Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Writing tasks for ADHD - Part 1: The Multi-tasking of Writing

Those of you that have followed this site at all, will know I had a lot of trouble with motivating Alice to write a year or so ago.  Despite my experience with ADHD kids, I did not see the writing challenges at the time as anything more than difficulty with the physical task of writing and Alice's dislike for it.  Especially when her confidence in forming the letters themselves improved, and her attitude improved with it, I figured my thoughts confirmed.  Turns out, there is more to it than that with her because here we are again.

Writing requires significant multi-tasking because the brain has to consider the physical motions of the action of writing (or typing), the grammar and structure of what is being written, the phonetic  symbolic structure, metaphoric symbols (when used) as well as mechanics including spelling, proper capitalization and punctuation and that is just to write a sentence!  I was able to help her move past her reluctance to write sentences when she felt she had a a better handle on the physical aspect of writing/typing, and when I told her to worry less - for now - about correct spelling.

Now, Alice is learning about "main ideas" or "topic sentences" and the structure of writing a paragraph.  This adds a whole 'nother layer of complexity.  There is the physical structure of the paragraph - spacing between letters, sentences, lines and leaving room for margins.  There is the structure of how the different sentences are supposed to relate to one-another and the need to give statements a logical order or organization.   Add to that the complexities outlined in the above paragraph about sentences and you've handed over a pretty daunting task for any beginner.  Try writing a proper paragraph in a language you don't already know well and then tell me it isn't difficult.

Alice, seems to have a rush of ideas she can easily verbalize, but then when it comes to putting them all on paper she just can't keep up with herself.  This is a common problem for nearly All beginning writers.  Even in adults, this kind of multi-tasking can be difficult for anyone, but it becomes especially difficult for kids with ADHD.  For more information about writing tasks and the additional challenges faced in completing those tasks by ADHD kids, click this link.  Alice has not actually been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, but I thought I'd start to try some of the writing techniques I used to use with ADHD students, and see if they helped her out too.  As a result, I thought I'd write a series of articles about techniques for teaching writing to kids with ADHD for those of you out there struggling to help your child with writing homework, or to teach your child writing skills in the home setting.

For Ideas and Solutions
I imagine if you are reading this, you are someone, or know someone that is struggling with writing or ADHD and writing and wanted to find information about how to help that someone.    Read on for those solutions:

For part 2, Chunking, click here.
For part 3, Idea Generation, click here.
For part 4, Getting it all organized, click here.
For part 5, Putting Technology to work, click here.
For part 6, Editing Tricks and Revision, click here.

The Four Components of a Good Writing Process as it offers up a nice context for this series by addressing the need for a new way to consider the writing process and what that new way of thinking might look like.

You might also like, Teaching Wiggle Worms and Assessing Wiggle Worms


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