Motivational and inspirational writer, Bryan Hutchinson is the author of several books about life with ADHD including the highly acclaimed, best selling "One Boy′s Struggle: A Memoir" and the author of the hilarious eBook that went viral "10 Things I Hate about ADHD"

ADD ADHD Reading Problems and Solutions with Tips

Do you ever have the problem of reading an article, a paragraph or pages of text and then suddenly realize that you don’t remember anything that you just read, or simply have a hazy recollection. That used to happen to me all the time. It was especially noticeable when I reached a place in a novel that was riveting and I became confused at how such a situation was reached when it was clearly explained in the pages which proceeding it, but I didn’t remember them. This seems to be common amongst those with ADD or ADHD.

It’s frustrating, it’s just plain maddening to go back over and over the same words trying to get them to sink in and at times it just seems we are going through the motions of viewing the words. When I was in High School (I write extensively about this in my Memoir), I had a teacher who refused to believe me when I told her I had read the chapters assigned, but just could not remember anything in them. She told me I was lazy and not interested in the class. In all honesty, she was right that I wasn’t interested in the class, but she was wrong that I didn’t read the chapters—I did, over and over again. The harder I tried to get the words to sink in, the less I seemed to understand.

 

Here are some tips I have used over the years to help me remember what I have read:

  • I read what interests me.
  • When possible I read aloud.
  • When an audio book is available I try to read along with the audio book. This has proven to be very helpful and creates a sort of atmosphere I really enjoy.
  • I have read aloud and recorded my reading to listen to in the car or at other times.
  • When I was a kid, my Mother was insightful and had me either read to her or a tutor and have me go over what I read with them. Very helpful!
  • I find people interested in the books and/or subjects I am interested in and discuss what we have read.
  • Never had a problem reading and remembering comic books!!! Seriously, something about having pictures with characters relating to each other was very stimulating and interesting to me. Especially Spiderman. I learned a lot about morals when reading Spiderman growing up! Big X-men fan too, so let’s not discuss the last X-men movie because that could get heated!
  • Reading marker, or ruler to use under each sentence while reading. This helped keep my mind more alert to what I was reading and helped me not drift over sentences.
  • In school I think it’s great when reading a chapter aloud and passing between students to keep everyone alert. After being caught trying to find my place in a chapter or two I learned to keep up with the reading and flow right into my reading portion and I made it sort of a challenge for myself to do that. Even those without ADD ADHD can get lost while following the class, so I liked the silent competition.
  • I don’t read more than I know I can. Sort of like not eating more than your stomach will allow. Reading on the internet is okay, especially blogs and forums—short stuff, not too long and not too dreary and on a subject I am interested in.

Those are just some of the things I use and have tried with some success. What about you—what has worked or is working for you?

~Bryan

David December 26, 2007 at 8:44 am

Bryan: Those are wonderful tips and suggestions. The reading marker suggestion is a great one and helps me stay in place, otherwise my eyes go from one part of the page to another.

This is a fantastic siite you have created here. I am glad I found it!

Campbell October 8, 2008 at 4:08 am

The first two paragraphs describe me PERFECTLY. In high school i knew i sucked at reading so i just never really did it because i was too lazy to make the effort it takes people like us. But now in college im having all sorts of problems.

My college classes dont always assign stuff im interested in so sometimes i feel like im completely fucked when i am assigned to read that material. For this reason, one of the things i do is make myself believe that what i am reading is important and therefor it has to interest me. For example if im reading some bullshit philosophy text i trick my mind in believing that that stuff is immensely epic or sublime or something…

Im gonna try to get my hands on some adderall or something… in the mean time, i think the reading marker is a good idea which i will try now.

Pn December 22, 2008 at 11:02 am

I didn’t know I had ADD until I came to US for my masters degree. I had the same problem with all my teachers. I used to find it almost impossible to read and understand a new topic without having at least some background.

One thing that works for me, which is rather silly, is to pay very close attention to the first few sentences which usually gives an idea of how the rest of the article is going to be. After reading few sentences I usually take a short break to think what to expect from the article.

From then on I subconsciously negate and doubt every statement that I read(something I am pretty good at :) ), as if the author of the article is wrong and I wont notice it unless I am attentive.

This process could be a bit slow but can be very effective considering the number of ideas/reflections you can make about what you read.

This is how I dragged myself through my bachelors and masters degree in Computer science. One side effect is that I have developed an obsession to play the devils advocate every time I am with friends.

Yllirian May 3, 2009 at 2:39 am

I am going crazzyyyy…. out of my mind I have been trying to read two chapters in the History of Christianity for the past 6 hours and all i have read is the first Chapter; what is really ironic is that Google’d.. for readding tips and brought me here and after reading you’re comments i am experiencing the same difficulties, although i have tried most of those methods of reading my mind just flourish all over the world very bad Reading Crisis here and I need Help.

Bryan May 3, 2009 at 8:40 am

Hi Yllirian,

Have you tried reading and talking it over with someone? If it is extremely boring for you, this might be the best method…

Bryan

shubhang May 28, 2009 at 6:06 pm

dude!!
that was like a reflection of what am undergoing right now…am 21 and my grades have always been above average…I spotted i had add and was slightly autistic last year and suddenly realised that this was the reason why I just simply could’nt remember a thing…I’ve mostly resorted to learning by rote which has worked effectively but at the same time is extremely time consuming…Incidentally, I love writing and have always been appreciated for the same. Since am in law school we get volumes and volumes of material and case laws stretching upto hundreds of pages to read and comprehend…most of the times I apply my own logic in interpreting the judgment and it turns out to be true :-) The tips you’ve given are really cool but could you tell me how you would tackle volumes and volumes of material.

Bryan May 28, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Hi Shubhang,

When it comes to digesting that much information, I cannot imagine doing it alone. I suggest connecting with someone and going over the material together, questioning each other and reading parts aloud for each other. There is no easy way. On my own I would find it very difficult to read and remember that much information.

Bryan

calendula May 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Thanks for the tips, I have only just decided to get tested. I used to find I never finished any book.
I am always drifting from line to line.

agnes November 10, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I just found out that I have ADD
but when I was in college I was writing small notes or words in the book, underline, highlight, make small simple pictures next to paragraths. When you I was going over it second time I could recall most of the information

Shasta October 28, 2011 at 1:56 am

I was an honor student in college and I didn’t have problems remembering stuff but I found I had problems reading. I could read words but I couldn’t put them together to make sense. I sometimes have problems watching movies. I went to Dr. Zhivago and had no idea what the heck the movie was about and saw a lot of people leaving in tears and had not idea what they were crying about. I’ve wondered why I didn’t seem to be able to make sense of things when other people did. Then there were some books and movies I can practically recite word for word. I think it was a matter of what was interesting to me.

Shawn October 14, 2012 at 7:01 pm

My name is Shawn, i’m 25 with add. Thanks for the audio-book idea, i’ll have to try that one out. So far Ginseng, a gluten free diet, fish oil with omega 3s, pro-biotic pills, focus-formula has helped to improve my concentration for everyday tasks, but it is still quite a challenge to complete any piece of long reading say ~200-500 pages in a reasonable amount of time. I tried Dexadrine which solved the problem but destroyed by social skills. I’m going to try Staterra, a non-stimulant solution to the problem.

Anthony J. Nacke August 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm

I have tried many things, for reading nothing seems to help I will try this no ever gave me something I could hope on. I always thought I was stupid.

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