ADHD Coaching to Support Healthy Lifestyles

Research done by Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D. and Mariellen Fischer, Ph.D. and published in the Journal of Attention Disorders addressed the reduction in healthy life expectancy of people diagnosed with ADHD due to adverse health and lifestyle activities. The longitudinal study was eye-opening, but pointed to the need for individuals and the professionals with whom they work to talk about lifestyle choices in order to positively impact life expectancy.

At the 2019 Annual International Conference on ADHD Melissa Knight and I made a presentation about how ADHD coaches can help their clients in addressing lifestyle choices such as nutrition, exercise, sleep, driving habits, smoking, etc. that impact estimated life expectancy and the quality of one’s life.

I was happy to see the following write up on the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO) blog highlighting the November, 2019 presentation.


The Role of ADHD Coaching in Supporting Healthy Lifestyles: Taking Research into Practice

By Melissa Knight, MA, PCC and Roxanne Fouché

Take Away: The importance of working together as a team when providing support for someone with ADHD. The team members can include a therapist, doctor, educator, coach and parents.

More Information: High-risk behaviors that occur earlier in life influence possible health concerns as people age, which then influences the increased risk for earlier mortality. What we have learned is that although ADHD is a serious public health concern, improved estimated life expectancy (ELE) may be achieved with proper treatment. It may be possible to improve the risks associated with lower ELE through treating ADHD, especially in improving self-regulation.

It is important that coaches become aware of this research to educate and support our clients with ADHD in implementing strategies for a healthier lifestyle. Coaches can play a significant role in facilitating change for our clients. Through this process, increased awareness concerning ADHD management, self-regulation, and lifestyle choices can occur. When clients increase their awareness, implementing lifestyle changes can follow.

Through Powerful Questioning and Direct Communication, Awareness is created, leading to Designing Actions. When a coach inquires about a client’s lifestyle, this provides an opportunity for the client to explore how behaviors can impact health. Through this process, the coach also helps the client to identify their values and motivation, which supports the client in understanding why a goal is important. When values are connected to motivation, there is a stronger possibility of success. Next, the client can move forward into brainstorming and strategizing alternative lifestyle choices. In addition to providing education to their clients, ADHD coaches are accountability partners. It is this accountability piece that is crucial for keeping these goals in the here and now for the clients in between coaching sessions.


Contact me for information about ADHD / Executive Function coaching to discover and implement individualized strategies, skills and habits that support healthy lifestyles, effectiveness and well-being. ADHD coaching is conducted in person in San Diego, by phone or via the internet.

ADD Successful Goal Setting

As the new year starts, many people make promises to themselves regarding better physical or financial health, learning a new skill, or how they conduct themselves in the world. Although these goals are heart-felt, unfortunately most research shows that New Year’s Resolutions are often abandoned by the end of January whether or not ADD/ADHD characteristics are part of the picture. It’s not that we don’t want these things – and it’s not because we lack willpower. We often give up on our goals because we haven’t set ourselves up for success.

How many times have you caught yourself making a promise to yourself or to someone else, saying “this time it’s going to be different” without really changing the way you approach the goal? It doesn’t make sense to do the same things over and over and expect different results. There is an alternative.

As an example, I would love to play the piano much better. It would be so gratifying to sit at the piano, look at complicated music, and just have my fingers play music effortlessly. But…it’s a huge goal and I can’t just “magically wish” it to happen.

As I set myself up for success for this goal, I need to consider what has worked (or kind of worked) for similar goals, as well as what has not worked at all. I need to be honest with myself. In order to set myself up for success, I also need to think about:

  • WHAT exactly I want to accomplish
  • WHY this goal is important to me
  • WHEN I want to do the things I set out to do … and
  • HOW I want to plan for success

It’s a combination of “SMART” goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) and knowledge of oneself and how to leverage our interest and motivation.

For my piano skills goal, I want to be able to play songs in an Adult Intermediate piano book with ease and have memorized six pieces by the end of the year. I want to do this to push myself a bit, and have fun perfecting a skill that gives me joy.

