10 Study Techniques for Students with ADHD

It’s no secret that students with ADHD can find the process of studying to be challenging. In fact, the symptoms of ADHD can present as direct obstacles to successful study sessions, which, in turn, can affect academic performance and self confidence.

It’s important to remember that ADHD does not correlate with lower intelligence , as people of all cognitive abilities may have ADHD. In fact, some students with ADHD are very bright and fall into a category called 2E or twice exceptional. Students with ADHD do not necessarily need to spend any more time studying than their peers. With the right support, though, students with ADHD can develop strategies and study activities that help them find how they can study efficiently.

In this article, we’ll break down the best study tips for students with ADHD, including easy-to-implement techniques and strategies that any student can employ.

ADHD in Children and Students

According to CHADD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic neurodevelopmental disorder “characterized by developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity,” prevalent in 11% of children.

ADHD presents itself in three ways in students, as described by the CDC :

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: The student struggles to stay on task, plan ahead, and stay organized. The student is forgetful and fails to follow directions.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: The student is restless and impulsive, often interrupting others and acting out physically at inappropriate times.
  • Combined Presentation: The student has both hyperactive-Impulsive and inattentive ADHD symptoms.

No matter their ADHD presentation, students with ADHD can face academic and behavioral challenges. These challenges can lead to a lack of confidence, anxiety, and frustration with educational expectations.

10 Study Tips for Students with ADHD

Every student is different, so it may take some time to find the right study techniques for their needs. To get started, we’ve outlined our top ten study tips for students with ADHD below.

1. Plan ahead.

Consider planning as a separate task that needs to be done first. For students with ADHD, planning, along with prioritization and time management , can be difficult executive function skills to develop. This can lead to procrastination and cramming.

As soon as you know you have a test, creating a study plan that features dedicated study time and activities well in advance of the test helps to break steps into manageable parts. This study plan should include realistic goals that can serve as checkpoints along the way. You may benefit from using a dedicated execution function planner , like the planner from Effective Students , which includes study tips by class type and specific instructions about how to plan ahead.

2. Eliminate distractions.

With how connected we are to our phones and other media, it can be hard to commit to a distraction-free environment—but this is essential for better studying habits. When possible, remove all the distractions from your area while you study, including phones, televisions, family members, and pets.

This ADHD study tip may seem obvious, but it can often be the most overlooked. It’s easy for little distractions to slip into your study space. Once they’re present, you’re more likely to seek out those distractions and avoid studying. Specifically, students can put their phone or computer on “do not disturb” mode. They can also study with headphones to silence auditory distractions and utilize music that helps them keep up their pace. 

3. Add sensory support.

It may seem counterintuitive to add factors to your study environment, but certain tools can help! Fidget toys can provide purposeful distraction, allowing you to enhance your focus on your primary task. The fidgeting takes the place of other distractions or wandering thoughts.

Similarly, listening to white noise has been shown to improve working memory in children. Other students may prefer a set soundtrack of music or even a metronome. You can also add food or drink to their study space to give you something to snack on.

4. Build a routine.

Many students with ADHD suffer from ADHD paralysis, which is the feeling of being overwhelmed by a task or the environment, leading to inaction. You can work to overcome ADHD paralysis by starting with an easy step first which builds behavioral momentum. 

This study routine provides structure and comfort, particularly when paired with other study techniques, negating the paralysis. A study routine should always have a list, so you can check things off as they are completed, delivering an extra hit of dopamine and helping the student to continue.  

A strong study routine will look different for each student who has ADHD, but it might involve studying and completing homework at the same time and in the same place every day or pairing homework time with a preferred snack. It’s also important to understand that you may not always be able to stick to your routine and plan, and that’s okay! Routines are especially helpful for implementing other ADHD study techniques and building strong executive function skills.

5. Use multiple study methods.

For students with ADHD, traditional study techniques like rereading notes may not feel effective and can lead to frustration. Seek out active study techniques that require engaging learning, allowing you to delve into concepts fully and engage with what you’re studying.

Study methods for students with ADHD can include:

  • Concept mapping
  • Spaced repetition
  • Flash cards
  • Explaining concepts outloud
  • Retrieval practice coupled with self correction
  • Note taking in outline format
  • Summarizing paragraphs in single sentences from text

6. Take breaks.

Some students with ADHD think they need to power through and study nonstop in order to study effectively, but incorporating breaks into your study session can actually be a great study technique. Set a timer or use the Pomodoro method to intersperse your studies with breaks and switch between assignments.

Consider incorporating a walk or other type of exercise into those breaks. Physical activity has been shown to be an effective boost for brain function and cognitive activity, with particular benefits when it comes to working memory. Choose an activity you like to do, like going for a quick bike ride or shooting some hoops, and you’ll also find yourself more relaxed when you return to studying.

7. Manage your healthcare.

It’s important to remember that ADHD is a medical condition, but it is not something you have to face alone. Check in with your support system, including family members, teachers, and guidance counselors, letting them know how your ADHD affects your studying and what study techniques you’ve employed to address them. 

If you take medication for your ADHD, be sure to take it as prescribed and to closely follow any instructions from medical providers. Discuss any changes in your symptoms and lifestyle with your medical provider to ensure you have a successful management plan. 

8. Use an organization system.

For students with ADHD, organization can be a daunting concept. The executive dysfunction that affects many people with ADHD makes staying organized extremely challenging, which can compound for students as they begin to forget about due dates or lose assignments.

By putting an organization system in place, you can get ahead of your tasks and studying, alleviating stress and leading to better academic performance. Effective organization systems are simple and repeatable, meeting students with ADHD where they are. This could be as simple as using a colored folder system and taking ten minutes at the beginning and ending of each day to physically organize schoolwork. 

9. Practice self-care.

Did you know self-care can be a study technique? By practicing self-care and exercising mindfulness, you can become less judgmental toward yourself and become more relaxed when it comes to studying. Self-care for students can come in many forms, including journaling, meditating, and deep breathing practices.

Additionally, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating well. It can be tempting to stay up all night studying before a big test, but make sure you are balancing your overall well-being, too.

10. Embrace creativity.

Studying doesn’t always have to be strict! Lean into your creativity, and step outside of traditional study techniques. For example, if you enjoy art, consider making an illustrated mind map as part of your study.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person, you can bring in creativity to your study methods through color coding your notes. Visual representations like color coding and charts can be extremely beneficial to your study practices. By finding more creative ways to study, you can also become more engaged with the material and become less likely to get distracted.

Develop ADHD Study Techniques with an Academic Coach

Students with ADHD benefit greatly from employing the old adage, “work smarter, not harder”—or, in this case, “study smarter, not harder.” Academic coaches can help students with ADHD learn to do just that.

Academic coaching teaches students how to approach and manage academic demands, helping them develop and practice a process that is effective and repeatable. Academic coaches work alongside students, rather than work for the students, leading to the development of academic independence.

Academic coaches can help students with ADHD in a myriad of ways, including:

  • Building academic management skills
  • Applying what they’ve learned
  • Fostering social and emotional skills
  • Expanding ability to focus
  • Transitioning successfully to new environments

With an ADHD academic coach, students learn more than practical study skills, as they have the opportunity to foster those habits and find real success.

Work with an ADHD Academic Coach at Effective Students

At Effective Students, we work with many students with ADHD. We’ve seen countless students overcome obstacles and achieve academic success that they never thought possible.

Need Help Now? Try a Virtual Coaching Session Here 

Our ADHD academic coaching sessions tackle the core challenges students with ADHD face and deliver effective solutions. We also offer the Effective Student™ course, which teaches some of the essential study skills our coaches teach in an accessible format.

Contact us to learn more about ADHD academic coaching.

You might also like

  • Student Readiness Survey
  • How it helps?

Atlanta 3225 Cumberland Blvd SE, Suite 100 Atlanta, GA 30339 470-243-0374

Charlotte 1515 Mockingbird Lane, Suite 400 Charlotte, NC 28209 470-243-0374

  • Testimonials
  • Meet the Team Atlanta
  • Meet the Team Charlotte
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Privacy Policy

Sorry. This form is no longer accepting new submissions.

  • Patient Portal
  • Is Your Child Sick?
  • Infant Dosage Charts
  • Talk with a Doc: New Parent Classes
  • Healthy Recipes
  • Safety Handouts
  • Infant Articles & Tips
  • All About Newborns
  • Infant Nutrition Questions
  • Breastfeeding
  • Visit Schedule
  • Teen Questionnaires
  • Handouts & Resources
  • Utah Immunization Schedule
  • Immunization Handouts
  • Parenting Handouts

Recommended Reading

  • Educational Handouts
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Fall/Winter Tips
  • Spring/Summer Tips
  • Find a Pediatrician
  • Emergency Numbers
  • After Hours
  • Administrative Forms
  • Plan Your First Visit
  • Accepted Plans
  • Insurance FAQs
  • Common Financial Misperceptions
  • Financial Policy
  • Glossary of Terms
  • Contact Billing Office
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Pediatrician Directory
  • Affiliated Utah Hospitals
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Privacy Practices
  • Notice of Nondiscrimination
  • Leave a Review
  • Childhood Immunizations
  • Referral Contest

Medicines & Dosages

Home » Topics » My child has ADHD. How can I make homework easier?

My child has ADHD. How can I make homework easier?

8 homework strategies for the adhd student, article at a glance.

  • ADHD means kids learn differently, so different strategies are needed. 
  • Counter-intuitive moves like more breaks, wearing headphones, or racing can help. 
  • Play to your child’s strengths and be flexible within a consistent framework. 

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)  is a disorder characterized by symptoms such as inattentiveness, lack of impulse control, and/or excessive movement, such as fidgeting. As of 2016, an estimated 6.1 million children were diagnosed with ADHD in the United States. An ADHD diagnosis does not mean that a child cannot be successful, though. When it comes to tasks such as homework, finding the strategies and tricks that work for your individual child makes all the difference. Here are some strategies to try if homework is an area of struggle. 

Try Alternative Seating  

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)  is a disorder characterized by symptoms such as inattentiveness, lack of impulse control, and/or excessive movement, such as fidgeting. As of 2016, an estimated 6.1

  • If your child typically sits at a table/desk, try setting them up in a different area or with different furniture, such as a beanbag chair or a futon.  
  • If weather permits, try letting them do homework outside.  
  • Pair the workspace with a favorite blanket or pillow.  

Headphones Are an Anti-distraction Tool  

  • Playing music might help focus attention on the homework task at hand. 
  • Noise canceling headphones might help limit distractions. 
  • If headphones bother them, allow them to play the background noise of choice during homework time. 

Fidget Toys are Your Friend  

  • Fidget spinners and other toys can help with sitting still long enough to complete the homework task. 
  • A variety of textures may also be helpful. 

Break it Up  

  • Schedule regular breaks during homework time 
  • Allow your child some input with how frequently the breaks are scheduled 
  • Do not be afraid to adjust the schedule if the breaks are occurring too frequently or not frequently enough 
  • Make sure breaktime activities are meaningful to them 

Use Timers as Finish Lines

  • Set a timer for each homework schedule. If your child is old enough, have them set the timer. 
  • For extra fun, have your child select a non-digital timer to use during homework time. 

Make it a Contest 

  • Appeal to a competitive nature by setting homework challenges such as “See if you can finish reading this chapter before your break.” 
  • Participate in the challenges with them by letting them “assign” you a task to complete in the same amount of time. 
  • Celebrate completed challenges together. 

Set Up a Routine  

  • Start homework at the same time every evening. 
  • Organize materials prior to beginning a task. 
  • Establish a homework order based on your child’s preferences. For example, “I know you hate Social Studies, so let’s do that first and get it out of the way/let’s do that last and get everything else done first.” 

Be Consistent  

Not every strategy will work for every child, but once you find the strategy or combination of strategies that work, stick with them. Make the living room corner with the beanbag chair and fuzzy blanket the homework spot if that’s where they work best. If 12.5 minutes is the ideal amount of time per homework session, set the timer for 12.5 minutes every time. Make sure that breaks are the same length. Establish a homework routine and go through the steps every time. Participate in homework tasks as much as you are able when appropriate. For older kids, check in regularly with them.  

ADHD complicates homework tasks , but it does not have to keep your child from being successful. Finding effective strategies will make a world of difference for both you and your child. 

Bryan Weed, M.D.

After completing his undergraduate degree in Business Management, Dr. Weed moved to Pennsylvania to study Medicine. While he tried to keep an open mind about a specialty, he noticed that pediatric rounds were always his favorite.

More Pediatric Resources

Measles Cases Are on the Rise: How to Protect Your Child

Further Resources

Read more about child behavior.

Empowering Independent Toddlers

Read more about School

Adjusting to Junior High Curriculum

Stay connected to your children’s health:

Want pediatric news, kid-friendly recipes and parenting tips? Sign up for our patient parent newsletter:

Other great ways to connect:


  • Is My Child Sick?
  • Medical Conditions
  • Healthy Living
  • Child Safety
  • Special Needs
  • Immunization
  • Well-Child Visits
  • Parenting Tips
  • Surveys & Questionnaires
  • Pediatric News
  • All Pediatricians
  • American Fork
  • Cherry Tree
  • Orem Timpanogos
  • Provo North University
  • Mapleton Pediatricians
  • Spanish Fork
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Financial Misperceptions
  • Pediatrician Dictionary
  • Privacy Policies
  • Online Services Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Quality Outcomes

The NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. Learn more.

adhd homework strategies

With ADHD Homework Can Be Tough: Here Are 3 Strategies For Success

If your child has ADHD, it goes without saying that you’re committed to helping them become successful and resilient, and overcome their academic challenges.

But on average, students with ADHD say that 80% of their interactions at school are negative ones.

Whether that’s because of how they feel about themselves, their surroundings, their peers, or just school in general… it means they spend the majority of their day feeling negative.

And there’s one issue in particular where this negativity tends to manifest itself most: homework .

With ADHD, homework can become a real struggle. But what we also know, is that it’s not a problem that can’t be overcome if we take the right steps.

In our opinion, there are three keys to success for students with ADHD:

  • Know how ADHD manifests itself in your child
  • Be the “Charismatic Adult”
  • Set them up now with healthy homework and study habits

And in this post, we’ll cover different ways ADHD manifests itself and approaches to homework and studying that will help get them moving in the right direction and turn a negative school experience into a positive one.

1. Know how ADHD manifests itself in your child

It is essential to know how ADHD affects your child before you can choose the best approach to help them succeed academically.

More often than not you hear ADHD and you think of disruption. However, that is not always the case, especially when it comes to girls. Girls with ADHD may actually tend to be more shy and withdrawn. This is because when their minds wander away from the task at hand, they’re more inclined not to want you to know they’re not paying attention. As an avoidance strategy, it’s more straightforward to stay quiet.

Alternatively, with boys (generally speaking of course) the research shows they tend to manifest their ADHD symptoms more externally , whether through running around, interrupting vocally, or actively misbehaving. But it would also be a mistake to characterize all boys with ADHD in this way because there are many who don’t exhibit this behavior.

The bottom line is this:

Every case is different. You know your child. So it’s essential to try to best understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to schoolwork to determine which strategies are appropriate , and which don’t seem relevant.

2. Be the “Charismatic Adult”

Studies show the number one differentiator between students with behavioral, attention, or learning disorders who succeed and those who do not is the presence of a “charismatic adult’ in their life. As psychologist and researcher Julius Segal notes:

“From studies conducted around the world, researchers have distilled a number of factors that enable such children of misfortune to beat the heavy odds against them. One factor turns out to be the presence in their lives of a charismatic adult– a person with whom they identify and from whom they gather strength.”

Reflect on your own experiences…

How did you get to where you are today both personally and professionally? Did you have a charismatic adult in your life who encouraged and believed in you?

Being this figure in a child’s life does not mean being Mother Theresa, but it does require taking an interest in the child and their strengths rather than focusing on his or her shortcomings . And when mistakes and failures do happen, it means helping them work through them constructively so that they walk away from the situation knowing more than they did before and feeling positive about the experience.

3. Set them up now with healthy homework and study habits

You’ve heard them all before…

“It’s so booorrrrring…”

“I don’t have any homework.”

“I’ll start after I finish my video game.”

