PTS Coaching - FAQ - understanding adhd

Frequently Asked Questions: Understanding ADHD

Science has come a long way in the last decade. Mainstream medical, psychological, and educational organizations have come a long way in understanding ADHD, and each has concluded that ADHD is a real, brain-based medical disorder. Getting a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment can significantly improve the lives of those who struggle.  An accurate diagnosis depends on a lengthy and thorough process that rules out any other possibilities and explores possible co-existing conditions. No single test determines if one has ADHD.  A comprehensive evaluation will generally include the following:

  1. Rating Scales
  2. School-related assessments
  3. Observation
  4. Medical Examination
  5. Medical and developmental history
  6. Family and individual psychiatric history

There are several types of professionals who can diagnose ADHD.

  1. Pediatrician
  2. Developmental Pediatrician
  3. Psychiatrist
  4. Neurologist
  5. Nurse Practitioner
  6. Clinical Psychologist
  7. Clinical Social Worker

Not every professional in these categories has had the necessary training to diagnose ADHD accurately. It is essential that the individual you choose is current on their knowledge and does a thorough evaluation to rule out or identify any other possible conditions.

Treatment for ADHD should involve a comprehensive ("multimodal") approach that may include educational, behavioral, psychological, and medical interventions.  The leading Psychological, Psychiatric, and Pediatric associations all promote Behavioral Parent Training (BPT) as an essential intervention for reducing symptoms and teaching skills.  I prefer the word "Coaching," and its model as it suggests more active participation from the parent.

At any time, you might find you want to have some of all of these different parts working together.  Remember always, that you as the parent or you as the adult with ADHD must ultimately manage your team but help and support in doing so are always available. Please reach out to us if you are in immediate need of finding local resources in your area.

The decision to use medication is highly personal. Parents, older children, and adults must ensure that they understand what meds can and cannot do in treating the symptoms of ADHD. Medication cannot teach skills; however, it can make it significantly easier to focus, reduce impulsivity, hyperactivity, and irritability, and manage other challenging behaviors. Especially when dealing with children, it is essential to make sure you have a proper diagnosis that includes knowing what co-morbid conditions exist.

It is critical to be under the care of a current and knowledgeable doctor about the latest studies and best practices for dispensing ADHD medication. A well-trained and experienced doctor will know how to balance treating his patients when more than one diagnosis is present. Finding the best formula and dosing can take several months of trial and error, so be patient and keep records of what treatments have been used.


At this time, no specific diets or foods have been scientifically proven to impact ADHD or its treatment. Many individuals with ADHD have more difficulty regulating their emotions and performance. Proper nutrition will make it easier to manage the challenges they may face. There is some good work involving Omega supplements; however, there is not yet agreement on the type, dosage, or potential long-term impact.

Exercise is a significant part of treatment for all people, especially those with ADHD. Studies have shown that regular exercise can enhance cognitive performance and brain function.


An Individualized Education Plan covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (known as IDEA) is a legally binding document that spells out exactly what special education services your child will receive and why.  A 504 plan is based on a Civil Rights Statute that guarantees modifications and accommodations to qualifying students for a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Yes.  My Coaches are available to consult with your child’s teachers throughout the school year to ensure they genuinely understand your child’s challenges and the best practices to support and educate them in the classroom and work collaboratively with you.  Additionally, they can help you develop an appropriate IEP or 504 plan to support your child’s needs. 

Yes.  So much of what we know about understanding ADHD has been learned during the past decade.  Teachers and administrators are often unaware of the advances in research and support available to help children with ADHD.  I provide various training opportunities for teachers and administrators and can tailor my program to meet specific needs.  Please see the Professional Development page.

Mindfulness involves paying close attention to your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Teaching you to pay attention to what you are paying attention to, improves your ability to pay attention. This greater awareness can help reduce impulsivity and improve emotional self-regulation. These are core issues for people with ADHD, especially while they are young.


There is no denying that having ADHD creates tremendous difficulties and challenges.  Children are often as acutely aware as adults in their lives of the complex obstacles they face.  When you get better at understanding ADHD and allow yourself to look beyond the weaknesses, you begin to recognize the tremendous strengths that your child also possesses.  For example, Dr. Hallowell says, "Creativity is impulsivity gone right."

ADHD is said to be a challenge to Motivation and Interest.  We must, therefore, tap into children's strengths and passions to help them succeed in all areas of life.  The more you see your child or student positively and recognize him for his strengths, the more he will believe in himself, and the more he will grow in maximizing his strengths and overcoming his weaknesses.  I will help you and your child discover your child's strengths, talents, and passions as you both learn to manage and compensate for his challenges. There is never anything so wrong with us that what is right with us can't fix.

