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How to Decide if an ADHD Coach is Right for Your Child

parenting kids with adhd

ADHD doesn't need to be a big life hurdle for you or your child. There are many different interventions and programs for children with ADHD, including one on one coaching. Could ADHD Coaching be right for your child?

ADHD and Coaching

So you just got the diagnosis, or maybe you've known for a long time; you are parenting a child with ADHD. Often misunderstood, ADHD can be stigmatizing and seem like a negative disadvantage that your child must overcome; a label that will follow your child through life and might limit their opportunities. As a parent, what are your next steps? Anecdotes about changing your child's diet and feeding them less sugar or limiting their screen time don't really help you in terms of finding guidance and support. You've heard of ADHD Coaches, but what are they?

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What is an ADHD Coach?

ADHD coaches work with children and families to provide focus and help streamline goals. Keep in mind, coaching is not an educational or emotional intervention. Some ADHD coaches might be educators or licensed mental health providers, but the primary focus of ADHD coaching is to help your child establish good time management habits, organizational and concentration skills, and helps your child set and define personal goals, as well as providing your child tools to achieve those goals. If your child is struggling with foundational subjects at school, talk to their teacher and work towards establishing educational goals. If your child needs assistance with their emotional health, consult your child's pediatrician or a licensed mental health professional.

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What does an ADHD Coach do?

ADHD coaches provide structure during coaching sessions to work with your child on setting personal goals and identifying what areas they need to work on. The coach will then work with your child on identifying their personal strengths and show them how to use their strengths, improve time management skills, interpersonal skills, as well as how to keep intrusive or impulsive distractions to a minimum so they can stay focused and successful not just in the classroom, but in their after school activities as well. The ADHD coach helps your child work towards their own personal goals. These may be small achievements like sitting through family dinner or remember a chore or task without being reminded by a parent or teacher. Over time the goals may get bigger and more specific; raise their grades for an entire semester or score a goal in soccer. The important thing to remember is that not every goal needs to be big and not every achievement is going to be educational. Your child will be living with ADHD and a coach helps them with life skills that support them in and out of the classroom.

How do we find an ADHD coach?

Talk to your child's pediatrician or teachers and see if they have any recommendations. A search online for a coach can be useful as well. Some coaches provide coaching face to face, others provide virtual coaching services. If you and your child decide to pursue an ADHD coach, check to see if they'd be willing to do a meet and greet or a quick interview. Ask them for any credentials or licenses, past work and experiences assisting clients with ADHD, and what their educational credentials are. A legitimate coach will be certified through a regulatory body and may have a background in education or mental health. Feel free to ask them questions like:

  • Where did you go to school and what was your major?
  • How do you measure success with your clients?
  • What kind of license or credentialing do you hold that allows you to specialize in ADHD?
  • What are your goals for your clients?

These questions or others like them should not be off-putting or offensive to an experienced professional and will help you build a strong working relationship and foster trust with your child's coach.

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Are there different styles of coaching?

What is your child like? Do they respond to one on one educational or behavioral interventions? In a coaching setting they would be working one on one, so before you get started it's important to know your child's responsive style. Younger children are already getting structured coaching at school and at home, so you'll need to consider that when deciding on a one on one coach for a younger child. One on one ADHD coaching has been shown to be effective during the early teen years and throughout high school. It's during this time period when children start testing their self-reliance and independence that ADHD coaching could be the most beneficial - especially during the high-stress years of SATs, college applications, and friends and new relationships. During the early to late teens, the coach would work directly with your child and check in with you and your partner on your child's progress. If your child is younger and you're looking into ADHD coaching, the coach would work equally with the parents and the child to help create structure and boundaries along with parenting plans to help your child set goals.

Is ADHD coaching expensive?

Generally speaking there is a fee for coaching. If ADHD coaching is provided by your child's school or educational program, a fee may not come into play. If the ADHD coach you choose is also a licensed mental health professional with a general practice, you may be able to use your insurance. Insurance plans are like fingerprints - yours don't match your neighbors, so don't get discouraged if you hear stories about a friend of a friend who has insurance that covers everything from a doctor's visit to home and computer repair. Check with your potential coach and with your insurance company to see what kind of options may be available to you.

The Bottom Line

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ADHD isn't a life sentence for your child, riddled with frustrating parent-teacher conferences and a slippery slope of bad grades met with limitations. With the right support system, your child can flourish. If that support system includes an ADHD coach, you can find out what works best for you and your child and what your goals are with just some simple research and questions. Once you know what you need, it's easy to find.

By Megan Patton
February 2017
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