I attended CHADD’s annual international conference in San Francisco last month where I got to meet many ACO coaches who are new to me and to visit with many dear friends whom I see only at conferences. As far as I am concerned, that is always the best part of any conference.
However, I also take advantage of the fact that it is a conference.
I greatly admire Dr. Russell Barkley and consider him to be the thought leader in the field of ADHD, so I jumped on the opportunity to attend his pre-conference presentation. In the last couple of years he has begun to publish the results of his work into the nature of Executive Function (EF) and its role in Attention Disorders. His presentation at the CHADD conference was Executive Functioning in ADHD: Implications for Assessment and Management, and you can read a version of this presentation here.
Dr. Barkley includes a tremendous amount of information in every one of his presentations. Rather than summarizing his entire presentation I just want to bring some highlights to your attention.
He emphasized that the key to living well with ADHD is to design prosthetic environments around the individual to compensate for Executive Function deficits. These prosthetics, or scaffolding, include:
- Externalize important information at key points of performance
- Externalize time and time periods related to tasks and important deadlines
- Break up lengthy tasks or ones spanning long periods of time into many small steps
- Externalize sources of motivation
- Externalize mental problem solving
Additionally, in an effort to create a better definition of Executive Function (there is no agreed-upon definition in the scientific literature), Dr. Barkley’s has defined it thusly:
Executive Function is the use of self-directed actions to choose goals, and to select, enact, and sustain actions across time toward those goals, usually in the context of others and often relying on social and cultural means. This is done for the maximization of one’s longer-term welfare as the person defines that to be.
What struck me about his summation for managing ADHD is that it is in developing these prosthetic environments that ADHD coaches excel. Our skill at helping clients develop the tailor-made systems and strategies that work well with their brains in their environments is what we do better than any other profession.
Additionally, life coaching is the process that facilitates the client in using “self-directed actions to choose goals, and to select, enact, and sustain actions across time toward those goals, usually in the context of others and often relying on social and cultural means. This is done for the maximization of one’s longer-term welfare as the person defines that to be.”
What I find incredibly exciting is that Dr. Barkley’s research and work on Executive Function and Attention Disorders speaks to the theoretical basis for why ADHD coaching works and why ADHD coaching should be a standard part of any multi-modal approach for living well with ADHD.
Thank you Dr. Barkley!
Sarah D. Wright
ACO Interim President