Our kids with ADHD can struggle with the main symptoms of ADHD: hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity. They also struggle with symptoms of executive functioning deficits like working memory, organization, transitioning, prioritizing, initiating, time management, and procrastination.
Our kids have a 40%-50% chance of at least one co-existing disorder; most common is a language based learning disorder. Even without a clear diagnosis of dyslexia, evaluations can show below average areas in comprehension, reading, and processing. All of these can certainly be related to ADHD, just contributing to the struggles in the classroom.
We coaches act as agents of support, information, clarification, and accountability as our clients determine goals and action plans for their weeks. Because of the ADHD struggles, key areas of self-advocacy and ownership can go by the wayside, severely affecting success of the plan.
Self-advocacy demands knowledge of self and a healthy self-esteem. This certainly can be a work in progress. Fully understanding ADHD, its impacts, and what strategies work can be a journey. Then, this child must have the confidence to advocate and the ability to verbalize his needs. After all, he has felt the negativity of his school environment for so long. So he may be questioning: Do I have a right to ask? Do I want others to think I am dumb, like I think I am dumb? If this is reasonable work, why can’t I do it without asking for help and change? I am not sure how to put into words my confusion.
So the ability to bounce off feelings and confusion to a coach who is non-judgmental and supportive, will allow him to come to conclusions that will help effective self-advocacy. Self-advocacy, a skill this child needs for a lifetime.
Ownership refers to elements of what the job consists of on a daily basis and the important feelings of accountability and completion. One of the most taxing, if not THE taxing part of our children’s day is the job of homework. So many times, I hear from parents that the period of time taken for homework can be so emotional and relationship breaking. So in order to bypass this, many times the parent enables the process: that is, the parent not only does a lot of the homework to minimize stress and allow for apparent success in the eyes of the teacher and his peers, but also actually does take on the “CEO” of the journey. Those duties would include insuring materials are present, checking for the assignments which includes going online for a homework hotline, and walking through and participating in all steps. This “job” then is figured out, shortened, and done by someone else other than that child. So the work is not completely the child’s and there are no external supports or incentives for the child to make it his own. Again, the coach becomes the one to whom the child must be accountable. How does that happen? Through the previously developed goals and plan. Sure there are stumbling blocks along the way. And it is also the responsibility of the coach to help the family with the knowledge and need to be evaluating struggles in school and at home that may indicate the need for testing and support like a 504 or IEP in the classroom.
With the knowledge to understand the need for self-advocacy and the structure and support for ownership, this child will be successful! A coach walking alongside this child’s journey can make the difference!