Assistive Learning Aids: 13 Tools to Aid Reading, Writing, and Organization

ADDitude's top picks for assistive technologies that boost your ADHD child's reading, writing, and organizational skills.

A child with ADHD using assistive learning aids and technologies

WIZCOM TECH READING PEN ( helps students decode long words or understand vocabulary when they are reading. The pen, about the size of a marker, is a scanner, and when students run its tip over a word, it will pronounce and define the text.

SKY WIFI SMARTPEN ( is an invaluable tool for anyone who has difficulty keeping up when taking notes. Livescribe looks like a pen, but it records audio during a lecture or a meeting, allowing users to write down only a few key words while still capturing a complete record of what is said.

DRAGON DICTATION ( is helpful for students who have writing challenges. If a writer struggles with fine motor skills, spelling, or working memory, this software allows him to dictate his ideas aloud rather than having to write or type them. (Proofreading is still important, however.) Dragon Dictation is now an app.

For students who struggle with reading as well as writing, the MEDIALEXIE SCRIBE ( software has both speech-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities, as well as a spell-checker, talking calculator, word-predictor, and more. READ&WRITE GOLD ( and VOICEDREAM (, both sold as software and apps, are also good choices for those in need of text-to-speech technology.

Mac computers come with DICTATION already installed; Windows computers have SPEECH RECOGNITION. It sometimes takes a while to get the hang of dictating thoughts, so users should make time to practice.

MINDNODE ( helps students with ADHD organize their thoughts before writing a book report or an essay. With this mind-mapping app, the writer places her initial idea in the center, then adds ideas, color-codes them, and draws connecting lines. It’s easy to convert these mind maps to Microsoft Word documents or image files.

EBOOKS, which are accessible on just about any mobile device, as well as on dedicated readers like Kindle and Nook, are especially useful for students with learning differences. Those who struggle with reading can purchase AUDIOBOOKS (start with or iBooks) that sync with the electronic text, highlighting each word as it is read, engaging and anchoring a student’s wandering mind.

SPELLBETTER ( is a free app for the iPad that works like a smart word processor. Its word prediction and auto-completion features allow students who struggle with encoding to focus on their ideas, not on spelling. Text-to-speech capability makes it easy to listen to suggested words in the word bank and proofread, too.

MENDELEY ( is a lifesaver for older students with heavy reading or writing requirements. After creating a free account, users can save all electronic sources they consult for learning and research in a searchable online library. Mendeley allows readers to annotate PDFs and share documents with others, and it will create formatted works and cited pages with a single mouse click.

EVERNOTE ( helps busy students organize their academic lives. You can categorize and organize helpful websites easily for access on any Internet-capable device. High school and college students who read lots of electronic texts will find Evernote particularly useful, as they can create different notebooks for each class and deposit the documents they must consult alongside websites that they use for additional research.

QUIZLET ( enables students to study self-created digital flashcards or use sets created by teachers or peers. The site, which is also available as an app, allows young people to play a variety of games with study material.

PANTHER MATH PAPER ( helps kids with motor difficulties line up their work when solving math problems. The app lines up numbers neatly at the tap of a finger. A low-tech solution is to turn binder paper sideways, so that the horizontal lines form vertical columns.

Speaking of low-tech, your child can use an INDEX CARD to cover everything except the relevant section of a busy page. It blocks distractions and highlights the text being read.

TAGS: Homework and Test Help, Apps and Applications

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