ADHD coaching to improve a child’s education outcome

31 Mar

Many children have a diagnosis of ADHD. Web MD has an excellent article about  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: What Is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is also known as hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder (ADD). ADHD is a common condition that affects children and adolescents, while ADD is more common in adults.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 3% to 5% of children have ADHD. Some experts, though, say ADHD may occurs in 8% to 10% of school age children. Experts also question whether kids really outgrow ADHD. What that means is that this disorder may be more common in adults than previously thought.

Children with ADHD generally have problems paying attention or concentrating. They can’t seem to follow directions and are easily bored or frustrated with tasks. They also tend to move constantly and are impulsive, not stopping to think before they act. These behaviors are generally common in children. But they occur more often than usual and are more severe in a child with ADHD.

The behaviors that are common with ADHD interfere with a child’s ability to function at school and at home.

Adults with ADHD may have difficulty with time management, organizational skills, goal setting, and employment. They may also have problems with relationships, self-esteem, and addictions.

Increasingly, some families find that an education coach improves their child’s chance of success at school.

Jean Enersen’s King5 News story,  ADHD coaches help students tackle academic goals tells the about the success one family has had with an ADHD coach:

Middle school is all about keeping track of schedules, and getting assignments in on time. It can be complicated.

“I have eight teachers,” said 7th grade student Marcus Wesley.

When his mother asked, “Have you started writing your story?” Marcus could only tell her, “No, but I have all my outline and stuff.” The story was pivotal to his grade.

Keeping a handle on all his upcoming assignments is hard for Marcus. He was recently diagnosed with ADHD.

“I’m a little more hyper than other kids. So they give me the medicine to calm me down,” he explained.

But medicine is only part of the answer said his mother. Alone, it won’t assure his success in school.

“I personally think every student deserves a coach,” said ADHD coach Naomi Zemont.

Since last September, Zemont has been Marcus Wesley’s ADHD coach.

“Last time around, you really wanted to make up this work in humanities,” she reminded Marcus.

Zemont helps the 7th grader develop a plan to achieve his goals. He sets the goals himself, and decides the actions it will take to complete them. In doing so, Marcus is learning to break tasks into parts he can manage.–144024376.html

Before deciding what is the most appropriate therapy, the diagnosis of ADHD must be made by a competent health care provider.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry discusses the primary symptoms of ADHD in the article, What Is ADHD

The primary symptoms of ADHD are hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.

Hyperactive children always seem to be in motion. A child who is hyperactive may move around touching or playing with whatever is around, or talk continually. During story time or school lessons, the child might squirm around, fidget, or get up and move around the room. Some children wiggle their feet or tap their fingers. A teenager or adult who is hyperactive may feel restless and need to stay busy all the time.

Impulsive children often blurt out comments without thinking first. They may often display their emotions without restraint. They may also fail to consider the consequences of their actions. Such children may find it hard to wait in line or take turns. Impulsive teenagers and adults tend to make choices that have a small immediate payoff rather than working toward larger delayed rewards.

Inattentive children may quickly get bored with an activity if it’s not something they really enjoy. Organizing and completing a task or learning something new is difficult for them. As students, they often forget to write down a school assignment or bring a book home. Completing homework can be huge challenge. At any age, an inattentive person may often be easily distracted, make careless mistakes, forget things, have trouble following instructions, or skip from one activity to another without finishing anything.

Some children with ADHD are mainly inattentive. They seldom act hyperactive or impulsive. An inattentive child with ADHD may sit quietly in class and appear to be working but is not really focusing on the assignment. Teachers and parents may easily overlook the problem.

Children with ADHD need support to help them pay attention, control their behavior, slow down, and feel better about themselves.

What Is Not ADHD?

Many children and adults are easily distracted at times or have trouble finishing tasks. To be ADHD, however, the behaviors must appear before age 7 and continue for at least six months. The symptoms must also create a real handicap in at least two areas of the child’s life—in the classroom, on the playground, at home, in the community, or in social settings.

If a child seems too active on the playground but not elsewhere, the problem might not be ADHD. It might also not be ADHD if the behaviors occur in the classroom but nowhere else. A child who shows some symptoms would not be diagnosed with ADHD if his or her schoolwork or friendships are not impaired by the behaviors.