For most kids with ADHD homework and studying is filled with dread and excuses, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s break it down by topic so we can really hone in on how to help develop these essential habits that will carry them to success now, and later in their academic careers.

ADHD and Procrastination

Your child constantly procrastinates, even after dozens of reminders. How can you get him more excited about homework and completing it earlier?

Step 1: Have a predictable schedule

Allow a thirty-minute break after school before getting started on homework. When kids know what to expect they are less likely to procrastinate.

Step 2: Consider the “Tolerable 10”

Set a timer for just 10 minutes and encourage them to work as hard as they can until the time runs out. This helps give them a push to get started, and after the 10 minutes is up, they can either take a short break or continue for another round.

ADHD and Time Management

Time management is the enemy of kids with ADHD. Your child is smart, but when it comes to completing assignments, they can take hours longer than the instructor intended. How do you help them minimize distractions and encourage productivity?

Step 1: Make a game plan

Break homework or projects into smaller more manageable tasks. Check-in, in and make a big deal when he’s accomplished one or a set of tasks. For many kids, time is too abstract of a concept. Consider using candy or baseball cards and letting him know he’ll be rewarded when the task is complete.

Step 2: Help prioritize

Ask what they will do first to help them get started. Make sure they understand the directions and can do the work. Then, let him go at it alone but stay close by so you can help if needed.

Step 3: Use a timer Once you have broken up the assignment into more manageable pieces and helped prioritize their work, set a timer and encourage them to work in short spurts (see the “Tolerable 10” above). Then slowly make the time longer, but never more than 30 minutes.

ADHD and Missing Assignments and Instruction

Either they miss the teacher’s instructions, forget homework and books, or sometimes just ignore assignments entirely. How do you ensure homework and assignments are getting done without seeming overbearing ?

Step 1: Trust but verify

Set expectations, rewards, and consequences for completing homework and assignments. Then verify with an online grading portal if one is available. Communicate with teachers if necessary, but always do this with your child so that they’re involved in the process.

Step 2: Tie privileges to effort

Link things like screen time and hanging out with friends to the amount of time spent studying and doing homework, rather than outcomes like grades. Kids can see the direct correlation between working and learning, and a benefit… rather than feeling overwhelmed by the idea of getting better grades, when they may not know exactly how.

Step 3: Talk to teachers about emailing assignments and homework

Kids with ADHD and executive dysfunction may benefit from having the option to submit homework online or through email. They can focus on one thing at a time, and submit it right then and there, rather than having to manage to organize it, and bringing it to school and turn it in.

ADHD and Distractions

Pulling your child back into study mode from a break or video games seems near impossible. So how do you pull them away from those distractions and focus on homework?

Step 1: Put a limit on breaks

Kids may need a break after a long school day. For elementary-aged kids, a 30-minute break after school should do the trick. Older kids may need more time to “chill” after school is out, but ideally, assignments and studying should start before dinner time. Use this to have them indulge in their break time, while still setting boundaries.

Step 2: Control screen time

Limit breaks to outdoor activities or things that don’t involve a screen. Video games and social media are specifically designed addictive and hard to detach from. So allow a mental break, but don’t let them make things harder on themselves than they need to be by getting wrapped up in something that’s hard to pull away from.

ADHD and Homework: What’s next?

Now, after all of this you may be asking yourself:

“If I do all of this will my child eventually be ready for college and academic independence?”

The best way to ensure your child will be ready for the independence they crave is to back off slowly, but stay supportive.

Set up weekly meetings, maybe every Sunday before the school week starts, and discuss upcoming assignments and offer support. You’ve guided them through this far, and it is time to let them take the wheel… just make sure they don’t head off in the wrong direction.

If you would like to discuss how one-to-one tutoring or executive function coaching could help your child, we invite you to schedule a time to speak with one of our education specialists by clicking below.

American Psychological Association Logo

The Homework Squad's ADHD Guide to School Success

Available formats, also available from.

  • Contributor bios
  • Reviews and awards
  • Book details
  • Table of Contents
  • Additional Resources

The Homework Squad is here for kids with ADHD! This easy-to-use guide will help with key study skills to improve reading, writing, math, listening, memorization, concentration, and more! Bite-sized tips and tricks, journal prompts, and advice for challenges help kids with ADHD recognize how they learn best and act on that knowledge.

This is an accessible, straightforward, and relatable guide to key study skills for kids with ADHD that features a cast of characters with ADHD to enliven the lessons. The author covers an array of areas where kids with ADHD might struggle academically to help kids recognize how they learn best and act on that knowledge.

Joshua Shifrin, PhD, specializes in pediatric and school neuropsychological evaluations. Joshua is a licensed psychologist in New Jersey and New York, a diplomate of the American Board of School Neuropsychology, a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, and an ADHD-Certified Clinical Services Provider.

He lives in West Caldwell, New Jersey. Visit him online and visit the The Homework Squad’s ADHD Guide to School Success website .

Tracy Bishop has a degree from San Jose University in graphic design, with a focus on illustration and animation, and is the illustrator of more than 20 children’s books.

She lives in San Jose, California. Visit her online and on Instagram and Twitter .

Meet the Homework Squad, four very different and racially diverse students with one thing in common: their ADHD diagnosis… The tips and tricks, appropriately, are not one size fits all, so readers are encouraged to try them all and keep track of what works… All adults working with children should have a copy of this book, not only for their students, but to understand how they can put strategies and accommodations in place to provide an equitable environment for all. An important, affirming, and beneficial resource. — STARRED REVIEW , Kirkus Reviews

A useful guide with appealing graphic-like illustrations for youth with ADHD or for anyone seeking good study techniques. — Booklist

Dr. Shifrin’s book on ADHD strategies for school-age kids is highly readable and relatable. The book lays out common real-life examples of the struggles of children with ADHD and gives clear, easy-to-follow strategies for intervention. I plan to use this book in my private practice all the time! — Nolan Katz, PhD, LSP, NCSP, Licensed School Psychologist

I love the overall style, presentation, and usefulness of the book. It is very relatable for students and eliminates the disability “stigma” often attached to an ADHD diagnosis. Practical and very useful. As a school psychologist (with ADHD , no less), I look forward to using this to support my students struggling with executive function! — George Singo, Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Cape Henlopen School District

This is the resource I’ve needed for my elementary through middle-school clients struggling with attention and executive functioning skills. The Squad normalizes the experience of having different brains and skills and provides a variety of intervention and accommodation options. There is definitely something for everyone in this book! — Samantha Buell, PhD, Licensed Psychologist

  • Read Like a Champ
  • Make Math Click
  • Write Your Heart Out
  • Set Good Goals
  • Study Like a Pro
  • Power Up the Concentration
  • Get It Memorized
  • Test Better
  • Fight Procrastination

Help for Kids with ADHD for Back-to-school and Throughout the Year (PDF, 118KB) An excerpt of the book that provides strategies and skills to help kids improve reading, writing, math, listening, memorization, concentration, and more.

You may also like

Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention

Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention, 3rd ed.

Cover of My Wandering Dreaming Mind (medium)

My Wandering Dreaming Mind

Cover of My Whirling Twirling Motor (medium)

My Whirling Twirling Motor

 How to NAVIGATE Middle School

How to NAVIGATE Middle School


Empowering ADHDers and their Families to Live Life to the Fullest

Unlocking ADHD

adhd homework strategies

Struggling to complete your homework : 10 ADHD friendly tips!

School , Youth March 21, 2022

Unlocking ADHD volunteer Vivien Loh writes about 10 easy tips that ADHDers can try out if they find it a struggle to concentrate and complete homework. 

ADHD students might often find themselves struggling to complete tasks and homework. Why so? ADHDers are interest-based learners, meaning, unless they’re excited about the homework they’re doing, it usually isn’t stimulating enough for their brains to keep them focused. As such, while doing homework, their brains often drift off and focus on something else more interesting. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are 10 tips that could help you: 

1. Create a study space

adhd homework strategies

Find an area to complete your homework where other people won’t distract you. It’s important to organise this space, and make it your own so that it’s an area that’s fun to look at, further motivating you to start studying. You can add supplies you need, paste motivational quotes, play some soothing music and so much more! For example if you’re a person who’s an avid lover of nature, you can buy some plants to spruce up your study space. 

2. Challenge yourself 

adhd homework strategies

Before starting, set a specific goal that you would like to achieve. It doesn’t have to be something long-term, it can be something daily, for example: completing 20 Science questions a day in a stipulated amount of time. Although setting goals and completing them bring a sense of satisfaction, ensure that the goals you set are attainable and realistic!

3. Create accountability 

adhd homework strategies

Creating accountability is important because it ensures that you are keeping your progress in check, and meeting deadlines. This can come about in many different ways – for one, you could do daily challenges with a friend, and cheer each other on. Another effective method would be sticker charts, which also creates a sense of accomplishment. 

4. Break it into smaller pieces

adhd homework strategies

Before starting to work on your assignments, divide them into smaller tasks. Each assignment looks daunting at first, but after breaking them down into more tangible, mini tasks, you’ll have more motivation to finish them all. This will also give you a better idea of how long you will take to complete each mini task, allowing you to have better time management. 

5. Add some movement 

adhd homework strategies

Between assignments, give yourself short breaks, during which you can move about. Such movement releases neurotransmitters in your brain, in turn helping you with your focus. You could try using a fidget, pace around the room while reading, or even having short dance breaks.

6. Find a study buddy 

adhd homework strategies

Studying with someone else adds accountability – you can check in on one another and motivate each other to keep going. In the event that you prefer to work on your own, there are many applications that make great study buddies on their own, such as Quizlet, Kahoot and Quia, just to name a few. 

7. Reward yourself for your effort 

adhd homework strategies

Make the reward something you genuinely like, so that you’ll actually want to earn it. However, ensure that your reward isn’t accessible at all times, and to help with this, you can ask your parents to keep your reward away from you, and only give it back once your task is complete. 

8. Create a homework tracking system 

adhd homework strategies

To make things less overwhelming, write down all your assignments. This helps you see how much work there really is as it’s penned down clearly, and not all in your head. You can write them down in a planner as well, so that at the same time, you can organise specific days to complete your homework. 

9. Don’t be afraid to mix it up 


Instead of doing 1 subject throughout your study session, try switching back and forth between 2-3 subjects to create variety. If you only have assignments from one subject, you can add in short 10-minute breaks into the mix, and do activities during this time such as colouring or playing an instrument. 

9. Respect your downtime 

adhd homework strategies

Last but not least, don’t feel guilty when you’re taking a break. During exam seasons, it’s common to fall into the trap of feeling bad when you’re resting, but always remember that taking breaks is part of the process. Without them, your brain won’t have the ability to remember everything you’ve learnt. Respect your rest time, and fully relax during them so that you’re well-rested before your next study session! 

With the homework tips above, we hope that ADHDers will find doing homework less of a feat, and find success in completing homework and assignments on time. 

If you are looking for community support, join our ADHD support group or Discord chat !

(Content has been adapted from How to ADHD on Youtube, graphics by Cara. )  

If you liked this article and found it helpful, please share it with others.

If you are looking for community support, join our ADHD support group or Discord chat!

If you like this article and find it helpful, do consider donating to support us in our mission to empower ADHDers and their families to live life to the fullest.

*DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Should you suspect that you have ADHD, consider seeking the advice of a trained healthcare professional with any questions you may have about your condition.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

Resources on ADHD

  • Understanding ADHD
  • Healthcare and Community Services
  • Support Groups
  • Online Resources

adhd homework strategies

Privacy Overview

cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional11 monthsThe cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-others11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.
cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".
viewed_cookie_policy11 monthsThe cookie is set by the GDPR Cookie Consent plugin and is used to store whether or not user has consented to the use of cookies. It does not store any personal data.

adhd homework strategies

Andrea is a constantly curious person attracted to all things colourful. On weekends, you will probably find her churning out fun activities to keep her son occupied or engrossed in a new game/book/drama series. She enjoys every moment of volunteering with Unlocking ADHD and hopes to build a more inclusive and empathetic society that embraces neurodiversity.

adhd homework strategies

Li Ming’s educational background is in Business Management and Mass Communications. She have worked in the areas of marketing communications, philanthropy and medical fundraising.

adhd homework strategies

Fees are $70 per one hour session. Psychoeducational testing ranges between $750 to $1,120 depending on the tests required.

Email: [email protected] .

Rachelle parents three brilliant ADHD kids and is an experienced magazine editor, a co-director in the family healthcare business and would kill to be a student again

Indhu is a university student majoring in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. During her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and watching TV shows.

Cheyenne provides HR/people strategy consulting and career coaching. She also volunteers with SPARK to increase the awareness of and reduce the stigma of ADHD.

Tahirah is a mom whose seven out of nine children have special needs with two having ADHD. An advocate for special needs and mental health, she is an avid reader with a love for photography, music and tv

Valerie is a secondary 2 student who loves sports and creative activities like writing, drawing, music. She hopes to contribute to teen awareness through Unlocking ADHD!

Mrunmayee (Mayee) is a Counseling Psychologist who previously worked as a school counselor. She is interested in hiking and reading.

Tricia is a university student majoring in Life Sciences and Psychology. An avid fan of scaling rock walls and whatever else she can climb, some say she is more monkey than human!

Moonlake is the Founder of Unlocking ADHD. A community builder and multi-hyphenate, she runs to fat burn so that she can enjoy food with family and friends. She is still working on strengthening the brakes for her ADHD wiring…

Stephanie is a university student majoring in Psychology and minoring in Japanese Language. She hopes to make the most of her leisure time through writing and reading.

The Drake Institute now offers remote treatment for ADHD, autism, and other brain-based disorders. With the help of our trained clinicians, you can get the help you need from the comfort of your home.

How to Get a Child with ADD to do Homework

Homework can be tricky for children with ADHD, especially after they’ve spent all day at school.

When children come home from school, they want to play, spend time with their friends and family, or watch TV. Homework is simply not something most children are excited about, but most kids are willing to do it because they have accepted that it is a requirement and there will be negative consequences if it is not completed.  

Unfortunately, it is often difficult for children with ADHD to sustain their focus long enough to do their homework, making them resigned to the negative consequences of not completing their work.

This is because the ADHD child’s brain is “stuck” in a certain pattern of dysregulation that doesn’t allow them to sustain concentration on non-stimulating tasks or perform certain executive functioning tasks, such as planning, organizing, and prioritizing their assignments. In a way, ADHD children are physically incapable of self-regulating and performing certain tasks because their brain won’t allow them to engage with the task.

However, with the right homework plan, it is possible to help motivate ADHD children to complete their assignments on time, study for tests, and become responsible, successful students. While completing schoolwork will likely always be more difficult due to their struggles with focus, there are strategies that can help mitigate this weakness and maximize their available resources to increase their productivity.

In this article, we will cover some effective ADD homework strategies for children that can improve their study habits. This article will also discuss the Drake Institute’s non-drug treatment protocols used to help children reduce or resolve ADHD symptoms by achieving a healthier state of brain functioning, resulting in long-term symptom relief.

Diet for ADD

Learning how to study with ADD can be difficult, especially if your mind and body are not receiving the necessary resources for the brain to function optimally. That’s why providing children with a healthy and nutritious diet should be a top priority for every household, as diet is the foundation of productive thinking and behavior.

Without a healthy diet, children suffering from ADHD will find it even more difficult to concentrate on their schoolwork, and this is especially true if their diet consists of sugary soft drinks, candy, and processed fast foods. Indeed, if your child is not eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, they are more prone to misbehaving and performing poorly on their assigned tasks.

For parents with ADHD children, avoiding processed foods loaded with artificial colorings and high sugar content should be a top priority, as both of these ingredients can have detrimental effects on behavior and health.

As a general guideline, ADHD diets should consist of essential trace minerals such as Zinc, Iron, and Magnesium. Foods that are heavy in these minerals include:

  • Beef & Lamb
  • Nuts such as cashews, pecans, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Beans & Lentils
  • Low-Fat Dairy
  • Dried fruits such as figs, prunes, apricots, dates, and raisins

Parents should also take great care to ensure that their children are eating enough healthy fats, as every cell in the human body (including our brain) is made up of fats, and some reports have shown that in some children, Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is 40% as effective for ADHD as Ritalin, minus the side-effects. Healthy sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Coldwater fish (e.g., mackerel, tuna, salmon, and sardines)
  • Cod liver oil
  • Flaxseed and chia seeds
  • Soybeans & Tofu

Even if your child doesn’t have ADD, providing them with a healthy diet is one of the best ways to ensure that they will grow up to be healthy and productive.

