might forget some of the components that go into an essay or have difficulty organizing and sequencing ideas. Here are some accommodations for written assignments:

  • Alternate writing tools: For younger students, allow options for writing other than pencil and paper. You can try letting them use larger writing tools such as a marker or thick sidewalk chalk or let them form words without writing such as manipulating magnetic letters.
  • Printouts of materials: If the class is copying information from the board, provide the student with a handout that has the information already printed on it.
  • Assistive technology: Allow use of assistive technology to help with writing such as speech-to-text software or a word processing program. Typing is often less challenging because students can focus on what they want to write about rather than on getting each letter neatly onto a page.
  • Visual organizers: For helping with the structure of writing, provide external organizers. For younger students writing sentences, a graphic organizer might have boxes saying “who” and “did what” to help the student remember to include all the different parts. For older students writing essays, a graphic organizer might have five boxes including a section for an introduction, three sections for supporting paragraphs, and one section for the conclusion.


Barkley, R. (2016). Managing ADHD in School The Best Evidence-Based Methods for Teachers. Eau Claire, WI: PESI Publishing & Media.

Lougy, R., DeRuvo, S., and Rosenthal, D. (2007). Teaching Young Children with ADHD: successful strategies and practical interventions for PreK-3. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Teach ADHD. (2013). Rethinking ADHD in the Classroom. Retrieved from: http://www.teachadhd.ca/abcs-of-adhd/Pages/Rethinking-ADHD-in-the-Classroom.aspx

U.S. Department of Education. (2008). Teaching Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Instructional Strategies and Practices. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/adhd/adhd-teaching_pg3.html

Zeigler Dendy, C. (2000).  Teaching Teens with ADD and ADHD: a quick reference guide for teachers and parents. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.

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