Executive Function Coaching Saves Lives

Here’s is a recent report from Executive Function Coach and Trainer Erin Wilson:

“It was a Friday–I had just gotten home from school, the Seattle summer had started early, and I was exhausted. I was getting a popsicle out of the freezer and beginning to settle down when my phone rang. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but I had broken the rule of not giving my phone number out to students; so, student was my guess. I thought about ignoring it—Oh, come on! It’s Friday evening!—but I hit the green button anyway.

“It was one of my 17-year-old students who immediately started apologizing for bothering me, and talking of hanging up, but I kept him on the line. ‘No, I’m here. What’s going on?’ I asked.”

‘Well, I am on the Aurora Bridge and getting ready to jump, but I knew you would be mad at me if I didn’t talk to you before I jumped.’

‘Oh, gosh, Malcolm. Yes, indeed. Thank you for calling. I am here. Let’s figure this out together.’

A conversation ensued, at the end of which they agreed to go for milkshakes. She drove to the bridge and picked him up. Malcolm is still with us.

As unique as this conversation was, it is also typical. Malcolm meets with Erin once a week for executive function coaching. Erin mostly just asks questions: “What’s going on?” “How was your week?” How are you doing on your goal?” “What is your strategy?” “How is that working for you?” “What did you learn from that?” “What can you do differently?”

As unique as Malcolm’s problem is, it is also typical. So many kids in our schools are problems, or cause problems, feel they have a problem, told they have a problem. What was Malcolm’s problem? Was it dyslexia or ADHD? Was he a victim of high stress in the home or the neighborhood? Was he being bullied? Was it “Executive Function Disorder?” Suggest your favorite dysfunction.

Notice what bad habits we are in! It doesn’t really matter what “problem” he has or what his “learning difference” is, does it? Whatever the problem, he needs a partner who knows how to strengthen his executive function. Does he need better planning skills? Whatever. Whatever the matter is, he needs practice in owning his own brain, so he can own his own decisions, so he can own his own life.

What saved Malcolm’s life was not Erin’s personality, but a person who was trained to do what few people in schools are in the habit of doing: talking to students as if they are decision makers, as if they want to make a difference, as if they are leading their own lives. Each of us needs another person who acts as if the only thing that matters right now is the choices I make, and knows how to help me figure out the good ones.

Is any work in a school more important than this? How many “at risk” kids would be “at risk” if school were a place for learning to think? What would happen to our graduation rates if school focused everyone on maximizing internally motivated decision-making?


About the Author

Rick Ackerly is a nationally recognized educator, speaker and leadership coach with more than 40 years of experience in schools, 35 as head of school. He is the author of The Genius in Every Child: Encouraging Character, Curiosity and Creativity in Children. His blog is www.geniusinchildren.org.

Advertisements

Helping Your ADHD Child Win the Homework Battle

Getting homework assignments done can be a huge struggle for kids with ADHD. It is important as homework problems are often a reason kids with ADHD fail in school. However, with some planning, you can help make homework less of a struggle for both you and your child. .… READ MORE

Homework battles

Resources for Teachers with ADHD Students

inschool

Edge Coach Training

The Edge Foundation will train selected members of your staff to be Edge Coaches to provide one-on-one coaching for students in the school setting. The training is a comprehensive, 3 day intensive training program, based on our many years of coaching at-risk students with learning challenges stemming from ADHD, dyslexia or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

 

Teacher & Staff Training

We will train your entire teaching and support staff in Edge Coaching techniques so they can be even more effective in their role and so they can communicate with all students in a supportive non-judgmental way.

 

Leadership Training

We offer leadership training to administrators, principals and other executive staff. This training demonstrates how   Edge Coaching techniques can be used to develop and enhance executive leadership skills in the school administration context.

 

Get Started

Contact us today to see how Edge Training can make a difference at your school.

 

Tim Kniffin
Program Director
WA Edge Schools Project
206.234.2597
tkniffin@edgefoundation.org

Derreck Torres
Program Director
CA Edge Schools Project
310.795.5333
dtorres@edgefoundation.org

Neil Peterson
Founder, Chairman, and CEO
206.910.7515
npeterson@edgefoundation.org

Dyspraxia – the Little Known Learning Difference

Peter Ormerod argues that parents shouldn't force their children to write thank-you cards -- it's an exercise in insincerity, he says, and there are better ways to promote gratitude.

Although dyspraxia is fairly common, most people have never heard of the condition. Children with dyspraxia may have difficulty performing physical tasks such as speaking, jumping or gripping a pencil. Dyspraxia may also affect a child’s social skills, and kids with dyspraxia may act immaturely even though they usually have average or above average intelligence.

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia affects co-ordination, spatial awareness and sensory perception. It is part of an umbrella of conditions known as specific learning differences which are defined as exceptional variations in a person’s ability, as well as problems with concentration and short-term memory. Dyspraxia affects between 2% and 6% of the population, meaning there’s likely to be at least one person with the condition in every school class or workplace. Around 70% of those affected are male.

Researchers believe that the condition may have a genetic component. Current research suggests that it is due to an immaturity of neuron development in the brain rather than to brain damage. This interferes in some way with the messages that the brain sends to the body, though the exact mechanism is not known. It usually occurs in children who have had a difficult birth–either being born prematurely or with low birth weight. It can be accompanied by other learning disorders such as dyslexia or ADHD.

Dyspraxia can affect children in a variety of ways:

  • Communication – Children may have difficulty pronouncing words
  • Emotional / behavioral skills – Children with the disorder may have difficult in social situations and can become easily frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Academics – School work can be difficult for kids who have trouble with the physical process of writing
  • Life skills – e.g., performing routine tasks like brushing teeth or buttoning a shirt

Warning Signs & Treatment

While the symptoms of dyspraxia may vary depending on the age of your child, they generally start be seen early in life.  Understood.org provides a breakdown of the most common symptoms by age, beginning at the toddler stage and progressing through high school. It is important to monitor and record any of these symptoms so you can share them with your child’s doctor.