And when it comes to mitigating the effects of ADD and ADHD, we feel that the optimal method is to combine ADHD diets with clinical ADHD treatments, like brain map-guided neurofeedback, as nutritious diets can reinforce and maximize the improvements in brain functioning brought on by our non-drug treatment protocols. 

Create a Homework Schedule

When it comes to ADD and homework, creating a homework schedule is one of the best ways to improve a child’s productivity.

By creating a homework schedule, children will know exactly what they will be doing once they get home (so long as the schedule is enforced), so there’s no guesswork involved from either the parent or the child as to when the work will be completed. However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be arguments about the schedule and whether it’s fair: children with ADD intrinsically struggle with non-preferred asks, and a homework schedule won’t make these issues magically disappear.

That being said, a homework schedule can help students be more disciplined and productive because, without it, most children would rather turn on the TV, play a video game, or browse social media instead of completing their homework. In children with ADD, these issues are exacerbated, as their ability to plan and organize their day (executive functioning) is already hindered due to their attention deficit disorder.  

When creating a homework schedule, remember to include breaks, as most children will need a few minutes to relax so that they can better focus on their work. Many researchers have pointed out that the average attention span of children and adults is only around 20 minutes. Beyond this point, it becomes increasingly difficult to pay attention to the task at hand. So, by giving children a brief, 5-10 minute break, they will be better able to focus on their assignments without becoming too tired or fatigued.

Knowing when to schedule these homework breaks will require a bit of trial and error, as every child is different. However, including a break as part of the schedule somewhere around the 20 or 30-minute mark is generally a good place to start. During these scheduled breaks, it would be a good idea to have healthy snacks readily available to ensure that your child has enough energy to power through their assignments. Parents should encourage children to stand up and walk around during these breaks, but to avoid activities that are too stimulating or too far away from the task at hand.

Finally, there are two other important aspects to creating a homework schedule that parents should keep in mind: place and time.

In general, it’s a good idea to have a designated “homework space” for your child to work in that is free of distractions. As part of the schedule, the child should work in this space each day since this will help the child get into a “work mode” that allows them to concentrate on their tasks.

Time is the last aspect of creating a homework schedule, and this too will require a little bit of trial and error. In some cases, your child may need a break from schoolwork and might not be ready to jump into their homework as soon as they come home. Instead, they may need to go outside and play or go on a long walk before they can re-engage with their schoolwork. On the other hand, many children are more than willing to dive straight into their homework as soon as they get home so that they can watch TV later in the day or play video games with their friends.

In the end, it’s up to the parents to determine when “homework time” will begin, and once the time is set, everyone must abide.  

Monitor Distractions

From smartphones to televisions, there are a whole host of things fighting for your child’s attention.

As mentioned, part of the solution to this problem is to create a “homework space” that is free of distractions; however, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your child will be more productive.

Sometimes, your child might feel “alone” or “claustrophobic” in a workspace that is too sterile or boring, which can actually decrease their ability to concentrate. 

As many of us can attest, sometimes we need a “slight” distraction while working or performing schoolwork, like listening to the radio or having the TV on in the background, as these things can provide stimulation that helps some children to concentrate.

However, even background noise can be distracting for some students, especially if they have ADD. This is why parents need to monitor the effects of these distractions to see whether they improve or decrease productivity. Furthermore, while background noise may be beneficial for some people, individuals with ADHD will likely have a lower threshold for what is “too distracting.” For example, having the TV on is likely to be entirely too distracting for individuals with ADHD, and they will likely have better success if background noise consists of things such as music, ambient sounds, or even white noise.

If your child seems to work better while listening to music, then this “distraction” should be fully integrated into the homework schedule.

Be Present During Homework

Being there for your child when they’re working on their homework can be critically important to their success, especially when a difficult problem comes up.

By being present, children are less likely to become frustrated or to give up when they encounter a problem that they can’t solve because they know that they can turn to you for support.

Try setting a good example and sitting with your child reading a book, a magazine, or doing some other quiet, sedentary activity that is similar to studying and doing homework, proving to your child that it’s possible to sit still and focus for an extended period of time. Don’t forget to leave your smartphone behind!

If you can’t be there during “typical” (early afternoon) homework hours, you might want to consider trying to align your child’s homework schedule with your work schedule so that you can be there to help when they do need it. Being able to provide support to your child during a task that is challenging to them can be crucial to their success. Even if you are not actively providing guidance, simply knowing that someone is there to support them can be invaluable in maintaining their focus, motivation, and self-confidence.

Find a Study Buddy

When a child with ADD gets stuck on a homework problem, they’re likely to get frustrated, which in turn can cause them to misbehave.

In many cases, a parent can help their child work through a difficult homework problem, but sometimes having a “study buddy” will be even more effective, especially if the children are friendly and have academic strengths that complement each other.

However, it’s also important that parents ensure that their child is studying when with their study buddy, as sometimes this arrangement can cause children to goof around and not take their homework seriously. There also has to be some monitoring to make sure they are not simply being provided with answers by their partner. While this partnership may not be appropriate for everyone, for those who can work through these “temptations,” the benefits of such an arrangement can be significant.

This isn’t to say that parents should hover over their child when they’re with their study buddy, but monitoring the rate at which homework is being completed and its correctness will be important when determining the effectiveness of the study buddy.

That being said, if the homework is taking a little bit longer to be completed, but it’s being done correctly, and your child is happy about doing it, then that’s a tradeoff that might be worth making.

Provide Positive Feedback

Something that often gets overlooked is positive feedback for turning in assignments on time, receiving high marks, and abiding by the homework schedule.

Positive feedback is also often the best answer to the question of “how to get kids to do their homework,” as both children and adults like attention and rewards, and will alter their behavior to earn more of them.

However, obtaining attention can be accomplished in a variety of ways—not all of which are healthy and productive.

This is especially true when it comes to completing schoolwork: if your child makes an effort to adhere to their homework schedule and to achieve good grades, but isn’t rewarded, they will have less incentive to continue behaving in this manner. While it is tempting for parents to view this behavior as simply “doing what they are supposed to be doing,” there needs to be an acknowledgement that for individuals with ADHD, as this is an accomplishment that likely took significant effort. That additional effort is an accomplishment for these children and should be acknowledged and rewarded.

Therefore, it would be wise to reward your child for good behavior, especially behavior that results in positive grades at school.

Many parents have found success using a star chart that keeps track of their child’s weekly progress, where these stars can be “cashed in” for a reward of some kind, like extra time for playing video games or perhaps a snack of their choosing. How these stars are rewarded is up to the child’s parents, but it’s probably best to be a little lenient to incentivize homework and positive behavior.

For example, completing a homework assignment might be worth 1 star, but completing the homework correctly might be worth 2 or 3 stars. Extra stars can also be rewarded for other, non-homework related tasks, like taking adequate notes in class, remembering to bring the correct books home from school, and keeping their study materials (notebooks, binders, etc.) tidy. 

Talk to the Teacher

Finally, if your child is still struggling to complete their homework despite adhering to a homework schedule and everything else mentioned above, it might be time to talk to their teacher.

Some teachers will be more than willing to adjust the amount of homework your child is receiving on a day-to-day basis, so long as the problem is presented clearly, calmly, and without placing any blame on the teacher.

In addition to not placing blame, it’s probably best to discuss your child’s struggles in a face-to-face conversation, as too many things can get lost in translation over the phone, through emails or text messages.

When discussing your child’s struggles with homework, it’s important to mention how your child is trying as hard as they can to complete their assignments, but despite these efforts, the homework is taking an inordinate amount of time. Make sure to discuss all of the structure and accommodations being provided at home and be open to the teacher’s suggestions of things that may provide additional benefit for the child.

When this occurs, some teachers will allow parents to sign off on homework once the child has worked on it for a certain amount of time. Other teachers might substitute the current homework for something else that might be more suitable for your child’s needs. Accommodations can also be formally provided by requesting an IEP or 504 plan that addresses these concerns.

In short, conversations with your child’s teacher should be solution-oriented, face-to-face, friendly, and focused on improving your child’s academic performance, while still requiring them to perform at the best of their abilities.

ADD Treatment Options

When it comes to treating ADD, there are a few options available to parents, including stimulant ADD medications , and non-drug treatment options like the ones found at the Drake Institute.

Treatment of ADD or ADHD with medication is a widely used treatment option, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best in terms of safety and long-term improvement. Many stimulant ADD medications carry a significant number of negative side effects, including:

  • Nervousness
  • Change in personality
  • Loss of appetite
  • Suppressing growth rate
  • Weight loss
  • Upset stomach
  • Psychotic reactions
  • increase in blood pressure and palpitations
  • Risk of substance abuse

In addition, many people develop a tolerance for these medications over time, which results in the individual needing a higher dosage to obtain the same level of symptom reduction. Unfortunately, when the dosage of these medications increases, so does the likelihood that they will experience one or more of the negative side effects associated with the medication. It should also be noted, that treating attentional deficits with medications is not necessarily correcting the cause of the problem, meaning that if an individual were to discontinue these medications, their symptoms are likely to return.

Popular ADD medications include Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse, and Dexedrine, and while these drugs can work for some people, parents must understand all of the associated risks.

Non-Drug ADD Treatment at the Drake Institute

Learning how to study when you have ADD doesn’t require taking medications.

At the Drake Institute, we fully believe that children can experience symptom reduction without the use of ADHD medications, which is important since many of these medications carry a significant number of negative side effects.

Through the use of advanced treatment technologies such as qEEG Brain Mapping, Neurofeedback, and Neuromodulation, children can actually improve their brain functioning and sustained focus, resulting in better performance at school and work.

Brain Mapping

At the core of everything we do at the Drake Institute is Brain Mapping , as it provides us a window into how the patient’s brain is functioning and where the dysregulation is occurring.

In the case of ADD, brain mapping can help identify which parts of the brain are under or over-activated and contributing to the child’s struggles with school. During treatment, we’ll target these regions to improve brain functioning, which can help minimize the effects of the child’s attention disorder.

Once brain mapping is complete, the findings are compared to the FDA-registered normative database to identify which regions are deviating from “normal” activity patterns.

When dysregulation is discovered, a treatment protocol using Neurofeedback and Neuromodulation is designed specifically for the patient’s unique situation. This customized process allows us to provide better results compared to treatment protocols that use a “one size fits all” approach. It should also be noted that by addressing their underlying cause of the child’s difficulties, the subsequent improvements obtained through neurotherapy are typically long-lasting and do not require continued maintenance, like medications do.

Biofeedback & Neurofeedback

Biofeedback and Neurofeedback treatment is a non-invasive, non-drug treatment protocol that helps the patient retrain the brain to more optimal functioning, thus increasing their ability to complete homework or other assigned tasks.

During Neurofeedback treatment, the brain is not artificially stimulated and drugs are not administered; in fact, nothing invasive is performed at all.

Instead, Neurofeedback involves placing sensors on the patient’s head that records and displays the patient’s current brain functioning patterns, providing real-time feedback into how their brain is operating. When patients can witness firsthand how their brain is functioning, they are better able to self-regulate and improve brain functioning for concentration, which in turns, helps reduce the manifestation of negative symptoms.

One example of Neurofeedback treatment is one where the patient’s brainwave patterns are converted into a computer game where a car is driving down the highway. When the patient’s brain shifts into a healthier functioning frequency, the car moves and stays in the proper lane and an auditory tone is triggered. This tone is then repeated every half second that the patient sustains this healthier mode of thinking, which helps improve and stabilize this brave wave pattern.

With continued treatment, Neurofeedback treatments like the one described above will help the patient learn how to improve sustained focus on even nonpreferred tasks. Furthermore, with practice and repetition, the underlying dysregulation that caused the child’s difficulties can actually be improved, resulting in a “stronger” brain and long-lasting benefit.


Finally, the Drake Institute utilizes Neuromodulation therapy to support, enhance, and accelerate therapeutic improvements gained through Neurofeedback. This approach has been so successful that we’ve fully integrated it into our existing treatment protocols in 2019.

What is Neuromodulation?

In short, Neuromodulation provides therapeutic neurostimulation of dysregulated brain functioning by stimulating brainwave patterns that the patient is deficient in. Once established, the brain can then mimic or emulate this pattern to form healthier brain wave activity. This treatment protocol can also increase blood flow in damaged areas and reduce inflammation.

This treatment technology is so safe and effective that it is now used worldwide in renowned medical centers such as Harvard University School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, UCLA School of Medicine, and many others.

Contact the Drake Institute

If your child is struggling with their schoolwork due to ADD or ADHD, please don’t hesitate to call us for a free consultation. Our non-drug treatment protocols have provided many students with long-term symptom relief, helping them to achieve and go farther in school than they ever have before.

Free Consultation - Telehealth Consultation Available

If you or a family member need help, please fill out our confidential online form

Accelerated Treatment Program

6 weeks for ADHD or ADD

8 weeks for Autism Spectrum Disorders


Lifestyle magazine.

Interview with Dr. David Velkoff

Seth's Story

National Geographic

Spanish News Feature

Media Recognition

Contact us today.

To get the help you or a loved one needs, call now to schedule your no-cost screening consultation.


"They started biofeedback right away to produce more alpha brain waves. I went daily for 4 weeks I believe? It was relaxing. My brain learned what to do. It CURED me."

"The treatment involves doing different protocols, you start to notice a difference after a couple weeks. The Drake Institute, and their treatment method is the way of the future! It absolutely was an answer to our prayers."

"I was hesitant to go to The Drake Institute but was at a loss on how to help my son. I can not thank Drake and Maria enough I don't think we would be where we are today without it."

“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

More About What Makes Drake Institute Unique

Blue and Green ImpactParents logo with roller coaster


5 strategies to make homework easier for adhd kids (and parents).

adhd homework strategies

Home work. Those two words seem mismatched.

Home is where you can chill, be yourself, and get a little break from “work.”

Coming home from their 30-hour a week "job," many children crave down time. They want a break from "work" – from being "on" or putting effort into paying attention for six hours!

So who can blame kids for not wanting to do their homework ?

As parents, we understand that homework reinforces lessons learned from the school day. Revisiting material and practicing skills is fruitful. However, if you have a child (or more), you probably have stories that prove otherwise. Especially with screens as part of the equation.

Attention-challenged children struggle because of problems unrelated to the specific homework assignment:

  • Dis tracted by the internet
  • Dis enchanted with the topic
  • Dis engaged during the lesson at school
  • Dis mayed by how long it takes to answer a single question
  • Dis combobulated from trying to categorize what is most important

Homework also assumes that all children have stay-at-home moms who are “on call” to help – which is not exactly true in this day and age!

Since our smart but scattered children aren't naturally supplied with minds that can keep track of due dates and directions, here are some homework strategies to ease the challenges ADHD kids face. But remember – the most important thing you can do to help your child, by far, is to notice what she or he does well, and encourage it.

Article continues below...

Want to stop school struggles.


Download a free tipsheet "10 Parenting Tips for School Success" to stop constant challenges at school and at home!

Here are 5 homework strategies for ADHD kids to get you started:

  • Right after school or later ?
  • Broken into time segments?
  • With or without music?
  • At a desk or the kitchen counter?
  • Allow them to change it up from day to day

Foster Independence

Around 5th grade, a major goal can be independence with homework. From start to finish, the parent should assist – not nag to completion. You can gradually help your child less and less, and still expect high quality work.

  • Note: this may be delayed for many kids with Executive Function challenges
  • From start to finish, the parent should assist – not nag to completion.
  • Gradually help less and less, and still expect high quality work.
  • Goal: Only help when your child asks for it.
  • Remember that it's their work – not yours.
  • Digital post-it notes for work for some students – they see them on their desktop when they arrive at the screen.
  • Reward for independently using processes and organization strategies, sticking to a time schedule, and being focused on online resources (rather than Youtube, etc.).

