PODCAST 11: Respect as the Foundation of Family with Jessica, ADHD Mom

In today’s episode, I talk to Jessica. She ahs ADHD, her husband ahs ADHD, and one of her two sons also has ADHD. Like many good ADHDers, Jessica has thrown out the rulebook for how things are “supposed to be done”, and is doing what works instead. As a family, they’ve built a foundation of mutual respect, and they address problems head on. They don’t play games, or hold grudges, and it’s clearly working for them.

We talk about ADHD at home, in school, and in sewing class. And Jessica shares stories about her dad’s lack of a filter, her own time in high school, and why little boys and living plants don’t mix.

Let me know what you think at brendan@ADHDessentials.com.



Show Notes:

2:12     Mom, Dad, and one of two kids all have ADHD

2:36     Typical things that get doubled up by ADHD

3:05     Understanding and patience

3:28     Disregarding social norms for division of labor

4:40     “We just kind of play to our strengths”

5:06     Consistently inconsistent

5:28     Respect as a foundation

6:35     Respecting the question “Why?”

7:50     Context helps those with ADHD do better

8:08     On pulling rank

9:18     Childhood troubles carrying over to adulthood

10:08   Receptive to a little bit of pushback

10:25   The Grown-Ups Guide to the Teenage Human -Josh Shipp

11:32   Diagnosed at 30, but childhood report cards reflect ADHD

12:20   Her dad is a HOOT!

13:03   All you can ask for from parents

13:24   Be the adult that you needed when you were a kid

13:55   Transitions, Anxiety, and Anger

15:07   Helping her kid with anxiety

16:34   Sewing anxiety (but not discord)

17:35   Spiders in the toilet

19:03   Embracing weaknesses and strengths

20:36   Consequences for last minute work

21:07   The consequence should fit the solution to the problem

22:00 Punishing for extended period of time doesn’t work

22:33   1-2-3 Magic –

24:37   How the non-ADHD kid is affected

27:03   The importance of turning toward each other

28:17   Dad’s ADHD & their relationship

30:08   Everybody needs more self awareness

30:36   People with ADHD as a minority group

31:39   ADHD and school

33:00   When Jessica was in school

34:00   Don’t tell me I can do better, tell me HOW to do better

35:43   Allergies, Medication, and being careful about science

37:30   Home/School communication

38:21   “The hurdles change every time you get the hang of it.”

38:33   On boys and dead plants

39:37   Parenting ADHD requires doing your homework, ironically

40:43   Advocating for our kids through ourselves

41:39   Why parents don’t get last names on the podcast

42:34   Sewing and kids with ADHD

43:09   The role of shame

44:03   Respect, modeling and owning mistake

44:47   If you suck at all those things…

45:10   The power of The Golden Rule

46:12   Ending Essential

PODCAST 10: Zerberts, Sensory Challenges, and Crayons in the Dryer with Eric Tivers, Parent with ADHD of a thrice-exceptional son

Today’s episode is a conversation with my friend Eric Tivers. Eric is an ADHD coach, and licensed clinical social worker. He’s the host of the ADHD reWired podcast, and runs the ADHD reWired adult coaching groups.

But in this episode, he’s talking as a dad who has ADHD, parenting a thrice-exceptional child who is gifted, and who has autism and ADHD. We discuss the challenges of transferring skills from work to home, the role sensory stimulation plays in his life, including how overwhelming it can be, and he tells the epic tale of cleaning crayons out of his dryer.


Eric can be found at www.ADHDreWired.com.

You can learn more about his coaching groups at www.coachingreWired.com.

And the reWired podcast can be found at www.ADHDreWired.com/podcast

Let me now what you think of today’s episode by emailing me at Brendan@ADHDessentials.com.

As usual, I can be found at www.ADHDessentials.com.



