Children with ADHD often have poorer math skills than their classmates. A recent study showed that children with ADHD had math achievement scores that were 8% to 10% lower than those of their peers.

Research has shown that children with ADHD may exhibit these math weaknesses:

  1. procedural errors, such as subtracting a larger number from a smaller number
  2. relying on finger counting
  3. more talking out loud to guide actions, rather than using inner speech
  4. slow speed
  5. difficulty retrieving number facts, which is information that one “just knows” and does not need to work out (such as “three plus four is seven”) easily and accurately
  6. difficulty ignoring information that is not relevant in word problems
  7. difficulty solving problems with multiple procedures or steps
  8. Children with ADHD may have difficulty with math for various reasons:
  9. They may find it hard to solve problems systematically.
  10. They may have trouble deciding whether a particular math strategy will be useful or not.
  11. They may have difficulty remembering and using knowledge they learned earlier.
  12. If they have language difficulties, they may have a hard time figuring out word problems.

Helping children with ADHD and math problems

In the classroom, the following strategies may help children with ADHD and math problems:

  • rewriting problems in simpler language
  • pointing out key words and concepts
  • giving handouts so that children do not need to copy from the board
  • explaining concepts in different ways, with links to “real-world” situations
  • instructing children in specific problem-solving strategies
  • helping children learn strategies with guided practice, review, feedback, and help
  • giving children many chances to participate and be involved with lessons, such as small group learning or peer tutoring
  • helping children express their understanding of concepts with guided questioning and support