Helping ADHD Children Organize Their Thoughts


"My 10-year-old daughter expresses her thoughts in a jumbled fashion when she puts them on paper. What would help her organize her ideas?"


It is common for children with ADHD to have trouble with written expression. To help with the planning/organizing of the writing process, have your daughter try the following strategies:

1. Organize her ideas graphically. She can try software, such as Kidspiration or Inspiration (, to make a “mind-map” of ideas before writing.

2. Write ideas on index cards or Post-it notes. She can spread out, group, and sequence her ideas before writing them down.

3. Speak her ideas into a tape recorder. As she listens to the recording, she can decide what needs to be added, clarified, or sequenced differently before trying to do so on paper.

4. Use a pre-writing checklist of questions. For example, “Have I brainstormed and written down a number of possible topics?” “Have I listed several words, ideas, or phrases related to my topic?” “What details and examples might I use to support my ideas?”

Sandra Rief, M.A., is an educational consultant, speaker, and author of a number of books for parents and teachers on how to help students with ADHD succeed in school. Some of her books include How to Reach & Teach Children with ADD/ADHD, The ADD/ADHD Checklist, and The ADHD Book of Lists. She has trained thousands of educators through her workshops/seminars nationally and internationally on effective strategies and interventions for students with learning, attention, and behavioral challenges. A former award-winning special education teacher, from San Diego, California, Sandra is an instructor of continuing education online/distance learning courses for teachers on ADHD and Learning Disabilities through California State University, East Bayand Seattle Pacific University.
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