Show Notes

2:03    Hardest job he’s ever had

3:15    Son doesn’t know why he did, Dad doesn’t know why he didn’t

3:43    Planning and being “on” as dad

3:59    Son has always needed/gotten less sleep

4:34    Transitioning is hard because Eric is “state-based”

6:05    Getting home after son is in bed

6:44    Working on shifting gears

6:54    Adulting is hard

7:10    Making a dentist appointment

7:32    “ADHD is frustrating and comical at the same time.”

7:43    “…and I’m responsible for a life!”

8:13    Eric is grateful for wife and her acceptance of his ADHD

9:09    “Acceptance grows when gratitude shows up.”

9:23    Phone calls are hard

10:29  Supportive spouses supplying strategies

11:09  Filling tires and taking Adderall

11:55  The struggle to bring successful work strategies home

12:12  Environmentally-based to-do lists

12:37 Dad needs checklists and reminders for homework, too!

13:09  On the transfer of concepts from one environment to another

14:02  Generalization of concepts

14:11 Stepping back professionally from Autism work

15:24  Uncarved pumpkins

16:04  Needing a plan at home as well as at work

16:38  On trying to remember names

17:29  How to fake it when you forget a teacher’s name

18:23  Wild wife memory skills

19:00  Eric the hippy

19:21 Never enough time

20:10  Fluff only after 8pm

21:12  “Dishwasher moments”

22:04  Wandering assumptions

22:32  Undermined at the gym

23:12  Father and son podcasts and projects

23:46  Creating space for son to “let him be him”

24:05 Potty humor

24:33 Son is linguistically gifted

26:13  On Pokemon

28:05  On wrestling and rough play

28:40  Activate Zerbert-Tron

29:21  Teaching boundaries and body respect

30:13  The power and challenge of reassuring hugs

30:55  Eric opens his parenting toolbox

31:05  The row your boat strategy

31:29  Developing cues to breathe deeply

32:36 Meet them where they are, and start with sensory needs

33:40  Teach self-regulation strategies

34:45  Give Feedback with self-esteem in mind

35:42  X-Ray blankets and dentist nerves

36:14  Family visits and sensory overwhelm

37:45  Ending Essentials

38:46  Eric’s not-so proud parenting moments

42:37  Wrap-up


PODCAST 9: Playing and Pausing with Dr. Kirsten Milliken, ADHD Parent and ADHD Expert

I had a blast talking to my friend Dr. Kirsten Milliken. We started off doing an episode for her show, Your ADHD Life, and wrapped up with this episode of ADHD Essentials. Kirsten is a psychologist, a mother (with ADHD) of two boys (one with ADHD, one without), and an ADHD coach! So there was a lot to talk about.

In today’s episode, we discuss about her journey to getting an ADHD diagnosis as an adult, her book PlayDHD, and the importance of learning how to pause when moments get heated. She also indulged me as I told her about a scavenger hunt I created for my boys that was inspired by her work.

There’s a lot in this one.  I hope you enjoy it!


Dr. Kirsten Milliken can be found at YourADHDLife.com.

Her book, PlayDHD, can be found here.

And you can contact her here.


Let me now what you think of today’s episode by emailing me at Brendan@ADHDessentials.com.



Show Notes:


2:06     How Dr. Kirsten became diagnosed with ADHD

4:07     Missing signs of ADHD because you’re too close to them

5:11     The “ah-ha” moment of diagnosis

6:18     Professionals who “get” ADHD tend to have ADHD

6:49     Not all clinicians understand ADHD at a deep enough level

7:45     ADHD is a matter of degree

8:30     Does our distracted culture make it harder to prove ADHD is valid?

8:58     Yes. Unless you have a good metaphor

9:31     ADHD, asthma, and our distracted culture

11:23   Going back to Dr. Kirsten as a parent

11:38   ADHD adds a lot of fun!

12:01   Folks with ADHD can be frustrating for nonADHDers

12:52   Oftentimes strong emotions spread from mm to son, and vice versa

13:15   Wanting things to be better for our kids

14:03   The emotional challenges of ADHD

14:31   The movie “Up” gets Oliver down

14:58   “As a parent, I wanna fix that!”

