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Lessons on Inclusivity

Posted by on September 6, 2021 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (4542)

Children have been or are returning to school to some sort of 'new normality.' There have been a multitude of changes occur over the past eighteen months and, I'm sure, there will probably be more to come.

One change which I have been happy to see 'disappear' from many classrooms is the need to keep a 'tally' of the children who are doing what is expected of them and those which aren't.

The public shaming of the 'naughty side of the board' is something my son was subjected to when he was in primary school. He was undiagnosed but highly suspected of having ADHD. At that time we didn't realise he was also autistic. His behaviours, at home and with his family, were part of him and were our 'normal.'

I would pick him up from school and his peers would run towards me to tell me the number of times the teacher had written my son's name on the board. They would list each of his crimes; standing up, walking when he wasn't supposed to, looking out of the window etc.

I was horrified that this public display of shaming my son was acceptable. He was being vilified by an educated adult, beaten into submission until every last shred of his self-esteem and confidence was no longer visible.  

This was the straw that broke the camel's, proverbial, back. I moved him to a school that accepted him, quirks and all, and he flourished. He had a newly-qualified teacher who had been bought up with foster children who were Neurodiverse. She understood him and helped him grow and be accepted for who he was.

Thankfully, this was over ten years ago and understanding, education and inclusive practise has emerged from the shadows.  

So, as our young people start back to school I hope they are accepted, celebrated and honoured for the wonderful, diverse resilient individuals they were born to be.  

#adhdawareness #autismawareness #neurodiversity #acceptance#adhdawesome #adhdsheppey

Acceptance is Key!

Posted by on June 2, 2021 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (25)


Today, some parents told me, at the end of a coaching session, that I have helped them learn to ACCEPT the ADHD diagnosis and work WITH it to help their child rather than against it.


That wasn't a goal at the beginning of our time together but it's one I'll take for the win! Today, we worked on the amazing strengths of a young lad with ADHD. One of which is his incredible knowledge of dinosaurs! I incorporated his strength into our session, today, and he was attentive and interested for 40 minutes.


I love being able to change the narrative and instead of a pre-organised session on Mindfulness, I had prepared a dinosaur meditation, specifically for him. He listened intently and for five minutes was able to give me his full attention.


Mindfulness and Meditation have been proven to increase grey matter by up to 6% and they are an important addition to any ADHD toolbox. Just find a way that works for you - mix it up!

How was your day?

Posted by on April 27, 2021 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (2)

I remember asking my children, when picking them up from school, "How was your day?"  This was met with an eye roll and a sigh, 'Nothing!"  Then, I would begin a whole lecture on, 'how much they should have learnt,' 'who did they talk to?' 'what did they eat for lunch,' etc.

It took me a while to realise that if I wanted to get a different response I needed to ask in a different way.  

I think one of the best questions I asked was, 'What did you learn, today, that you could teach me?"  Even if I knew the topic or subject, I feigned ignorance (this wasn't difficult when it came to Algebra!). 

My little ones would leap, with fervour, into 'teacher mode'.  I would listen, intently, and watched as they came alive with excitement.  They were teaching Mum?!  (I learnt that this - ?! - is an Interrobang!)

After that, I made a concerted effort to ask a different way.  It encouraged conversation skills with their ability to explain, explore and examine their responses.  

The icing on the cake was when my son arrived home one day and said, 'Mum, tell me two good things that happened today!"  

"Well," I said.  Let's sit down and have a cuppa so I can tell you all about it...

Just say, 'NO!'

Posted by on January 18, 2021 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (141)

For as long as I can remember, I have been a people pleaser.  The word, 'NO', just wasn't in my vocabulary.

I often wonder if my propensity to please was because my mother was a giver.  A woman who wanted to help everyone and anyone.  If we had unexpected visitors she would welcome them with open arms.  A roast dinner for five was extended to eight or ten - irrespective of the amount of food which had been prepared.  She loved to give and see people happy and her love for her grandchildren knew no bounds.  "Nanny never says, no," my daughter would say when it was time to pick her up after a sleepover.  Yes, it made life a little challenging when boundaries and structure needed to be put in place.  However, since my mother has passed (over twelve years ago) I reflect on the love and nurturing she displayed to my children.

That being said, I struggled for a long time with saying, 'No!'  I sometimes wondered if I was like The Fonz, from 70s cult show, 'Happy Days?'  He couldn't say, 'Sorry,' much to the delight of his fans.  I wanted to say it, I felt compelled to say it but that singular little word evaded me.

It took me a long time to realise that I was avoiding rejection.  I didn't want people to be angry or disappointed in me for saying no.  I wanted their approval and friendship and I thought that by saying 'Yes', I would achieve that.

I've since learnt some strategies to help me manage their expectations and my work/life load.

1). Try to have a set response to unexpected requests.
"I'll have to check my diary and get back to you."
"I'm sure I have something already organised for that date/time."
Don't go into a ten paragraph explanation as to why you are unable to do something, make it SSS - short, succinct and sweet!

2). Remember that your time is important.   Put yourself first.  Don't expect other people to think about your feelings/need for space.

3). Don't apologise for saying, No.  It disempowers you and leaves you wide open for being taken advantage of again.  Remember, no means no!

4). Try to visualise scenarios where you are asked to do something that really would inconvenience/stress you out.  Imagine how you would respond.

5).  If you use Gmail, download the 'Just Not Sorry' plugin.  It's a great tool for ensuring you check your emails for disempowering apologetic language.  Yes, there's a time to say sorry but this little tool is a great way to respond with more empowering language.

REMEMBER.... it's not WHAT you say, it's HOW you say it.  There's a difference to being assertive and being rude.  Take a deep breath before responding so that you are calm and clear with that magic word, 'NO.'

Climbing Crisis Mountain with ADHD

Posted by on January 13, 2021 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (152)

Supporting your child at home can be a huge challenge, particularly if you are working from home as well as looking after other children. Today, I put Crisis Mountain to the test.


My son was doing some school work and couldn't answer some of the questions. (He was at the bottom of the mountain.)


I suggested he go online to his tutor, who was available in a chatroom, to discuss the problem. He didn't want to do any online chats - he was adamant.


He began to get fractious and I could feel myself losing patience. (We were both starting to climb the mountain.)


I took some deep breaths and explained that I was unable to answer the questions and that if he didn't want to speak to the tutor then he would have to send the work in unfinished or try to solve the problem. I suggested he took a time out and then I walked away.


Ten minutes later he went back to his work and managed to complete it all. He was proud that he had solved the problem on his own and said that if he didn't get the answers right he would get feedback from his tutor, but at least he had tried.


Climbing Crisis Mountain can be swift and explosive but, if you can intervene in a calm and measured way then the response you get from your child should be the same. If we start to climb the mountain with them, match their tone, pitch and frustration, then the only way down is on the other side - for everyone.


As a parent/carer managing our emotions is, quite possibly, the most important lesson to learn. It can be done and you will reap the benefits.