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Does ADHD affect mental math?

ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. It is characterized by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. While ADHD is commonly associated with challenges in areas such as attention, focus, and organization, it can also have an impact on cognitive abilities, including math skills. In this blog post, we will explore how ADHD can affect mental math and discuss strategies for individuals with ADHD to overcome math-related challenges.

ADHD and Math Difficulties

1. Inattentiveness and difficulty sustaining focus during math tasks

One of the core symptoms of ADHD is inattentiveness, which can make it challenging for individuals to sustain focus and concentration on math tasks. Students with ADHD may struggle to stay engaged during math lessons, leading to decreased understanding and retention of concepts. Additionally, distractions in the environment can further hinder their ability to pay attention to math problems and calculations.

2. Impulsivity and careless errors in math calculations

Impulsivity is another characteristic of ADHD that can affect mental math performance. Individuals with ADHD may rush through calculations without thoroughly checking their work, leading to careless errors. This impulsive behavior can impact accuracy and result in miscalculations.

3. Difficulties with organization and time management impacting math assignments

ADHD can also affect organization and time management skills, which are crucial for completing math assignments. Students with ADHD may struggle with organizing their thoughts and following step-by-step processes required for solving math problems. This can lead to confusion, disorganization, and difficulty keeping track of the necessary steps to arrive at the correct answer.

Co-occurring Math Learning Disorder: Dyscalculia

While ADHD can make math more challenging, it can also increase the likelihood of having a co-occurring math learning disorder called dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is a specific learning disorder that affects math skills, including number sense, calculation, and mathematical reasoning. Research suggests that approximately 31 percent of students with ADHD also have a math disability.

1. Statistics showing the prevalence of co-occurring ADHD and dyscalculia

Statistics from the early 2000s indicate a significant overlap between ADHD and dyscalculia. The co-occurrence of these two conditions highlights the potential impact of ADHD on math abilities.

2. Shared symptoms and challenges between ADHD and dyscalculia

ADHD and dyscalculia share some common symptoms and challenges. Both conditions can interfere with attention, working memory, and executive functioning skills. Individuals with both ADHD and dyscalculia may experience difficulty understanding mathematical concepts, memorizing math facts, and applying problem-solving strategies.

Specific Ways ADHD Affects Mental Math

1. Inattention and mental math performance

The inattentiveness associated with ADHD can significantly impact mental math performance. Distractions in the environment can make it challenging to focus on math problems without getting sidetracked. Moreover, individuals with ADHD may struggle to maintain concentration during complex mental calculations, leading to errors and inaccuracies.

2. Impulsivity and mental math accuracy

Impulsivity can undermine the accuracy of mental math calculations. Individuals with ADHD may have a tendency to rush through computations without double-checking for mistakes. This impulsive behavior can result in careless errors that can affect the overall accuracy of answers.

3. Organization and time management impacting mental math tasks

Difficulties with organization and time management can also impact mental math tasks. Individuals with ADHD may struggle with setting up and following step-by-step processes required for mental calculations. They may find it inefficient to plan and complete mental math assignments, leading to inefficiency and potential mistakes.

Strategies for Overcoming ADHD-Related Math Challenges

1. Utilizing ADHD-friendly study and learning techniques

Implementing study and learning techniques that are tailored to the needs of individuals with ADHD can be beneficial. Break down study sessions into shorter periods, utilize multi-sensory approaches, and incorporate regular breaks to optimize focus and attention.

2. Breaking down math problems into smaller, manageable steps

Breaking down math problems into smaller, more manageable steps can help individuals with ADHD stay organized and focused. By tackling one step at a time, it becomes easier to understand and solve complex math problems.

3. Incorporating visual aids and manipulatives to enhance understanding

Visual aids and manipulatives can be effective tools for individuals with ADHD to enhance their understanding of mathematical concepts. Using visual representations, such as graphs, charts, or diagrams, can make abstract concepts more concrete and easier to grasp.

4. Developing self-regulation skills and strategies to improve focus and attention

Developing self-regulation skills can help individuals with ADHD improve their focus and attention during math tasks. Techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and self-monitoring can assist in managing distractions and maintaining concentration.

5. Seeking support from teachers, tutors, or therapists specializing in ADHD and math

Collaborating with teachers, tutors, or therapists who specialize in working with individuals with ADHD can provide valuable support. These professionals can offer personalized strategies, guidance, and additional resources to address and overcome math-related challenges.


ADHD symptoms can make math more difficult for individuals affected by this neurodevelopmental disorder. Inattentiveness, impulsivity, and difficulties with organization and time management can all impact mental math performance. However, with appropriate support and strategies, individuals with ADHD can overcome these challenges and develop strong math skills. By utilizing ADHD-friendly study techniques, breaking down math problems, incorporating visual aids, developing self-regulation skills, and seeking specialized support, individuals with ADHD can enhance their math abilities and unlock their full potential in this important academic area.


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