15:17   Uncomfortable emotions mean you care

15:49   The challenge of being less emotionally reactive

16:04   Naming our emotions helps us control them

16:27   They’re not trying to upset us

16:56   “This is” vs. “You are”

17:04   PlayDHD

17:45   Brendan and Kirsten’s first meeting

18:28   Usibng play to help kids manage ADHD

19:18   The link between ADHD and play

20:01   What the doc means by play

21:03   Using play to help kids clean their room

23:00   Kirsten inspires Brendan’s scavenger hunt

23:53   The clues built the skills

25:05   Addressing social emotional needs with the hunt

26:41   You can use play to teach lids things

27:02   There’s a reason kids with ADHD can be class clowns.

27:16   “Just a doctor”

28:01   Coaching is the best model for treating ADHD

28:15   Coaching vs. Therapy

28:44   Therapy is about “fixing” yourself

29:19   Coaching is about where you want to go

30:41   Your ADHD Life

32:36   If you understand, you can help

32:47   Ending Essential

34:13   Managing the pause

35:58   Finding the pause after the reaction

37:41   Modeling the pause

PODCAST 8: Slow Mornings, Smashed Tasks, and Kindness Clipboards with Stephanie Letourneau, 3rd Grade Teacher

On one of the recent snow days, I sent a message to my friend Stephanie Letourneau and asked if she’d let me interview her for the podcast. She agreed, and I’m glad she did. What followed was an excellent discussion about helping our kids break down tasks, manage their emotions, and feel included.

Another topic we discuss is the challenging shift that occurs between 2nd and 3rd grade. This type of shift also happens between 3rd and 4th grade, and during the transitions from elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, and from high school to college. So, although the strategies Stephanie shares come from the perspective of a third grade classroom, they can be adapted across grade and age levels, and used both in school, and at home.

If you need any help adapting the ideas in this episode, feel free to contact me at Brendan@ADHDessentials.com.

And, as usual, I can be found at www.ADHDessentials.com.



Show Notes: 

2:05     Why the transition from 2nd to 3rd grade is hard for students and for Stephanie

4:06     How the transition affects ADHD students

4:44     Learning to read vs. Reading to learn

6:43     Summer regression

7:06     Smash the Task!

7:13     The value of starting slow

8:08     Smash the Task Part II

9:57     One task at a time with clear instructions

10:16   Two kids with ADHD: One’s done, the other hasn’t started.

11:04   Brendan tries to translate the tips hiding in the story

13:10   Writing is thinking

13:45   Choice helps with engagement

14:44   But too much choice can be overwhelming

15:55   Know your kid’s learning styles

16:20   Things that work for ADHD kids are just good teaching strategies

16:32   School is not an office!

16:51   It’s not in the curriculum, but teaching kids to recognize their emotions matters

17:30   Slowing down the morning is about getting the emotions in line

17:56   10 minute guided meditations help with transition

18:40   Spaghetti toes

19:36   NOTE: An OT is an occupational therapist

20:13   Putting work into helping kids transition

21:05   Teaching strategies, development gaps, and the nature of ADHD

22:57   Grade-to-grade transitions, ADHD, and regression

24:25   Making sure their brains are ready

25:07   Allow time for transition. Even at home.

25:39   Alternative Seating

27:45   Systems and discussions help navigate seating (and other) conflicts.

28:11   ADHD kids like the rockers. (Tired kids do too!)

28:50   Go Noodle

29:38   Sometimes you have to stop and take a break

30:25   A lesson from Stephanie’s grandma

31:02   Meditation and “A Stitch in Time Save Nine”.

32:03   YouTube advocates lying to children

33:37   ADHD kids are more likely to be bullied

33:52   Making the classroom safe for everyone.

34:58   Creating an inclusive environment

35:29   Kindness Clipboards

37:36   We’re all in this together

38:45   Positive Attitude

39:13   Ending Essential

PODCAST 7: Curious Accountability with Cameron Gott

It was an honor to talk about ADHD with Cameron Gott. He’s been coaching people affected by ADHD for over 15 years, and is one of the people I most wanted to get on the pod. So, when he told me he liked the show, I jumped at the chance to get him on. I’m glad I did.

