Book Excerpt: Imagine for a moment a wild scenario

You have a 13-year-old daughter with an unusual disorder that causes her hair to grow in purple. Because of the nature of this disorder, your daughter’s hair is very brittle and, if it is not cut in a very special way, her hair will break off at the root, leaving her with patches of unsightly bald spots. This condition can be very embarrassing. As a result of her hair condition, since the time your daughter was a preschooler, you have been working closely with hairdressers, doctors, psychotherapists, and even her teachers to make sure that your daughter not only gets the kind of haircut that caters to her special needs but also has the support she requires to deal with the physical, social, and emotional repercussions of her disorder. Before your daughter knew how to speak up for herself, you would. When no one would advocate for your daughter’s needs, you were willing to speak on her behalf and get her the support she needed. Taking care of your daughter is how you keep her safe. Speaking up for your daughter is a natural part of who you are as a parent, almost like living and breathing. But now you’ve walked into the office of a prominent researcher who is telling you that he has a very helpful treatment for your adolescent daughter but that it will only work if you are willing to step out of the picture. To make things worse, all that the researcher can tell you as the treatment is taking place is things like “Your daughter is regularly participating in sessions and following the treatment” and “If you’d like an update on how things are going, speak to your daughter.” By now, you have probably figured out that this hypothetical—if a bit ridiculous—scenario represents my not-so-veiled attempt at providing insight into the experience of a typical parent of an adolescent with ADHD as he or she makes contact with a coach. After years of doing everything for his or her daughter or son, the parent of an adolescent with ADHD, upon speaking to a coach for the first time, learns that the parent is no longer allowed to be part of the process! In essence, the coach tells the parent, “Thank you for all of your great service these years, but you are no longer needed.” One of the coach’s jobs during the prescreening process is to assess the parent’s readiness and willingness to change roles. Will the parent be able to step back from being the advocate for the young person to being an observer and supporter while the young person learns to advocate for and take care of him or herself?