PODCAST 34: Unraveling ADHD from the 50s & 60s to Today, with Joyce Kubik, ADHD Coach, Parent with ADHD of kids with ADHD (and grandkids with ADHD)

It was an honor to interview Joyce Kubik for the pod.  Joyce is a mother with ADHD of kids with ADHD.  (In fact, her kids are now grown, and have ADHD kids of their own!)

Joyce is also ADHD coach.  Indeed, she was among the first.  Hers are the shoulders that so many of us stand on when doing this work. She is a pioneer in the industry.  And she shares her story, and some of her pioneering work with us in this episode.



In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

  • Joyce’s life with ADHD.
  • Growing up with ADHD in the 50s & 60s
  • Living with an alcoholic father
  • Joyce’s journey of self-discovery
  • Learning about ADHD from an episode of 20/20 in 1993
  • ADHD Misdiagnosis
  • The importance of accurate descriptions of ADHD symptoms
  • ADHD & Reading
  • Using color to help study & remember content
  • Joyce’s Bridge Model for ADHD
  • ADHD & Memory
  • Struggling to graduate from college
  • Academic tips for students
  • Getting results in a unique way
  • Doing things the ADHD way
  • Parenting in “rescue mode”
  • Being a parent with ADHD of kids with ADHD
  • Why ADHD kids interrupt
  • How to have a calmer dinner


Guest Links:


ADHD Essentials Links:



PODCAST 33: ADHD Parents Palooza with Linda Roggli and Diane Dempster

Today, we’re talking to Linda Roggli and Diane Dempster about the ADHD Parents Palooza, which will run next week, from August 20thto the 25th.

The ADHD Parents Palooza brings together many of the most well-known experts on ADHD to talk about parenting our complex kids.  Guests include Dr. Russell Barkley, Ned Hallowell, and Jessica McCabe.

I wasn’t able to be a part of the Parents Palooza this time, but I hope to participate next year.  I’ll be in the audience with those of you who attend, though.

And if you need help implementing the things you during the Palooza, the ADHD Essentials Parenting Coaching Groups are a great place to get that support.  The next session starts in September.

In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

  • The goals of the ADHD Parent Palooza
  • The topics that will be discussed at the ADHD Parent Palooza
  • Russell Barkley, Grand-Parenting, & ADHD
  • The Guest Experts who are involved
  • Where to find the Palooza
  • How to avoid being overwhelmed by the all of the information of the Palooza
  • The value parent coaching


Guest Links


ADHD Essentials Links

PODCAST 16: The Struggle Makes Us Stronger with Gabriel Villarreal, Strength & Condition Coach and Mental Health Counselor Specialized in ADHD

In this episode, I’m talking exercise and fitness, while battlnig a cold!  Gabriel Villarreal is the owner of ADHD Counseling in the Roanoke Valley, as well as a strenth and conditioning coach.  It’s that latter bit that we focus on in the episode.  We talk about the importance of struggling, growth from failure, and the neurological benefits of exercise for the ADHD brain.  (Though, that doesn’t coem unitl the end.)

Gabriel was great to talk to, and you can be sure he’s going to come back.  Both on and off the air we noticed that there were many intersting places for us to go in futire episodes.  I expect he’ll become a “friend of the show”.



Learn more about Gabriel at www.RoanokeADHD.com.

Or find him on his Facebook page.

Or just email him at gabriel@roanokeadhd.com.


And as usual, I can be reached at Brendan@ADHDessentials.com.

Enjoy the show!


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 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

Pumpkin Spice and ADHD

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are turning, acorns litter the ground and the air is becoming chilly. ‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice.

It seems like everyone is out of their minds about it. In fact, I don’t doubt that when you saw the title of this post, some small part of you got really excited by the prospect of linking pumpkin spice with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Why? Why is pumpkin spice so exciting for so many people?

Because it’s a special event. It adds an interesting twist to things that are ordinary and commonplace, like coffee, pancakes and muffins. And, it’s only available for a little while.

So, what does this have to do with ADHD?