We talk about his new book, Curious Accountability (co written with Casey Moore), as well as the trials of bringing unmedicated kids to Walmart, the importance and challenge of reflection, and what it was like for both of us growing up with ADHD. The conversation was excellent. I learned a great deal from it.

Cameron’s book is phenomenal. I highly recommend it.

Without geeking out about the whole thing, I really enjoyed the concept of presence in relation to Curious Accountability, and the way the three conversations discussed in the book help provide out an effective communication frame that can be used to talk to our kids about the challenges they face. Done right, it can limit the amount of intense confrontation and emotionality that so often derail those conversations.


Cameron Gott can be found at www.CameronGott.com.

The first chapter of Curious Accountability can be found at:


As usual, I can be found at www.ADHDessentials.com.

Please let me know what you thought of today’s episode by emailing me at Brendan@ADHDessentials.com.




3:10     Cameron’s first experience working with kids with ADHD.

4:31     Certain environments invite certain behaviors

5:50     Teaching trip plans

6:14     Mine the learning and apply forward

7:15     Putting accountability in a positive light

8:11     What accountability means to most people… And what gets lost in it

9:08     What Curious Accountability is about.

9:29     Pausing, Pivoting, and ADHD

9:47     Light the Rocket and Go!

11:14   Fitting reflections into the day

11:59   Don’t get us started on recess!

13:15   Just enough structure to be successful

14:17   Using structure outside of the plan/schedule

15:43   ¾ of the battle of ADHD

16:06   Presence and Curious Accountability

17:30   Curiosity and assuming good

19:13   How Cameron’s ADHD shows up

19:35   Trading Volume and Speed for Mastery

20:05   The student side of the pressure to get 100% right away

21:28   Bringing accountability out in the open in our relationships

21:57   Keep an eye on the bigger picture

22:19   The 3 Conversations of Curious Accountability

23:56   The Big Carrot in the Sky

24:21   Conversation 1

24:37   Conversation 2

24:27   Conversation 3

24:57   Where the failure in the system happens

25:14   The ADHD Experience (Not being able to do what’s on the plan)

25:25   Sometimes the plan has to fail so you know what to address

25:45   How curiosity plays in

26:13   Mirror Neurons and Modeling

27:33   The Value of pairing accountability with curiosity

28:29   You need a safe place to share what’s going on…

29:20   …but it has to come from the top down

29:42   Radical transparency: Apply it at home!
30:11   The power of assumption

30:33   Curiosity is a muscle to build

31:11   Tone of voice matters

31:42   What would have helped when Cameron was in high school

32:43   Timing matters when asking questions

33:17   Prefrontal Cortex shutdown (is a good name for a band)

34:29   Ending Essential

34:59   The book is Phenomenal

35:51   Extra Bonus Ending Essential

PODCAST 6: Love Languages, Twin Gaps, and Being Married to ADHD with Sandy, Wife and Mom to ADHD

Sandy and I had a great conversation about her husband, her kids, and the way ADHD affects their family.  One aspect of this episode that I love is the symmetry of it –  the topics we discuss early on in our conversation return again at the end, allowing us to go into more depth in them the second time through.

I was impressed with Sandy’s honesty and willingess to be vulerable, as well as the clear love she has for her husband.  Being married to ADHD can be hard at times, and I appreciated her willingness to go there during her time on the show.

And she seemed to find some meaning in the thoughts and ideas that I shared.  Which is nice, since helping people is my main goal in doing this.

I hope you find meaning in this episode as well.

As usual, I can be found at ADHDessentials.com.

Or email me at brendan@ADHDessentials.com.