I know that when I make too big of a goal, I can get frustrated. I know that I cannot work on too many goals at once, as that can get overwhelming. I also know that I work best with flexible structure.

I want to start this week, keeping track of the time I practice and log a minimum of 1 ½ hours/week. That’s a little over 15 minutes a day, which is do-able. I am going to try to do my piano practice in the morning, but on busy mornings, I would like to sit at the piano at the end of the day. My reward (and inspiration) will be listening to piano music via a streaming service.

I will share this goal with my family so I can have some accountability and although I don’t like the idea of playing for an audience, maybe I can record my playing so they can listen to it without the pressure of performance. Additionally, my intention is to give myself permission to be human, knowing that there will be some weeks that I will not meet my goal. After those weeks, I will revisit my plan and adjust accordingly.

So what goals do you want to work toward? What would make your life easier or more rewarding? What would make a big difference?

As you move toward your goals, the assistance of an ADHD / Executive Function coach may help you determine the strategies and habits that will provide more success, fulfillment and balance in your life. Contact me for an initial consultation and we can talk about how ADHD coaching can help you successfully achieve your goals with ADHD.

Shining a Light on ADHD Myths and Facts

If you have ADHD, it’s more than irritating to hear people repeat ADHD myths that you know are just not true.

I invite you to join the ADHD Awareness Month Coalition and international ADHD organizations as we focus on the 2019 ADHD Awareness theme, ADHD Myths and Facts. This year we hope to dispel the harmful stories that perpetuate stigma and that prevent people affected by ADHD to seek assessment, get appropriate treatment or share reliable information about ADHD.

This year we will be focus on the most common ADHD myths such as ADHD is caused by bad parenting and ADHD is over-diagnosed and share fact sheets written by ADHD researchers and experts to provide much-needed information to dispel the myths.

How can you be part of this year’s ADHD Awareness endeavors?

If you are curious about how ADHD coaching or consulting might be helpful to you or someone you know, contact me at 858-484-4749 or Roxanne@FocusForEffectiveness.com. I am happy to share resources in San Diego or online.

 

2019 Annual International Conference on ADHD

The 2019 Annual International Conference on ADHD will be held November 7 – November 9, 2019 in Philadelphia. The conference is organized by ACO, ADDA and CHADD, three organizations dedicated to the empowerment of people impacted by ADHD and associated challenges.

I am pleased to announce that my colleague, Melissa Knight, and I will be presenting a conference session on the role of ADHD coaching in support of healthy lifestyles. This is an important and timely topic related to research done by Dr. Russell Barkley and the impact of ADHD – and specifically self-regulation – on health outcomes.

Keynote speakers at the conference include Dr. Anthony L. Rostain, Dr. Ross Greene, Dr. Roberto Olivardia, and Maiken Scott. As there will be many fabulous opportunities for learning and connection, I invite you to check out the conference offerings and attend if you can. Spread the word!

October’s ADHD Awareness Month – Setting the Record Straight

It’s astonishing that although ADHD has long been recognized as a real brain-based medical disorder, we can still hear people say things like, “ADHD is just a manufactured ‘disease’ promoted by Big Pharma.” or “Yeah, everybody has a little bit of ADD.” or “People with ADHD just need to get motivated and try harder.”

During October of every year we celebrate ADHD Awareness Month, an opportunity to dispel the myths and share the facts about ADHD. This year’s theme is “Setting the Record Straight” and there are a number of ways you can get involved:

  • Submit a video for the ADHD Awareness Month Video Contest in one of four submission categories: Family, Child, Adult and Professional. Submissions will be accepted through Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 11:59pm ET. Voting will begin on October 12 and winners will be announced on October 30, 2018. For more contest rules and submission details, go to the ADHD Awareness Month website.
  • Check out the wonderful ADHD stories or share your own in about 150 words – what do you want the world to know about ADHD?
  • Check out the creative ADHD Art or share your own representing what ADHD looks or feels like.
  • Submit your ideas for the ADHD Awareness Month Meme Contest. The contest opens on October 1, 2018.
  • Sign up for the 2018 International Conference on ADHD to be held in St. Louis, MO from November 8 – 11, 2018

Unless people live with ADHD themselves or know someone who does, it’s easy to buy into the myths. When we share information about ADHD and our experience with it, more people are given the opportunity to truly understand the challenges and the possibilities with ADHD.

