Remembering What You Read With ADHD

reading book at home
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If you are an adult with ADHD, you've probably struggled with remembering what you've read. Reading tasks may feel that they take forever, especially if you are finding that you have to read and re-read (and re-read again) in order to process the information accurately.

Does that mean you're doomed to fail in school or have difficulties in the workplace? Probably not. Once you really understand the issues that get in your way, you can use the tried-and-true tips below to help overcome the problem.

Reading Issues for Adults With ADHD

Why is it so tough for people with ADHD to remember what they've read? There are several issues that are likely to get in your way.

It is not unusual to become derailed by internal thoughts or external distractions, particularly when reading something uninteresting or downright boring. You may frequently find that you are losing your place or skipping words in longer passages because you are visually distracted by all the words on the page.

You may have trouble identifying and remembering the main points of what you've just read. You may simply zone out and become sleepy while reading.

Tips for Reading and Remembering With ADHD

To help yourself to stay focused and attentive so that you can remember what you've read, try one or more of these strategies.

  1. Read aloud instead of silently. This may take longer, but it will help you to focus on each word.
  2. Walk or pace around while you read. This strategy may help you avoid zoning out or focusing on internal distractions instead of the words on the page.
  3. Take brief breaks for movement.
  4. Use audiobooks, or have someone read to you. This approach is especially helpful for people who learn through listening or who are easily overwhelmed when faced with a page full of text.
  5. Talk about what you have just read. Discuss it with a friend, or just talk aloud to yourself.
  6. Use highlighter pens to underscore main points. Not only will this keep you focused, but it will also help you to recall the main points.
  7. Take notes while reading, then go back and summarize the main points.
  8. Use a bookmark or ruler to slide down the page as you read each line, so you don't lose your place.
  9. Divide the material up into smaller more manageable chunks, then take a break and reward yourself after each section.
  10. Adapt your environment. Figure out what works best for you — a quiet reading area or one with some background noise.
  11. Keep a pad of paper nearby. If you get distracted by internal thoughts, jot down the thought in order to remember it and get back to it at a later time. Once you have jotted the thought down, set it aside for later.
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