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.

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!

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!

Is It Menopause, ADHD, or Both?

Roxanne Fouché was honored to be interviewed by Ellen Dolgen, Menopause Awareness expert, for her blog post, “Is It Menopause, ADHD, or Both?”  Below is the post that can also be seen on Ellen’s website at http://ow.ly/n4uHo.  The blog post was also published by Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-sarver-dolgen/brain-fog_b_3605867.html) under the title, “What’s to Blame For Your Brain Fog: Menopause or ADHD?”

IS IT MENOPAUSE, ADHD, OR BOTH? by Ellen Dolgen

Where are my keys? If it’s the umpteenth time you’ve asked that question today, you’re undoubtedly frustrated. Chances are you want to find the cause—and fix it before you go and lose your keys again!

If you are in your 40s, 50s, and beyond, there are a few possibilities worth considering: Of course, there’s perimenopause and menopause, which are both infamous for an inability to focus and memory loss. In fact, a new study from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that many women experience cognitive changes during menopause. (Watch Ellen on the TODAY Show discussing the study!)

But then there’s also Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and its own unique brand of spacey behavior. Not just for kids, about 4.4 percent of adults in the United States show symptoms of the neurobiological disorder, according to one study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

So which one has got the best of your brain, or is it both? It’s a question women should seriously ask themselves when seeking hormone happiness, according to ADHD coach and consultant Roxanne Fouché, co-founder of the San Diego-based Focus For Effectiveness.

While it’s commonly believed that ADHD is more common in boys than in girls, the truth of the matter is that females are often victims of missed diagnoses during childhood, according to Fouché. “Because girls and women tend to be  less hyperactive and have more inattentive symptoms, women often go undiagnosed until their 30s, 40s, or later when there is a widening gap between life’s demands and the individual’s abilities to focus, organize or complete tasks,” she says.

What’s more, perimenopause and menopause is a critical time for physicians to catch ADHD in their female patients. Why? Estrogen levels decrease during this time, contributing to an increased risk of depression, irritability, sleep problems, anxiety, panic, difficulty concentrating, as well as memory and cognitive dysfunctions, according to Fouché. “Women with ADHD frequently report a worsening of their ADHD symptoms during these low-estrogen states,” she adds.

The first step is determining if your brain fog is new—or simply worse than it was before. “If a woman has only recently begun having difficulty with memory, concentration, and mental fuzziness, it may be related to menopause,” Fouché says. “If, on the other hand, these symptoms have been present since childhood and are getting worse, it is possible that the effects of declining estrogen levels make it that much more difficult for her to cope with undiagnosed ADHD.”

Either way, the solution is simple: seek a clear diagnosis and treatment. If the symptoms are new, visit a perimenopause and menopause expert who can evaluate your mental fuzziness. If they’ve always been around (just not as bad as they are now), The National Resource Center of ADHD advises that you visit a specialist who is familiar with ADHD in adult women. That could be a behavioral neurologist, psychiatrist, or clinical or educational psychologist. While there’s no one “test” to diagnose ADHD, typical evaluations include ADHD symptom checklists, standardized behavior rating scales, a discussion of past and present symptoms of ADHD, as well as information gleaned from family and significant others, according to The National Resource Center of ADHD.

Navigating both perimenopause and menopause? Fouché suggests addressing your variety of symptoms by developing a comprehensive, multi-faceted plan that includes:

  • Use of medications, if deemed appropriate by your physician. Stimulants (including Ritalin and Adderall) balance neurotransmitters in the brain to improve the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity. Non-stimulant medications such as Strattera and antidepressants may be good options if you can’t take stimulants because of existing heart problems, according to Mayo Clinic.
  • Consultation with a perimenopause and menopause expert. Bio-identical hormone-replacement therapy and lifestyle modifications can ease menopausal symptoms and help you achieve hormone happiness.
  • Focus on self-care. Women often take care of everyone else in their lives before they get to themselves. But by putting yourself first—getting regular exercise and eating a well-balanced diet you can alleviate many symptoms of both ADHD and menopause to get your mojo back.(Check out the best foods for fighting menopausal symptoms.)
  • Professional support and guidance. A licensed psychologist, an organizational expert, a certified ADHD coach—or any combination of the three—can help you sort through the brain clutter. Find an ADHD coach specializing in ADHD  through the ADHD Coaches Organization.

