Children with ADHD often have poorer math skills than their classmates. A recent study showed that children with ADHD had math achievement scores that were 8% to 10% lower than those of their peers.
Research has shown that children with ADHD may exhibit these math weaknesses:
- procedural errors, such as subtracting a larger number from a smaller number
- relying on finger counting
- more talking out loud to guide actions, rather than using inner speech
- slow speed
- difficulty retrieving number facts, which is information that one "just knows" and does not need to work out (such as "three plus four is seven") easily and accurately
- difficulty ignoring information that is not relevant in word problems
- difficulty solving problems with multiple procedures or steps
Children with ADHD may have difficulty with math for various reasons:
- They may find it hard to solve problems systematically.
- They may have trouble deciding whether a particular math strategy will be useful or not.
- They may have difficulty remembering and using knowledge they learned earlier.
- If they have language difficulties, they may have a hard time figuring out word problems.
Helping children with ADHD and math problems
In the classroom, the following strategies may help children with ADHD and math problems:
- rewriting problems in simpler language
- pointing out key words and concepts
- giving handouts so that children do not need to copy from the board
- explaining concepts in different ways, with links to "real-world" situations
- instructing children in specific problem-solving strategies
- helping children learn strategies with guided practice, review, feedback, and help
- giving children many chances to participate and be involved with lessons, such as small group learning or peer tutoring
- helping children express their understanding of concepts with guided questioning and support
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These strategies are discussed in detail on the TeachADHD web site.