Information for Parents seeking and ADHD coach
Robert Tudisco Former Executive Director of the Edge Foundation Speaks about Living with ADHD.
Our Independent Coaching Program provides Edge Coaches via Skype or phone for students and other individuals no matter which school you are in or where you are located.
If do much reading about ADHD sooner or later you are going to come across the term “executive function” and wonder what in the heck is that?
Simply put, executive function is a term that psychologists and medical professionals use to describe the higher functions of our brain that help us control and self-manage ourselves. Here’s one technical definition: “The administrative portion of the brain that coordinates and regulates organization, time management and perception, deferred gratification, prioritization, attention, impulse control and persistence at tasks.” So what does that really mean?
Executive function is most easily understood by looking at a few examples:
LD Online, a great source of information about learning disabilities and ADHD, identifies some of the major areas of executive functions:
The challenge with understanding how ADHD and executive functioning are interrelated is that EVERYONE can have executive function troubles at different times – it’s a matter of degree. When you have ADHD you are more often challenged by executive functions than people who don’t have it.
Let’s assume you have ADHD. When something is interesting to you, you are all over it. No executive function problems there, right? However, you’ve probably also found that difficult or uninteresting tasks can be very difficult to pay attention to – even when it’s something that is important such as remembering your girlfriend’s birthday or paying your water bill. Executive functions help reveal why ADHD isn’t simply a matter of will power or caring enough. As Thomas E. Brown, Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine says,
Most people, those who do not have ADHD, can usually make themselves pay attention to tasks, even tasks that are boring, when they recognize that they just have to do it. People with ADHD find it much more difficult to make themselves pay attention unless the task is one that has immediate interest value to them. The core of their problem is … being able to manage their mind to focus on tasks they need to do, even when those tasks are not immediately interesting.
The role of a coach is to address executive functioning challenges with structured support and accountability. Their long term goal is to help you figure out strategies and accommodations to work with your ADHD so you can accomplish everything you care about and need to get done to achieve your goals. Edge Coaches will help you with executive functions such as:
You can learn to work with your ADHD strengths – hyperfocusing on things that are interesting for example. And you can learn ways to stick with it to do those boring tasks (like filling out paperwork, showing up on time or passing a prerequisite class) so you can accomplish your dreams. What are you waiting for?
You think ADHD coaching would be good for daughter to try but she doesn’t want to have anything to do with your suggestions.
You aren’t alone. It can be an uphill battle to get a teen or college student to try out something that their parent recommends. And coaching won’t help if your child is unwilling to partner with a coach. So what is a parent to do?
“Making lists for weekly work and accomplishment really helped me focus on what I needed to do. It made my exhibitions much better. When I break down what I need to do each week, it makes it easier to think about each task and get it done quicker.”
Do you worry about your child’s grades? You aren’t alone. Every week we are contacted by parents desperate to find help for their child. He’s flunking in school. She’s so disorganized she can never get a paper in on time so her grades don’t reflect her ability. He’s unmotivated by rewards – even paying him for A’s doesn’t seem to help.
A common focus of concern for parents is grades. And no doubt your child carries a lot of internal stress about his or her performance in school – whether she admits to it or not. But we’d like to suggest that this focus on grades is a distraction from helping your child see what she needs to do to take charge of her life.
We believe an ADHD coach can help make the difference in your child’s life and we have the research to prove it. We encourage you to put yourself in your child’s shoes and think about what does motivate him or her. School performance is a means to an ends, it is important, but not the only thing that measures success. After all, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates both dropped out of college to passionately focus on their dreams.
We’re not suggesting dropping out is the solution, but we are encouraging you to shift your focus to what inspires your child, what are his or her dreams and what is holding them back from success. Overcoming these obstacles is the focus of coaching.
What you can do is help your child envision the possibilities that coaching will open up for her.
Coaching isn’t about fixing her. It isn’t a tutor, therapist or mentor. It’s unlike anything she’s ever tried before. A coach is your child’s partner in helping him accomplish his goals (not yours).
Coaches help the students they work with decide what they want to achieve, develop a plan to accomplish those goals and take the steps needed to reach their dreams.
Instead of saying “Your grades better come up next term or you’ll have to get a coach,” we suggest focusing on your child’s point of view. Think about opening up the channel for conversation with your child and trying some conversation starters like:
Your child may not want to talk to you about these issues. And that’s okay. It’s an important part of their development to want to tackle these issues on their own. But you can still counsel and guide them towards a coach. After all, a coach isn’t a punishment, a coach is a resource to help you set goals, learn new skills and hone the edge you need to make your dreams come true.