Working with ADHD Students in Speech

Do you have any students with ADHD in your speech room? Chances are, you do! About 11% of children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD. 

How Can We Help Our Students With ADHD? 

Students with ADHD are usually creative, spunky, and fun to be around! To make the most of your time with them, here are some great tips for helping your students with ADHD. 

Get Moving! 

Incorporate motion and hands-on activities whenever possible. Consider the following activities when working on different skills:

  • Sentence sorts when practicing skills like sequencing, main idea and supporting details, or problem and solution
  • Matching pictures to figurative language statements or vocabulary words. You can even hang pictures around the room for some extra movement opportunities 
  • When working on using descriptive words and phrases, go outside! The student can practice describing how things feel, smell, look, and sound on the grounds the outside of the school building or the playground. 
  • Play Simon Says to work on receptive language skills. 
  • Allow students to use fidgets or sensory bins while working. 
  • Make silly sentences with conjunctions. Have simple sentences in one bin, other simple sentences in another bin in another area of the room, and conjunctions in another bin. The students can move from bin to bin to select 2 simple sentence and 1 conjunction. Then, they pair two two sentences (either orally or using writing) with the conjunction to make a silly sentence. 

Use Brain Breaks! 

Brain breaks help kids recharge and refocus. A brain break could be just what your student with ADHD needs in order to re-engage in work. Some great examples of brain breaks include: 

  • Yoga
  • Running in place
  • Using manipulatives like putty
  • Walking like an animal 
  • Gentle stretching
  • Playing a quick game

Refocus Attention

Sometimes kids lose focus in the middle of activities. If you’ve already been moving and have tried a brain break, you might want to try some of these attention-refocusing techniques. 

  • Address them by name to gain their attention. 
  • If it is helpful, engage them physically by gently touching their shoulder or arm. 
  • Make eye contact if possible- this will not be possible for all students! 
  • Use gesture language, such as counting bullet points on your fingers.
  • Rephrase or repeat yourself when needed. 
  • Have children restate what they’ve understood from what you’ve said and revise as necessary. 
  • Pair written and verbal instructions.

Other Helpful Hints 

In addition to physical activity, brain breaks, and attention grabbers, here are some other best practices for working with students with ADHD! 

  • Make use of graphic organizers and visuals to help students plan their written expression. 
  • Make the speech room as distraction-free as possible. 
  • Keep their schedule as consistent as possible. 
  • Use a visual schedule. 
  • Role-play social situations to address pragmatics and expression. 


If you want engaging materials that incorporate graphic organizers and other fun ideas built-in to help your ADHD students, then check out my monthly membership for low-prep speech activities that you can easily incorporate in your speech room!