Environmental Strategies for Living with ADHD

The impact of a person’s environment on ADHD

We spend a lot of time in our day moving from place to place. It may be from home to school or just from one room to another. Some spots may be clean and quiet. Others are busy and loud. Each environment presents different advantages and challenges to people with ADHD. It's important to think about how children or adults with ADHD are able to manage their symptoms in these different places.

Environments that are noisy and unorganized (e.g., a playground or shopping mall) can be overly stimulating for people with ADHD. It may be harder than usual to concentrate in places where too much is going on. People with ADHD tend to work better in places that are structured. An example of this is a classroom with a schedule written on the board and designated activity areas. This kind of environment helps children with ADHD stay on task. It also provides them with visual cues to know what to expect next.

Here are some other modifications that can assist people with ADHD in their school, home, and work environments:


  • Learn to keep rooms tidy and organized
  • Use a timer to help signal the beginning and end of an activity
  • Provide a calm and supportive environment
  • Create a low-distraction work area (such as an area with some background noise)

  • Seat the child close to the front of the class or near the teacher
  • Seat the child next to another student who does well
  • Post assignments or tasks in an easy-to-find location


  • Provide a quiet office space at work, away from traffic
  • Provide opportunities for weekly desk clean-up
  • Use visual reminders like a calendar to stay organized
  • Create and follow task lists
  • Find opportunities for breaks during the day (for example, getting a drink or going for a walk)
  • Avoid unnecessary interruptions

Even small modifications to a person with ADHD's environment can make a big difference on how they feel and work. So, try making some changes and see what happens. You may be surprised!


1. Barkley, R. (2000). Taking charge of ADHD: The complete, authoritative guide for parents (Rev. ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
2. Booth, R. (1998). List of appropriate school-based accommodations and interventions. Retrieved May 17, 2012, from