Athalene McNay says her husband is creative and funny. He also has a hard time meeting deadlines and finishing projects, and grows frustrated and even angry in dealing with some normal day-to-day challenges.
He has, she says, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It was her experience dealing with ADHD that led her to start McNay & Voth Coaching Services.
“When I needed help, I just had to get mine from my own studies,” McNay said. “We didn’t have anything in Wichita like this.”
McNay, who has spent most of her career as a teacher and freelance writer, is careful to specify that she does not offer mental health services. In fact, she recommends that potential clients who suspect they or a loved one has ADHD see a psychologist or psychiatrist first.
What she provides is coaching.
“It’s not therapy, and it’s not counseling,” she said. “We have mental health professionals for that. But we help people build the behavioral skills and strategies to deal with their attention deficit disorder.”
ADHD must exist in childhood for a diagnosis to be made, according to medical literature. Somewhere between 1 and 7 percent of children are affected, and up to half of those continue to have symptoms as adults.
McNay opened the business two years ago with two of her three children – daughters – Sarah McNay and Anna Voth. Athalene McNay said they’ve helped clients ranging from their teens to their 60s.
The three see clients in their Rock Road offices and also offer contact by phone, texting and Skyping. Mental health professionals “can’t give people the hand-holding we can,” McNay said.
They also have conducted seminars and workshops for groups.
McNay said there are several strategies that can make it easier to live with ADHD.
One is improving communication. For instance, ADHD sufferers may dispute the particulars of a conversation in which they have taken part. Writing down what’s said by all parties can help.
For someone having difficulty completing a goal, McNay might work with the client to find time in his or her schedule when other distractions won’t interfere with working toward that end.
Praise and encouragement are effective, too.
McNay’s husband, Scott, was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50. So how did McNay’s coaching work in her own family?
McNay doesn’t pretend that things are perfect, but says, “We’ve been married 39 and a half years. We care for each other. He’s very supportive of me. We have three great kids.”
“He always said, ‘I want to be a good dad,’ ” she said. “So I tell him all the time that he’s a successful man.”