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.

Parenting by the Seat of Our Pants

Parenting is simultaneously the most rewarding, and the hardest, job we can have. Just when we think we have everything under control, our kids’ needs change – or our circumstances change – and we are back to “What in the heck do I do now?!?”

When you parent a child who has ADHD or associated challenges, you have more questions…and more rewards. When things go well, it’s a victory that other parents may take for granted.

When our little one begins a short book despite reading problems, figures out a way to calm herself down, or follows a request for the first time without push back, it’s a triumph for the whole family.

When our teen takes out the trash without a reminder, starts homework independently, or organizes a sleepover on a long weekend, we know that they are making real progress.

When our young adult makes a budget, gets ready to graduate, or prepares for a job interview, we know we are doing our job and we can all celebrate.

But when things don’t go as planned, when school is difficult, when our kids don’t know how to make or keep friends, when there are homework wars, when there’s worry about a young adult who isn’t prepared for the next steps of independence, it’s something that can make parents feel like they’re alone without a place to turn. And we blame ourselves.

It’s a privilege to be in the position of supporting the growth of a child. It’s really miraculous how our kids grow and change. But there can be a problem when we expect near-perfection in our parenting. We have in our mind’s eye how we want to parent and then something unexpected occurs and the only thing we can do is to make the best decision we can at the time.

That’s why I’ve joked over the years that I was going to write a blog called “Parenting by the Seat of My Pants.” No matter our education, or background, we are all just doing the best we can with the information we have at the moment.  

Clearly, we all want to be great parents. Our kids deserve the very best. But, as parents, we need to give ourselves permission to be human…and give ourselves permission to occasionally parent by the seat of our pants.

Coaching can help. Contact me if I can be a resource.

 

 

 

 

As You Transition to Something New, Remember What Worked

As we approach transitions, whether it is transition to the new school year, a new job, or a move across country, we can build on our successes by remembering what worked. And then going from there.

School – love it, hate it or just tolerate it, the new school year is upon us.

Whether we are students, parents, other family members, or know someone who is, many of us are ruled by school academic calendars. Many K-12 schools and colleges have already started and others will start soon. So how do we make a smoother transition to another school year?

If we are going back to school or supporting someone who is, there are several questions to ask:

What worked?

Really – think through what worked last year. It’s easy to focus on the things that didn’t work. The should’ves, could’ves and might’ves where we can get stuck and wonder: What’s the use? Why try?

But if we focus on what worked, our mindset shifts and opportunities for success become apparent. Everyone’s wins are different, but it’s important to think about what worked so we can do it again.

As an example, it could be that keeping a calendar of assignments, tests, practices, games, and performances really made a difference…at least for a little while.

If it worked well, keep it up! Do it again. Rinse and repeat.

What could be tweaked?

If something kind of worked, we might look at the obstacles that got in the way and figure out what might be tweaked. For example, maybe you kept a paper calendar, color coded by family member or class, and it just got too much to keep up. What about trying an electronic calendar that can be easily changed as necessary? Maybe you kept an electronic calendar and it worked great … until it didn’t because you found that you weren’t really looking at it. What about figuring out a way to help you remember to check your calendar? That could be a reminder on your phone to check your calendar at certain times of the day or maybe a reward for yourself for doing so. Whatever it takes to make the habit stick more readily.

There is no right or wrong way of doing things. There’s just works for you and your brain.

If ADHD coaching or consulting might be something to add to the mix, contact us. We will be happy to help you set yourself up for success during whatever transition you are approaching.

Making The Most of Summer with ADHD

The prospect of a relaxing summer, unencumbered by the stress of school, is highly anticipated by both students and their parents. Students with ADHD deserve time to relax, hike, bike, swim, wiggle their toes in the sand, and otherwise enjoy the summer months. Parents of students with ADHD also deserve a break from the role of being a “homework cop.”

Despite the difficulty for both students and their families to keep up with the many demands of a busy schedule during the academic year, school does provide the structure that is helpful to students with ADHD. A lack of structure and routine can be trying for someone with executive function and self-regulation challenges.

So how do we, as parents, provide the right amount of structure during the summer months so that our students can have much-needed “down time” without overdoing it? What is the right amount of structure anyway?

For each student the ideal mix of activities is going to be different, of course, but parents of students with ADHD might aim for:

  • Some learning – either through a summer class, information-oriented camp, tutoring, self-study or daily academic time to keep skills up and avoid summer learning loss
  • Some exercise – either through organized sports, camps, lessons, shared exercise opportunities with family, or free play
  • Some routine – for sleeping, eating, chores, and self-care
  • Some socialization – with family, established friends, and friends-to-be
  • Some exploration of interests and passions, which can include limited screen time via smart phones, internet, videogames, or TV
  • Some relaxation, allowing time for students to look up at the clouds, think, and dream

It might be mentioned, too, that summer is often a great time to start ADHD coaching to help students develop the strategies, habits and tools that will allow them to “hit the ground running” once school starts again in the fall.