Please help us set the record straight by sharing information about the contests and the website resources with family, friends and colleagues.

The mission of the ADHD Awareness Month Coalition is to educate the public about ADHD. The coalition members include the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO), Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).

What does Pi Day have to do with ADHD Awareness?

Happy Pi Day. Pi Day is observed on March 14 (3/14) because 3, 1, and 4 are the first three digits in π. (For those who don’t remember high school math, pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter so the formula is π = C/d.)

Pi Day has gotten me wondering. How is it that Pi Day has gotten recognition and acceptance – and even celebration – when many people may be only vaguely familiar with the concept? They don’t question it. They don’t say that they don’t believe in pi. They don’t say it’s a made-up thing. They don’t say it’s an excuse or that the circumference or diameter of a circle need to try harder.

Wait a Minute – Where’s our Day? Where’s Our Celebration?

Although October is ADHD Awareness Month, there is no ADHD Day, despite the fact that ADHD affects people 24/7 … every day. ADHD doesn’t only impact those diagnosed with ADHD, but it affects the whole family system – the people with the diagnosis and those who love people living with the consistently inconsistent and often frustrating characteristics.

What ADHD Awareness Looks Like

If we have ADHD, it would be helpful to be aware of the challenges (and gifts) of ADHD. How much different would life be if we were able to understand and accept our ADHD and executive function challenges … and then implement the strategies, tools and habits that would allow us to live the life that we envision more easily?!?

Imagine what it would be like to start with an understanding of our own ADHD and go from there in designing a life that uses our strengths to work around those things that don’t come as easily to us. Imagine what it would be like to stop focusing on what might have happened and instead recognize our missteps as learning opportunities so we might set ourselves up for success.

If we are living with someone with ADHD, how different life would be if there were more awareness and honest, loving communication about personal ADHD challenges and strategic ways to work around them for effectiveness, family harmony and life balance? It all starts with awareness.

Personal and Public Awareness

Start with your own awareness of how ADHD impacts you and your loved ones … and then share what you know about ADHD with educators, people in the workplace, family members, and others who can benefit from knowing more about this brain-based condition that affects approximately 4.4% of the adult population and about 9% of children.

And if you are curious about how ADHD coaching might help in increasing awareness and developing personalized strategies, tools and habits, feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to help in any way we can.

2017 ADHD Professionals Conference

I am honored to be presenting at the 10th Annual ADHD Professionals Conference with my Research Committee colleagues, Dr. Rebecca Toney and Casey Dixon. During our presentation entitled, “The Power of Research to Transform Coaching,” we will be discussing the direct application to ADHD coaching of research regarding strategic self-control, cueing desired actions and self-monitoring for success.

It is exciting to be part of a vibrant community of professionals attending the ADHD Coaches Organization conference in Reston, VA. We have the opportunity to meet and greet colleagues and friends, increase our knowledge base, share ideas for the application of evidence-based practices and generally connect and collaborate for the benefit of the ADHD community.

Happy ADHD Awareness Month!

October is ADHD Awareness Month, a whole month of ADHD activities and information! According to the website, www.ADHDAwarenessMonth.org, the mission of ADHD Awareness Month is “to educate the public about ADHD by disseminating reliable information based on the evidence of science and peer-reviewed research.” For great information about ADHD, including an adult self-test for ADHD, stories about ADHD, a list of events (some of which are online), blogs, resources, and posters to share, go to www.ADHDAwarenessMonth.org.