Visual Charts

  • Calendars or bulleted lists help enormously. Student planners and online calendars tend to be "out of sight and out of mind."
  • Large white boards are great, ideally one for each child.
  • Designate a special place on the wall for it. Use it to make charts that track homework topics or nightly reading.
  • Use abbreviations and humor to simplify and keep your child's attention.
  • Boxes on the chart can also list homework assignments.
  • Have your child write estimates for how long they should take to finish.
  • It's beneficial to an ADD mind to track time elapsing. After the work is done, write down how long it actually took to track time management.

Physical Space

  • Comfortable, flat surface
  • Well-lit from above
  • Not too far from the printer, if a middle or high schooler
  • Quiet (except possible headphones)
  • Free from distraction
  • Stocked with needed materials
  • Fidgets that help focus (not distract)

Paperwork – Breathe, and Scan Everything!

  • Keeping track of the endless reading logs, rubrics, drafts, and study sheets seems impossible!
  • Maintaining their original condition is even more difficult. This is where technology is your friend.
  • Teachers who post documents on their websites are saviors. Scan any blank reading logs or assignments to keep on record at home.
  • It also helps to color code folders and notebooks for some children.

More From ADHD Blog

adhd homework strategies

Privacy Overview

cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional11 monthsThe cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".
cookielawinfo-checkbox-others11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.
cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance11 monthsThis cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".
viewed_cookie_policy11 monthsThe cookie is set by the GDPR Cookie Consent plugin and is used to store whether or not user has consented to the use of cookies. It does not store any personal data.

Your browser is outdated. To ensure the best experience, update to the latest version of your preferred browser. Update

Managing ADHD

ADD / ADHD isn't just about difficulty at work or school—it also contributes to reduced self-esteem, troubled relationships, and even the likelihood of automobile accidents. Thankfully, a little bit can go a long way in the treatment of ADHD. For some, becoming aware of weaknesses, and developing strategies to counter them, can result in big improvements.

The Managing ADHD worksheet describes five key skills that can often help those with ADHD. The skills include: creating structure, setting aside time for relationships, staying organized, creating the right environment, and living a healthy lifestyle. Each section describes the importance of the skill, and tips to implement it successfully.

We want to point out that this worksheet has a lot of content, which will be overwhelming if you try to cover too much at once. Try picking just one or two sections to focus on for an entire hour, and make sure your client leaves with something specific to practice before their next session.

Download Fillable Worksheet


PDF reading software is required to use fillable worksheets. This software is pre-installed on many devices. However, if it is not on your device, it can be downloaded for free. We recommend Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader .

Notice: Opening a fillable worksheet directly within an internet browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari) may prevent work from being saved. Instead, the file should be saved to your device and opened with a PDF reader.

To learn more or share these instructions, visit the Fillable Worksheet Instructions .

Download Customizable Worksheet

Use custom worksheets for the purpose of education and treatment.

Download, print, and share unlimited copies of custom worksheets.

Do not remove or alter copyright information.

Do not redistribute on a website, or as a part of a database or library.

Do not sell or sublicense custom worksheets.

Read our complete Terms and Conditions of Use .

PREVIEW - Page of

adhd homework strategies

Download Options

Related Tools

ADHD Parenting Tips

ADHD Parenting Tips

What is ADD / ADHD?

What is ADD / ADHD?

Time Management Tips

Time Management Tips

3, }" style="overflow-wrap: anywhere;" >


Become a Member!

  • Customizable Worksheets
  • Interactive Therapy Tools
  • No More Ads
  • Support Therapist Aid

Your account has been created.

Would you like to explore more features?



Customizable and fillable worksheets.

Unlimited access to interactive therapy tools.

Support the creation of new tools for the entire mental health community.

Ad-free browsing.

More From Forbes

The rise of adhd: 5 ways to address sleep challenges.

  • Share to Facebook
  • Share to Twitter
  • Share to Linkedin

Sleepless woman suffering from insomnia

In recent years, the prevalence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and sleep challenges among adults has surged, significantly impacting the workplace. According to recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD reports in the US have increased by 37.3% from 2003 compared to the latest ADHD stats in 2019. With approximately 8.7 million Americans diagnosed with ADHD, it's crucial to recognize how ADHD can affect your sleeping routine, with 25-50% of ADHDers experiencing issues like insomnia, sleep apnea, and more.

The Growing Concern of ADHD in the Workplace

As remote work blurs the lines between professional and personal life and digital distractions become ubiquitous, understanding and addressing these issues is crucial for maintaining productivity and employee well-being.

ADHD, traditionally considered a childhood disorder, is increasingly recognized in adults. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 4.4% of adults in the United States have ADHD, a number that is likely underestimated due to underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis. ADHD in adults often manifests as difficulty in concentrating, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, which can significantly impede work performance and career progression.

The U.S. has witnessed an increase in ADHD cases reported since 2003. When comparing 2003 data to 2019, Utah comes out on top with an increase in reports by 96%, with 10% of parents reporting that their child has been diagnosed with ADHD. Colorado also witnessed an increase in ADHD diagnoses, with cases rising by 93%, respectively, over the past decade and a half.

Impact on Work Performance:

1. Attention to Detail: Individuals with ADHD may struggle with tasks requiring sustained focus and meticulous attention to detail, which can lead to errors and decreased productivity.

Best High-Yield Savings Accounts Of 2024

Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024.

2. Time Management: Procrastination and difficulty managing time effectively c an result in missed deadlines and constant overwhelm.

3. Interpersonal Relationships: Impulsivity and difficulty regulating emotions can strain workplace relationships, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts.

The Silent Epidemic of Sleep Challenges

Simultaneously, sleep challenges have become a silent epidemic, exacerbated by modern work habits and lifestyle choices. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 45% of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affects their daily activities at least once a week. Chronic sleep deprivation and disorders such as insomnia are linked to numerous health problems, including impaired cognitive function, mood disorders, and decreased immune function.

The Intersection of ADHD and Sleep Challenges

Research indicates that there is a significant connection between ADHD and sleep disorders. According to the Sleep Foundation , 25-50% of individuals with ADHD experience sleep issues, including insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea. These problems are related to neurological factors such as disruptions in circadian rhythms and overactive thoughts, which make sleeping difficult.

Expert Insights and Tips for Improving Sleep in Individuals with ADHD

Shelley Farnham, Founder of Complex Connexions CIC said: “ADHDers may struggle to switch off in the evening and make that transition to go to bed and then to sleep. If they’ve struggled to complete tasks during the day due to procrastination or finding it difficult to initiate tasks, and they are then able to start those tasks late in the day, it can be difficult to stop as they’re unsure when they’ll be able to get back to being productive. They may make that transition to get to bed, but then find it difficult to calm their racing thoughts enough to fall asleep.”

A healthy sleep routine and sufficient sleep allow the brain to function better, especially for individuals with ADHD. Martin Seeley, Sleep Expert and CEO at MattressNextDay , offers practical tips to address these challenges:

1. Establish a Nighttime Routine:

Use reminders on your phone or apps like Bedtime or Sleep Cycle to help you wind down for bedtime.

2. Avoid Stimulating Tasks Before Bed:

Keep a notepad by your bed and write down tasks you're thinking about doing, so you can revisit them at a more appropriate time.

3. Limit Screen Time:

Try to avoid screens at least an hour before bed and keep your bedroom screen-free. If you need your phone as an alarm, consider charging it across the room.

4. Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment:

Introduce some small changes to your sleep environment to make it more relaxing. Consider using a relaxing pillow spray, changing your sheets, or journaling before bed.

5. Choose the Right Mattress:

Some individuals with ADHD struggle with hypersensitivity, so investing in the right bedding, such as weighted blankets, cooling pillows, and soothing pillowcases, can help improve the sleep experience.

Last but not least, discussing these options with your coach or therapist can help you find new ways to adapt your sleep current and make it less stressing.

The increasing prevalence of ADHD and sleep challenges makes it crucial for employers and employees to acknowledge and tackle these issues. Creating an atmosphere of empathy and assistance can help companies improve employee well-being, productivity, and overall organizational success. In a world where mental and physical health are becoming more intertwined with professional performance, taking proactive measures can have a significant impact.

Luciana Paulise

  • Editorial Standards
  • Reprints & Permissions

Join The Conversation

One Community. Many Voices. Create a free account to share your thoughts. 

Forbes Community Guidelines

Our community is about connecting people through open and thoughtful conversations. We want our readers to share their views and exchange ideas and facts in a safe space.

In order to do so, please follow the posting rules in our site's  Terms of Service.   We've summarized some of those key rules below. Simply put, keep it civil.

Your post will be rejected if we notice that it seems to contain:

  • False or intentionally out-of-context or misleading information
  • Insults, profanity, incoherent, obscene or inflammatory language or threats of any kind
  • Attacks on the identity of other commenters or the article's author
  • Content that otherwise violates our site's  terms.

User accounts will be blocked if we notice or believe that users are engaged in:

  • Continuous attempts to re-post comments that have been previously moderated/rejected
  • Racist, sexist, homophobic or other discriminatory comments
  • Attempts or tactics that put the site security at risk
  • Actions that otherwise violate our site's  terms.

So, how can you be a power user?

  • Stay on topic and share your insights
  • Feel free to be clear and thoughtful to get your point across
  • ‘Like’ or ‘Dislike’ to show your point of view.
  • Protect your community.
  • Use the report tool to alert us when someone breaks the rules.

Thanks for reading our community guidelines. Please read the full list of posting rules found in our site's  Terms of Service.

Sharon Saline Psy.D.

How Couples with ADHD Can Reduce Conflict and Get Along Better

Strategies to help couples affected by adhd manage challenges and stay connected..

Posted June 29, 2024 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

  • What Is ADHD?
  • Take our ADHD Test
  • Find a therapist to help with ADHD
  • Couples with ADHD may struggle with disagreements that escalate quickly into intense arguments.
  • Focusing on what the other person can do differently is a trap; shift to thinking about what you can change.
  • Rebalance yourself before attempting to talk about anything with your partner.
  • Learn how to use the STEPS method to strategize more effective solutions to conflict.

Source: PeopleImages/iStock

Every couple struggles with those moments when a switch has flipped and suddenly there’s a bubbling volcano of angry, negative emotions inside of both of you waiting to erupt. Before you know what’s happening, you each say or do things that you’ll surely regret later, but can’t stop.

In a relationship where one or both partners have ADHD , these escalations (amygdala takeovers) can happen extremely quickly due to challenges with emotional regulation , verbal impulse control, metacognition , and weaker working memory . One minute you’re OK; the next, it’s as if a match has been thrown on a pile of old painting rags and putrid fumes are polluting the health of your relationship. Significant emotional damage can ensue for both parties, potentially transforming tender love into toxic rage.

When couples struggle with anger , they often focus on what the other person could do differently or better. This is a trap: You can’t control what anyone else does; you can only control yourself. Thus, learning better tools for dealing with your own dysregulation is what’s called for.

When the amygdala becomes activated, the thinking brain (your prefrontal cortex) goes temporarily offline and feelings rule the day. In neurotypical brains, executive functioning skills help the amygdala calm down by engaging language to name the feelings instead of experiencing them, by accessing the capacity to step back and assess the situation, and by using rational thinking to find alternative solutions.

In ADHD brains, your executive functioning skills, already working so hard to accomplish and maintain daily life tasks, struggle with the extra burden of effectively dealing with a rush of strong emotions. You’ll tend to react quickly with volatility instead of responding with consideration.

How can you do something differently before and during an amygdala takeover? Focus on rebalancing yourself instead of telling your partner to calm down.

In my experience, saying “calm down” usually results in people speeding up and getting defensive. Anger, unkind words, and intense emotions emerge. The so-called "four horsemen," aptly named by psychologists John and Julie Gottman as problematic patterns in couples, appear on the scene to wreak their damage in the form of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. By now, you and your partner have usually regressed to some ugly version of your 10-year-old selves.

Source: shironosov/iStock

Rebalancing is what’s called for—and preparation will help you make that happen.

How to Rebalance

Rebalancing means creating a couple’s coping strategy in advance so you can rely on it in difficult moments. Identify what will assist each of you from steering into a tailspin. Examine your respective patterns when you have big feelings and work together to create a collaborative plan of action.

My “take a few STEPS back” method can help you with this process. Here’s how the STEPS work:

1. Self-control .

When the intensity of a conversation rises, pay attention to your body’s signals that you are becoming activated. Maybe your heart starts beating faster or you begin perspiring. Perhaps you are speaking louder and out of breath.

If you can catch your dysregulation early, you can avoid a massive eruption. Practicing self-awareness and paying attention to your body sensations when you are not activated will help you notice what is happening and give you important information about slowing things down when you are.

Try saying, “I’m feeling agitated and I’m getting upset. I need things to slow down” instead of “Why won’t you leave me alone? I just want you to stop talking to me!”

2. Time apart.

Instead of pretending that your conflicts won’t re-occur or being so relieved that they are over you want to forget them, be honest with each other and acknowledge that, yes, you will probably disagree again in the future. So, plan for those tricky moments and set up a "time apart" structure.

To do this, decide, in advance, the amount of time you will each need to restabilize, how you are going to call for a break in the action, what each of you will do, and where and when you will come back together.

3. Evaluate.

During your time apart, reflect on what just occurred. Think about what you really want at this moment, in this conversation, or regarding this issue.

adhd homework strategies

If you’re feeling angry and need to vent, grab a pen or your computer and start writing, planning to throw it out later. Create a voice memo if that’s useful. Perhaps draw something, go for a run, or break out the yoga mat.

Then, ask yourself what you could have done or said differently and how you could express your thoughts and desires in a more effective way. Consider what you can be accountable for. We are looking for evenness here—getting back to baseline.

4. Practice reflective listening.

Reflective listening is a key tool for improving respectful communication in couples. To use it effectively during a disagreement, it’s best to practice this technique a few times a week. This will not only improve your ability to do it with satisfaction during or after an argument but also increase your connection to your partner amid your busy lives.

Initially, set the timer for 10 minutes and build up to 20. Each person gets half of that time as the speaker, and the other half as the listener.

The speaker starts to talk about what’s on their mind and pauses after a sentence or two; alternatively, the listener can use a hand signal when their memory capacity is full. Then the listener says: “What I heard you say is X. Did I get that right? Is there anything else?” This back-and-forth continues until the timer rings. Then, switch roles.

When you are practicing this tool, feel free to talk about anything: work, friends, kids, emotions. When you are using this tool for an argument, talk about how you feel using "I" statements rather than blaming ones.


5. Strategize.

Once you’ve shared how you feel with each other and you both feel heard, it’s time to strategize the next right action. Where do you go from here? What’s something you can both do to move forward?

Collaborate on this—but know that it’s OK if you need different things. This is a judgment-free zone. The goal is to proceed with clear minds and open hearts.

Beeney JE, Hallquist MN, Scott LN, Ringwald WR, Stepp SD, Lazarus SA, Mattia AA, Pilkonis PA. The Emotional Bank Account and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Romantic Relationships of People with Borderline Personality Disorder: A Dyadic Observational Study. Clin Psychol Sci. 2019 Sep;7(5):1063-1077. doi: 10.1177/2167702619830647. Epub 2019 Apr 18. PMID: 32670673; PMCID: PMC7363036.

Gottman J, & Silver N (1999). The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.

Sharon Saline Psy.D.

Sharon Saline, Psy.D. , is a clinical psychologist and an expert in how ADHD, LD, and mental health affect children, teens and families. She is the author of What Your ADHD Child Wishes You Knew .

  • Find a Therapist
  • Find a Treatment Center
  • Find a Psychiatrist
  • Find a Support Group
  • Find Online Therapy
  • United States
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Portland, OR
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC
  • Asperger's
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Chronic Pain
  • Eating Disorders
  • Passive Aggression
  • Personality
  • Goal Setting
  • Positive Psychology
  • Stopping Smoking
  • Low Sexual Desire
  • Relationships
  • Child Development
  • Self Tests NEW
  • Therapy Center
  • Diagnosis Dictionary
  • Types of Therapy

July 2024 magazine cover

Sticking up for yourself is no easy task. But there are concrete skills you can use to hone your assertiveness and advocate for yourself.

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Gaslighting
  • Affective Forecasting
  • Neuroscience


Experience of cbt in adults with adhd: a mixed methods study.