As the summer begins, you might talk with your family to discuss summer goals in addition to any planned activities, vacations, or classes that are on the schedule. What do they want to learn? What do they want to discover? What would they really like to do to make this summer one to remember?

Whatever summer looks like for your family, when parents and students are in agreement as to the goals and the new routines of summer, the easier and more fun it will be for everyone!

How Do You “Convince” Someone to Try ADHD Coaching?

When parents call to explore possible ADHD coaching for their teen/young adult, a question that can come up is how parents can convince their son or daughter to try ADHD coaching.

Coaching is not is not something that happens to someone – it’s a process that people need to be committed to. All coaching, including ADHD coaching, is about intentional changeand parents or others cannot successfully convince someone to participate in coaching if they are not interested in the process.

Although some young people begin coaching with the gentle nudge from their parents, teens and young adults who make the best use of ADHD coaching…

  • have the ability to step back to see what is working (and not working) in their lives
  • are willing to accept help
  • are honest with themselves and the coach
  • and have the desire to change strategies, habits and attitudes that are not serving them.

So how does one prime the pump as a parent, nudging someone to at least explore the idea of ADHD coaching? It’s all about sharing what coaching is – and is not.

When the teen/young adult seems receptive, share with them information from this website or online sources. Talk with them about how sports coaches or music teachers work by helping people increase their skills and have more fun. ADHD coaches work in a similar way, assisting their clients learn personalized strategies, tools and new habits so that there is more time to enjoy fun things outside school or work.  

When I talk with students about ADHD coaching, the feedback that I get is:

  • Coaching is empowering as it provides nonjudgmental and supportive structure, while allowing clients to build skills and strategies for future success.
  • Students enjoy the unique relationship between client and coach, one in which the student is in the “driver’s seat,” setting the agenda for the coaching sessions.
  • Students like having someone they are accountable to (other than their parents) while they learn to be more independent and accountable to themselves.

I often talk with teens and young adults in an introductory call, sharing that I “get” ADHD personally and professionally. We talk generally about what school is like for them, what’s easy for them and what is a little more difficult, how ADHD can get in their way, and then we talk about ADHD coaching if appropriate. Even if students are not ready or interested in ADHD coaching, just having a conversation with someone who understands and who offers nonjudgmental support (and a little bit of laughter) often makes a big difference!

So let me know how I can help you – or your teen/young adult. I am happy to assist you in any way I can.

Working Effectively with ADHD Youth

Roxanne had a unique experience recently when she participated in a twitter chat hosted by Boost Collaborative, an organization that creates opportunities for change in educational and social services agencies serving youth in the out-of-school time hours.

The topic of the Boost Twitter Chat was “Inspire Learning: Effectively Working with Students with ADD/ADHD.”

For a transcript of the twitter chat, go to https://storify.com/TEAMBOOST/inspire-learning-effectively-working-with-students.

Getting The Right Kind of Help For Your Child – And You!

Parenting is simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding job a person can have. There are extra challenges when you have a child with ADHD, especially if your child is struggling in school, the main job of childhood. It’s heartbreaking to watch your child have difficulty with learning and homework, and particularly frustrating when you don’t know where to turn for help.

In order to set your children up for success, you need to match the assistance you seek with the specific difficulties your child is having. As there is a lot of help out there, parents need to know where to look and what to ask for.

Determine What Is Getting in the Way

Although it’s easy to see the poor grades, the reluctance to go to school, or your child’s acting out, it’s important to identify the possible reasons for the behavior.

Is your child doing poorly on tests? Are there gaps in his/her knowledge or skills, making school more difficult than it should be? Is s/he taking way too long to complete homework assignments – or not turning them in at all?

Trust yourself and your perception of what is getting in the way. You know your child best and have seen what has occurred over the years with different programs and teachers.

Work With School Personnel

If your child is having general learning or behavioral difficulty in school, you might work with school personnel to make sure that your child’s program and services are meeting his/her unique needs. This may entail such things as:

  • meeting with the teacher to discuss your concerns,
  • requesting a meeting with the school team to discuss interventions that have been tried and/or those that might be put into place,
  • pursuing testing to see if your child qualifies for specific programs, accommodations, modifications or services, or
  • requesting a review meeting with the IEP or Section 504 team as soon as problems are noted rather than waiting until the annual meeting.

It’s vitally important that the six hours or so that your child is in school are adequately addressing your child’s learning needs so that s/he can succeed.

Study Buddy for Homework Completion

Sometimes a child knows the material, but can’t sit down to complete the work without close supervision. If homework time is an undue struggle, perhaps a high school/college student looking for extra income might be all that is required for your child to begin – and finish! – required homework.

Tutoring for Specific Subjects

After a grueling day at school, it’s not uncommon for children to have difficulty working with their parents on homework or studying. If your child needs help with a particular academic area, a tutor can preview the material or re-teach what wasn’t understood so that your child can better understand the subject matter and improve grades.

