On ADHD Services Collaboration

A Look at Post Secondary Coaching Opportunities and Community

by Jody Haserodt
2013 KeyNote Speaker
As college readiness concerns, and completion and retention rates are examined more and more closely, best practices such as targeted coaching interventions that address specific needs are essential for positive impact. College readiness is a challenge and one in which synergistic collaboration can make a difference. The connection between an ADHD coach and the Disability Support Services Office at any college is a means to better prepare college students with ADHD or executive functioning concerns.

ADHD Coaching to Belong

  • Belonging indicates in effect, that people are acceptable at their core and have an irreplaceable value by simply being human.  It is an essential part of having a true sense of community.
  • Shame is the opposite of belonging—it is the sense that at the core of a person who they are is deemed unacceptable to self or others.

I see variances of both belonging and shame in my daily work in Disability Support Services (DSS) as I serve post-secondary students from all walks of life and economic strata. It is not uncommon that students who come to DSS are coming with some shame and guilt over not doing better, being better—at the core they feel something is wrong with them. This may have been reinforced over time.

Pair this shame with a possible need to fit in or people please and the outcome can undermine an educational dream quickly. Fitting in can mean so much to students that at times it does not matter that fitting in compromises their true self, the education they desire to obtain, the dreams they express, or the creativity that is so much a part of them.


Teach Individual Advocacy

Such students may also find it hard to ask for help. Some felt humiliated by being pulled out into special classes and known as those students who did not fit in among their peers. However, post-secondary education assumes that a person is okay asking for help and it provides knowledge, insight, information, and resources.

Students are to independently utilize the knowledge, insight, information and resources–right? The person is to self-advocate, self-regulate and to manage his or her own life in such a way that there is forward movement toward career goals and other life goals.

Whoa, slow down here—aren’t we are still back on shame, people pleasing, fitting in and being okay asking for help? Many students are not coming to post-secondary prepared in key skill areas that can make all the difference in achieving their dreams. These skills may not be provided within the post-secondary environment, but are expected nonetheless.

Mistakes Educate

There are treasures hidden away in the darkness—undiscovered, unknown people who long to be known, not lacking but wholly acceptable—discover these people and it can revolutionize and energize lives. I have seen this unfolding discovery over and over again. I can say that the discovery is often connected with another person who understands, accepts, guides, comes alongside of, counsels, and helps without enabling. I like the verb Sari Solden used in the newsletter this last month—empathize. That empathic person cares enough about the student to take the time to understand and to assist the individual in taking the steps necessary to achieve their dreams. Last week our office received feedback from a student who experienced this unfolding in his life through effective ADHD coaching. This type of feedback comes fairly often.

I believe real education is about learning from mistakes. As a whole, we need to be less concerned about getting the right answer and more concerned about learning through the process. We need to continue to make forward progress in applied and critical thinking methods that are universally designed, engaging, and result in transformative thinking and being. I know that sounds idealistic, but remember that I just said that real education is about the journey and not the outcome which includes the mistakes! How many times did Thomas Edison make mistakes?—over and over and over. Yet, he was considered one of the brightest inventors of all time.

Life is far more messy and non-linear than we care to admit at times, but that is where the potential exists for real progress and learning, where we practice being who we really are. Knowledge combined with compassion, grit, character, motivation, persistence, hard work, self- acceptance, and learning through the process of making mistakes is needed for education and life. Most of these qualities are not obtained in a day and many need the supportive intervention that can be found in effective coaching methods. Much of education appears to be as non-academic as academic, engaging both the heart and the mind.

Looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta!

Jody Haserodt, M.S.