Sandy William

  • 1 School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • 2 School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • 3 Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • 4 School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Suffolk, Ipswich, United Kingdom

Introduction: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends Cognitive-Behavioural therapy (CBT) as the psychotherapeutic treatment of choice for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the UK. However, the literature often refers to adapted CBT programs tailored for ADHD and provides limited insight into how adults with ADHD experience and perceive this form of treatment in routine clinical practice.

Methods: This mixed-methods study aims to explore ADHD individuals’ experience and perception of CBT delivered in routine clinical practice, to gain a better understanding of this treatment’s helpfulness and perceived effectiveness.

Results: A survey (n=46) and semi-structured in-depth interviews (n=10) were conducted to explore the experience of CBT and its perceived effectiveness in managing ADHD. The interviews were analysed using thematic analysis and the survey was synthesised using descriptive narratives. The thematic analysis highlighted three key themes: difficulties with the CBT framework, difficulties with CBT therapists, and consequences of CBT. The survey highlighted similar findings. Participants described the CBT framework as, generic, rigid, and too short, and described the CBT therapist as unspecialised, unempathetic, and not sufficiently adapting CBT to ADHD-related difficulties.

Discussions: Overall, participants found non-adapted, generic CBT in the UK to be unhelpful, overwhelming, and at times harmful to their mental well-being. Therefore, it is necessary for clinical bodies in the UK, while following the indicated NICE guidelines, to be mindful of adapting CBT delivery of CBT, to be most effective for people with ADHD and to mitigate potential harm.

1 Introduction

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by symptoms of persistent inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity, that causes clinical impairment in academic and social functioning ( 1 ) affecting approximately 5% of children ( 2 ) and 2.5% of adults ( 3 ). While this suggests that ADHD attenuates over time, the prevalence of symptomatic adults is estimated to be 6.7% ( 3 ).

ADHD is centrally a disorder of impaired executive functions (EFs) creating a devastating effect on self-regulation ( 4 ), inhibition, planning and working memory ( 5 ). These impairments impact many different aspects of life such as education, employment and mental well-being ( 6 ) Barkley ( 7 ) argued that inhibition is the central EF impairment in ADHD, that hinders the utilisation of other functions. Moreover, a body of research reports significant deficits in the EFs of shifting and working memory for ADHD adults ( 8 – 10 ). Furthermore, Bailey & Jones ( 11 ) argued that the EF processes of inhibition, updating, and shifting are closely linked to emotional regulation. Henceforth, ADHD is also described as a disorder of emotional dysregulation ( 12 ). In a systematic review by Soler-Gutiérrez et al. ( 13 ), adults with ADHD demonstrated the consistent use of non-adaptive emotion regulation strategies when compared to controls. Bodalski et al. ( 14 ), also reported emotion regulation deficits in adults with ADHD including the use of avoidance strategies. Adults with ADHD demonstrate increased use of experiential and cognitive-behavioural avoidance strategies which mediates the relationship between ADHD, deficits in emotion regulation, and internalising disorder outcomes ( 14 ).

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ( 15 ) considers pharmacological treatment as the first-line treatment for adults with persisting ADHD symptoms. However, Ramsay ( 16 ) attests that individuals with ADHD who experience symptom improvement from medications still experience difficulties in academic and social functioning, due to ADHD’s high comorbidity with other psychological disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. For this reason, the NICE guideline (2018) recommends a structured psychological intervention in the form of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for individuals with ADHD as the first psychotherapeutic treatment of choice.

CBT is an umbrella term for a range of related therapies, including for instance cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy, and metacognitive therapy ( 17 ). These therapies share a strong commitment to developing clinical interventions grounded in empirical evidence, with CBT described as the most researched form of psychological therapy ( 18 ). The therapies encapsulated by the term CBT aim to reduce client’s experience of distress by helping the person to explore patterns in their behaviour, thinking processes and thought content, ( 19 ). Probably the most commonly practised form of non-adapted CBT in the UK, derives from a mixture of behavioural therapy principles and Beck’s cognitive therapy, to employ an active goal-oriented problem-solving approach ( 20 ). CBT is highly structured, present-oriented, and time-limited, usually lasting from 5–20 sessions ( 21 ). Typically, a CBT therapist may seek to address an individual’s cognitive distortions by challenging maladaptive core beliefs, dysfunctional assumptions, and negative automatic thoughts using techniques including Guided discovery, Socratic questioning, positive data logs, and thought records ( 21 ). Additionally, CBT therapists may employ behavioural techniques such as activity scheduling, where tasks are reduced to a controllable list, or behavioural experiments to try responding differently to identified situations or stimuli. The CBT therapeutic relationship is based on genuineness, rapport and empathy between the patient and the therapist ( 21 ).

In England, CBT is predominantly provided through the National Health Service (NHS) Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies Programme (IAPT), recently rebranded as NHS Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression (NHSTTAD). This programme was developed in 2008 in an attempt to radically increase the availability of CBT in primary care, in response to a range of NICE guidelines increasingly recommending CBT and other psychological therapies as the first-line interventions for anxiety and depression ( 21 , 22 ). This programme commissions a range of primary care psychological therapies services across England, with one-to-one CBT the most frequently provided therapy ( 23 ). Therapists are trained in accordance with a competency-based curriculum ( 24 ), which does not include specific content on adapting CBT for ADHD. This potentially leads to therapists having high variability in their knowledge, skills and ability to support ADHD patients. Access to NHSTTAD services is often by self-referral, with no separate formal diagnostic assessment of presenting problems required as a precursor to treatment. While the NHSTTAD programme is mainly designed for individuals with mild to moderate depression and anxiety, therapists working in NHSTTAD services often find they are working with complex cases, for which they may have insufficient training and knowledge ( 22 ) including ADHD. According to Ramsay ( 4 , 25 ), individuals with ADHD often seek treatment for comorbid depression and/or anxiety, therefore they may be highly likely to receive CBT treatment through the NHSTTAD service. Whilst statistics of the number of people accessing NHSTTAD who have an existing ADHD diagnosis, or who experience ADHD-related difficulties are not recorded, more than thirty-three thousand people seeking help from NHSTTAD services during the year 2021–22, were assessed as experiencing problems with memory, and concentration, learning and understanding ( 26 ).

Previous evidence from empirical studies reported that adults with ADHD found adapted CBT helpful for their symptoms ( 27 , 28 ). Virta and colleagues ( 27 ) reported a pilot RCT of short-term outpatient adapted CBT to adults with ADHD (n=10), delivered over 10 weekly appointments. Participants in this study reported significantly reduced symptoms as a result of engaging in adapted CBT. Two patients (20%) dropped out of adapted CBT. Solanto and Scheres ( 28 ) reported a cohort study of adapted CBT for college students (n=18) delivered in a group format, over 12 weekly sessions. Clinician’s ratings and participants’ self-report data evidenced a reduction in ADHD symptoms and student’s perceived self-efficacy in managing ADHD. One participant dropped out of group adapted CBT. These studies suggest that adapted CBT is acceptable to ADHD patients.

Numerous studies have also highlighted the efficacy of adapted CBT in reducing symptoms of ADHD and EF ( 27 – 31 ) as well as mental well-being and general functioning ( 32 , 33 ). A randomised controlled trial by Safren et al. ( 34 ) highlighted the efficacy of an ADHD-adapted CBT treatment in providing significantly better outcomes for participants over an active control treatment based on relaxation and educational support. Additionally, studies comparing CBT to treatment as usual control groups, have shown the treatment’s efficacy compared with medication-only groups ( 35 , 36 ). A meta-analysis by Knouse et al. ( 37 ) reported that studies with active control groups indicated significantly smaller effect sizes for CBT treatment, than studies without active controls. The differences in these results could be due to variations in the CBT interventions applied in each study, which varied by treatment type, format, length, and the medication status of the participants, which can arguably moderate the effect of treatment ( 37 ). Finally, Solanto and Scheres reported the effectiveness of a CBT program in reducing inattention and EF in college student with ADHD.

Additionally, there are a number of studies which have shown the efficacy and acceptability of adapted Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for ADHD patients ( 38 – 43 ). DBT ( 44 ) is an empirically validated approach for working with distress tolerance and coping behaviours. Early DBT papers focused on reducing self-harm and suicide attempts in individuals diagnosed with personality disorder ( 45 ), whereas more recent work has applied modified DBT to diagnostically heterogenous groups ( 46 ). DBT is often considered part of the ‘third wave’ of CBT, given its focus on emotional and behavioural regulation ( 47 ). As applied to ADHD treatment, adapted DBT includes acceptance, mindfulness, functional behavioural analysis, psychoeducation and distress tolerance techniques ( 42 , 43 ). Many of the studies of adapted DBT for ADHD, have utilised group level interventions ( 38 – 43 ). The reliance on group interventions is at odds with the dominant model of one-to-one CBT used within NHSTTAD services. Furthermore, within the English context, DBT is a psychological therapy approach rarely delivered within primary care in England, given low numbers of DBT trained therapists and supervisors. The English NHS has plans to rapidly expand the availability of DBT by commissioning additional training ( 48 ), but there are still few DBT trained practitioners working with primary care populations.

Moreover, it is important to note that the majority of studies reporting on the efficacy and acceptability of CBT, have delivered ADHD adapted DBT or adapted CBT, rather than generic CBT, which is essential for treatment efficacy but the title and often content of these studies do not always reflect this important nuance. Ramsay ( 4 ) suggested the adaptation of CBT to accommodate for the executive and emotional dysfunctions experienced by adults with ADHD, using environmental engineering and EF training. This entails changing work, home, and personal settings by implementing systems to lessen dysfunction as well as delivering organisation and time management skills, ( 4 ). As adults with ADHD often have a history of negative experiences related to their EF deficits, which may foster negative cognitions about themselves or their abilities and maladaptive emotional strategies, these must be addressed in CBT to motivate change and encourage appropriate coping ( 4 , 19 ).

Knouse & Ramsay ( 49 ) argued that non-adapted CBT could be harmful to adults with ADHD, as negative experiences of therapy can occur in relation to the experience of therapy in interaction with ADHD symptoms and individuals’ sense of self. While the benefits can outweigh the negative experiences, therapists must be aware of the possibility of certain negative experiences which might occur during all stages of a CBT treatment course, and any such experiences of therapy must be managed appropriately to reduce harm and barriers to treatment.

CBT therefore appears an efficacious treatment for people with ADHD, yet one that could cause side effects, or iatrogenic harm, if not delivered in a way that is responsive to the needs of people with ADHD. However, the existing literature provides limited indepth, qualitative insight as to how adults with ADHD experience and perceive CBT treatment. In response to this gap in the literature, the present mixed-methods study aims to record and collate the CBT experiences (adapted or non adapted) of adults with ADHD, to capture and analyse the perceived impact of this form of therapy and its value for ADHD individuals. A mixed-method approach lends itself well in capturing user experiences and understanding social phenomena better ( 50 ). This study aims to explore the following research question, ‘How do individuals with ADHD experience CBT therapy in the UK?’

An explanatory sequential mixed methods design ( 51 ) was employed, consisting of an online survey, followed by in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a sub-sample of survey respondents. The survey data was collected over 3 months (June-August) in 2023. Interviews were conducted and recorded over one month in August 2023. The survey and interviews took place online and followed data protection procedures and best practices for record-keeping, and storage of personal data, in accordance with the BPS Code of Human Research Ethics ( 52 ). The study received ethical approval from the University of Nottingham School of Psychology (ethics reference number: FMHS 81–0922).

2.2 Material

The survey and interview questions were developed by the authors (who include CBT practitioners and researchers). The surveys took on average 15 minutes and included 28 questions in the form of multiple choice, 10-point Likert-scale, and free text box questions ( Supplementary Material 1 ). A demographic questionnaire gathered demographic data from the samples. On average, the interviews lasted for 30 minutes and encompassed 23 questions exploring the participants’ experience of CBT and its effectiveness in addressing their ADHD difficulties ( Supplementary Material 2 ).

2.3 Participants

Participants were recruited from across different regions of the UK, using a database of adults with a diagnosis of ADHD, collated at the University of Nottingham’s ADHD research lab. The database had been created from previous research studies with individuals who have an ADHD diagnosis who previously indicated a willingness to participate in future research studies. Additionally, participants were also recruited from, ‘The ADHD Collective’, an online community of adults with ADHD based in the UK.

Inclusion criteria were that participants were aged 18 years old or greater, had an existing diagnosis of ADHD before receiving CBT, and the course of CBT was delivered within the UK by any provider (NHS, private or others).

Participants who reported receiving CBT within a mixed, integrative or eclectic psychotherapeutic approach, such as those mixing CBT concepts with other concepts drawn from other psychotherapy approaches (e.g. psychodynamic or humanistic approaches), were excluded from the study.

2.4 Procedure

Details of the studies were sent to mailing lists by the research team. Participants in the survey were entered in a £10 Amazon voucher prize draw. Additionally, interview participants were provided with a £20 Amazon voucher code after the completion of the interview.

Participants in both the survey and interviews who wished to participate signed an online consent form. Participants who responded to the semi-structured interview invitation were interviewed over Microsoft Teams at a time of their convenience.

2.5 Analysis

The interviews were analysed using an inductive approach to thematic analysis ( 53 ), which employed an essentialist perspective in extracting codes. The thematic analysis consisted of a six-stage process ( 53 ). The analytic process began by transcribing each interview verbatim shortly after being conducted. Following this process, the lead investigator first familiarized herself with the interview data and made notes in a diary of preliminary thoughts on the content of the interviews. From this, initial codes were identified in a coding manual that was then collated and combined to be classified into broader themes using constant comparative analysis, both within and between transcripts. Finally, as the analysis evolved, these broader themes were reviewed and refined to generate the final themes proposed. An ongoing analysis allowed for a clear definition of the final themes. Semantic themes were developed using participants’ descriptions of their own experiences. Themes were then reviewed by a second researcher (BF) to ensure that they mapped to the original transcripts. Interrater reliability of themes was tested on a small proportion (2/10, 20% of interviews) of the transcripts. The results were validated collectively as a team, and any discrepancies were discussed and reconciled. The survey responses were reported descriptively and were used to triangulate the responses from the interviews.

Ten participants took part in the interviews (70% female) and 46 in the surveys (71% female). Tables 1 , 2 (Interview) and 2 (survey) describe the demographics of each group.


Table 1 Interview participants demographic characteristics.


Table 2 Survey participants demographic characteristics.

3.1 Semi-structured interviews

The codes from the thematic analysis captured three main themes: The complex structure of the CBT framework, the intricacy of the therapist relationship, Consequences of CBT.

3.1.1 The complex structure of the CBT Framework

Participants reported that the overall framework of CBT was unhelpful due to several factors. Firstly, the generic nature of CBT sessions was usually not adapted to individuals with ADHD, making therapy ineffective and experienced as highly frustrating. Secondly, the CBT sessions followed a rigid structure that was not personalised to the participants’ needs. Thirdly, the timeframe of the therapy was experienced as too short to be of benefit to the ADHD participants.

Participants reported that the CBT they received was essentially incompatible with their experience of ADHD, as it did not take into consideration the inherent EF and emotional dysregulation difficulties they experienced. Working memory deficits were not accommodated in sessions, leading to a cycle of unnecessary pressure and ineffective treatment. Moreover, participants described that the content of therapy did not account for ADHD symptoms of inconsistency, distractibility, and inattention. As a result, ADHD participants reported feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the approach, which they found unhelpful in managing their ADHD difficulties.

“I think there’s core things about CBT that are just seen on the face of it to me to be incompatible with ADHD. So, there is an element of having, decent working metacognition, working memory and things like that [ … ] I might discuss a technique with my therapist, but I would not remember to remember that technique. It just wasn’t going to happen.” (P5).

Only one participant reported receiving adapted CBT, with a therapist who also had ADHD. This participant reported that their CBT sessions allowed for self-acceptance of their EF difficulties, which moderated their approach to facing ADHD-related difficulties. For instance, they were able to moderate their time and chunk activities to avoid resistance and boredom. Overall, through the adapted CBT course, they were able to adopt cognitive strategies in their daily life, easing their day-to-day activities.

In contrast, however, most participants reported that the goals set in generic CBT were unspecific and unhelpful in managing ADHD symptoms. They explained that there was often no obvious relation between the CBT process and the management of their ADHD difficulties. They reported that ADHD topics such as understanding ADHD, time management, organization, and emotion regulation were often not discussed.

