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
Dema K. Stout, MA, PCC, CPCC established her private coaching and consulting practice (formerly Synergy Solutions) in 2004 to provide individuals (and their families) with neurodevelopmental disabilities such as AD/HD and Autism Spectrum Disorders the best possible support to achieve the quality of life they want and deserve. Dema spent the majority of her professional career as an employee of human service agencies providing supports to families and their children with disabilities. Upon relocating to San Antonio, TX from California, Dema decided to develop her own consulting business. She finished her initial Coach training with Coaches Training Institute, San Rafael, CA in 2002. She is also a graduate of CTI’s Leadership program and a Certified Nurtured Heart Approach™ Advanced Trainer. Dema has studied with Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, a leader in the field of AD/HD coaching. The services Dema provides maximize the skills she has obtained during her long career to support individuals and their families.