What Is Speech Therapy For ADHD & Why Is It Important?

speech therapy for ADHD

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that’s often diagnosed in childhood. This means it’s a condition that’s caused by differences in the way the brain develops. 

Every child with ADHD is unique. An evaluation from an expert is an important step in getting them the help they need and understanding their strengths and struggles. 

Speech therapists are trained to provide skilled assessments of children with ADHD. These professionals are also known as speech and language pathologists, or SLPs. 

Speech and language therapists can help you identify your child’s issues early on in their development. Studies show identifying children with ADHD in preschool can reduce its long-term consequences.

Early intervention seeks to target children aged three to five with signs and symptoms of ADHD. Most children with ADHD begin showing symptoms by this time in their development. If these symptoms can be recognized and diagnosed,  therapy can begin. The earlier your child can begin therapy, the better their outcomes tend to be. 

Thankfully, there is support to help your child with ADHD address and overcome issues with communication. This article will explore the many benefits of speech therapy for kids with ADHD.

ADHD & Speech Problems: Understanding the Relationship

At its core, ADHD is an issue with executive functions. These skills include our ability to self-regulate, plan, and make decisions. They also cover our judgment and insight. ADHD affects the development of these skills. 

Kids with ADHD often experience challenges with planning and organization skills. They also struggle with emotional regulation and paying attention. They may experience difficulties with time management, following directions, listening, and remembering things. Hyperactivity is another hallmark of ADHD. 

It’s easy to see how executive functioning issues can impact a child’s educational experience, and their development on the whole. 

Executive functions are also tied in with our communication skills in important ways.

  • Our ability to pay attention influences our skills with listening and following directions. It also affects our skills with structuring a story and answering questions.
  • Our planning skills help us organize our thoughts into speech and stories. They also help us make lists and understand what listeners need when we’re giving information.
  • Our inhibition skills keep us from saying the first thing that pops into our head. They also help us understand what language is appropriate or not for certain people and environments.
  • Our emotional regulation helps us participate fully in structured environments, like school. It also helps us manage big feelings and refrain from acting out on them. Self-regulation skills also underpin our ability to monitor our speech and language, and correct any errors. 

Because children with ADHD struggle with these skills, it can affect their academics and social engagement. It can also negatively influence their self esteem. Understanding how ADHD affects learning is crucial in addressing these challenges. Many research studies have highlighted the impact of ADHD on speech and language skill development. It’s believed that between 17 and 38% of children with ADHD also have speech and language disorders.

The Role of Speech Therapy in ADHD Treatment

Speech therapy can address speech and language deficits in children with ADHD. Your speech therapist will create goals that are specific to your child’s needs. They’ll also take into account your child’s likes and preferences, to keep them motivated in therapy. Here’s how speech therapists help kids with ADHD. 

Improve their Attention

Games and activities that require sustained focus to complete are typically used. SLPs can also help kids with ADHD stay focused during structured activities. They can use their name, make eye contact, and encourage them to restate what they’ve heard. Tasks can also be provided in written and verbal form, to offer kids with ADHD more than one way to learn.

Improve Organization Skills

For school-aged kids, speech therapists can provide support in organization aids and strategies. This might include graphic organizers, visual schedules, and color coding of schoolwork. 

Modify Activities to Promote Learning

SLPs can incorporate movement into therapy for kids with ADHD, as these kids tend to love staying active. 

Games like Simon Says, beanbag toss, Red Light Green Light, and hopscotch can all be co-opted to target speech and language goals. 

SLPs can create games that involve jumping, racing, and sensory stimulation. Goals for following directions, recall, regulation, and vocabulary can be embedded into these tasks. 

Overcome Educational Obstacles

SLPs partner with educators to implement modifications to the classroom to support kids with ADHD. This can include seating considerations, extra time to complete assignments, and checking in.

It can also involve creating routines, providing outlines, or breaking down tasks into smaller parts. Some kids with ADHD may benefit from a note taking buddy, or assistive devices to help them organize work.

The goal of speech therapy for ADHD is to meet your child where they are, and help them learn how they learn best. 

That’s why SLPs create personalized treatment plans, designed to meet the needs of each child they treat. These plans are especially beneficial for highly sensitive children who struggle with ADHD. These plans contain long and short term goals, based on a child’s areas of need. Children with ADHD benefit from these targeted interventions, to offer the learning support they need to succeed.


Integrating Speech Therapy Into Multidisciplinary ADHD Treatment

With multifaceted conditions like ADHD, it’s important to take a holistic approach to treatment. Speech therapy can complement other ADHD treatments, to comprehensively address ADHD in children. 

Speech therapists, occupational, and behavioral therapists work together to treat kids with ADHD. 

ADHD treatment can also include medications and educational support services. 

Healthcare professionals from different disciplines work together to treat ADHD. Because ADHD impacts how the brain works, it makes sense to treat it comprehensively. This way, all areas of need can be addressed, and treatment efforts can be coordinated. 

For example, a speech and occupational therapist may work together on emotional regulation goals for kids with ADHD. This is within the scope of practice for both of these therapists, but they can approach it through the lens of their specific expertise. 

