Does Your Child Need an Executive Function Coach?
April 10, 2015
By Sarah Vander Schaaff
“What parents see is a very bright and intelligent child who can’t pass the grade because they can’t get the homework turned in.”
What the child needs, Joyce Kubik says, is to learn simple skills to fit into the linear world when they need to.
Kubik is the president of the nonprofit ADHD Coaches Organization, (ACO) a group that serves ADHD coaches and families. As a coach, she brings another level of expertise to her work: she has ADHD, too.
For a person with ADHD, Kubik says, “…their brain is wired to be the person who sees everything and reacts to things—they are the movers and shakers.”
Still, in a world with linear expectations, such as following a daily schedule, getting to class on time and completing homework, it can be a problem.
“Parents should not blame themselves because they can’t get their child to stay on task,” she says. In the classic example of asking a child to go upstairs and do three tasks, the parent of a child with ADHD, “…is lucky if that child comes back downstairs.”
Tips of the trade that work for following directions she says: have the child write down what you want them to do. Take the note upstairs with them. And don’t set the note down.
Another key to success, Kubik says, is to use an organizer to write down assignments. Kubik offers two editions of planning journals ideal for ADHD on her professional website, along with her book, Unraveling ADHD: How I turned my greatest deficit into my greatest assest.
To be a certified ADHD coach, a person first trains to be a Life Coach and then receives the professional training for ADHD coaching. Kubik says this additional training takes a year or two, depending on how people structure their hours.
ACO currently has about 325 members with some coaches specializing in ADHD and autism, for example. Using the ACO database, families can search for certified ADHD coaches in their geographical area as well as by specialty.
Coaches charge between $75 and $150 per hour depending on location and experience and reputation, and many suggest a program of three to five sessions, some not only with the child, but with the entire family.
“I had a family who came in there with the ‘doom and gloom’ faces,” she said. “ Two out of three children had ADHD and the dad did, too. The whole family was there. I started talking about how great it is to have it [ADHD]. And I started teaching them about all the possibilities. They were 13 and 15 and it was the first time they heard anything positive about it.”
The mom later told Kubik that her oldest child, who had always been sad and down about things, “Went to bed with a smile on his face.”
ADHD coaches are not psychologists, and Kubik says an important part of their training is to know when a client needs a different type of support.
“I need to know when my client is no longer successful with me and they need to move onto a therapist because there is too much depression or anxiety and I can’t coach them. Our coaches are trained to understand when coaching is effective and when it is not.”
Coaches do strategy and structure, not psychology and not diagnosis. And they do not prescribe medication.
Because she has an appreciation for the positive sides of ADHD and for the effort it takes to cope in a non-ADHD world she has another bit of advice for her clients.
She tells them to, “Take Sunday off and be as ADHD as they want to.”
Parents can learn more about ACO or finding a coach on the ACO website. Kubik says many coaches run CHADD meetings in their local area.
Read more about Executive Function and Attention here
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This process can be challenging. Parents need to stay strong and look for data or anecdotal evidence to support your requests. Remember that parents will always be the #1 advocate.