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.


Making Better ADHD Career Choices

Making Better Career Choices with ADHD

By Wilma Fellman, M.Ed., LPC

ADHD Inspiration & Success


Children with Executive Function challenges and ADHD often have great difficulties in their school arena.  We know today that ADHD is a neurologically based disorder, and we don’t “outgrow it” as we mature.  But, with knowledge, intervention, perseverance, and support…we continue to GET BETTER at it as we age.

Of concern to parents then is…what will my child with ADHD be able to do best in terms of a career?  How will he best be able to identify strengths and build on them for a “successful” career?  The answer to this question is simple:  It WILL be possible to identify your adolescents strengths, talents and specific challenges guiding them into career environments that utilize the positives and minimize the negatives.  The process of doing this is not simple however.

The Process of Career Development

The process is called Career Development and is a systematic collection of targeted data to put the “puzzle” together.  It isn’t difficult.  But it is also not instant.  It isn’t taking a single test and finding out “what to be.”  We, as human beings are very complicated creatures, and no one factor points us to the “right career path.”  Instead…Career Development is a process…of collecting data in many different areas in order to look at all facets of one’s puzzle parts.  These areas include:

  • interests,
  • skills/accomplishments,
  • personality type,
  • work and leisure values,
  • aptitude,
  • focus patterns,
  • work habits and challenges.

There is no shortcut to obtaining all of this information and yet…it’s THERE….just waiting to be collected!  The process often used to make career decisions is to try something that sounds good, see how it goes, suffer the consequences of mismatch, and then repeat the pattern.  This is both brutal on one’s self esteem and also wastes precious time that could otherwise be used to build a strong career.  So, while the “try it and see” method APPEARS to be quicker…it isn’t, and in fact often results in the erroneous assumption that “nothing will fit, career-wise.”

Career Development for Every Child

In a perfect world, Career Development would be a part of each child’s schooling so that by graduation there is at least a temporary career plan.  But, funding cuts and school counselor shortages have made it impossible to provide routinely.  Therefore, how does one go about this process?  Some folks are just lucky and fall into their life’s work finding it rewarding….Happy Ever After!  But…the VAST MAJORITY of people have NO CLUE what career paths are even OUT there, let alone which one is right for them.  How then to go about this systematic process?  There is an answer!

Well-trained ADHD Coaches understand that within the ADHD individual there are often amazing strengths, as well as frustrating challenges.   Through a new partnership with the Edge Foundation, Wilma Fellman, M.Ed., LPC and Victoria Roche, MSW, PCC, there is a NEW groundbreaking training being offered to ADHD Coaches that will enable them to gain the skills necessary to take their client through the Career Development process, collect ALL of the necessary data, synthesize the data and make excellent career choices based upon sound facts and carefully thought out procedures!

ADHD & Career Development Training Offered

Career Services Specialty Training will enable qualified ADHD Coaches to gain the necessary skills to accomplish the “Career Piece” with their clients, and earn13 CECU’s (9 in Core Competencies and 4 in Resource Development) by taking the course!  For more information, contact Denise at the Edge Foundation, 206.632.9497, or check the website for a complete description of Frequently Asked Questions.

For parents and individuals looking to go through this Career Development Process, look for the CSS following an ADHD Coach’s credentials, to indicate they have taken this course and are ready to help with better career decisions!


ADHD & Your CareerWilma Fellman, M.Ed., LPC has been a Career Counselor, for over 30 years, specializing in ADHD, LD, and other challenges. She is the author of: The Other me: Poetic Thoughts on ADD for Adults, Kids and Parents, contributing author ofUnderstanding Women with AD/HD and her career development book, Finding A Career That Works For You, contains a Special Foreword by Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?   Wilma is a Past President of Michigan Career Development Association, served on the (ADDA) Board for 8 years, and is the developer and a Trainer of Career Services Specialty Training (CSST) for ADD Coaches.  She has lectured all over the country on the subject of Career Development and ADHD, and its unique challenges

Staying Motivated with ADHD Handout. Part of the ADHD awareness month campaign.

Download your copy here.http://ow.ly/d/1yw7 Visit http://www.edgefoundation.org for your ADHD Coaching today. Our coaching is proven through research to help students achieve their goals.