Adapting Games for Students with ADHD (Attention Deficit HyperActivity Disorder)

Here are five tips to make games more inclusive for students with ADHD:

  1. If possible, do a pre-orientation to a game that includes a walkthrough, the objective, and skill practice. This may be a great task for another adult at the school if there isn’t time in a large group.
  2. Don’t be afraid to adjust the time or number of attempts. If you do adjust one of these, offer the adaption to all students if possible. For example, all students get two tries to catch the ball.
  3. It’s ok if a student needs a break. Maybe the tag game is 10 minutes, but a certain student can play for 5 minutes before getting distracted or disruptive. This is fine. It’s ok to work up to playing longer. Talk to other adults about an alternative activity if needed. For example, a student could have a hula hoop break or take a lap around the playground.
  4. Add additional visual and tactile cues when possible. For example, if playing colors tag, can you hold up something blue when you call blue, or can you include different kinds of balls during Ball Toss Race. Different textures, shapes, and colors can keep kids engaged.
  5. Give lots of praise. Students with ADHD may be more used to getting in trouble than not getting in trouble, so highlight positive activity.

Playworks strives to embody our core values—Healthy Play, Healthy Community, Respect, and Inclusion—in every game we play. This year, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation connected us with Laureus Ambassador Bob Lujano, a US Paralympic athlete, a rugby national champion, and an expert in the field of inclusion. Playworks is proud to present tips from Bob Lujano for adapting games to make play as inclusive as possible for students with special needs.

Blogs in this series:

Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA Ambassador Bob Lujano meeting with Playworks Junior Coaches in Minneapolis.


More Resources

kids playing duck duck goose
kids playing duck duck goose

April 29, 2021

Leveraging Play to Address Learning Loss ›

In order to help kids recover from learning loss, we must ensure their emotional needs are met. We need to prioritize every child’s wellbeing, and that starts with acknowledging that many kids are healing from traumas caused by the pandemic, including social, emotional, and physical impacts of COVID-19.  “When children experience stress and trauma, it…

woman smiling at laptop
woman smiling at laptop

January 5, 2021

Top 6 Games to Play Virtually ›

Many educators have risen to the challenge of transitioning their lessons to accommodate virtual education, and Playworks has been helping educators ensure play remains in every child’s day, even online. Kids prioritize play, and with our support educators are leveraging play when teaching virtually in order to keep kids engaged, active, and to build community.…

kids and adult doing yoga
kids and adult doing yoga

October 6, 2020

Using Play to Foster Social Connections and Physical Activity ›

Play isn’t just fun and games – it’s a vital aspect of our health and well-being. When we play, we engage our bodies, minds, and senses, creating opportunities for increased physical activity, learning, and connection with others. Play can even help relieve stress and support the development of important social-emotional skills, including communication and cooperation.…