Even if a child’s behavior seems like ADHD, it might not actually be ADHD. Many other conditions and situations can trigger behavior that resembles ADHD. For example, a child might show ADHD symptoms when experiencing

  • A death or divorce in the family, a parent’s job loss, or other sudden change.
  • Undetected seizures.
  • An ear infection that causes temporary hearing problems.
  • Problems with schoolwork caused by a learning disability.
  • Anxiety or depression. 

ADHD News has a synopsis of the ADHD diagnosis in the article by Mark Domoto, M.Ed. In the section, Diagnosing ADHD

The Edge Foundation provides information about ADHD research:

Our ADHD Coaching Research

Edge Foundation’s 2 year ADHD coaching study research demonstrates that ADHD students significantly benefit from receiving coaching using the JST  ADHD coaching model used by Edge Foundation.

ADHD Coaching Research Study Results

  • Students who received Edge ADHD coaching, based on the JST Coaching model for ADHD youth, showed substantial gains in their overall approach to learning.
  • The study showed that students who received Edge ADHD coaching services showed significant improvement in their ability to organize, direct and manage cognitive activities, emotional responses and overt behaviors.
  • They were able to formulate goals more realistically and consistently work toward achieving them, manage their time more effectively, and stick with tasks even when they found them challenging.

The research report became available on-line beginning November 11, 2010.  (See:  Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Executive Summary and Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Full Report .)

Why the Research Matters

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has long been associated with poor grades, poor reading and math test scores, and being held back. But despite billions of dollars spent on special education programs, the number of ADHD students dropping out of high school and college is alarming. Now a new study shows that ADHD students don’t have to be “at risk” students.

ADHD Students are “At Risk” Students

A few sobering facts to consider about the impact of ADHD on students’ success:

  • High school students with ADHD are 4 times more likely to drop out of school than the general population.
  • 42% of ADHD students are likely to be held back (compared to 13% general population).
  • 60% of ADHD students are likely to be suspended (compared to only 19% of the general population).
  • And 35% of ADHD students won’t graduate at all and those who stay in school will suffer from lack of confidence, higher risk of substance abuse and menial grades (on average a C- or D+).
  • Only 22% of students with ADHD enter college.
  • Only 5% will graduate.

Why ADHD Students are at Risk

Students with ADHD are vulnerable because ADHD impacts the portion of the brain that regulates what  is known as  executive functioning. ADHD students have executive function deficits in attention, planning and organization, prioritization, impulse control, memory, time management, and higher-order conceptual thinking.

Turns out a student’s executive function levels are well known by researches to be a hallmark of academic success.

ADHD Coaching Boosts Executive Functioning

Edge Foundation’s study offers hope for students with ADHD because it definitively links ADHD coaching to improved executive functioning.  And improved executive functioning means more success in school.

ADHD students who participated in Edge ADHD coaching sessions, based on the JST model for ADHD youth coaching, demonstrated statistically significant, higher executive functioning than ADHD students who did not receive ADHD coaching. According to the study, “The magnitude of the effect size for self regulation was more than double the typical educational intervention, and executive functioning was quadruple. Findings with effect sizes that large are rare.”

ADHD coaching has long been used by the corporate world to improve performance of CEOs and executives, but little study has been done until now on the impact this particular kind of intervention may have on populations with learning disabilities, like those living with ADHD. While medication has been shown to improve academic productivity (better note-taking, scores on quizzes and worksheets, and homework completion), medication alone is not associated with skills like better learning, reading or the ability to apply knowledge, all of which are critical in a successful post secondary education.

How Edge ADHD Coaching Works

Edge Foundation’s ADHD coaches work with students in seven major areas: scheduling, goal setting, confidence building, organizing, focusing, prioritizing and persisting at tasks. ADHD Coaches help students assess their environments, identify needs, set goals, and offer suggestions and guidance. They monitor student progress and goals through regular phone or email check-ins. The protocol of regularly checking in with clients provides for more structure and accountability. When coaching ADHD teens and college students, check-ins are usually made every day.

If you have questions about the study or would like to find out more about how an Edge ADHD coach can help you succeed in school, give us a call (1-888-718-8886) or send us an email.  We’d love to hear from you.

Reference Links:

Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Executive Summary

Edge Foundation ADHD Coaching Study Full Report

ADHD and College Success: A free guide

UC Davis Study:  Dropout risks: ADHD, conduct disorder, smoking

ADHD and Executive Functioning

Executive Function, ADHD and  Academic Outcomes

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ADHD coaching is one tool which might help more children who have been diagnosed with ADHD to succeed.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

7 Responses to “ADHD coaching to improve a child’s education outcome”


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