1:46     Always 15 minutes early or 30 minutes late

2:55     Chris’s diagnosis leads to Dad’s tears

4:06     ADHD, litigation, and the need for excitement

5:18     Last minute struggles and working in bursts

7:13     Travelling in the car together

8:32     Struggles with consistency

8:54     Feeling like she has to overcompensate for Chris’s ADHD

11:26   Three kids, and one might have ADHD

13:40   Two years old and counting in three languages

14:12   How Sandy met Chris

15:06   Married to ADHD is a mixed bag

15:47   ADHD and the gap between the twins

17:00   The kid who walks into walls

18:34   Swimming lessons and mercurial moods

20:36   W’s Everywhere

22:44   What ADHD adds

24:24   Self Medicating with Surfing

24:59   Overcompensating after hurting feelings

26:51   Empathy beats fixing

27:06   Prepping the ADHD person in advance

28:44   The biggest challenge is carrying the mental load

31:58   But it depends on the day

34:15   “Is there anything you need me to do?”

35:31   Chris addressing Sandy’s needs makes a world of difference

36:17   A strong base of love and understanding helps a lot

38:35   The 5 Love Languages

40:57   Dopamine and small vs. large efforts

43:09   ADHD is just one aspect of the relationship

44:19   Communication and problem-solving

46:10   The moralization of ADHD

46:40   Sandy reflects again on Chris’s dad’s reaction to Chris’s ADHD diagnosis

PODCAST 5: Transitions, Testing and Deciding Not To Be A Geneticist with Cara Fleming, School Psychologist

Cara Fleming is a school psychologist at the high school level, as well as a transition consultant.

What’s a transition consultant? I’m glad you asked. Transition consultants help kids successfully make the leap from high school to college and/or the workforce.

Cara was great to interview. We laughed a fair amount, looked at things in new ways, and discovered some interesting things along the way. Cara talks transitions, testing, and shares why she isn’t a geneticist. Her knowledge and enthusiasm really shine through. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show.

Cara can help with questions around transition from high school, and also performs independent testing for families looking into Special Education diagnosis in the New England area. She can be contacted at CaraFlemingTransitions@gmail.com.

As usual, I can be found at ADHDessentials.com.

Or email me at brendan@ADHDessentials.com.

P.S. This was the first episode I recorded for the podcast. I’ve learned some things since then, mostly on the technical end – editing & recording techniques.  Still, I’m pretty happy with it.



Show Notes:

2:27    The child HAS to be involved in the transition process

3:31     Kids need to have something they can succeed at

5:49     Disability Awareness

7:18     Disability documentation and the transition to college

8:08     Some colleges specialize in students with disabilities

10:13   Self-Advocacy and College

11:46   ADHD Supports in College

14:06   504 vs. IEP

16:42   Why Special Ed Teachers want to be useless

18:31   But, what if my kid isn’t going to college!?!

19:01   Licenses and 504s

19:56   How to ask for accommodations in the real world

22:28   Know your disability

23:15   “How can I do a better job for you?”

23:38   Sparkle! Sparkle! Sparkle!… Documentation

25:55   Empathy for testers and school staff

27:47   Credentials to look for in outside evaluators

29:05   The Historical Perspective

30:04   ADHD leaves a footprint in cognitive testing

31:55   Transition Plans for the Post-High School World

32:45   A Three-Legged Stool on a Really Nice Rug

32:59   The Academic Leg (which Cara turns into a prong)

33:12   Performance based tasks of attention

33:35   Cara changes the stool by adding a fourth leg/prong

34:32   Cara recaps the leg/prongs

34:48   The rug is for transition planning

35:35   ONET

38:14   You have to know what’s bad about the job you want

38:55   Cara talks about transitioning from a Geneticist to a poet (to a school psychologist)

40:37   What Cara loves about her job! (Besides the kids)

41:16   Why helping kids understand who they are matters

42:31   Self knowledge shifts the locus of control to the individual

43:43   Cara’s daughter turning 15 gave her a new empathy for parents

45:06   Ending Essentials

Speaking Dates for February and March 2018

I have several workshops coming up over the next two months.  I’d love to see you at one!  Please make a point say hello (and mention this post) if you can make it!


