- Sam B.
Getting Buy-In for Change
During consultations, we are often asked, "how many sessions does it take to build executive functioning skills?" There's no easy answer to this question. For the general ed population, Executive Functioning in the brain matures around early to mid 20s; for the ADHD population, it can take until late 20s or even mid 30s. As a society, we often expect our high schoolers (in their teens) or our college grads at age 21 to suddenly be on time, be able to manage their schedules fully, and be in control of their Executive Functions. While society set this expectation, it's just not realistic.
One of the main things we tell parents is that the student has to be engaged and on board with making changes in order for those changes to stick. It doesn't matter what it is - learning a sport, learning a language, getting over addiction, playing an instrument, or improving Executive Skills - if you don't buy into the process and embody the changes, then those changes and the learning will not stick.
Also, parents think they can keep pushing and pushing change onto their students. They often think that tough love is the best love. In actuality, pushing harder may have the opposite effect. You may actually push your student away from the intended change. It's hard to admit, but sometimes the best course is to let your student fail at something so that they can understand the consequences of their actions.
Ultimately, change is super hard. Your life is normal to you. How you grew up is normal. Your family is normal. Over your maturation, you have come up with explanations or excuses for the way you may be different from society. It's easy to explain things away and then not think about them. Coming to an alternative understanding is very hard - it creates cognitive dissonance. For example, the first time someone receives their ADHD diagnosis, it means that their excuses for their behaviors may have been misattributed. It's sometimes hard to agree with the diagnosis, and then even harder to agree to an action plan to address your deficits.
So, showing up with the right attitude and a willingness to learn and grow is a key part of the experience. If you come with a fixed mindset, the process will take a lot longer. If you come with a growth mindset and you are willing to try new tools and systems, you are going to grow much faster. And this doesn't mean just paying lip service to it - you have to really push yourself to try.
For more content on this topic, refer to this podcast with Dr. Ari Tuckman and ADHD Coach Jeff Copper.