ADHDAwarenessMonth_Color_Small

The information on the ADHD Awareness Month website was compiled by a coalition of organizations dedicated to assisting those with ADHD, including ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association, which focuses on adult issues, www.add.org), ACO (ADHD Coaches Organization, www.adhdcoaches.org), CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, www.chadd.org), ADDitude magazine (www.additudemag.com) and the National Resource Center on AD/HD, a program of CHADD (www.help4adhd.org).

During this month of raising awareness of ADHD, we can all share information with those who don’t seem to “get” ADHD. In addition, you might spend time this month increasing awareness of how your own ADHD strengths and challenges – or those of someone you know – affect work and home life. The first step in moving forward is focusing awareness on what is, and is not, working. The next step, of course, is making a plan to address those things that you would like to change.

So what do you notice about your own ADHD? We’d love to read your comments. And if we can be of help as you pinpoint how ADHD impacts you and what strategies, tools and habits you might use to live effectively with ADHD, contact us at info@FocusForEffectiveness.com.

The “ADHD Shadow” at High Noon

I call it the “ADHD shadow.”

Our ADHD shadow represents just how visible our ADHD challenges are to ourselves and others. Although it would be nice, our ADHD challenges aren’t just going to magically disappear. They stick to us like a shadow, ever present (even at night – you just have to look harder).

When we need to do something that is complex and has many moving parts, and especially something that we are very reluctant to do – taxes, in my case – our ADHD shadow is apt to be very long and very visible. Why? Because our struggles with particular executive functions (e.g., time management, sustained focus, organization, prioritization, etc.), are that much more apparent in that circumstance. We have a long shadow like one seen in the early morning or late afternoon.

However, when we are doing what we love, what we are good at and what we value, we are “in the zone,” and nothing can stop us. It could be playing on the soccer field, painting a picture, or doing a school/work project that is particularly intriguing. We are totally present, positively hyperfocused, and the things that we typically struggle with just aren’t getting in the way. In those circumstances, we have a short shadow like one you might see at noon.

As Thom Hartmann has proposed, ADHD is more of a context disorder.  ADHD shows up in some contexts much more than others; in those circumstances when we are being asked to demonstrate the very skills that we struggle with, our challenges are more apparent to ourselves and to others.

The trick, then, is to discover (or rediscover) in what contexts or circumstances we are at our best, when our ADHD shadow is at “high noon,” barely noticeable to ourselves or to the outside world.

To help figure that out, you might think about – or write about – a time when you were at your best.  In all likelihood, whatever that circumstance was, you were doing something that you valued, something that you brought energy to and that gave you energy, something that you did well – and you hummed along, showing yourself and the world what you were capable of.

Questions to ponder:

  • What were the circumstances of your being at your best?
  • What were you doing?
  • What was present and what was absent?
  • In what way were your strengths demonstrated?
  • How might you take these lessons and apply them to current situations?

The more you know about yourself and the contexts in which you are at your best, the more easily you can engineer your life to have more of those successful “high noon” moments.

And if we can be of assistance as you work to discover how you can be at your best while working around any ADHD challenges, contact us at info@FocusForEffectiveness.com. We would be delighted to help you shorten that proverbial ADHD shadow and help you flourish with ADHD.

Cutting Down on Chronic Lateness for Adults with ADHD

I was honored to be interviewed by Margarita Tartakovsky, Associate Editor of Psych Central for Margarita’s Psych Central blog at http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/04/01/cutting-down-on-chronic-lateness-for-adults-with-adhd/.

Cutting Down on Chronic Lateness for Adults with ADHD

By MARGARITA TARTAKOVSKY, M.S., Associate Editor

People with ADHD have a distorted sense of time. Sometimes, the passage of time is excruciatingly slow. “Waiting in line feels like hours,” said Roxanne Fouché, an ADHD coach and consultant.

Other times, time flies. What feels like 15 minutes of engaging in a fun activity is really 45 minutes, she said.

According to professor and ADHD researcher Russell Barkley, Ph.D, many people with ADHD are “time blind.” They forget the purpose of their task and feel uninspired to finish it.

