ADHD and its signature symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention affects everyone in the home. The individual with ADHD does not exist in isolation. She is part of a much larger ecosystem. The most important one is her immediate family.
Your ADHD team probably includes therapists, doctors, consultants, teachers and several other experts in the field. What add Family ADHD Coaching to this mix? Why is it important?
Here are 5 reasons why:
In Family Coaching, we look at the needs of the ADHD individual, spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents and other caregivers in the home. Everyone’s health and happiness affects everyone else’s and is addressed in a respectful way. Difficulty with time management, emotional regulation, social skills, communication, organization and memory often lead to disruption and chaos in what should be routine day-to-day activities. The “ADHD” can literally take over the home, add stress to everyone’s lives and strain to various relationships. By coaching the whole family to understand how ADHD is showing up in their particular situation and giving them the tools to develop more effective ways to deal with the issues, we improve the dynamics in the family.
Family coaching focuses on working with the child on their skills and also with the parents on fostering their child’s skills. This leads to faster and more consistent development of skills in the ADHD individual because of the higher frequency of good quality immediate feedback from the parents who have been coached. Mom and dad often have to be the “executive function” for their child and this demands considerable time and energy from them. They have to regulate for their child where the child is not able to self regulate. Well meaning parents often compensate for and assist their child as needed to help them make it through their day BUT not always in a way that helps the child develop their own executive function skills.
Family coaching addresses the emotional toll of living with ADHD. Individuals with ADHD often seem young for their age, and in fact developmentally, they are. According to one study, there is a delayed but normal pattern of brain development in individuals with ADHD (1). This can last well into the adult years. However, as a society, we expect kids to “act their age”, and there can be a lot of stigma when a child does not. Since ADHD is “invisible”, the emotional meltdowns or social mistakes are often judged as willful misbehavior. Parents are often criticized for their parenting skills or lack thereof and for not being able to “manage” their child. They can also feel helpless or uninformed in trying to find a “solution” to their child’s struggles. There may be blame, guilt or shame going around in the family or beliefs that are undermining everyone’s efforts. All these issues are addressed compassionately in Family ADHD coaching.
ADHD tends to run in families. One study showed that about 40% of ADHD children have at least one parent with clinical ADHD symptoms (2). Even though families usually come in for help with one family member’s ADHD challenges, the strategies and skills we work on tend to be helpful to several family members.
There is research to support the efficacy of parent involvement for positive outcomes in children with ADHD. One research study showed that parents who participate in behavioral training programs showed significant post treatment gains in both child and parent functioning, which were maintained 2 months after treatment. In particular, there were reductions in parenting stress, increases in parenting self-esteem and decrease in the overall severity of their child's ADHD symptoms (3).
(1) Brain Matures a Few Years Late in ADHD, But Follows Normal Pattern. (2007, November 12). Retrieved October 09, 2017, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2007/brain-matures-a-few-years-late-in-adhd-but-follows-normal-pattern.shtml
(2)Starck, M., Grünwald, J., & Schlarb, A. A. (2016). Occurrence of ADHD in Parents of ADHD Children in a Clinical Sample. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 12, 581-588. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S100238
(3)Anastopoulos, A.D., Shelton, T.L., DuPaul, G.J. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (1993) 21: 581. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00916320