Writing help for an ADHD student.


I am a high school special education classroom aide who has ADHD, and am looking for ideas to help an ADHD student of mine. I work in high school English classes with students who have reading and/or learning disabilities and we will be writing a 3 paragraph essay the next 2 weeks on Romeo and Juliet. I have a student who has ADHD and low writing skills. They have trouble organizing their thoughts when it comes to communication. Everything thing comes out in a jumble and doesn’t make much sense. I am wondering if anyone has any excellent tools, graphic organizers, or such that has worked for them? When I have to write a paper or even a longer email, I utilize a simple outline, but i don’t think that will be enough for this student.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!


I used to work in a special school with children with autism and ADHD, and really it depends on the student and their particular version of ADHD what support is suitable for them.

For one boy with very hyperactive ADHD and absolutely no interest in most subjects, I used to totally adapt the subject to him. So like, if the student’s special interest/hyperfocus is dogs, I’d ask them to draw Romeo and Juliet as dogs or something. One time we were learning about China, and he wasn’t having any of it - he was more interested in British flagship vessels. So, instead, we asked him to go online and look up the flagship of the Chinese navy. It was better than nothing!

Maybe you could scribe for him? Get him to speak about the subject, while you type what he says. I’m not sure about the nature of his communication difficulties so I dunno if that’d be easier than writing. You could do it in steps, taking a break every time he goes off topic, then come back to it 10 minutes later to continue. Then, to practise writing, you read out what you’ve typed while he writes it.

You could also write out a list of questions that his essay needs to answer, as one way to scaffold it. Then each question only needs a couple of lines of text. Breaks the whole essay down into chunks. Then put it all together at the end.


Perhaps you could get him to write each thought he has on individual small prices of paper and then help him to organise them into a suitable order.


Hey, not sure how well it will work for your student but bubble maps have helped me. It takes a loong time for me to do it though, but with a bubble for every idea I can see how to connect them and draw the connections that spring up while thinking of other ideas to one idea I had before, if that makes sense. Then when my thoughts get interrupted I don’t loose the good one I had first cause I wrote it down & I can come back to it.
Also I can never write without a super stressful deadline so maybe a timer would work to add stress/ deadline pressure! I’m most productive when write papers the day after it’s due, even if I start early.
I always have a lot of ideas so I write them out in separate paragraphs, stopping and starting then going back… always over the word limit, then go back and copy/past to sections that flow better & delete a lot in the end cause some arguments aren’t strong. I’m always better at quantity over quality cause everything is an interesting idea to add.
I’m in university for science & my technique is definitely not the most efficient. Sometimes when I don’t know where to start I’ll study the lectures instead of the research paper for the assignment & highlight parts of my notes to come back to while writing my paper.
It’s A LOT of work but maybe you can apply something in a meaningful way. COLOURS and good pens/hilighters will keep me focused too because I can switch them up when I get bored. I’ll do one topic in black then the next in blue then add colours in the process while studying… I don’t do all of this for every paper but a few things I’ve tried even though I hand it it late every time I pass with decent grades.
If anything maybe my commentary will give some insight on the struggle… hope it helps in any way. (I obv didn’t edit this piece very much hope you can follow the last bit)

  • bubblemap = memory
  • timer = pressure
  • quantity to start edit down for quality
  • background studying
  • colours, highlighters, pens, switch it up