The ADHD brain loves unique experiences and reward. Pumpkin spice, because of it’s limited timeframe, is a unique experience. The food it is connected to, obviously, is the reward. People with ADHD need a little “pumpkin spice” every now and then to help motivate them. Something that adds an interesting twist to an activity that has become boring and uninteresting. Just don’t keep the twist up for so long that it too becomes boring, and make it clear that the twist will not be a regular event. Keep it to a fixed timeframe as best you can.

Here’s a few examples of how to use a pumpkin spice-like twist to increase motivation. (All names have been changed to ensure confidentiality.)

Scenario 1

My client, Tommy, was a twelve year-old boy who was reasonably well motivated to do his chores. He got a weekly allowance that was not tied to these chores. He was expected to do his chores because was part of his responsibilities as a member of the family. He got the allowance because his parents love him and want him to learn how to manage his money. One day, his parents needed some extra help around the house – raking leaves and clearing the yard of some overgrown plants. Tommy refused to help because he didn’t think he should have to do any more work than he was already doing. His parents disagreed, and were confused because he was usually so willing to help around the house. Remembering back to some of our conversations about how Tommy sometimes needs extra motivation from an outside source, Tommy’s parents added some “pumpkin spice” to get his help. They decided to offer him a one time, ten-dollar bonus to his allowance if he spent the day helping them clear the yard. They made it clear that the bonus was only being offered because the job was so big, and that he should not expect to be paid a bonus in the future unless the project was similarly large. This extra motivation is all they needed to end the conflict over the yard work, and inspire Tommy to help.


Scenario 2

Kyle was six-years old girl when I started working with her, and she hated doing chores. Although she usually did them, everyday is a battle. It drove her parents crazy. When they asked me for advice, I recommended that they add a bit of “pumpkin spice” to the struggle. Knowing how much Kyle loves chocolate, I told them to tell her that for the next week, every time she does her chores without an argument, she would get a Hershey’s Kiss after dinner. It didn’t work perfectly, and Kyle missed out on three of her seven potential Hershey’s Kisses – twice for arguing with her parents, and once because she failed to do her chores at all. But the week ended well. Kyle’s parents made it clear that they were proud of her for doing a much better job with her chores overall, and the family battles over cleaning were less frequent in the following weeks.


Scenario 3

Ben, a fifteen year-old client, was struggling to do his homework as the school year came to a close last year. He just couldn’t seem to sit down and get started. He usually struggled a little bit in this area, but as the year wound down, things had gotten worse. In talking to both Ben and his parents about the problem, I recommended that we add a little “pumpkin spice” to the mix. Recognizing that the recent burst of nice weather might have something to do with Ben’s struggles, I advised that he work outside on the family’s deck. Ben loves being outside, and this little change helped him power through the last few weeks of school.


How to Use “Pumpkin Spice”

  • Best used to manage unique challenges or when the ADHD person is stuck
  • Use a positive reward.
  • Make sure it is unique.
  • Keep it to a limited in time frame.
  • Communicate clearly that it will not happen again soon.


The pumpkin spice approach to motivation works best when unique challenges arise. It can be very helpful when people with ADHD go through a period of increased difficulty with motivation or productivity.

Just like coffee shops and bakeries keep coming up with new uses for Autumn’s favorite flavoring, there are no limits to how pumpkin spice approach to motivation can be used. I’ve shared a few examples. Please let me know how you apply it. I’d love to hear from you.

Getting Started

This is it, the first post to the blog. It’s pretty exciting. Starting isn’t easy.

In fact, starting is simultaneously the most basic and most challenging aspect of any project. At its core, it means taking that first step. Putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. Packing your gym clothes, ironing your suit.

Chances are for some of you reading this, just seeing those steps put to paper caused a little burst of anxiety. That’s the challenging part of starting. When you start a new task, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The echoes of similar tasks that you struggled with or succeeded in throughout your life reverberate within them, making some things easy to start and others incredibly hard.   This is especially true for people with ADHD.


How do you get past this emotional barrier?

First, realize that it’s there. Once you know you’re dealing with strong emotions, it’ easier to manage them. Owning up to past mistakes and the way they affect your motivation is an important step when trying to move beyond them.

