The irony of being hyperfocused on learning about ADHD is not lost on me.
In the past few weeks I have…
- made an appointment with a psychiatrist to begin neurological testing for an “official” diagnosis
- watched just about every video on the How To ADHD YouTube channel
- interviewed a prominent ADHD coach about the skills and qualifications of creating an ADHD-focused coaching practice
- read Driven to Distraction, Dr. Edward Hallowell’s landmark book on the topic
- connected with a local chapter of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and attended a meetup
All of these have been interesting and had value, but it was the last one— the meetup— that really drove home my conviction that I’m on the right track in expanding my practice to an ADHD focus.
Although this event was theoretically a regular monthly occurrence, when we arrived at the private offices where it was scheduled to take place there were only a handful of us, looking around in that usual “Are you here for the thing, too?” way, with no facilitator to be found. One of the other attendees informed us that the facilitator had also not been there the month before, and without them we had no way to get in.
Well, we were not a group to be daunted or denied. Fortunately, the public library was only a few blocks away, so we retired there en masse and, with no agenda, no plan, and no real idea what we were going to do, just created our own support group.
It was a great meeting. Each of us had different experiences, different perspectives, different levels of severity and/or coping success, and different ancillary issues. One person had difficulty with regulating their emotions, and discussed how it was impacting their relationships; another, like me, had not been diagnosed until well into adulthood and had found it reframing a lifetime of struggles in school, work, and their self-esteem. A third had severe vision impairment, which had effectively masked their ADHD for most of their life because it could be so difficult to tell where one set of issues ended and another began. But everyone there was capable, empathic, and determined to make their life work.
For a coach, it was inspiring just to be among such a strong can-do spirit. For someone who spent his whole life feeling like some kind of space alien and not being able to articulate why, it was incredible to just hear the stories of shared experience.
It also made me begin to be aware of how much of a mismatch a lot of the classical tools and techniques of coaching can be for people with ADHD. Most productivity, goal-setting, and time management techniques assume a neurotypical baseline— in which a client’s behaviors are based entirely on motivation and choice, and the key to success is examining those motivations and choices to align them with goals and desires.
ADHD… doesn’t work like that. Believe me, I am as motivated to make my coaching practice work as I have ever been to do anything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t periodically look up and discover that I’ve been watching cat videos all day instead of calling people for referrals and wonder what the heck happened. I want desperately for my writing and comics to succeed, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t literally physically painful for me to work on them when I don’t want to.
I truly believe that the world needs more ADHD coaches, especially as more adults are being educated about the topic and coming to realize it’s so much more than “third grade boys can’t sit still in class.” And while my formal education on the topic catches up, I have a lifetime of experience at living ADHD to draw from and help people. So that’s what I’m going to do!