One Family’s Experience
Bonnie Leaf from Open Minds has been our seventeen year old son’s Executive Function Coach for over a year. She’s really helped him manage his ADHD, mild autism, and severe deficits in executive functions. After a series of informal evaluations to help him see what kind of a thinker/problem solver/learner he was, she then gave him several options to help him stay organized. She’s endlessly patient, and is trying to help him overcome his instant “No!” reaction whenever he’s asked to try something new. Bonnie is willing to push him outside of his comfort zone, but she knows when to step back and give him space. She’s also helped him learn how to articulate when he needs a little more time to process things, and is working with him to slow down a little bit and think things through. She’s willing to try lots of different options, like having him follow recipes to learn to slow down and read directions. His fettucine alfredo is really yummy…
When we hired Bonnie, it was good for all of us. By taking over his executive function management, she gave us the ability to have more time with our son that wasn’t schoolwork related. It’s amazing how much more willing kids can be to take advice from someone other than their parents. Tension and arguments went down at home. We didn’t realize exactly how stressed out we all were to have/be a very bright child who struggles with school, until we gave some of that responsibility to her.
Another thing I really appreciate about Bonnie is her willingness to work with parents, too. When you have a child who struggles, it’s easy to become over-protective. Bonnie has encouraged our son to be more independent, while also helping me let things go. Since he drives, she scheduled meetings away from home. She’s working with him on college options, and she recently sat down with him to brainstorm part-time jobs he might like. That day he applied for one, and 3 days later he got the job! I can see the confidence it’s given him.
Finally, here’s a concrete example of Bonnie’s influence. Last year, our son would come home, and I’d ask about something that was missing in one of his classes. He’d give me a blank stare, reluctantly look it up, and often lie about it. This year, I asked him about a missing assignment. His response showed he already knew about it, and he said he was planning to email the teacher and ask about it. And then he did, with a copy to his Dad, for accountability!!! For him, that’s an amazing milestone. The grade has since been fixed in the gradebook. Now that he has a job, he also sat down and started a school project early, because that’s when he had time to work on it! It was his idea, without parental prompting. Last year, that would have been unheard of.
I highly recommend Bonnie Leaf and Open Minds. She’s a great coach, but also a great person who obviously cares about our son. I trust her, and I like her.