I thought I should answer the question many readers may have on their minds: what is Coaching, and how can a Coach help a person on the Autism Spectrum?


In my practice, I often work with things like planning, prioritizing, estimating, “good enough” thinking, initiation, motivation. I also work with my clients on understanding social cues, self advocacy, setting realistic goals and making friends.

A Coach is not a therapist.

A Coach is a person who partners with a Client to help them reach the goals they have identified, and also helps the person in setting goals. A Coach’s job is to support a person on their life path. One of the most important statements about Coaching is that Coaches believe all their clients are “creative, resourceful, and whole”. That means Coaches don’t try to change the person, but their job is to engage around the client’s vision of a successful life and work toward making that happen.

A certified Coach has received extensive training in the discipline of Coaching. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the credentialing body that decides who may be considered to be a Professional Coach, which Coaching schools are accredited, and what requirements need to be met to actually BE a certified Coach.

The ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO) was formed in 2005. Its founders recognized that Coaching individuals with ADHD was a specialty that needed additional training and oversight. ADHD Coaches are skilled in assisting their clients with challenges related to Executive Functioning. Although ASD is not yet included in the ACO mission, many ADHD coaches also work with individuals with ASD due to the frequent Executive Function challenges people with ASD have.

There is also a Credentialing organization (the Center for Credentialing Education) that provides a Board Certification to Coaches that meet their criteria. I find the ICF to have the most rigorous standards. They have been in existence since 1995 and currently have over 20,000 members. The ICF also has established Core Competencies for Coaching as well a very complete Code of Ethics for the Coaching community.

Although I am an ICF Professional Certified Coach as well as a Board Certified Coach and I do coach a number of high school and college students with ASD. My greatest teachers about autism have been the members of the San Antonio Area Adults with Asperger Syndrome. This group was founded about five years ago due to an individual I was coaching wanting to make more friends. We now have over 150 members!

We meet monthly at the San Antonio Clubhouse, which has graciously allowed us to use their location for free. A big shout out to Mark Stoelje and the Clubhouse! About 30 people attend the monthly regular meetings, go to dinner together, and set up additional activities throughout the month. They even have a panel of members who provide training on Asperger awareness and acceptance.

By Dema Stout

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  1. did not need this, been trying ti find a life coach for quite some time now,
    (thanks google for bringining up another useless online article about autistic life coaching and not where i can actually get one )

  2. Hello,
    I don’t know how I happened upon your article , but I hope that this email gets through to you.
    My son, who is 30 years old, was just diagnosed with Asbergers.
    My husband and I and Jim live in New Jersey. Do you have any references that you could send to us
    in NJ.

  3. My grandson is 32 years old, Asperger syndrome, working in museum. Needs life coaching. Please respond.

  4. ok I literally google autistic life coaching and was brought here so where can I find one of these coaches since I literally spent all winter long searching google and just cant seem to com up with anything except these blogs on the subject

    1. Author

      I apologize that it has taken so long to get a response about life coaching. I am a certified coach that specializes in young adults with ASD (www.greatnesscoach.org). Also, many individuals that are ADHD coaches (https://www.adhdcoaches.org) also work with people on the autism spectrum, particularly in executive function type skills.

  5. My child has asperger traits (never diagnosed), a college graduate and is trans non-binary. They are having difficulty with decisions (I think it’s a social problem) on career paths. Please help with advice on life coaching. They live in Portland OR.

  6. I see that I left a comment in June of 17. I never saw a reply. Thanks.

  7. Hello, I have a 28 yr old son. 3.6 GPA in college- but needs a AS Coach. He has no direction, and is very confused about How to live his life w AS. Do you know of any agencies in the Pittsburgh PA area that can Help us?

    1. You can look at the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO) website and search for coaches in your area. If that doesn’t work for you, I often Coach by Skype as an alternative. dema@greatnesscoach.org

  8. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is not a crediting or governing body in the field of coaching. They may market themselves to make it seem that way, however, the field of coaching is different than therapy in that it does not have a governing body because it is not a regulated industry.

    1. Author

      The International Coach Federation is the recognized credentialing body for the coaching profession. At this time there are no licensing entities. And, yes, Coaching is different than therapy. The emphasis is on assisting people to identify goals and make progress toward them…acting more as a partner than a therapeutic agent.

  9. Our high-functioning Aspergers son is a college junior and really needs help with social skills.
    We are located in San Diego area (Carlsbad) and wonder if you can recommend an individual or other source in this area. Any help will be much appreciated.

  10. Would like more info. I have a family member that would probably benefit from having a coach. Please contact me at your convenience. Thanks.

  11. Found this helpful but need help where we live in UK.

    1. I have a son who has graduated from college with a degree and is having difficulty with social skills. He has not been diagnosis with Aspergers but he seems to has difficulty communicating with people. He need help with Interviewing skills, job searching etc. What do you recommend.

      1. Author

        In Texas, the Texas Workforce Commission (Vocational Rehabilitation) is getting better at assisting individuals with autism/Aspergers with an employment plan that includes the type of things your son needs help with. Check out the services your state’s Dept of Voc Rehab provides. Also, you could consider looking for a coach that has experience with ASD. That is something that I do (www.greatnesscoach.org), but many other coaches with the ADHD Coaches Organization (https://www.adhdcoaches.org) also work with people on the autism spectrum.

    2. We are located in Massachusetts is there any facilities or coaching out this way please contact me thank you

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