How to Teach an ADHD Child to Type

About 50% of pupils with ADHD also have developmental coordination disorder (DCD).This combination is commonly seen in the classroom as illegible or slow handwriting (dysgraphia).

Computers are often the long-term answer to illegible handwriting, but learning good keyboard skills can be just as frustrating for a child as it requires the same coordination skills that prevent them from writing well. For ADHD pupils computers are usually easier to focus on than handwriting books, and most pupils can learn to type with time and encouragement. Ideally, young children should start typing using a ten-finger method from the beginning to prevent learning with two fingers and then having to unlearn it later. Keyboard skills should be taught alongside handwriting from the earliest opportunity.

Younger children can learn to type as they learn to read, using programs such as Read, Write and Type ( Older pupils can learn keyboard skills using any of the good computer-based typing programs readily available. They need to practise regularly, little and often (for example, 15 minutes, five times a week), rather than one long session per week. Most pupils will benefit from a reward system built in by the parents to give immediate rewards for successful participation in the program.

Most ADHD pupils need to learn these skills before they are typically taught in school and they will need more tuition time and support than non-ADHD pupils. Instant messaging (as long as it is closely supervised) is a wonderful incentive for pupils to learn to type.

A minimum speed of 20 words per minute is necessary in order for a computer to be less frustrating to a pupil than using a pencil. You may find that computer typing programs are too difficult for some children as they go too fast, so the solution is to resort to the old-fashioned typing manuals, which go at their speed.

Generally, a laptop computer for a pupil with ADHD in the classroom is an expensive risk and an added distraction. Cheaper solutions are available, such as the portable word processor, the AlphaSmart ( or similar. For some pupils the typing programs that come with these word processors are easier for them to learn as they can go at their own pace.

It may be necessary to cover the keyboard to break the habit of looking at their hands when they type, which is common with children with poor motor planning skills. This slows the motor learning process down, as it does not matter which finger hits which key on the keyboard. There are a number of ways to achieve this – one of the best is using a specially made skin that fits over the computer keys. This can be bought through Alternatively, use a box to cover the keyboard of a desktop computer with cut-outs for the hands, or place the keyboard inside a pair of men’s boxer shorts at the waist end and then place the hands through the legs of the shorts.

Filed Under: Lifestyle & Personality


About the Author: Alan Kennon lives a very happy life with two kids and a lovely wife. He likes to share his life time experiences with others about how they can improve their lifestyle and personality.

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