“ In the sense of actually managing ADHD symptoms [ … ]like time management, procrastination, achieving goal, it wasn’t really helpful for that kind of stuff, which is initially what I was hoping for” (P3) .

Furthermore, participants commented on the learning aids or physical resources offered in sessions. Some participants reported an absence of any learning aids or physical resources to summarize sessions, which caused an unhelpful dependence on memory, that led to forgetfulness. Conversely, other participants reported that they received an overwhelming amount of generic CBT resources which required high levels of literacy and concentration to comprehend, and which were not adequately adapted to ADHD individuals.

“I got sent a whole load of files and stuff to read and it was just volumes and volumes and volumes and stuff [ … ] Reading stuff is something I don’t do very well, and just the thought of doing all of that just overwhelmed me. I kept losing them as well” (P6) .

Participants reported that they needed CBT to offer an acceptance and management of their ADHD condition, rather than a fixing of their condition. Some participants reported that the sessions were too focused on symptom reduction, which did not allow for an appreciation of their strengths. This focus on just part of the person’s experience was sometimes experienced as unfair, with elements of their identity as a person with ADHD being ignored, or repressed, akin to being ‘dampened down’.

Conversely, the one participant who received adapted CBT reported that this course explained the behavioural irregularities as well as the strengths of having ADHD, fostering their acceptance of the condition.

“What I liked about it was that I understood how my mind worked [ … ] So it was really kind of understanding what the strengths I think of ADHD were. I just felt that I’m more accepting of myself and I’m more aware of myself and I’m more aware of my kind of behaviours if that makes sense” (P4) .

Participants also reported that the CBT objectives were not focused on the client’s needs but followed an unhelpful systematic approach. Participants who had undergone multiple courses of CBT reported that sessions felt like a pre-written script. Moreover, other participants reported that the CBT approach did not view the participant as an individual requiring personalised treatment.

“I felt the therapist had got their own set of exercises both times that they wanted to do from their own training, and I felt that I needed a much more bespoke approach” (P9) .

However, one participant expressed that their adapted CBT course was personalised in relation to their current situational difficulties, rather than being a generic application of CBT strategies. They reported sessions not being highly structured or systematic, but rather following an organic and client-centered approach, where the direction and flow of the therapy coincided with their feelings and needs.

Participants also reported that the generic CBT courses were too short to be helpful for their ADHD. They described that the number of offered sessions was inappropriate for individuals with ADHD who require more time to process information.

“It’d have to be extended because not only are you meeting someone new … you still got to bring the courage to open up to that person and then the sessions end, don’t last long enough, and then the overall course doesn’t last long enough. And I feel like something that takes that much would need to have more time for it” (P7) .

3.1.2 The intricacy of the therapist relationship and its impact on therapy

Participants reported multiple difficulties with their therapists affecting the overall experience. Firstly, almost all therapists were reported to be unspecialised in working with ADHD symptoms and seemed to have little knowledge about the condition, demotivating participants. Secondly, many therapists were experienced as unempathetic, affecting the participants’ healing and learning. Thirdly, many participants described their therapists’ approach as non-accommodative and inflexible.

Therapists appeared to lack a genuine understanding of ADHD, which affected participants’ treatment and motivation to continue with therapy. Some participants commented that they believe therapists with extensive ADHD experience should be delivering the CBT to ADHD individuals, for it to be maximally effective. Several participants reported that they had to explain multiple times to their therapists that the techniques they were assigned would not work with their ADHD, creating a lack of being understood and their experiences invalidated. Additionally, participants reported that their therapists seemed to assume their mental health difficulties could be treated in the same way as neurotypicals, disregarding that the myriad difficulties participants experienced were intricately linked to ADHD.

“I couldn’t see the link with ADHD and she didn’t see it either. [ … ] She knew nothing [about ADHD], and she told me that straight away. So, I think it impacted every single aspect of the therapy because she would just look on the surface of the problem and never be able to understand the deeper-rooted issues and difficulties” (P8) .

In contrast, tailored CBT facilitated participants understanding of the relationship between anxiety experiences and ADHD, and this was further aided by therapist’s disclosure of personal experience and knowledge of difficulties inherent in the condition.

“I felt very comfortable with her. I felt I could be very open and felt that she understood me, which was really important. I don’t know what it would be like to have that experience with a therapist who didn’t have ADHD … but I think unless you really know somatically how it feels that might be difficult to really know what someone else is experiencing” (P4) .

Participants reported that their therapist was unempathetic during treatment. They often felt judged and dismissed, which worsened their emotional state and affected the healing process.

“I always felt like quite dictated, like talking at me when I feel like, no one can be healed or learn about themselves or anything if they feel like they’re being judged or talked down to” (P7) .

Several participants felt that their therapist was not accommodating of their difficulties, nor their explicit feedback, resulting in feeling dismissed and demotivating their activation participation in CBT.

“I was sharing things that I thought were relevant, associated with ADHD and she didn’t really embrace it. She acknowledged it and she read it and said it was interesting, but she then didn’t necessarily adapt for it. So, I felt like it was listened to but not understood and acted upon. At the end I sort of gave up sharing my thoughts, trying to prepare for it” (P6) .

Some participants reported situations where the therapist was extremely rigid and inflexible with the timing of sessions. For instance, one participant reported that their therapist asked them to leave the room very abruptly because their time had ended, whilst they were severely distressed from recalling a traumatic event. Another participant reported that their therapist cancelled the appointment due to a five-minute bus delay.

“The therapist changed the time and he kept scheduling times that I couldn’t make, So, in the end, he wasn’t able to accommodate the time that I had available for the sessions, he ended up just discharging me” (P3) .

3.1.3 Consequences of unadapted CBT

The majority of participants reported little gain from or feeling worse off after the course of CBT.

Participants reported feeling worse off due to lowered self-esteem, increased sense of failure, frustration with self, increased emotional dysregulation and hopelessness with the future. One participant reported that their inability to perform the required techniques frustrated them greatly and lowered their self-esteem. Similarly, another commented that CBT made them feel responsible for their inability to benefit from the sessions, leading to a sense of failure. Other participants felt the CBT sessions left their emotional dysregulation even worse, not knowing how else they could move forward or be helped.

“I kept forgetting to practice, so by the time I come to the next session, they would have asked me how it went with the practice and I wouldn’t have practised, I wouldn’t have had time or I would’ve forgotten. And then it felt that if I didn’t do that, we couldn’t move forward. [ … ] So it felt like I was being punished and I couldn’t do the therapy properly because I couldn’t do those exercises” (P8) .

Some participants also felt at times that CBT sessions were a complete waste of time for them and that the lack of available alternative treatments for managing ADHD, led them feeling hopeless for the future.

“It was just such a waste of time for everyone, and it’s a shame, [ … ] it made me feel worse going there, and that’s not what you hope when you do therapy, you expect to feel better afterwards. But I felt worse and it’s just not very nice” (P8) .

Conversely, Participant Four described their adapted CBT experience as,

“… very transformational … because it really helped me to understand my mind and how to kind of work, I guess with my mind more. That made me feel happier about being me rather than trying to fit into what I believe the world sort of expected of me” (P4) .

All participants completed 11 Likert-scale questions on their experience of CBT from a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 indicated ‘strongly disagree’ and 10 indicated ‘strongly agree’. The results of the Likert-scale questions are presented in Table 3 .


Table 3 Experience of CBT questionnaire.

Additionally, 41 participants responded to the remaining short-answer questions. When asked, ‘What were you hoping to get out of your CBT sessions?’ participants responded that they wanted to receive help in managing their ADHD symptoms and executive functioning and to feel better about themselves. Moreover, most participants commented that they needed help understanding their thought processes and managing their emotional regulation, anxiety, self-esteem, organization, and low motivation. In addition, many participants expressed their need for actionable tools and effective coping strategies. When asked whether the CBT sessions met these expectations, participants responded that they did not. Participants commented that they felt blamed, not understood by their therapist, and constantly needed to explain themselves. For instance, one participant replied,

“No. ADHD wasn’t understood, and I constantly felt I had to explain why some the things being asked of me were a challenge”(P124) .

When asked about the challenges of accessing CBT, most participants argued that the sessions were too time-consuming. In addition, some participants noted that the waiting time to access CBT was too long and did not allow the patient to choose their own therapist. When asked what accommodations were made to support the participants’ access and engagement with CBT, most participants noted that no accommodations were made. Only a few participants commented that they were alerted prior to their appointments and that they were given extra time. When asked what the participants had liked or disliked, found helpful or unhelpful about CBT, many participants responded that it was unhelpful because it was manualised, repetitive, and did not address the underlying causes of symptoms. Moreover, some participants commented that they found the homework, tools, and therapists unhelpful, increasing their frustration. For example, one participant wrote,

“I struggled with speaking to someone who didn’t understand ADHD and didn’t seem to want to make any effort to. Some of the tasks required more forward planning or future thinking than I’m able to engage with. I came away feeling I’d need a much more intense level of interaction and support than I could afford or was on offer”(P106) .

When asked what the CBT course included, most participants responded that the course included working on unhelpful thinking styles, managing multiple tasks, organisation and planning, and managing distractibility. Moreover, when asked whether they had anything else to add about their experiences with CBT, some participants responded that they did not find it suitable and would not recommend this form of therapy to individuals with ADHD. For instance, one participant said,

“Overall, it made me feel more inadequate as I felt I couldn’t do the stuff I was supposed to. You can’t change how you think when your brain is wired differently. ADHD isn’t a thinking or positivity problem, and CBT seemed to assume it was”(P121) .

4 Discussion

The present study aimed to explore how individuals with ADHD experienced CBT in the UK. In this study, individuals with ADHD experienced several difficulties with CBT, that was not adapted to ADHD, which could have a negative impact on their overall wellbeing. These difficulties encompassed nonalignment of an unadapted CBT framework with specific aspects of ADHD, alongside a perceived unspecialised, unempathetic and non-accommodative CBT therapist, collectively resulting in suboptimal therapeutic experiences.

Participants expressed frustrations with the generic CBT framework due to its inconsideration of the EF and emotional dysregulation impairments experienced by individuals with ADHD. Participants described being forgetful, distracted, inconsistent, and inattentive, which pertained to impairments in their EF processes of updating, shifting, and inhibition, supporting previous research highlighting these difficulties in ADHD adults ( 8 – 10 ). Moreover, the participants’ emphasis on emotional regulation difficulties further supports previous research describing ADHD as a disorder of emotional dysregulation ( 14 , 54 ). Sadly, the generic, non-adapted CBT framework was not experienced as helpful, causing a counterproductive effect where participants felt overwhelmed, frustrated, and hopeless.

Research shows that when CBT is adapted specifically for ADHD symptoms, it can provide concrete strategies for managing the core symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity, and the associated personal interpersonal, social and occupational concomitants of the condition ( 55 ). Additionally, adapted DBT group interventions have demonstrated high effectiveness and acceptability, in helping people manage ADHD related symptoms ( 38 – 43 ). Group delivery of therapy is not commonplace within NHSTTAD services for patients with higher levels of distress or complexity, with one to one CBT being the primary treatment option. Moreover, as previously highlighted, there are few DBT trained therapists and supervisors currently working in primary care within England, giving rise to current plans to increase numbers of DBT trained therapists ( 48 ). The implication is that at this present time, adapted DBT maybe unlikely to be delivered in primary care with fidelity to the empirical studies.

Hayes and Hoffman ( 47 ), make the point that ‘third wave’ and traditional CBT approaches are often blended in reality, and this may be reflected in the range of empirically validated key adaptations to CBT for ADHD, which include helping the person to develop and review strategies to improve attentional focus, impulse control, planning and problem-solving, cognitive restructuring in the context of ADHD, managing emotional arousal in conflict and ensuing emotional or behavioural responses (e.g. managing anger and anxiety) and pro-social skills, e.g. empathy skills including perspective taking, recognition of the thoughts and feeling of others, critical reasoning, evaluating options and negotiation skills ( 28 , 34 , 56 ).

This is consistent with a body of research showing the efficacy of CBT in reducing ADHD symptoms and improving EF ( 29 , 31 , 34 , 56 ). Moreover, in a recent meta-analysis by Young et al. ( 19 ), CBT was shown to be an effective psychotherapeutic treatment for reducing ADHD symptoms.

Potential inconsistency in results across included studies is affected by stark differences in the implementation and delivery of CBT. Ramsay ( 4 ) described the impeding effect of ADHD symptoms on standard CBT and the need for an adapted approach to CBT to accommodate the EF and emotional dysregulation difficulties in participants with ADHD. Additionally, previous studies reported CBT content targeted to address ADHD symptoms, in countries outside the UK ( 19 , 31 , 34 , 56 , 57 ). The English NHSTTAD system is unique as it is a single point of access for CBT for all resident adults seeking support with mental health, following a prescribed competency-based approach to CBT for a limited range of presenting problems ( 58 ). Therefore, CBT in NHSTTAD is not necessarily easily tailored to or adapted for specific conditions outside of its core focus on anxiety and depression. CBT programs in other countries and published studies have often been adapted for ADHD and therefore do not represent the same form of care.

The difference in outcome between adapted and generic CBT is demonstrated in the striking disparity between Participant Four’s account and those of the other participants. They received a form of CBT specifically adapted for individuals with ADHD, by a therapist who was reported as having specialist expertise in working with clients with ADHD and who also had lived experience of ADHD. This experience of CBT was found extremely helpful and meaningfully tailored to their experiences by explaining their cognitive processes and behavioural responses in the context of their ADHD diagnosis. Psychoeducation of ADHD and an adapted approach allowed for an understanding of the client’s strengths and promoted self-acceptance and moderation of their ADHD-related difficulties. This mirrors previous studies which have highlighted the benefits of psychoeducation in cognitive interventions ( 43 ). Conversely, most participants, reported that there was no obvious accounting for ADHD symptoms within their CBT sessions. Therapists appeared to lack cursory knowledge of ADHD and did not seem to understand ADHD as a root cause behind symptoms experienced, and therefore could not appropriately adapt CBT or provide relevant techniques to help clients accept and moderate ADHD-related difficulties. Similar experiences of CBT delivered in routine practice in NHSTTAD services, as not being adequately tailored to the needs of clients are reported in the literature. Omylinska-Thurston et al. ( 59 ) reported similar findings in a group of participants with severe mental health disorders, where generic CBT was not experienced as adequately addressing underlying core issues, and was delivered inflexibly, leading to CBT being perceived as a waste of time and financial resources. The pressure on NHSTTAD therapists is significant, including considerations such as measurement against key performance indicators relating to client and service recovery rates, ‘throughput’ of clients, limited session numbers, high caseloads, and a range of client problems that are less likely to respond to time-limited CBT, such as experiences of poverty, social exclusion, or systematic oppression and social injustice ( 22 ). Against such a demanding context, several studies report significant levels of stress and psychological disturbance among the NHSTTAD workforce ( 60 – 62 ). It is possible, that against this context of background stress, therapists may be struggling to provide personalised formulation and therapy adapted to the presenting needs of their clients.

Indeed, in this study, most participants reported not receiving behavioural components of CBT for ADHD, meaning that they were not given graded task assignments, activity scheduling, or other behavioural tools to help manage procrastination and anxiety. The exclusion of valid behavioural elements of CBT has been previously noted by Binnie ( 22 ), who argued that CBT delivered in NHSTTAD often tended to focus on cognitive interventions, neglecting valid behavioural components.

Participants argued that the structure of therapy was not client-centred but followed a rigid and systematic approach which neglected their feelings, needs, and self-expression. Decades of research highlight the importance of a therapeutic relationship in which the therapist is experienced as empathic and attuned to the needs of the client, (e.g. 63 ), however, this crucial element of therapy was not experienced by several participants in the present study. Omylinska-Thurston et al. ( 59 ) reported that when participants felt their therapists were unempathetic and adhered to a rigid CBT protocol, instead of attending to the participant’s individual needs, therapy was unhelpful. Binnie ( 22 ) supported this by arguing that the delivery of CBT in NHSTTAD services may omit collaborative empiricism and guided discovery where the therapist works compassionately with the client, and instead overly focuses on manualised treatment for a restrictive range of presenting problems.