A general practioner or primary care physician will probably need help from a specialist to make a diagnosis of dyspraxia. These specialists might include occupational therapists, child health specialists (paediatricians), physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, neurologists and educational psychologists. An assessment can be made to determine whether a child has missed the usual milestones of development, and identify any issues with co-ordination and motor skills.

There is no medication to treat dyspraxia at this time. Treatment usually consists of a mix of occupational therapy, perceptual motor training, and speech therapy.

Childhood dyspraxia: James’ story

Are You Ready For College?

ready-for-college

ADHD 
and
 college: a
 challenge
 you
 can
 handle

Do 
you
 get
 an
 anxious 
feeling
 when
 you
 think
 about 
school? Going
 to
 college is
 an
adjustment
 for 
anyone,
 but
 when
 you
 have 
ADHD,
 the
 challenges 
are
 that
 much
 greater.
However, 
college
 is
 a
 challenge
 you
 can 
handle
 if
 you
 go
 armed 
with
 the
 knowledge 
of 
a 
few 
extra 
things you 
can
 do to 
make 
sure
 your
 college
 experience 
is
 everything
 you
 hope
 it
will
 be.

Do
 you
 have
 the
 4
 student
 qualities
 for
 success?

Successful
 students
 usually
 have
 four
 qualities
 that 
help
 them
 achieve
 their
 goals:

1. Sticking 
with
 things even
 when
 the
 going 
gets
 tough
 ( a.k.a.
 perseverance),

2. Ability
 to
 delay 
gratification
 and
 focus 
on
 the
 big 
picture,

3. Time 
management 
and
 organizational
 skills,
 and

4. Striking
 the
 right
 balance
 between
 fun 
and
 work.

Are
 you
 feeling
 discouraged
 already? No
 surprise. These
 particular skills
 don’t
 come
 easily
to
 students with 
ADHD. Organizational
 problems, 
impulsivity
 and
 time
 management
 issues 
are
 actually
 the
 hallmarks 
of 
living 
with 
ADHD. You
 think,
 “If 
I 
just
 get
 this
 special
 planner,
 I’ll 
never 
forget 
anything
 again.” Or 
you 
promise
 yourself,
 “Next 
time
 I’m
 going
to
 start 
working
 on
 my
 class
 reading
 at
 the
 beginning
 of
 the 
term
 instead
 of 
cramming
right
 before
 finals.” It’s
so
 easy
 to
 think,
“If
 I 
just 
make
 myself
 do
 this…
it’ll
 be
 fine.” 
But
what 
if
  we 
told
 you
 that 
making
 yourself 
do
 it 
is 
the 
totally  wrong 
approach?

Read more at: Your guide for college success

What If? – I have ADHD but I don’t let it stand in my way

adobestock_97094319-v3life-skills-2-edge

1

That phrase, spoken more than fifteen years ago by my then-ten-year-old son, still brings tears to my eyes. He wrote this to his teacher on the first day of fifth grade. She had given him a “get to know you questionnaire.” This was his answer to her final question, which asked the students if there was anything else she should know about them.

If only we could freeze those moments. I would love to say that he continues to feel that way all the time but that is not our reality. Having children with ADHD and other executive function-challenges can be compared to life on a roller coaster. As a retired teacher, guidance counselor, and now an ADHD/EF coach, I feel that my experiences have prepared me for the next stage of parenting. But it is not easy. I have come to realize that it’s a marathon not a sprint.

Most parents, after their child is diagnosed, feel that they need to solve the problem. They want to help their children overcome their disability and protect them from the world.   Frequently, we feel that we did something wrong, that we must fix the situation or find a magical answer. I was no exception. After researching this topic for many years and filling several rooms with books on ADHD, EF and positive psychology, I have come to the realization that the best gift we can give is to accept them for who they are.

We do not need to give up future plans for our children but we do need to accept them as they exist. We can be aware of their weaknesses and help them develop their strengths. As parents, we need to help them recognize that as they approach life differently, they can achieve their goals.

Those diagnosed with ADHD and EF challenges must learn to adapt to our competitive society and to appreciate themselves. We also must help professionals, family members and others to refrain from squeezing our square pegs into round holes. What if, instead, we delighted in their differences? As their parents and coaches, we have the power to concentrate on their strengths, provide support when needed, and most importantly, not allow them to use their diagnosis as a crutch.

If these children are brought up to recognize their gifts, just imagine what they could accomplish. If we help them recognize their situation as an opportunity to develop strategies that will allow them succeed, they will become stronger and more adaptable.

I can only imagine the number of negative verbal and non-verbal messages that these individuals receive on a daily basis. What if they could depend on their families to be supportive and their homes to be an oasis of positive reinforcement? What if they could trust our verbal and non-verbal communication would instill a sense of well being, rather than a source of shame and inadequacy?

What if we were able to accept the fact that we, as parents, do not have the power to fix our children or find a magic answer?

What if we concentrated on what we can control, and helped our children realize that they are creative, resourceful and whole? What if we helped them recognize that life is not black or white? What if we helped our children realize that because of their differences, not in spite of them, they have much to offer?

What if every individual diagnosed with ADHD and executive-functioning challenges could say: “I have ADHD but I don’t let it stand in my way.”

Written by: Cheryl Breining, LMSW, M.Ed, MS, ACC, CPCC, Edge Coach, Certified Life and Parenting Coach, The Life Coaching Corner Inc., Contact her at www.thelifecoachingcorner.com.