Psychiatrist and ADHD expert Edward Hallowell, M.D., talks about how people with ADHD have two times: “now and not now.” If a work project is due next week, you figure you have plenty of time — until it’s Monday, and you realize that it’s due the next day, and you have to conduct several interviews, on top of other tasks.

Chronic lateness can affect all areas of a person’s life, Fouché said. For instance, if you’re late to work or miss deadlines, you might not get a promotion, or worse, you might get fired.

You might be seen as someone who’s less engaged or can’t be counted on, she said. This might stop a supervisor from assigning projects that truly interest you.

Friends and family might think you’re disrespectful or you don’t care about them, she said. Young kids may get scared when you’re late picking them up from school.

Chronic lateness may even affect your sense of self. You start thinking of yourself as the one who’s always late, Fouché said. “This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” You think, “Why even try? I’m always late!”

This also can trigger embarrassment and self-blame, she said.

The good news is that you can employ strategies to cut down on your chronic lateness in all areas of your life. Below, Fouché, co-founder of Focus For Effectiveness, shared seven helpful suggestions.

Figure out how long things take you.

People with ADHD often overestimate how much they can accomplish in a given time. You might think it takes you 20 minutes to get ready in the morning, but in actuality, it takes an hour.

Fouché suggested not just setting a timer for your morning routine, but also figuring out frequently traveled routes such as the grocery store.

You also can time how long it takes you to complete professional and other personal tasks.

Have something compelling to do.

For people with ADHD, arriving early spells boredom — something they try to avoid, Fouché said. Instead, “plan on arriving early and having something compelling to do while you’re waiting.”

Doing so gives you a cushion or buffer zone for the unexpected, such as traffic, she said.

For instance, if you’re picking up your child from school, arrive early, and bring a book, magazine article or catalogue you never have a chance to read. This means scoring a good spot and, more important, not making your child wait.

Set multiple alarms.

Set several countdown timers on your phone, computer or anywhere else, Fouché said. For instance, if you need to leave your house at 1 p.m., set an alarm for 10 minutes before. When it rings, note where you left off in a task (e.g., jot it down on a sticky note).

The second alarm gives you a few minutes to run to the bathroom, put on your shoes and get out the door, she said. It also stops you from thinking, “I just have to do this one more thing…”

Have a launching pad.

People with ADHD also might run late because they’re busy searching for their keys or wallet or anything else they need to be able to leave. Instead, keep a table by the door. This is a specially designated spot for your wallet, keys and phone charger – and unusual items you’ll need on a specific day.

For instance, you might need certain paperwork for a doctor’s appointment, coupons for the grocery store or your USB drive for a presentation.

Rethink requests.

Sometimes people with ADHD run late because they have too many things on their plates. “People with ADHD have a tendency to over-commit,” Fouché said. They get excited about many things and are overly optimistic about their to-do lists, she said.

The next time you get a request, instead of saying, “Sure, I’ll do it,” simply pause, and say, “Hmm, that sounds great. Let me look at my schedule and get back to you.”

Build a routine.

For people with ADHD, routines can sound boring. But “it really makes things more automatic,” Fouché said. And that makes life a whole lot easier and less stressful.

For instance, have weekly schedules for going to the gas station, doing laundry and grocery shopping, she said. This way you won’t run late to work because you desperately needed gas, or fail to get your kids to school on time because you ran out of peanut butter and jelly.

It also helps to build routines at work, Fouché said. For instance, if you need to turn in progress reports every month, instead of scrambling and stressing several days before your deadline, spend 10 minutes every day working on the report.

Explore what’s worked.

“It’s rare that someone is never on time,” Fouché said. Maybe there’s an appointment you always make or a work deadline you never miss.

Think about the strategies you used. What worked in these scenarios? Then consider how you can apply these strategies to other situations, she said. (They might need to be tweaked depending on the scenario.)

“Often we pay attention to what doesn’t work and blame ourselves instead of paying attention to what does work.”

Overall, Fouché also underscores the importance of finding strategies that work for you.