In contrast, Participant Four’s, specialised therapist idiosyncratically formulated the participant’s current situational difficulties and meaningfully personalised the treatment plan to the participant’s feelings and needs. This was experienced as crucial and helpful by the participant, who was able to learn from and manage undesirable situations, supporting Omylinska-Thurston et al. ( 59 ) who argued that an adjusted client-centred (i.e. idiosyncratically formulated) CBT process can improve the therapeutic relationship and outcome of therapy.

Overall, most participants reported feeling discontent or disappointed with therapy, which led to an increased sense of failure, increased emotional dysregulation, low self-esteem and a sense of self-blame. The ineffectiveness of therapy increased their feelings of hopelessness and disappointment in themselves. According to Ramsay ( 4 ), individuals with ADHD are more inclined to have pessimistic thoughts and expectations of failure due to their past unsuccessful experiences, which runs the risk of being amplified by therapy not adjusted to consider the person’s experiences of ADHD.

The survey results further supported the insights gleaned from the conducted interviews. Similar to the interviews, participants responded that they found the non-adapted form of CBT unhelpful and challenging, further deploring their self-esteem and increasing their frustration. Moreover, the therapists’ lack of knowledge of ADHD was apparent from most survey responses, demonstrating a need for additional training for therapists, on working with people who have ADHD.

4.1 Limitations

While the present study addresses an important research gap on the experience of generic, non-adapted CBT in adults with ADHD, there are limitations to the study. A convenience sample was used to recruit participants. The sample was predominantly female, which may not be an adequate representation of the predominantly male ADHD population, limiting the generalisability of the results. Moreover, convenience sampling may attract participants with charged emotional experiences, who may deliver a more negatively, or positively exaggerated account than that of the rest of the ADHD population. Additionally, the impact of the different ADHD presentations (inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined) on participants’ experiences of CBT was not analysed, which may have left an interesting variable unexplored. Finally, it is important to acknowledge that the findings refer to a vast range of non-adapted CBT treatment episodes experienced across the UK and therefore refers to a heterogeneous form of therapy. While we could discern between private, adapted CBT programs and NHS delivered generic programs, we cannot generalise the findings broadly as we lack details on these specific programs. Finally, we did not explore the different types of CBT that might have been received. The study aimed to look into how adults with ADHD experienced CBT, adopting a broad definition of what CBT is, as we did not want to be too prescriptive, believing that individuals might not always know the exact type of CBT they have received. This variance in the nature of CBT delivered, and understanding of what type of CBT is received may reflect naturalistic practice in the NHS, however through this omission, we might have missed important information about different nuances.

4.2 Future considerations

4.2.1 implications for practice.

This study highlights that routine delivery of CBT in the UK, may not be adapted appropriately for many adults with ADHD, negatively impacting their experiences. To combat this counterproductive effect of therapy, CBT therapists treating ADHD adults must receive additional training on adapting CBT to work with the array of symptoms and common experiences of people with ADHD, to more appropriately adapt CBT techniques and resources ( 4 ). Through this adaptive framework, necessary considerations regarding the EF and emotional dysregulation difficulties of ADHD individuals should be considered, transforming the nature of standard CBT to being more explicitly aligned with the experiences of people with ADHD.

4.2.2 Implications for research

The present study illustrates the potential negative impact of CBT on adults with ADHD revealing the need for more research in this topic area. Further investigation on the difference between adapted versus non-adapted CBT would further the important nuance in how beneficial CBT may be as a first line of psychotherapy treatment. Additionally, future research should consider the effect of different ADHD presentations on the effectiveness of CBT treatments, since research suggests improvement for clients with the predominantly inattentive ADHD sub-type ( 64 ). Moreover, specific post-qualification training on adapting CBT to work with ADHD symptoms appears indicated, and the authors are developing such training packages in association with people with lived experience of ADHD.

5 Conclusion

In conclusion, the present study portrays how adults with ADHD experienced CBT in the UK, with most ADHD participants reporting negative experiences when CBT programs were not adapted. This evidence prompts future research and clinical practice to address the issues highlighted in this study for a deeper understanding of how best to accommodate adults with ADHD in therapy. Moreover, this prompts therapists and service providers in the UK to consider the current implementation of CBT to ensure CBT can be appropriately adapted and delivered by therapists with relevant training, who understand the difficulties of ADHD, to ensure that treatment is helpful, efficient and meaningful to adults with ADHD, and to mitigate against the possibility of iatrogenic harm.

Data availability statement

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Ethics statement

The studies involving humans were approved by University of Nottingham School of Psychology ethics committee (ethics reference number: FMHS 81-0922. The studies were conducted in accordance with the local legislation and institutional requirements. The participants provided their written informed consent to participate in this study.

Author contributions

SW: Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing – original draft, Writing – review & editing. MH: Conceptualization, Methodology, Supervision, Writing – review & editing. JR: Conceptualization, Methodology, Supervision, Writing – review & editing. CH: Conceptualization, Investigation, Supervision, Writing – review & editing. BF: Conceptualization, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Supervision, Writing – review & editing.

The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. BR received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant number: ES/X000141/1).

Conflict of interest

BF reports personal fees and nonfinancial support from Takeda and Medice.

All remaining authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Supplementary material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2024.1341624/full#supplementary-material

1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders , 5th ed. (2013). doi: 10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.

CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar

2. Sayal K, Prasad V, Daley D, Ford T, Coghill D. ADHD in children and young people: prevalence, care pathways, and service provision. Lancet Psychiatry . (2018) 5:175–86. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30167-0

3. Song P, Zha M, Yang Q, Zhang Y, Li X, Rudan I. The prevalence of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A global systematic review and meta-analysis. J Global Health . (2021) 11:1–9. doi: 10.7189/jogh.11.04009

4. Ramsay JR. CBT for adult ADHD: adaptations and hypothesized mechanisms of change. J Cogn Psychother . (2010) 24:37–45. doi: 10.1891/0889–8391.24.1.37

5. Willcutt EG, Doyle AE, Nigg JT, Faraone SV, Pennington BF. Validity of the executive function theory of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analytic review. Biol Psychiatry . (2005) 57:1336–46. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.02.006

6. Gjervan B, Torgersen T, Nordahl HM, Rasmussen K. Functional impairment and occupational outcome in adults with ADHD. J attention Disord . (2012) 16:544–52. doi: 10.1177/1087054711413074

7. Barkley RA. Behavioral inhibition, sustained attention, and executive functions. psychol Bull . (1997) 121:65–94. doi: 10.1037/0033–2909.121.1.65

8. Boonstra AM, Kooij JJS, Oosterlaan J, Sergeant JA, Buitelaar JK. To act or not to act, that’s the problem. Neuropsychology . (2010) 24:209–21. doi: 10.1037/a0017670

9. Pazvantoğlu O, Aker AA, Karabekiroğlu K, Akbaş S, Sarısoy G, Baykal S, et al. Neuropsychological weaknesses in adult ADHD; cognitive functions as core deficit and roles of them in persistence to adulthood. J Int Neuropsychol Soc . (2012) 18:819–26. doi: 10.1017/S1355617712000574

10. Alderson RM, Kasper LJ, Hudec KL, Patros CHG. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and working memory in adults. Neuropsychology . (2013) 27:287–302. doi: 10.1037/a0032371

11. Bailey R, Jones SM. An integrated model of regulation for applied settings. Clin Child Family Psychol Rev . (2019) 22:2–23. doi: 10.1007/s10567-019-00288-y

12. Beheshti A, Chavanon ML, Christiansen H. Emotion dysregulation in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry . (2020) 20:1–11. doi: 10.1186/s12888-020-2442-7

13. Soler-Gutiérrez A-M, Pérez-González J-C, Mayas J. Evidence of emotion dysregulation as a core symptom of adult ADHD: A systematic review. PloS One . (2023) 18:e0280131–e0280131. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280131

14. Bodalski EA, Knouse LE, Kovalev D. Adult ADHD, emotion dysregulation, and functional outcomes: examining the role of emotion regulation strategies. J Psychopathol Behav Assess . (2019) 41:81–92. doi: 10.1007/s10862–018-9695–1

15. NICE. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: diagnosis and management (2018). Available online at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng87 .

Google Scholar

16. Ramsay JR. Current status of cognitive-behavioral therapy as a psychosocial treatment for adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Curr Psychiatry Rep . (2007) 9:427–33. doi: 10.1007/s11920–007-0056–0

17. McMain S, Newman MG, Segal ZV, DeRubeis RJ. Cognitive behavioral therapy: current status and future research directions. Psychother Res . (2015) 25:321–9. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2014.1002440

18. David D, Cristea I, Hofmann SG. Why cognitive behavioral therapy is the current gold standard of psychotherapy. Front Psychiatry (2018) 9:333730.

19. Young Z, Moghaddam N, Tickle A. The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy for adults with ADHD: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Attention Disord . (2020) 24:875–88. doi: 10.1177/1087054716664413

20. Gaudiano BA. Cognitive-behavioural therapies: achievements and challenges. BMJ Ment Health (2008) 11(1):5–7.

21. Fenn K, Byrne M. The key principles of cognitive behavioural therapy. InnovAiT . (2013) 6:579–85. doi: 10.1177/1755738012471029

22. Binnie J. Do you want therapy with that? A critical account of working within IAPT. Ment Health Rev J . (2015) 20:79–83. doi: 10.1108/MHRJ-11–2014-0044

23. NHS Benchmarking Network. Health Education England NHS Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression Workforce Census: National Report January 2023 . (2023).

24. Health Education England. National Curriculum for High Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Courses . London: NHS England (2022). Available at: https://www.hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/HIT%20CBT%20Curriculum%204th%20Edition%202022_10%20Nov%202022.pdf .

25. Ramsay JR. CBT is effective in reducing symptoms in adults with ADHD whose symptoms persist following pharmacotherapy. Evidence-Based Ment Health . (2011) 14:28–8. doi: 10.1136/ebmh1144

26. NHS Digital. Psychological Therapies Annual report on the use of IAPT services 2021–22 (2022). Available online at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/psychological-therapies-annual-reports-on-the-use-of-iapt-services/annual-report-2021–22 .

27. Virta M, Salakari A, Antila M, Chydenius E, Partinen M, Kaski M, et al. Short cognitive behavioral therapy and cognitive training for adults with ADHD–a randomized controlled pilot study. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat . (2010), 443–53. doi: 10.2147/NDT

28. Solanto MV, Scheres A. Feasibility, acceptability, and effectiveness of a new cognitive-behavioral intervention for college students with ADHD. J Attention Disord . (2021) 25:2068–82. doi: 10.1177/1087054720951865

29. Solanto MV, Marks DJ, Mitchell KJ, Wasserstein J, Kofman MD. Development of a new psychosocial treatment for adult ADHD. J Attention Disord . (2008) 11:728–36. doi: 10.1177/1087054707305100

30. Ramsay JR, Rostain AL. CBT without medications for adult ADHD: an open pilot study of five patients. J Cogn Psychother . (2011) 25:277–86. doi: 10.1891/0889–8391.25.4.277

31. Huang F, Tang Y, Zhao M, Wang Y, Pan M, Wang Y, et al. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult ADHD: A randomized clinical trial in China. J Attention Disord . (2019) 23:1035–46. doi: 10.1177/1087054717725874

32. López-Pinar C, Martínez-Sanchís S, Carbonell-Vayá E, Sánchez-Meca J, Fenollar-Cortés J. Efficacy of nonpharmacological treatments on comorbid internalizing symptoms of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analytic review. J Attention Disord . (2020) 24:1–23. doi: 10.1177/1087054719855685

33. Guo C, Assumpcao L, Hu Z. Efficacy of non-pharmacological treatments on emotional symptoms of children and adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A meta-analysis. J Attention Disord . (2021) 26:2318. doi: 10.1177/10870547211001953

34. Safren SA, Sprich S, Mimiaga MJ, Surman C, Knouse L, Groves M, et al. Cognitive behavioral therapy vs relaxation with educational support for medication-treated adults with ADHD and persistent symptoms: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA: J Am Med Assoc . (2010) 304:875–80. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.1192

35. Weiss M, Murray C, Wasdell M, Greenfield B, Giles L, Hechtman L. A randomized controlled trial of CBT therapy for adults with ADHD with and without medication. BMC Psychiatry . (2012) 12:30–0. doi: 10.1186/1471–244X-12–30

36. Jensen CM, Amdisen BL, Jørgensen KJ, Arnfred SMH. Cognitive behavioural therapy for ADHD in adults: systematic review and meta-analyses. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disord . (2016) 8:3–11. doi: 10.1007/s12402–016-0188–3

37. Knouse LE, Teller J, Brooks MA. Meta-analysis of cognitive-behavioral treatments for adult ADHD. J Consulting Clin Psychol . (2017) 85:737–50. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000216

38. López-Pinar C, Rosen H, Selaskowski B, Staerk C, Jans T, Retz W, et al. Exploring the relationship between adherence to therapy, treatment acceptability, and clinical outcomes in adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: results from the COMPAS multicenter randomized controlled trial. Psychother Psychosomatics . (2023) 93:46–64. doi: 10.1159/000532043

39. Hesslinger B, Ludger Tebartz van E, Nyberg E, Dykierek P, Richter H, Berner M, et al. Psychotherapy of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: A pilot study using a structured skills training program. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci . (2002) 252:177–84. doi: 10.1007/s00406–002-0379–0

40. Hirvikoski T, Waaler E, Alfredsson J, Pihlgren C, Holmström A, Johnson A, et al. Reduced ADHD symptoms in adults with ADHD after structured skills training group: Results from a randomized controlled trial. Behav Res Ther . (2011) 49:175–85. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2011.01.001

41. Fleming AP, McMahon RJ, Moran LR, Peterson AP, Dreessen A. Pilot randomized controlled trial of dialectical behavior therapy group skills training for ADHD among college students. J Attention Disord . (2015) 19:260–71. doi: 10.1177/1087054714535951

42. Morgensterns E, Alfredsson J, Hirvikoski T. Structured skills training for adults with ADHD in an outpatient psychiatric context: an open feasibility trial. ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disord . (2016) 8:101–11. doi: 10.1007/s12402–015-0182–1

43. Nasri B, Castenfors M, Fredlund P, Ginsberg Y, Lindefors N, Kaldo V. Group treatment for adults with ADHD based on a novel combination of cognitive and dialectical behavior interventions. J Attention Disord . (2017) 24:1–13. doi: 10.1177/1087054717690231

44. Linehan MM. Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder . Guilford Press (1993).

45. Linehan MM. Dialectical behavioral therapy: A cognitive behavioral approach to parasuicide. J Pers Disord . (1987) 1:328–33. doi: 10.1521/pedi.1987.1.4.328

46. Seow LLY, Collins KRL, Page AC, Hooke GR. Outcomes of brief versions of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for diagnostically heterogeneous groups in a routine care setting. Psychother Res . (2022) 32:179–94. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2021.1933240

47. Hayes SC, Hofmann SG. The third wave of cognitive behavioral therapy and the rise of process-based care. World Psychiatry . (2017) 16:245–6. doi: 10.1002/wps.20442

48. Health Education England. Psychological Professions Workforce Plan for England . London: Health Education England (2021). Available at: https://www.hee.nhs.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Psychological%20Professions%20Workforce%20Plan%20for%20England%20-%20Final.pdf .

49. Knouse LE, Ramsay JR. Managing side effects in CBT for adult ADHD. ADHD Rep . (2018) 26:6–10. doi: 10.1521/adhd.2018.26.2.6

50. Krawczyk P, Topolewski M, Pallot M. (2017). Towards a reliable and valid mixed methods instrument in user eXperience studies, in: In 2017 International Conference on Engineering, Technology and Innovation (ICE/ITMC), . pp. 1455–64. IEEE.

51. Creswell JW, Plano Clark VL. Designing and conducting mixed methods research (3rd ed.) . Sage (2018).

52. Oates J, Carpenter D, Fisher M, Goodson S, Hannah B, Kwiatowski R, et al. BPS code of human research ethics. Br psychol Soc (2021).

53. Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual Res Psychol . (2006) 3:77–101. doi: 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

54. Barkley RA. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder . 4th ed. Guilford Publications (2014).

55. Solanto MV. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult ADHD: Targeting executive dysfunction. Guilford Press (2011).