In this scenario, a speech therapist might target goals around impulsivity and social language. An OT may focus on physical regulation, or building movement breaks into daily routines for kids with ADHD. 
Because ADHD is a complex condition, treating it effectively requires a collaborative approach.

Benefits of Speech Therapy for Children with ADHD

In addition to improving speech and language, speech therapy has many additional benefits for children with ADHD. 

The benefits of speech therapy for kids with ADHD also include:

  • Improved attention and problem solving skills 
  • Improved self-regulation skills 
  • Holistic executive functioning skills improvements, like:
    • Decision-making
    • Making judgements
    • Following social rules
    • Making educated guesses
    • Maintaining attention

Without treatment, ADHD is associated with reduced academic performance and success. Speech therapists help kids with ADHD to excel in school and in life. They provide holistic, individualized treatments that support personal learning needs. Speech and language therapy is linked to improved educational outcomes in children with ADHD. 

SLPs create modifications and accommodations to a child’s learning environments. In this way, SLPs go beyond treatment to address all aspects of a child’s educational experience.

Practical Tips for Speech Therapy for ADHD at Home

Parents and caregivers of children with ADHD can be a boon to therapy efforts at home. Learning how to treat an ADHD child at home can significantly complement professional therapy and contribute to a more supportive environment. It’s always wise to discuss specific ways you can support your child with their speech therapist. They’ll be happy to provide you with the adhd study tips, training and resources you need to support your child’s progress at home.

The structure of a collaboration between families and speech therapists depends on your child’s goals and what works best for them. 

Research supports that parental involvement enhances outcomes and maximizes your child’s progress. 

You can help your child with ADHD to reach their full potential and meet their speech therapy goals. 

Here are some practical suggestions for strategies you can use at home:

  • Incorporating visual aids and picture schedules into your child’s home routine
  • Supporting their time management skills with clocks, calendars, and other time tracking devices
  • Using a traffic light system to help them monitor and regulate their emotions 
  • Incorporating healthy movement into their home life. This can include yoga, dance breaks, tai chi, walking or any type of movement your child enjoys
  • Modeling appropriate word usage and sentence structure
  • Helping them to recognize when they’re feeling unfocused or overstimulated. Supporting them in using calming and centering strategies when this occurs
  • Reading their school assignments aloud to promote understanding
  • Reviewing work and home expectations with them, to be sure they’re clear 
  • Breaking down chores or other household tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks 
  • Clearly laying out the steps to complete household tasks 
  • Offering multimodal supports to their learning (i.e. a combination of visual, verbal, and written cues)

Be sure to communicate with your child’s speech therapist for home therapy help. They can offer you specific speech therapy ADHD activities for kids to use at home.

In some cases, your SLP will be able to work with you in your home, to offer you and your child guidance in this setting. 

Using Forbrain in Speech Therapy for ADHD

Forbrain is an auditory stimulation headset. It can be used to enhance auditory processing and speech production. It can also be used to enhance information recall and attention skills. 

Forbrain can be used by speech therapists with those who need enhanced auditory feedback and stimulation. In some cases, Forbrain can support speech therapy for kids with ADHD. 

It can support focus and processing in children with ADHD who struggle with these skills. It can also enhance auditory feedback loops, and promote information retention.  

Speech therapists who are focused on building these skills may trial and use Forbrain as a complementary tool in their therapy plans. 

One study suggests that children with ADHD often have deficits in the automatic processing of information. The same study posited that kids with ADHD use a higher cognitive effort to decode auditory information. This increased effort might impact their ability to complete tasks involving auditory components. 

Another study looked at the impact of auditory distractions on the arithmetic performance of kids with and without ADHD. They found evidence to support that some types of auditory stimulation improved the math performance of kids with ADHD. 

In some children with ADHD, Forbrain may be appropriate to include in speech therapy to help address and compensate for these issues. 

ADHD is a wide-ranging condition. To treat it, speech therapists can draw from many different tools, strategies, and modalities. The specific approaches used will depend on each individual child being served. 


Final Words

Many children with ADHD have issues with speech and language skills. Speech therapy has many benefits for children with ADHD. It’s an important part of a holistic treatment approach for ADHD. 

Speech therapy interventions show positive results with children with ADHD. Benefits include:

  • Improved attention
  • Improved social skills
  • Enhanced organizational skills 
  • Improved language skills
  • Reduced impulsivity 
  • Improved self-monitoring
  • Improved planning skills
  • Improved decision-making skills 

Speech therapists can also create modifications and special ADHD accommodations to ensure a child can thrive in the classroom. Speech therapists work closely with educators and parents, to make sure ADHD treatment is targeted and holistic. They also collaborate with other therapists. 

If your child has known or suspected ADHD, it’s important to speak with their pediatrician or teacher to discuss your concerns. Healthcare providers and educators can connect you with the support you need to help your child thrive.

Speech therapy is an important part of your child’s comprehensive ADHD treatment. Your speech therapist will empower your child’s strengths and help them overcome any challenges they face. They’ll also be there to support and guide you. You can work together to help your child with ADHD to reach their fullest potential.


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Crystal Bray

Crystal Bray is a speech-language pathologist and healthcare copywriter. She’s passionate about providing individuals and families with the quality health and medical information they need to make informed choices. She lives in the mountains of North Carolina and enjoys traveling, reading, and being outdoors.