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Blog:  News About Understood

TiLT Podcast Brings Experts and Parents Together to Support “Differently Wired” Kids

News About Understood blog post by Amanda Morin
Feb 14, 2017

Photo of Debbie Reber and her son

Understood was recently featured on the TiLT Parenting podcast, one of the newest voices in parenting. TiLT focuses on kids whose brains are “differently wired.” The phrase can apply to anything from learning and attention issues to autism, as well as different learning styles and giftedness.

I joined Debbie Reber, the creator of TiLT, for the podcast. We talked about the work that went on behind the scenes to create Understood. We also discussed Understood’s history—how its 15 founding partners, all nonprofit leaders in the space, came together to build a resource for parents of kids with learning and attention issues.

In the process, I also learned a lot about TiLT. In a video call after the podcast, Reber shared how one of her favorite pictures is of her family on a Tilt-A-Whirl ride.

Reber sees it as a metaphor for parenting kids who are wired differently, like her 12-year-old son, Asher Basden. (He has ADHD and social skills challenges.)

“We’re holding on to the ride with giant smiles,” she says about the photo. “Even though there’s this unpredictability of not knowing when the next spin is going to happen and where it will take us.”

The name “TiLT” is a play on this. Through TiLT’s podcast and blog, Reber wants to help parents reconsider (or “tilt”) their perspectives on raising kids. She uses the phrase “differently wired” because she doesn’t want to define people with labels. (Though she understands how labels can sometimes have benefits.)

“I think families have a lot more in common than we think,” she explains. “We are all in this together. Difference is difference at some level.”

Asher is also part of the podcast. For him, TiLT means changing “what people think of differently wired kids and adults.”

Half of the episodes are interviews by Reber with education and parenting experts. But the others are conversations between Debbie and Asher. Mother and son share what life together is actually like—both the triumphs and the messy moments of a differently wired family.

“I’m someone who…” starts Reber. “Listens to podcasts,” finishes Asher.

Reber laughs in agreement and continues.

“So many of us feel isolated and disconnected,” she says. “And a great podcast makes you feel like you have a relationship with the host. It feels intimate, like you’re part of a community.”

As I chat with them, I can see that mom and son are deeply in tune. He may fidget with items on the desk, spin in his chair and even disappear under the desk.

But she isn’t concerned about the fidgeting. She doesn’t ask him to stop and she doesn’t ask him to pay attention. She knows who he is. She trusts in her son’s abilities.

Based on the emails they get about TiLT, the pair has clearly touched a nerve with parents.

“People write to us,” says Asher. “They say: ‘The podcast has made such a difference in our life. We understand our child so much better now.’”

Reber wants other parents to know that she isn’t a perfect parent—she still struggles to live up to the vision of TiLT. But helping other parents through TiLT keeps her inspired to do better every day.

“I need to be making a difference and helping some way,” she notes. “That's just part of how I'm wired.”


For more unique perspectives on learning and attention issues, read a blog by The Dyslexic Advantage authors Brock and Fernette Eide on why “your kids are not broken.” Bust the “just try harder” myth with David Flink. And learn from Ellen Braaten, Ph.D., about why kids who are very smart sometimes work at a different pace than other kids.

Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood.

About the Blogger

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

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