How sign language can help with ADHD and learning

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is among the most common neurodevelopmental differences in Canada. Characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity, approximately 1.8 million Canadians have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with ADHD tend to be visual learners. They are more likely to learn and process information when they can visualize to create meaning. In addition, some ADHD learners are also kinesthetic learners and require movement to focus and process information.

An excellent way to help ADHD learners in language learning is to use sign language. Sign language is not only a visual language but also requires movement. Because ADHD learners can see sign language visually and make words with their hands and bodies, they become active participants in the learning process.

While sign language is not a ‘cure'((At LDS, we celebrate neurodiversity, a viewpoint that brain-based differences are normal variations within human populations, not something to be ‘fixed.’)) for ADHD, it can help to make learning more involved and easier to process for visual and kinesthetic learners. In addition, sign language increases the potential for communication opportunities and can give overwhelmed learners a way to express themselves when spoken words do not quite work.

Learning and practicing the American Sign Language alphabet is a great place to start with sign language. Incorporate ASL in phonics and spelling to give learners a boost in decoding. Practice signing emotions for social-emotional development. Bring expression with movement to increase overall well-being. The possibilities are endless.

Check out these awesome websites to help get you started!

– Becky Bishop, Case Manager and Lead Instructor

LDS is a community of dedicated professionals that write collaboratively. We recognize the contribution of unnamed team members for their wisdom and input.