View Full Version : Writing impairment in individuals with AD/HD

05-12-14, 10:14 PM
There are many individuals with ADHD who struggle with writing. Are their any theories about why this might be? Is it related to a language or working memory deficits? Something else? If anyone can point me toward any potential research or resources I would greatly appreciate it. I know Russell Barkley mentions writing problems are possibly related to problems with problem solving impairments but he doesn't go in to any detail. It seems this is a much needed area of study. Thanks for your help.


05-12-14, 10:22 PM
I have terrible handwriting. I get confused many times between writing and printing and combine both. My sentences slope like crazy without lined paper.

Maybe there is a connection.

05-12-14, 11:02 PM
Yes. ADHD disrupts fine motor sequencing, which is the essence of handwriting.

Hope that helps.



05-12-14, 11:04 PM
Sorry, quick read and thought it was handwriting OP was referring to.

Not sure if ADHD also effects writing ability. I would imagine it does. I will save that one for Mctavish23.

05-12-14, 11:07 PM
So did I.

05-12-14, 11:25 PM
I'm ADD (not ADHD) and I used to be a terrible writer. I'd leave half the details in my head even after progressing several times. However, I started to read a bit more towards the end of high school (I know a lot of ADD/ADHD people don't enjoy reading much so that could be related too) and somehow an interest in writing sparked in me. Creative writing has become my favorite hobby now and my writing has improved to the level where I tested out of English in college. I would say it doesn't come naturally to most of us but writing actually helps me cope with a lot of the problems I have associated with ADD. Not sure if that's a healthy coping mechanism or not but there's gotta be worse things I could be doing.

05-13-14, 12:07 AM
My brain speed and my writing speed don't always match well.

I couldn't tell you which one is ahead and which one is behind.

They just don't seem to be on the same page.

I draw in short scratches, never long cartoon like lines.

I also go back and forth between printing and writing.

Sometimes I miss one of the letters, when I am signing my signature.

But it is not always the same letter.


05-13-14, 01:19 AM
ADHD-I, here.

I devoured books when I was a kid. Hyperfocused on reading. It was a great escape; after all, most books have an internal logic in them that doesn't exist in real life.

My hand-writing and writing abilities were better than fine.

I don't know about the brain processes in particular, but I *do* know that if an ADHD person becomes interested in reading, etc, they will get profient at it.

05-13-14, 01:35 AM
I was referring more to composition problems than to problems with aesthetics.

05-13-14, 09:40 AM
I was referring more to composition problems than to problems with aesthetics.
My son struggles with both...can't construct a complete thought and get it on the paper very easily, and also cannot write legibly. Better with medication, but still not great...

05-13-14, 11:42 AM
Do you mean hand writing? Or written communication.

I was said to have a written language disability.(from school testing)
Always struggled with writing papers. It is agonizing. I made it through college with only needing to write the longest of papers at 5 pages. It hard to organize my thoughts and be consistent. On top of that I am dyslexic, so that extemporaneous writing was really a challenge.

05-13-14, 04:15 PM
addthree, I'm NOT talking about handwriting. I'm talking about composition. :0)

Does anyone have any research they can point me towards?

05-13-14, 04:17 PM
I love reading and it doesn't matter how interested I am in a topic I still struggle MASSIVELY with composition.

05-13-14, 04:21 PM
mctavish how about composition? I'm not really referring to handwriting and can you be as specific as possible, I really need specifics so I can find journal articles. Thanks

05-13-14, 04:23 PM
My son struggles with both...can't construct a complete thought and get it on the paper very easily, and also cannot write legibly. Better with medication, but still not great...

Yes, this is more along the lines of what I am referring to. Medication helps me with different aspects of my ADD but not really this aspect either.

05-13-14, 05:46 PM
I found an article on the topic. It unfortunately lumps spelling, grammar, composition and handwriting all together. Link at bottom has the study results but pretty vague. Hope it helps.

By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Kids with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to have writing problems such as poor spelling and grammar than their peers, suggests a new study. And the difference may be especially conspicuous in girls with ADHD.

Reading and math problems often raise red flags for teachers and parents, but "written-language disorder is kind of overlooked," said study author Dr. Slavica Katusic, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Writing "is a critical skill for academic success, social and behavioral well-being," she added. And if writing problems aren't noticed early on and addressed in kids with ADHD, they can suffer long into adulthood, Katusic told Reuters Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 10 percent of kids ages four to 17 in the U.S. have ever been diagnosed with ADHD -- a number that has been on the rise in recent years.

The current study included close to 6,000 kids -- everyone born in Rochester between 1976 and 1982 who was still living there after age 5. Katusic and her colleagues tracked school, tutoring and medical records to see which kids showed signs of ADHD, as well as how well they performed on writing, reading and general intelligence tests through high school.

In total, 379 of the kids fit the criteria for ADHD, which was more common in boys than girls, the study authors report in Pediatrics. Of all kids in the study, just over 800 scored poorly on tests of writing abilities. Most kids who had trouble with writing also had reading difficulties.

Writing problems were much more common in both boys and girls with ADHD. Close to two-thirds of boys with ADHD had trouble with writing, compared to one in six boys without ADHD.

For girls, 57 percent with ADHD had a writing problem, compared to less than 10 percent without ADHD. And girls with ADHD were almost ten times more likely to have a combination of writing and reading disorders compared to girls without the condition.

Memory and planning problems in kids with ADHD may affect the writing process, the authors explain, and ADHD has been linked to learning disorders in the past.

Annette Majnemer, who has studied handwriting in kids with ADHD at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said that many with the disorder seem to have difficulty with that component of writing.

"It might be partially the fact that they're inattentive and distractable and hyperactive," she told Reuters Health. It's also possible that motor skills and coordination problems are partly to blame, said Majnemer, who was not involved in the new research.

Katusic added that genetics might be behind both ADHD and some writing problems, but that in general, it's very hard to tease out exactly how ADHD is linked to writing and reading disorders.

Treatment for the ADHD, as well as individual education plans that address some of those related difficulties, can help, Katusic said -- especially if they're started when problems first arise.

"When parents notice something or teachers notice something, (kids) have to be treated not only for ADHD, but they have to be tested to see if they have other learning problems," she said.

"Clinicians and the teachers have to emphasize that the testing has to be done for everything, every kind of learning disability," Katusic said. "It has to be identified early and the treatment has to start early."

SOURCE: Pediatrics, online August 22, 2011.

05-13-14, 06:01 PM
My handwriting is so bad it's illegible even to me. Even when I think I've wrote a good note for someone that's legible, I hear later they had to play "what does this say" and try and guess from context.

The only really good thing is I will often sign official documents with swear words.


As to being able to write a paper, well, I assume it has something to do with lack of organization. I've recommended the puke method any number of times on here, you just write and write, not caring about order just getting the information out. Then you can edit and move it around, add a bit here add a bit there, delete stuff, then write your opening paragraph and voila!

For me this takes advantage of my poor ability to organize and also the wasting of time trying to get started.