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Understanding the Intersection of ADHD and Learning Styles

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ADHD and learning styles are important to see and understand together. We all learn and take in information differently. This is no less true for us who have ADHD.

Understanding your child’s ADHD learning style makes a significant difference in how well they function in their learning environment. Taking into account ADHD and learning styles helps a child learn whether you plan on learning to effectively homeschool ADHD children or you plan for teaching ADHD in the public school classroom.

ADHD and Learning Styles #1: Auditory

First, some of us learn best from listening. We engage and focus best with our environment through hearing. Whether that comes to us in the form of music or a lecture: we learn through listening.

If your child happens to learn best through listening, what can you do to help them out?

First, help the auditory learner through focusing on their strengths. Use books on tape or CD to help them learn. Read aloud to them.

Additionally, learn how to use music to help your child learn. Studies show us that music helps memory formation and retention. This can be especially true for auditory learners. Utilize ADHD music techniques to better help your child focus.

Secondly, realize that your auditory learner might not be very visually or touch focused. You don’t need to necessarily see this as a weakness, but you need to be aware of it. Still try to engage your child with these learning styles through games such as “I Spy” that might help them better engage with visual or touch senses. 

ADHD and Learning Styles #2: Visual

Secondly, others of us learn through sight. We process things in our environment primarily through what we see. Perhaps that means your child learns best through graphs or diagrams as opposed to written or spoken instructions.

If you do not know where your child falls along the learning style scale, there’s a good chance they are a visual learner. In looking at whether children are kinetic or visual learners, some studies have shown that up to 80% of young boys are visual learners.

To help your child best succeed as a visual learner you should focus on putting instructions in visual form. Make charts or lists that they can see. Use pictures to teach words and phrases.

Also, know that they might not follow audio commands or instructions as well as some of their peers. If you find they struggle with some instructions, show them rather than tell them. Walking them through a concept with a drawing or showing them yourself will work wonders in improving their understanding.

ADHD and Learning Styles #3: Tactile

Thirdly, still others of us learn most from touch. We call these people tactile or kinesthetic learners. Tactile learners make up about 5% of the overall population.

For tactile learners, what we feel with our hands teaches us much more than what we can learn through watching or hearing. This typically means that we love to learn by doing.

This could mean learning how to put a machine together through working with your hands and trial and error. Or this could mean building something one piece at a time.

Many people who learn through touch, prefer to do work that gets their hands dirty. They thrive working as carpenters, firefighters, actors, or dancers.

To best help a tactile person learn you want to give them plenty of hands on activities to do. They tend to not like or be comfortable sitting for long periods of time. Get them active and involved, and they will enjoy the learning and profit from it.

Bringing it All Together

So what style learner describes you best? Do you prefer to learn by hearing, seeing, or doing? Sometimes we find it difficult discerning what style fits us best.

If this is you, don’t fret. Fortunately, people who have studied this much longer than me or you have provided tools to help us best identify our learning styles. Help identify your preferred method of learning through tests such as this index of learning styles questionnaire developed at NC State University, or the Barsch learning style inventory.

Use tests like these to help identify your learning style. Properly understanding ADHD and learning styles makes a tremendous impact on developing an effective learning plan. Help yourself or your child with ADHD today by gearing your learning environment to match your learning style.