ADHD Essentials for Parents 

Sharon Public Library, Sharon, MA

Wednesday, January 31, 6pm – 7:30pm


ADHD and Executive Function in the Public Schools (Open to Massachusetts Educators)

Massachusetts Secondary Administrator’s Association, Franklin, MA

Wednesday, February 7, 8am – 3pm


ADHD Essentials  (FULL!)

Commonwealth Learning Center, Danvers, MA

Tuesday, February 13, 7pm – 9pm


Kids with ADHD in the Dentist Chair (Private Staff Development Workshop)

Children’s Dentistry of Northborough, Northborough, MA

Thursday, February 15, 11:30am – 12:30pm


Using Scavenger Hunts to Teach Kids Life Skills

Shrewsbury Public Library, Shrewsbury, MA

Tuesday, March 13, 7:00pm – 8:30pm


ADHD Essentials

Franklin SEPAC, Franklin, MA

Thursday, March 15, 7pm – 9pm


ADHD Essentials

Shrewsbury Public Library, Shrewsbury, MA

Monday, March 26, 7:00pm – 8:30pm


ADHD in High School (Private Staff Development Workshop)

Tantasqua Regoinal Vocational High School, Sturbridge, MA

Thursday, March 29, 12pm – 2pm

PODCAST 4: Routines, Giggles and Belonging with Dan and Stacy, ADHD Parents

As I spoke with Dan and Stacy, our guests for this episode, I was struck by how clearly their love for each other and their kids came across.  Dan’s thoughfulness about how ADHD affects their family of four, and Stacy’s understanding and acceptance of the struggles it presents were moving.  As was their clear support for one another, and their children.

I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed recording it.

Let me know at brendan@ADHDessentials.com.



Show Notes:

2:44     Child Evaluation leads to Parental Diagnosis

4:42     ADHD has always been there

8:22     Counting Down for Compliance, not Completion

8:51     Routine, Practice and Habit

12:37   Kids as “Little Recorders of Us”

14:19   Giggles in the Walls

16:25   The Value of Routines

17:07   Disrupted Routines

18:32   Relationships and Belonging

24:44   Overcoming Fear at Disneyland

35:19   Evening Routines

36:06   Love and Humility

38:36   Catching Lessons

39:04   Empathy and Marginalization

41:25   Ending Essentials


PODCAST 3: Separating Attitude from Performance with Michele Monteiro, Special Education Teacher

Episode 3 finds me talking to Michele Monteiro.  She’s a special education teacher at a school for kids with social, emotional, and other disabilities.  Many of her students have ADHD.

We talk aobut how students taking, or not taking, their prescribed medication affects both themselves, and their classmates, the importance of letting kids earn back your opinion of them when they mess up, and the transformative power of chef Boyardee and ramen.

Side Note:

During our conversation, Michele and I express frustration with the the fact that not all educators are able to understand/respect the social and emotional challenges of their students. No offense is intended. I’ve worked with a great many teachers and administrators who deeply value social emotional learning. And, given that you’re here, I’m sure you do too.

Thanks for listening!  I hope you enjoy it.

As usual, I can be reached at brendan@ADHDessentials.com.



Show Notes:

2:10      Bit by ADHD

3:40      Time Blindness

6:31      How not taking Prescribed Meds affects classroom

10:16      Shame and ADHD

16:18      Effort Grades

17:26      Separating attitude from performance

18:08      Earning point back by doing well afterward

19:15      Teaching Self-Care

21:06      Why Projects don’t work for Michele’s population

22:08      Emotions Beat Academics

22:31      ADHD & Comorbidities

23:12      Why Michele Loves Her Job

24:38      The Value of Kids Putting Their Heads on Their Desks

27:31      Managing the Emotional Drain

27:47      The Value of Shared Experience

29:23      The Transformative Power of Chef Boyardee and Ramen

30:23      On Self-Care

31:55      Self Care Outside of School

32:31      Being Goofy in Class

34:22      Ending Essential