Individualized Instruction with an Educational Therapist

Sometimes a tutor just isn’t enough, especially when there are learning difficulties due to ADHD and/or learning disabilities. An educational therapist can provide individualized instruction in keeping with your child’s unique pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Educational therapists work on specific academic subjects while addressing underlying weaknesses in areas such as visual or auditory processing, memory, and study or test taking skills. They help students develop appropriate learning strategies and gain more confidence in their abilities.

ADHD Coaching to Get and Stay On Track

As students with ADHD get older, it’s often difficult for them to deal with increasing life demands and higher expectations for independence. A coach specifically trained in ADHD can help your child manage his/her life and responsibilities in and out of school.

Coaches provide support, structure and accountability as students work to develop skills and strategies to plan, organize, manage time, begin tasks, sustain focus, and work toward completion. They help students get and stay on track by developing goals, designing actions and monitoring progress to support desired growth.

Support For Parents

It’s often a challenge to balance the desire to give your children help for today’s success while encouraging the development of strategies for tomorrow’s independence.  Parents can often benefit from coaching and consulting designed to provide support and information that will benefit not only your child – but you, as well!

Note: a version of this blog post appeared on www.ImpactADHD.com, where Roxanne was featured as a Guest Expert in August, 2012.

Succeeding in College

Here’s another one of the tips from our book, 365 Ways to Succeed with ADHD: A Full Year of Valuable Tips & Strategies from the World’s Best ADHD Coaches & Experts!!!

Available from Amazon.com

College can be particularly challenging for students with ADHD because academic expectations increase while there is a decrease in external structure. Students may have difficulty prioritizing competing demands on their time as there are varying class times and new daily routines. Even if it wasn’t necessary in high school, many college students find it extremely useful to use paper or digital planners to map out their days, scheduling the actual times that they plan to accomplish their goals: going to class or work, studying, eating, sleeping, laundry and other errands, exercise and/or social activities.

Accommodations for Students with ADHD

Students with ADHD may qualify for a Section 504 Accommodation Plan if their symptoms substantially limit one or more major life activities (including learning). The accommodations that are provided are intended to level the playing field to ensure “meaningful equal opportunity” at school. The accommodation plan should include a description of the student’s challenges and how ADHD is impacting the student’s learning and behavior. Accommodations are written to address identified areas of difficulty.

Helpful accommodations for students with ADHD include:

  • Preferential seating (seating student close to the teacher)
  • Assistance with note taking/assigned note taker
  • Copy of the teacher’s Power Points, notes, or outlines
  • Pairing written and oral instructions
  • Teacher’s checking for understanding
  • Private signal to redirect student’s attention
  • Checking that assignments have been correctly written down
  • Verification that all needed items are placed in the student’s backpack at the end of the day
  • Alternate or modified assignments (e.g., Power Point presentation instead of a written report, ½ of the math problems of a certain type, etc.)
  • Breaking down longer-term assignments and giving intermediate deadlines
  • Acceptance of homework emailed directly to the teacher
  • Reminders for turning in homework
  • Credit for late work
  • Cues for transitions to different activities
  • Allowing movement breaks and use of a “fidget” to increase focus
  • Advance copy of study guides
  • Permission to tape record review sessions
  • Taking quizzes and exams in a reduced distraction environment
  • Use of computer for written tests and/or calculators, as appropriate
  • Extended time for tests and homework assignments
  • Oral testing and/or the teacher’s going over the written test with the student, asking questions for clarification of the student’s answers
  • 2nd set of books at home
  • Alternate formats for reading (books on CDs, etc.)

If your child’s 504 plan is not meeting his/her needs or you want to explore whether your child might benefit from such accommodations, contact the school’s 504 coordinator. You are your child’s first advocate. Remember that you are modeling the skills that your child needs to develop so s/he can advocate for him- or herself in the future.

Contact us if we can be of assistance in setting your child your child up for school success.

College and ADHD

Academically, college can be a challenge for any student – but especially for one with ADHD, learning disabilities or related issues. Academic expectations increase in college at a time when there is a decrease in external structure from parents and school. There is often limited feedback on class progress, as tests occur infrequently, and daily homework is rarely assigned to ensure that students are keeping up with their reading or other assignments. Students often have difficulty independently forming daily routines (waking up, going to bed, eating, studying, exercising, taking medication, doing laundry, and other chores), especially because their class schedules typically change from day to day. In addition, students may have difficulty prioritizing competing social and academic demands while enjoying the newfound freedom to make their own decisions.

There are several ways to set students up for success at college. Students with ADHD may be eligible for accommodations in college, whether or not they had a 504 plan or special education services in high school. Such accommodations might include testing in a separate and quiet environment, extra time for exams, note taking assistance, and/or priority registration among other accommodations. Students and their parents should contact the disabilities office at the college to find out the department’s procedures for beginning this process.

Another very helpful option is coaching for college students so they might discover personalized tools and strategies that allow them to sucessfully set goals, manage time, begin (and complete!) tasks, maintain focus, organize and prioritize, as well as balance life’s demands.

Call us today for a free 15 minute consultation to see how coaching might help you or teen succeed in the college environment.