Coaching and Therapy are similar in many ways, as they both seek to help people become more functional and successful in their lives. Whereas Therapy focuses primarily on treating mental disorders and coping with past traumas, coaching focuses on helping you gain self-awareness and develop strategies for responding more effectively to inherent challenges. Coaching does not focus on “why” but “what now?” Your coach is not the expert but rather the facilitator to help you develop insights, tools, and strategies to learn your own best way. Coaching is a comprehensive process that may involve all areas of life, including work, finances, health, relationships, education, and recreation. When appropriate, we work collaboratively with therapists and psychiatrists.

ADHD Coaching is a collaborative process designed to help minimize the effects of ADHD on your day-to-day life and help you more easily achieve your goals.  The approach is not to fix a perceived flaw or deficit but to help you enhance and leverage the creativity, skills, and resources you already possess.  The goal is to help you improve your ability to regulate attention, reduce impulsive behavior, and manage hyperactivity.  Together we shift problems into goals and help you stay accountable to those goals.  A certified ADHD Coach is trained in the latest research and the most effective treatments for working with people with ADHD, Executive Function disorders, and related issues.  We provide support to help you develop a deep understanding of ADHD and its impact on all areas of life: school/work, home, and social.

Widely respected organizations and individuals, including the National Institute of Mental Health, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD), Russell Barkley (ADHD: A Handbook for Diagnosis and Treatment), and Edward Hallowell (Driven to Distraction), have endorsed Coaching as a vital missing link for achieving success.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT is a type of talk therapy for adults and children where the therapist and patient discuss the underlying reasons specific thought patterns persist and develop strategies to change how patients view themselves and how they react to these thoughts. The therapist must have complete and current science-based knowledge of ADHD and its impact on behavior.

CBT can effectively support a person with ADHD in dealing with the emotional issues that may develop because of having ADHD. Through the process of ADHD therapy, patients can discover how their thoughts impact their actions and how their thoughts influence their views of themselves and the world.

Behavioral Parent Training (BPT) is an essential intervention for better understanding ADHD by reducing symptoms and teaching skills.  I prefer the word "Coaching" and its model as it suggests more active participation from the parent. Our Parent Coaches are trained professionals who combine the knowledge of Coaching, Parenting, ADHD, and Executive Functioning to provide parents with appropriate tips, tools, strategies, and ongoing support to manage the complexities of raising a challenging child. Once parents are educated about the impact ADHD, Executive Function skills, stress, anxiety, and pressure have on learning, motivation, and behavior, the Parent Coach, can help a parent become a more effective parent to their children.

Our Parent Coaches will help parents learn to manage conflict, set boundaries, and motivate positive behavior effectively. By providing ongoing encouragement, recommendations, feedback, and support, the coach can help the parent develop the tools, strategies, and confidence necessary to stay accountable for the changes they wish to make while supporting their child consistently.

If you have a specific question, please get in touch with me.

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What is ADHD Coaching?
Understanding ADHD – The (not so) Secret Ingredient for Success

"Specialized life coaching for people with ADHD has existed since the early 1990s as a collaborative process between client and coach to help clients minimize the effects of ADHD on their day-to-day lives and more easily achieve their goals. ADHD Coaching often turns out to be the “missing ingredient” in unleashing the full potential of those who live with ADHD.

Like all life coaching, ADHD Coaching addresses the needs and aspirations of the individual being coached. By necessity, however, ADHD Coaching also addresses the often significant pragmatic challenges faced in achieving one’s aspirations while living with ADHD. 

So what is life coaching? Unlike counseling, teaching, tutoring, mentoring, or any of the other professions where there is a hierarchical relationship between the professional and the person seeking help, life coaches are collaborators. Life coaches align themselves with the client’s agenda and engage with the client in a thought-provoking process that inspires the client to maximize his or her personal and professional potential. The approach is not to fix a perceived flaw or deficit, but to help clients enhance and leverage the creativity, skills, and resources they already possess.

Because ADHD Coaching supports clients in achieving their goals and aspirations while living with ADHD-related challenges, ADHD Coaches employ a unique blend of life coaching, skills/systems/strategies coaching, and ADHD education. Coaches also help clients develop a plan that utilizes their strengths and new awareness of themselves, and then hold them accountable for implementing and working their plan, until their goals are achieved.

In study after study, ADHD Coaching has been shown to help people better understand their ADHD, reduce overwhelm, get more done, and feel better about their lives. So, if you haven’t already, I invite you to talk with an ADHD Coach about this highly effective, rewarding, and collaborative process and profession." 

By Sarah D. Wright
Founding Board Member, ADHD Coaches Organization
Author of ADHD Coaching Matters: The Definitive Guide

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