ADHD Services For Teens Aged 12 - 19
How can Occupational Therapy ADHD Coaching help my teenager?
Does your teen struggle in ways that diet changes, tutoring, or getting stricter at home do not have any effect? Have you tried practicing “tough love” by allowing them to fail and hoping they learn from their mistakes, only to find that they continue to make the same choices with the same outcomes repeatedly? Are homework, chores, grades, attitude, and lack of motivation your go-to themes for frequent lectures that go nowhere?
If you are nodding your head along with me, you may be at your wit’s end – which is also someplace I have been.
These undesired outcomes are a signal that something within your teen is lacking – whether it’s a skill or motivation, they are having a hard time. And it is blocking their access to a full and successful life, and affecting the entire family.
Teens with ADHD have deficits in their executive functioning skills.
What are Executive Functioning Skills?
You may have heard the term “executive functions” before – or it may be new to you. Simplified, Executive Functioning (EF) skills are skills that support goal directed behavior. We begin developing these skills as infants, but they are not fully developed until the frontal lobe is completely mature, around age 25.
EF skills include: planning, organization, task initiation and follow through, problem solving. Also, sustained attention, inhibition, emotional control and flexibility. Working memory, time management, and the ability to assess one’s own progress are also EF skills.
Deficits to these skills may show up as problems following directions, remembering a sequence of activities, learning from past mistakes, staying focused for duration of a task, organizing, maintaining emotional control, and being flexible with unexpected changes, among many other ways. These, in turn, manifest into problems at home, school, work, and with social skills.
Even children who test as highly intelligent or gifted may lack EF skills, as there is no correlation with IQ! Most kids and adolescents could use some help managing them temporarily, as there is a true gap between expectations from teachers, coaches, and parents, and actual ability due to brain immaturity.
If skills are lacking in one or more of the EF areas, you, as the parent will know it. When parent expectations and reality are not the same, nobody wins. The cycle looks like this.
I am an occupational therapist specializing in ADHD. I developed the Big 6, which is a solution to not only the executive functioning skill problem, but the entire cycle of problems for the whole family!
What is the Big 6?
It’s a simple, 6-pronged solution. The Big 6 flows in a process that moves your child through obstacles in any area of his or her life. We first make those obstacles a bit less daunting by removing major barriers, then we motivate while teaching new skills and solving the problems that stand in their way. The skills learned and practiced, combined with parent and other adult support, foster a sense of success. As your child becomes more successful, you can back off on your “hand-holding” support and allow more autonomy. Finally, when he or she has mastered the skill, they feel great about it and become motivated to continue to do so!
The process looks like this:
You think you’ve tried it all? Let me take you on a journey.
Your child was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school. Whether or not your tried medication, their grades were not suffering too much. You were more concerned about behavior in the classroom, follow-through with homework (and turning it in) and them doing what you “thought” someone their age should be able to. Problems may have occurred on the playground and in more unstructured time, but the school placed some strict rules in place to keep your kiddo in line. Whew!
You’ve had struggles at home, too. With homework, chores, following screen time rules, basically listening to any direction that you give. You dread daily battles over these issues, and either try to bribe/punish your way into compliance, or give up altogether, earning you the nickname of “pushover”.
As middle school approached, you became nervous. Would your child succeed? How would she make it from classroom to classroom? How would he keep track of all of the different assignments? You stayed on top of it as you could, emailing teachers, hand-holding. Still, your child began to fall behind. Her grades were slipping and she was losing friends. Stress spilled into the home, and she became defiant over chores, or even waking up to get ready for school. He seemed anxious and unsure of himself. You were losing sleep, fretting all the time, emailing and scheduling conferences with teachers, setting up a 504 plan or IEP, going to specialists, internet searching, reading books and blogs… stressed to the max. Tearfully, you start, or increase, medications. One thing I learned as an ADHD coach that my mentor taught me is: pills don’t teach skills. Meds have their place, but they don’t replace learning and problem solving.
It’s okay… you didn’t know the options.
Here is how I use the Big 6 to ensure success.
You may be overwhelmed with the amount of information available online. I work directly with you and your family to make things easy by letting the Big 6 guide all of my interventions.
- Administer client self-assessment of skills and areas in need of assistance
- Detailed additional assessments including: sensory processing, interest inventory and learning skills profile, client and family goals
- Parent assessment of child’s strengths and weaknesses
- Teacher assessment of same (if applicable and if needed)
- Review of results and written plan and implementation
- Consult only option available