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 have 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.  A proper diagnosis is dependent 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 accurately diagnose ADHD. 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 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, irritability, and manage other challenging behaviors. Especially when dealing with children, it is very important to make sure you have a proper diagnosis that includes knowing what, if any, co-morbid conditions exist.

It is critical to be under the care of a doctor who is current and knowledgeable 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. It can take several months of trial and error to find the best formula and dosing.

At this time there have been no specific diets or foods that have been scientifically proven to impact ADHD, or it's treatment. Many individuals with ADHD have a more difficult time regulating their emotions and performance. Proper nutrition on a consistent basis will make it easier to manage the challenges they may face. There is some promising 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, and especially for 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 guaranties modifications and accommodations to qualifying students for a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

Yes.  I am available to consult with your child’s teachers throughout the school year to ensure that the teachers genuinely understand your child’s challenges and the best practices to support and educate them in the classroom and work collaboratively with you.  Additionally, I can help you develop an appropriate IEP or 504 plan (see question below) to support your child’s needs. Please visit our School Consultations page.

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 that is now available to help children with ADHD.  I provide a variety of training opportunities for teachers and administrators and can tailor my program to meet specific needs.    Please see Professional Development page.

Mindfulness involves paying close attention to your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. In teaching you to pay attention to what you are paying attention to, it 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 the adults in their lives of the complex obstacles they face.  When you get a 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, as Dr. Hallowell says, “Creativity is impulsivity gone right.”

ADHD is said to be a challenge of 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 in a positive light 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 is a supportive, non-judgmental, action-oriented relationship designed to help you make desired changes in your life. By asking direct, thought-provoking questions and providing observations and perceptions, a coach brings clarity and direction in helping a client move forward.  Through the coaching process, a client will explore issues, evaluate options, and gain confidence in their decision-making.  The coach acts as a sounding board, a cheerleader, and an accountability agent.

A certified ADHD Coach someone who is trained in the latest research, and the most effective treatments for working with people with ADHD, Executive Function disorders, and related issues.  As ADHD Coaches, we provide support for our clients to help them develop in understanding ADHD and its impact on all areas of life: school/work, home, and social. ADHD coaches work with clients to develop individualized structures, support, skills, and strategies to help them stay focused on their goals and face their challenges. The client is seen as naturally creative, resourceful and whole with the Coach there to help raise awareness through powerful questioning and listening.

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.   

Coaching and therapy are similar in many ways, as they both seek to help people become more functional and successful in their lives. The approaches are not always mutually exclusive and can often be supportive of one another.  Therapy focuses primarily on treating mental disorders and coping with past traumas. As ADHD is a neurobiological disorder, often support is found in gaining self-awareness, and in developing strategies for responding more effectively to inherent challenges.   Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often the recommended type of therapy. Coaching does not focus on "why" but "what now?"  The goal is to help people improve their ability to regulate their attention, reduce their impulsive behavior, and manage their hyperactivity.  We shift problems into goals and help individuals stay accountable to those goals.  When appropriate, I work collaboratively with therapists and psychiatrists.

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 dealing with how to change the way patients view themselves and the way they react to these thoughts. It is critical that the therapist have full and current science-based knowledge of ADHD and its impact on behavior.

CBT can be an effective support for a person with ADHD in dealing with the emotional issues that may develop as a result 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) as 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 on-going 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 child.

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

Being a parent of a challenging child can at times feel very isolating.  Friends and family members may be well-meaning, but without experiencing the problems and difficulties you and your child face on a daily basis, their support and guidance may fall short.  Learning and sharing with other parents allows you to create meaningful connections with others who can both understand and help you as you travel your parenting journey.   Parents who participate in the Calm and Connected© series are invited to join the Calm and Connected Parent Support Group.

When two people are involved in parenting a challenging child, the approach and philosophy they each take must support one another.  While it is not necessary for each parent to participate in the Workshop Series, the opportunity for both to hear first hand and explore the challenging issues with me is highly beneficial and recommended.

Yes.  Single parents find it especially valuable to have other parents to share concerns with and to learn from.  Any grandparents or other guardians who are significant caregivers will benefit from the knowledge this workshop provides.  And the child will benefit by having everyone educated and in agreement regarding the care of the child.

Workshops are available in person in many locations. Additionally, phone and internet-based coaching services are available.

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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