ADHD: 3 Things You Need to Know

One of my biggest challenges in my coaching practice is getting my clients on board. Most coaches, ADD or otherwise, work with adults. That means that when someone contacts them for coaching, it is someone who has already made a commitment to change, and who is ready to do so.

In my case, because I work primarily with teenagers and young adults, it is the parent who contacts me, and the parent who has decided that a change is necessary. The kids I work with don’t always agree with that, and if I can’t change their mind, then I can’t possibly help them.

Kids with ADD or ADHD have spent a large part of their life feeling different or out of place, and the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder often makes them feel as though there is something wrong with them. Truthfully, it’s hard sometimes not to feel that way, when you struggle with things that others take for granted, and your grades fall far short of your potential. There can be a lot of self-doubt and confusion, but it’s hidden deep inside. Hiring an ADD Coach sort of brings a lot of that to the surface. It’s an admission of sorts, that yes, things are so bad that we’ve had to hire someone to help.

When I meet with a new potential client, I always tell them that even if they decide not to work with me, or ever talk to me again, I want them to remember three things:

  1. Grades are not a predictor of future success or happiness; they are merely an indicator of how well you understood the class material. I know several highly successful people who got terrible grades in school, and managed to find satisfying and well paying jobs just the same.
  2. Grades are not a reflection of intelligence. The fact is, schools are not set up in a way that maximizes the highly creative intelligence of the ADD mind.
  3. There is nothing wrong that needs to be fixed. ADD brains work a little differently than non-ADD ones - and that’s all it is - a difference, not a deficit.

That’s the gist of it; in real life, I go into more detail. It really seems to touch the kids I meet; I’ve seen a few turn away to wipe away a tear. I know that as parents, we all try to encourage our kids and build them up, but I think the positive things I say carry more weight - partly because I’m basically a stranger with no emotional attachment, and partly because I am a trained professional.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend my family reunion. I met one of my cousin’s daughters that I don’t remember meeting before (we have a really large extended family). Several of us were discussing her and something she had done or said, and we started wondering how old she was. When she walked by, we asked her. Her reply really touched me: “I’m 12 years old and going into the 7th grade, and I’m in regular school, not special ed or anything.”

I knew from an earlier conversation with her dad that she has ADHD, so I knew why she had said what she did. I wanted so badly to take her aside and tell her how wonderful she was, and smart, even though she might not have thought so. I didn’t, mostly because she didn’t really know me, but for other reasons, too. (By the way, special ed is a much needed program that does really important work, but it’s not always appropriate for kids with ADD/ADHD, even though they often end up there. I don’t want to minimize the program, or offend anyone.)

I wish that I could take my 3 little messages and broadcast them for all ADD/ADHD kids to hear. I’m doing the best I can with this site (although I doubt that many of my readers are that young). Maybe if you know an ADD kid or two, you could help me out.