56. Emilsson B, Gudjonsson G, Sigurdsson JF, Baldursson G, Einarsson E, Olafsdottir H, et al. Cognitive behaviour therapy in medication-treated adults with ADHD and persistent symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry . (2011) 11:116–6. doi: 10.1186/1471–244X-11–116

57. Solanto MV, Marks DJ, Wasserstein J, Mitchell K, Abikoff H, Alvir JMJ, et al. Efficacy of meta-cognitive therapy for adult ADHD. Am J Psychiatry (2010) 167(8):958–68.

58. Roth AD, Pilling S. A competence framework for the supervision of psychological therapies . (2008).

59. Omylinska-Thurston J, McMeekin A, Walton P, Proctor G. Clients’ perceptions of unhelpful factors in CBT in IAPT serving a deprived area of the UK. Counselling Psychother Res . (2019) 19:455–64. doi: 10.1002/capr.12249

60. Owen J, Cross S, Mergia V, Fisher P. Stress, resilience and coping in psychological wellbeing practitioner trainees: a mixed-methods study. Cogn Behav Therapist (2021) 15:e38.

61. Steel C, Macdonald J, Schröder T, Mellor-Clark J. Exhausted but not cynical: burnout in therapists working within Improving Access to Psychological Therapy Services. J Ment Health (2015) 24(1):33–7.

62. Westwood S, Morison L, Allt J, Holmes N. Predictors of emotional exhaustion, disengagement and burnout among improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) practitioners. J Ment Health (2017) 26(2):172–9.

63. Baier AL, Kline AC, Feeny NC. Therapeutic alliance as a mediator of change: A systematic review and evaluation of research. Clin Psychol Rev (2020) 82:101921.

64. Strålin EE, Thorell LB, Szybek K, Lundgren T, Bölte S, Bohman B. (2022).

Keywords: attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), adapted CBT, psychotherapy, interviews

Citation: William S, Horrocks M, Richmond J, Hall CL and French B (2024) Experience of CBT in adults with ADHD: a mixed methods study. Front. Psychiatry 15:1341624. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2024.1341624

Received: 20 November 2023; Accepted: 24 May 2024; Published: 19 June 2024.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2024 William, Horrocks, Richmond, Hall and French. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Blandine French, [email protected]

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

adhd homework strategies

Celebrating 25 Years

  • Join ADDitude
  •  | 

Subscribe to Additude Magazine

  • What Is ADHD?
  • The ADHD Brain
  • ADHD Symptoms
  • ADHD in Children
  • ADHD in Adults
  • ADHD in Women
  • Find ADHD Specialists
  • New! Symptom Checker
  • ADHD Symptom Tests
  • All Symptom Tests
  • More in Mental Health
  • Medication Reviews
  • ADHD Medications
  • Natural Remedies
  • ADHD Therapies
  • Managing Treatment
  • Treating Your Child
  • Behavior & Discipline
  • School & Learning
  • Teens with ADHD
  • Positive Parenting
  • Schedules & Routines
  • Organizing Your Child
  • Health & Nutrition
  • More on ADHD Parenting
  • Do I Have ADD?
  • Getting Things Done
  • Relationships
  • Time & Productivity
  • Organization
  • Health & Nutrition
  • More for ADHD Adults
  • Free Webinars
  • Free Downloads
  • ADHD Videos
  • ADHD Directory
  • eBooks + More
  • Women’s Health Month
  • Newsletters
  • Guest Blogs
  • News & Research
  • For Clinicians
  • For Educators
  • Manage My Subscription
  • Get Back Issues
  • Digital Magazine
  • Gift Subscription
  • Renew My Subscription
  • ADHD Parenting

15 Tips for Reducing Homework Stress & Completion Time

For students with adhd, consistency is key when it comes to handing in homework on time. here, solutions for succeeding at home and in the classroom..

Chris Zeigler Dendy, M.S.

Addressing homework problems is critical, since they are major reasons children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) fail in school. Almost every parent of a student with ADHD has been on the front lines of homework battles. Keep in mind that homework doesn’t have to be exhaustive to be effective.

The National Education Association and the Parent Teacher Association recommend 10 minutes of homework per subject per day. In other words, a sixth-grader would spend roughly 60 minutes per evening on homework. If teachers seem to be piling it on, have a friendly discussion with them. In the meantime, these strategies can help.

How to Focus on Homework with ADHD

Solutions: in the classroom.

  • Post assignments on the board. Write the homework assignment in the same place on the board each day. Posting assignments to the school’s website is also helpful. Teachers and schools can also use Remind.com, which allows educators to send the assignment to parents and students, so there’s no doubt at home.
  • Set aside time each day for students to copy homework assignments in their planners. If attention or language deficits make copying hard for a student, ask another student to write the assignment and discreetly give it to the child. Consider allowing students to take a picture of the board using their cell phones, or e-mailing and texting parents the assignments, too.
  • Appoint “row captains” Many of our children have trouble keeping assignment books, so have another student check his work. My favorite is to appoint a row captain for each row in your classroom. At the beginning of class, these designated “leaders” should collect completed homework. At the end of class, they should check to see that homework assignments have been written down by each student in their row.

[ Get This Download: Homework Ideas That Work ]

  • Develop a plan which ensures that completed homework returns to school. Talk with the parents of those students who consistently forget to bring their homework to school, and help them develop a plan for getting it there. Suggest that they purchase color-coded folders for all completed work. They can check to make sure homework is completed, is put in the appropriate folder, and is packed in the book bag for the next day.
  • Assign the right amount of homework. Some students with ADD work slowly and become easily frustrated. Assigning only the odd-numbered math problems lets a child demonstrate what he has learned without pushing him too hard. By assigning homework that is neither too difficult nor too time-consuming, teachers increase the likelihood that it will be completed.
  • Send parents a list of suggestions for productive homework sessions. Parents want to help their child but sometimes don’t know what to do. Two strategies you might mention: 1) establish a set homework time with input from the student; 2) find a quiet location that has good lighting and a clear work space with access to paper, pencils, and a computer.

Solutions: at Home

  • Make a plan for tracking homework assignments . Encourage your child to write every assignment in his daily planner. One high school senior wrote his assignments on 3 x 5 cards, pre-printed with the names of his courses, that he stored in his jeans pocket.As a backup, see whether assignments are also posted on a school website or app. Get contact information for a student in each class who would know the assignments.

[ Click to Download: Homework Help for Children with ADHD ]

  • Establish time for homework. Some children need a break after classes. Others work best while still in “school mode.” If after-school activities make a regular schedule impossible, post a weekly calendar that lists homework start and finish times.
  • Ask the teacher about assignment routines. The math teacher may say, “I assign algebra homework four nights a week, and give a test at the end of each chapter — roughly every two weeks.” This tells you that something is amiss if your child says he doesn’t have any math homework two nights in a row.
  • Schedule a five-minute break for every 20 minutes of work. Short, frequent breaks help children with ADHD recharge.
  • Respect your child’s “saturation point.” If he’s too tired or frustrated to finish his homework, let him stop. Write a note to the teacher explaining that he did as much as he could. If he has problems focusing, writes slowly, or needs extra time to understand concepts, assignments will consistently take longer than they should.
  • Talk with the teacher. If homework sessions are often emotionally exhausting, work with the teacher” to determine whether assignments are too long or are too difficult for your child.
  • Consider medication for homework time. Talk with your doctor about a short-acting medication, like Ritalin, which lasts three to four hours. Taking the medication between 3 and 5 p.m. shouldn’t interfere with sleep. Most medications given earlier in the day have worn off by late afternoon. When medications are working, students stay focused, complete homework quicker, and are more likely to remember the material they studied.
  • Monitor your child’s progress with a daily or weekly report. Daily and weekly reports from a teacher warn parents when their child is in danger of failing and in need of more supervision at home. The reports help you and your child identify missing homework assignments, so you can find them and get them to the teacher. Younger children need more frequent feedback, so a daily report may be best for them. In some cases, weekly reports may be sufficient for students in high school.
  • Request an extra textbook to use at home. Students with ADHD often leave their books at school. Having access to a textbook every night is essential. Once a student with ADHD falls behind, it is difficult to catch up. Since many schools have only one set of books for each student, you may have to purchase extra copies.

[ Download This: 10 Solutions for Disorganization at School ]

Homework & Studying: Read These Next

Students Raising Hands

9 Things I Wish the World Knew About My Students’ ADHD

Flat classroom with young woman teacher and schoolchildren hand up. Concept businesswoman and students characters at work, school relationship. Vector illustration.

A Teacher’s Guide to NVLD: How to Support Students with Nonverbal Learning Disability

adhd homework strategies

ADDitude's Top 10 Webinars of 2022

"ADDitude Top 25 Webinars" text with emblem and banner. Pink background.

Top Webinars in ADDitude's History

Adhd newsletter, success @ school, strategies for homework, accommodations, ieps, working with school & more..

It appears JavaScript is disabled in your browser. Please enable JavaScript and refresh the page in order to complete this form.


  1. 11 Study Tips for People with ADHD

    Learn how to manage homework, assignments, and exams with ADHD. Find out how to do a body and mind check, get organized, start early, and more.

  2. Doing Homework When You Have ADHD Is Painful

    Learn how to create routines, reduce distractions, and manage breaks to make homework easier for kids with ADHD. Find tips for teachers, parents, and students at school and at home.

  3. ADHD Homework Helper: 13 Easy Study Skills

    Physical activity breaks. Accommodation for reduced homework. A reminder note or a timer to let the child know when it's time to start. Limiting homework time to an hour total, doing it in 10-minute bursts. Parent writes down child's responses to questions. Having a snack before starting homework.

  4. ADHD Homework Strategies: Study Smarter, Not Harder!

    A boy and his father use ADHD homework strategies to finish assignments together. 6 of 12 6. What's an Energizing After-School Snack? When kids do homework, they should sip (not gulp) a drink with sugar in it, says Dr. Russell Barkley, Ph.D., author of Taking Charge of ADHD (#CommissionsEarned).Lemonade or sports drinks are good choices.

  5. 10 Homework & Study Tips for Students with ADHD/ADD

    The bedroom is a place for sleep, rest, and relaxation — not work and stress. 2. Create a consistent schedule. It is important for kids with ADD/ADHD to have a consistent routine. This will help your child start his or her homework and focus. Set a time each day for your child to sit down and complete his or her work. 3.

  6. 10 Study Techniques for Students with ADHD

    6. Take breaks. Some students with ADHD think they need to power through and study nonstop in order to study effectively, but incorporating breaks into your study session can actually be a great study technique. Set a timer or use the Pomodoro method to intersperse your studies with breaks and switch between assignments.

  7. 3 Homework Strategies for Teens With ADHD

    For an assignment that requires a longer time to complete, set the timer for the duration of your child's attention span. If she can work on one task for 30 minutes, set the timer for 30 minutes ...

  8. My child has ADHD. How can I make homework easier?

    8 Homework Strategies for the ADHD Student. Article at a Glance. ADHD means kids learn differently, so different strategies are needed. Counter-intuitive moves like more breaks, wearing headphones, or racing can help. Play to your child's strengths and be flexible within a consistent framework. Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder ...

  9. With ADHD Homework Can Be Tough: Here Are 3 Strategies For Success

    Allow a thirty-minute break after school before getting started on homework. When kids know what to expect they are less likely to procrastinate. Step 2: Consider the "Tolerable 10". Set a timer for just 10 minutes and encourage them to work as hard as they can until the time runs out.

  10. The Homework Squad's ADHD Guide to School Success

    The Homework Squad is here for kids with ADHD! This easy-to-use guide will help with key study skills to improve reading, writing, math, listening, memorization, concentration, and more! Bite-sized tips and tricks, journal prompts, and advice for challenges help kids with ADHD recognize how they learn best and act on that knowledge.

  11. Struggling to complete your homework : 10 ADHD friendly tips!

    As such, while doing homework, their brains often drift off and focus on something else more interesting. If you find yourself in such a situation, here are 10 tips that could help you: 1. Create a study space. Find an area to complete your homework where other people won't distract you. It's important to organise this space, and make it ...

  12. Succeed in High School with ADHD: Homework, Organization, Study Tips

    These academic and organizational tips are designed to help high school students with ADHD finish homework, execute long-term projects, manage their time, earn high grades, and avoid feeling overwhelmed. With the simpler demands of middle school behind you, you'll need better study skills, time-management tools, and organization strategies ...

  13. Homework Help for ADHD

    Communicate with your child's teacher if you notice any patterns or things that work or that are challenging for your child during homework time. References. Dolin, A. (2010). Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools, and Solutions for Stress Free Homework. Advantage Books: Washington, DC. Low, K. (2014). Homework Help for Students with ADHD.

  14. How to Get a Child with ADD to do Homework

    In this article, we will cover some effective ADD homework strategies for children that can improve their study habits. This article will also discuss the Drake Institute's non-drug treatment protocols used to help children reduce or resolve ADHD symptoms by achieving a healthier state of brain functioning, resulting in long-term symptom relief.

  15. Tips on How to Focus With ADHD

    By repeating certain words or having visual reminders of them, you can help bring your mind back to your primary goal. Repeating or seeing the word "bills," for example, can bring you out of a ...

  16. 5 Strategies to Make Homework Easier for ADHD Kids (and Parents)

    Around 5th grade, a major goal can be independence with homework. From start to finish, the parent should assist - not nag to completion. You can gradually help your child less and less, and still expect high quality work. 5th grade is a time to expect independence (from a brain development perspective). Note: this may be delayed for many ...

  17. ADHD and Motivation: 10 Productivity Hacks for Adults with ADHD

    Because the ADHD brain processes information differently, motivation strategies that work for non-ADHDers may not work well for adults with ADHD. Add boring, repetitive routine tasks to the mix, and any form of motivation becomes harder to find. As a result, many adults with ADHD tend to over-rely on task urgency to get the ball rolling.

  18. Managing ADHD

    For some, becoming aware of weaknesses, and developing strategies to counter them, can result in big improvements. The Managing ADHD worksheet describes five key skills that can often help those with ADHD. The skills include: creating structure, setting aside time for relationships, staying organized, creating the right environment, and living ...

  19. 15 ADHD-Friendly Home Hacks That Make Life Easier

    Living with ADHD and maintaining a harmonious home can be a real challenge. Here are some practical tips that have helped our family stay organized, on schedule, and less stressed. 1. Visual ...

  20. ADHD Homework Stress: How to Get Assignments Done

    Step 1: Get the Teachers On Board. For many kids with ADHD, bringing home each day's assignments is as tough as the work itself. Teachers should post the day's assignments, read them aloud to reinforce, and distribute assignment sheets or make sure that there is time in class for each child to record homework homework assignments in a planner ...

  21. Managing ADHD: 5 Strategies for Better Sleep

    According to recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD reports in the US have increased by 37.3% from 2003 compared to the latest ADHD stats in 2019. With approximately 8 ...

  22. 3 Homework Strategies for Teens With ADHD

    Phones can be a major distraction for children with ADHD, so take them away before they start working. With the body-double method, a child works on their homework in the same room with another ...

  23. How Couples with ADHD Can Reduce Conflict and Get Along Better

    Couples living with ADHD may struggle with more frequent or more intense arguments. These strategies can help them rebalance and reconnect.

  24. Experience of CBT in adults with ADHD: a mixed methods study

    1 Introduction. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by symptoms of persistent inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity, that causes clinical impairment in academic and social functioning affecting approximately 5% of children and 2.5% of adults ().While this suggests that ADHD attenuates over time, the prevalence of symptomatic ...

  25. Homework Strategies for Students with ADHD: A Free Handout

    Smart Homework Strategies for Teachers & Parents: A Free Handout. Research suggests that homework is counterproductive in elementary school. Still, many teachers use it to gauge comprehension and independent learning. You need to read this if nightly assignments are taking too long, ruining your family time, and/or making your child hate school.

  26. How to Focus on Homework with ADHD

    Schedule a five-minute break for every 20 minutes of work. Short, frequent breaks help children with ADHD recharge. Respect your child's "saturation point.". If he's too tired or frustrated to finish his homework, let him stop. Write a note to the teacher explaining that he did as much as he could.