Next, you have to fully cement in your mind the importance of the task ahead. Why is it important? Often, the importance lies in what will happen if you do or do not engage in the task at hand. Looking at the consequences of doing or not doing the task can be a powerful motivator. For some people negative consequences will push them to act, for others looking at the positive effects of taking the action will provide the needed motivation. Get to know which one works best for you, if you don’t already know, and use it.

What happens if you don’t do it? Look at things from both a short-term and a long-term perspective. If you put it off, might there be a harsh consequence? A demotion? Damage to you reputation? Will you anger someone important to you? What opportunities will you miss out on either now or in the future? What other goals will you have to put off if you procrastinate on this task?

From a more positive perspective, how will completing the task on time or early strengthen your reputation? How might your position be improved by completing the task? What opportunities will present themselves? How much easier will it be to achieve your next goal when you can ride the momentum created by successfully finishing this one? Visualizing success in this way can be hugely motivating for those with ADHD.


How does visualization help with motivation?

Visualization helps us to see that our goals can be accomplished. It provides us with the much needed perspective that we can succeed.

People with ADHD can have difficulty transitioning. It’s usually associated with going from one activity to another, but it can also affect the transition from one emotional state to another. Visualizing success helps transition from a struggling, discouraged state to one that is motivated to tackle the task at hand. It helps shift perspective.

Once you’ve got the perspective that you need, and you can feel the motivation starting, it’s time to implement strategies to help you move forward.


What is the best way to start?

The best way to start anything, is with the first step. Unfortunately, that first step isn’t always clear. People with ADHD tend to be very good at seeing the big picture, but not as good with the details. As a result, they often get caught up in what the end of a project will look like. This often leads to excitement about the goal, and intimidation about the road ahead. It becomes difficult to see the forest for the trees, and that crucial first step become lost in the shuffle.

The best thing to do at times like this is to break the task down into small steps. Steps so small they almost seem silly. What’s the first step to getting into better shape? Going to the gym. What’s the first step to going to the gym? Driving there. What’s the first step to driving there? Getting out of your house and closing the door behind you. You get the idea. Just keep breaking the task into smaller and smaller pieces until it doesn’t seem so hard to do.

You’d be amazed at how many goals start with getting out of your house and closing the door behind you.


What strategies can help with taking the first step?
So you’ve figured out your first step. Here are four strategies to help you take it.

  1. Set a timer. It’s that simple. Set a timer for twenty minutes, and get to work. You can do anything for twenty minutes. Just commit to it and get going. If the timer beeps and you’re in the zone, keep going. If not, take a five-minute break, reset the timer and get back to it. Repeat a necessary.
  1. Figure out your best time to work. Some people work better at night, some work better in the morning. This may very well change with the task. Mental tasks might be best for you in the morning, and physical tasks might be best in the afternoon. Determine your best time to work, and begin your most challenging tasks then.
  1. Find a buddy. A classic ADHD productivity strategy is the body double. It involves having someone in the room with you while you tackle difficult tasks. They don’t check up on you, or pressure you to do your work; they’re just there in the room with you. Effectively, their presence helps you feel like you’re getting credit for doing whatever the task is that you’re working on. Often that credit will be just enough of a motivator to get you down to business.
  1. Change your inner voice. Often, when thinking about the things we have to do, we use passive terms like “should” and “ought to”. Changing these terms to active verbs greatly improves motivation. Suddenly, a “should” becomes a “must”, and an “ought to” becomes a “must do”.


What if it’s still hard to start?

Sometimes you need the help of another person to get you going. Maybe you need their advice on how to break the task down. Maybe you need the accountability that comes with having another person invested in what you’re doing.

That’s what an ADHD coach is for. As an ADHD coach, I help my clients move through the process of setting and accomplishing goals. I find that once I help them set their goals and get rolling, they do an excellent job of tackling the tasks in front of them. Although they may need some help along the way, often it’s at the beginning of a project that they need the most help. If you need help tackling a new project, or even an old one that you’ve been putting off for too long, e-mail me at bmahan@adhdessentials.com. I’d love to help you out.