AHEAD Conference Report

Guest post from Edge Foundation Executive Director, Sarah Wright.

Last month I attended my first Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) annual conference. AHEAD is a vital professional association for those who provide services to disabled college and graduate students.

Personal Coaching for post-secondary students highlighted at AHEAD

This was the first AHEAD conference in which personal coaching for post-secondary students was highlighted. They had an all day preconference institute from some of the best-known coaches in post-secondary education, including Theresa Maitland from UNC-Chapel Hill and Karen Boutelle from Landmark College (both are CTI-trained).  Organizers and presenters alike were thrilled at how well attended the institute was.

The afternoon session was Basic Coaching Skills For Non-Coaches: Supporting Students in Managing Executive Function Challenges given by Karen Boutelle. I got to attend some of this session, and I was excited by her take on coaching to executive functioning rather than to ADHD specifically. Karen was brilliant and I heard participants talking about her presentation for the rest of the conference.

Research reports show coaching effective with ADHD students

The morning presentation comprised three sessions on the effects of coaching for ADHD/LD students. These sessions were:

  • A National Study on ADD Coaching: Promoting Autonomy, Widening Campus Access by David Parker at Washington University in St. Louis and Sharon Parker at Wayne State University,
  • Coaching: A Tool to Promote Successful College Transition for Students with LD/ADHD by Theresa Maitland and Kristen Rademacher, both at UNC-Chapel Hill, and
  • Research Findings: The Positive Impact of Coaching on College Students with ADHD/LD by Karen Boutelle at Landmark College and David Parker at Washington University in St. Louis.

The exciting thing to me is that these were all research presentations and all spoke to how coaching helped those who experience chronic difficulties with time management, organization, and dealing with stress. It was particularly striking how all three studies showed that coaching supported the student’s emerging autonomy, helped them self-regulate, and promoted confidence about their future success.

This is nothing new to us in the ADHD coaching profession, but to have three research studies on coaching presented at one conference is a big deal. The results from the third study have already been accepted for publication. You can look for them in the November issue of Learning Disabilities Research & Practice. The results from the first study will be available informally from the Edge Foundation in mid October.

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