For us women, there’s little in life that’s more frustrating than Swiss cheese brain. We’ve got things to do and people to see, after all! Lucky for our minds, schedule, and keys, help is just around the corner. All you have to do is reach out!

An Open Letter from Dr. Thomas E. Brown

On July 22, 2013, Dr. Thomas Brown, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Associate Director, Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders,  published an open letter expressing his concern about recent FDA approval of a diagnostic device for ADHD that is not adequately supported by research and may become a barrier to diagnosis for some.

This open letter to Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration, begins:

Dear Commissioner Hamburg:

On July 15, 2013, your agency issued a press release reporting that the “FDA permits marketing of the first brain wave test to help assess children and teens for ADHD.” In this action your agency, apparently on the basis of a single unpublished study of 275 children, has created significant risks for those affected with ADHD.

Dr. Brown goes on to discuss the risk of giving undue weight to data from such a device at the expense of careful assessment of “how the individual functions in meeting the multiple demands of daily life.”

Bravo, Dr. Brown!

Read more at: http://www.drthomasebrown.com/an-open-letter-from-dr-brown-expressing-concern-about-a-recent-fda-action-related-to-adhd-2/

What Went Well – and Why?

Here is a sneak peek at another one of Roxanne Fouché’s contributions to More Ways to Succeed with ADHD: Even More Strategies for 2013 from the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts to Help You Succeed with ADHD:

Many people find it difficult to focus on what is working vs. the things that are not going well.  But it is important to understand and acknowledge our strengths and triumphs because they are the foundation upon which we build success.  Research in positive psychology has shown that it is very helpful to acknowledge what is going right in our lives.  At the end of the day, write down 3 – 5 things that answer the question:  What Went Well – and Why?  Focusing on the “wins” of the day and your part in allowing them to happen helps you repeat those actions for continued success.  The added bonus is that when you know that you are going to be writing what went well (and why), it shifts your focus so that you are actively looking for the positives throughout the day.

How Change REALLY Happens

Here’s a sneak peek at a tip that Roxanne Fouché contributed to the upcoming book, More Ways to Succeed with ADHD: Even More Strategies for 2013 from the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts to Help You Succeed with ADHD:

When we want to make a change in our lives, it’s helpful to plan what we want to do, think about the value of that change, and decide how we want to accomplish our goal.  Adequate preparation for a change includes designing small, doable steps, sharing our intentions with others (so we have an accountability partners), as well as anticipating potential obstacles and how we might want to deal with them.

 

It’s also helpful to know that change is not straight forward, moving seamlessly from contemplation to action.  Rather, studies have shown that backtracking is a common part of the change process, allowing us to learn from the experience and figure out what got in the way.  This learning through trial and error allows us to gain more self-knowledge from the experience, making it that much more likely that the next time we begin, we will succeed.

 

Say Again?

Here’s another one of our tips from the book, 365+1 Ways to Succeed With ADHD: A Whole New Year’s Worth of Valuable Tips and Strategies From the World’s Best ADHD Coaches and Experts:

ADHD can get in the way of someone’s paying attention to, understanding, and/or remembering what someone else is saying.  When kids are small, parents often get their children’s attention before they speak and then ask them to repeat back what was understood.  As we get older, it’s up to us to practice good listening skills with family, friends, teachers and people at work.  We need to let someone else finish speaking before we say something (not an easy task for many of us!).  We can also ask questions to make sure we understand and remember what was said.  This could be as simple as asking for repetition (“I’m sorry, can you repeat that?”), asking clarifying questions (“So is the meeting at 10:00 or 10:30 on Tuesday?”) or confirming your understanding (“Okay, just so we’re on the same page, you want me to have this ready by the 14th.”).

 

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.