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Do Audiobooks Work for Adults With ADHD?

Feb 29, 2024

Audiobooks have become massively popular over the past few years. A survey from the Audio Publisher's Association revealed a double-digit increase in audiobook sales for eleven years in a row in 2022, and around 53% of U.S. adults say they've listened to an audiobook at least once. The flexibility and versatility of the audiobook format allow people to listen to the book anytime and anywhere, and you can easily browse through a wide selection of titles on your mobile device. But for people with ADHD who may find it hard to focus on reading, there may be questions about whether audiobooks can work. Audiobooks come with many advantages, but whether audiobooks work for adults with ADHD depends on the individual and their specific needs. Here are some factors to consider.

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Table of Contents

Why audiobooks can work for adults with ADHD

Audiobooks can be more engaging than traditional reading for some people with ADHD, who may struggle with staying focused on text. The narrator's voice and the story itself can provide additional stimulation and keep them interested. Since you're constantly having to focus on and follow the narrator's words to piece together the plot or information, it may be less distracting than reading printed words, which you can easily look away from once you've stopped concentrating.

Audiobooks also allow you to "read" while doing other activities like exercising, commuting, or doing chores. You may also be able to listen to one during an activity on our "What to Do During Pomodoro Breaks: ADHDer's Guide" post, such as working out, cleaning, or snacking. This can be helpful for people with ADHD who find it difficult to sit still for long periods. It's an engaging and enriching way to liven up more mundane and quiet moments, allowing you to do more with your time.

Audiobooks can make information more accessible for people with ADHD who may struggle with reading comprehension, visual processing, or focus. The last issue is what writer Verity Babbs, who was diagnosed with ADHD at age 24, grappled with when reading. She noted that she struggled with focusing on reading a physical book despite enjoying reading. An activity she loved became a chore, and she felt shame for feeling that way as a writer. By using audiobooks, she was able to rekindle her love of reading since she could easily access all kinds of information without the pressure of reading a print book gave her. She could also take more control of her reading experience since she could play them at 1.5x speed to match her preferred pace.

Audiobooks are incredibly versatile and flexible, and there are many ways someone with ADHD can engage with them. 

Ebooks vs. audiobooks

Audiobooks aren't the only digital reading format you might want to consider. Ebooks are also a popular digital medium, and they can help address some of the disadvantages the audiobook medium can bring. Ebooks and audiobooks have their own pros and cons; you can try experimenting between the two and see which holds your focus and feels more pleasant.  

With an audiobook, you can't easily reread sections of an audiobook or skim ahead. This can be frustrating for people who need to revisit information. Ebooks allow you to reread a passage easily and quickly jump to another chapter by pressing a button. Ebooks may also be more engaging since you have to focus on the words instead of audio, which can encourage multitasking. But if you're reading on a phone or tablet, you might get distracted by other apps and notifications—audiobooks can be used without looking at a screen. 

Reading about ADHD

Audiobooks can help make reading easier for people with ADHD and increase access to books about the disorder and some self-help tips you can follow. Online platforms allow you to access thousands of audiobooks and ebooks in one place. Everand's audiobook collection boasts titles like Thom Hartmann's ADHD: A Hunter in a Farmer's World and The ADHD Advantage: What You Thought Was a Diagnosis May Be Your Greatest Strength by Dale Archer.

Other self-help titles can also guide you through living with ADHD. Ray Dalio's Principles: Life and Work offers unconventional principles that create unique results in life and business that anyone can apply in their daily lives, even with ADHD. You can learn to make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams with radical transparency. The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer explores the unexpected adventure of staying put and the value of slowing down and being more mindful. It can serve as a reminder for you to practice stillness amidst the distractions around you. Both titles also have an ebook version if you read that medium.

Audiobooks are an easy and accessible way to consume literature. It can do wonders for adults with ADHD who want to learn more or explore new worlds but struggle with books and reading. It's worth looking into if you want to reignite your love of reading and expand your knowledge.

Feb 29, 2024

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