Have you ever picked up a book, fully intending to read it, only to lose interest just a few pages in? Or have you ever been reading a book then your mind starts to wander, you space out, and then you suddenly realize you’ve read three pages but don’t remember a thing?
Reading with ADD/ADHD can be very difficult. You may struggle with memory issues, or you may feel like reading just takes way, way too much time. As per usually with ADD/ADHD, your personal experience could be very different when it comes to reading books. Some folks with ADD/ADHD can hyperfocus, allowing them to plow through an entire book in record time. Others can barely read a chapter before completely losing interest. There are a few different ADD/ADHD strategies that you can use to help your reading comprehension and maybe even get you to the point where reading can feel like a fun leisure activity!
Reading for Pleasure
For some people, reading for pleasure is the ultimate escape. They can get into a good book like a warm bath, spending hours in another world. For others, reading for pleasure can be extraordinarily boring. It’s just words on a page, how do you get into that? If you have ADD/ADHD, there is a good chance that reading for pleasure can seem like far more work than it is worth. But there are a few strategies that can help you to enjoy the experience.
Similar to many ADD/ADHD strategies, proper scheduling and time-management is key. Just sitting down to read can be very difficult if it is completely unstructured time. Schedule your reading, like you would anything else in your day. Or, instead of sitting down to read for an hour, give yourself goals. Say, “I’m going to read two chapters today.” and stick with that. If you find your focus keeps getting broken, you should take frequent breaks.
Many people look down on comic books as just for kids, but that is a very limited point of view. There are brilliant works of fiction that have been written in comic book form, and they can be perfect for adults with ADD/ADHD (or anyone else for that matter). Fairytale works like “Bone” by Jeff Smith or the superhero-deconstruction comic “Watchmen” by Alan Moore are considered to be classics, well worth a read. The mixture of words and pictures can help someone with ADD/ADHD maintain their focus, as there is more stimulation on the page than just letters. And, as comic books are usually released in monthly issues, they are already divided into easily manageable chunks.
Struggling with reading can especially be a nightmare for students. The work can really pile up when you are in college or any other post-secondary education program, especially around exam time, making studying a major problem.
A great study tip is to make reading more active. Don’t just read the words on the page, try taking lots of notes as you read. Highlight things in a book to reinforce important passages. Reading out loud can be a great strategy for absorbing what you’re reading. It can be a bit slower, but if you really need to work to remember a passage, speaking it out loud will help you retain the information. Reading shouldn’t be a passive exercise, you should do things that help you get engaged with the words on the page.
Just like with reading for pleasure, make sure you schedule your reading and studying. Break everything up into more manageable chunks. If you find your attention wandering, move onto another subject rather than try to fruitlessly power through.
Audiobooks are fantastic. Yes, they are a completely different method of “reading” than picking up a book, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable.
The great thing about “reading” an audiobook is that you can multitask while you do it. Need to clean the house? Put on an audiobook to listen to while you tidy up. Want to go for a walk or have some exercise? Toss on a pair of headphones before you go.
If you find the audiobook is going a bit too slow for you, most audiobook apps (like Audible or Apple Books) allow you to speed up the audio without changing the pitch of the reader. So you will be able to get through the book faster without it sounding like Alvin and the Chipmunks are reading it to you.
Here is another little secret about reading: the more you read, the easier it will become. It’s like a muscle, by training your brain, you will be able to improve your reading comprehension and speed. This is true for both people with and without ADD/ADHD. At first, it can be quite a struggle to get through a book, but the more you read, the better you will become at it. As an experienced ADD/ADHD coach, and someone who loves books, I love to help people learn strategies that will increase their enjoyment of reading. Please feel free to contact me today and we can get you started on the path of greater focus and control over your ADD/ADHD, especially when it comes to words on a page!