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Puberty can be a challenging time for kids and their families. But what about if your child going through puberty has ADHD?  

In this episode, hosts Gretchen Vierstra and Rachel Bozek take a deep dive into puberty and ADHD. First, they hear from three parents of teens with ADHD to find out what it’s like to be “in it.”  

Then, they welcome returning guest Dr. Roberto Olivardia, a clinical psychologist and Understood expert. Listen in as he explains how ADHD and puberty can affect each other.

Episode transcript

Gretchen: From the Understood Podcast Network, this is "In It," a podcast about the ins and outs... 

Rachel:...the ups and downs,

Gretchen: ...of supporting kids who learn and think differently. I'm Gretchen Vierstra, a former classroom teacher and an editor here at Understood. 

Rachel: And I'm Rachel Bozek, a writer and editor with a family that's definitely in it. Today we're talking about the sometimes challenging, never boring journey that is puberty for kids who have ADHD. 

Gretchen: For this conversation, we're bringing back Roberto Olivardia, a Massachusetts-based clinical psychologist with more than 20 years of experience evaluating people for things like ADHD. He's also someone who himself was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. 

Rachel: But first, we wanted to bring in the voices of some parents who were very much in it when it comes to raising teenagers who have ADHD and who very generously share their experiences with us. 

Stephanie: My name is Stephanie, and I am going to tell you about my son who has ADHD, and it's about to turn 13 years old. 

Nick: My name's Nick, and I'm here to talk about my child going through puberty with ADHD. 

Brandy: My name is Brandy and I'm the mother of two teenage daughters. Both have ADHD and one has dyslexia. I would say when puberty hit, the number one thing that was difficult was working on self-care: showering, brushing your teeth, washing your face. That's a struggle, even as an adult with ADHD. So, you know, and it's a sensitive topic. Everything's a sensitive topic, usually with teenagers. 

Nick: Yes. One of the unique challenges, I would say, is just like dealing with school, balancing that with home and family life, you know, because he wants to go see his friends, He wants to play sports. You know, he wants to date girls. 

Stephanie: He's always been forgetful. Always had trouble sticking with a schedule or a routine or remembering to do his chores. And all of that has gotten disastrously worse. 

Brandy: I think another challenge with teenagers and I know it was very challenging for myself was friendships and relationships, the compulsion to hyperfocus on one friend. And then suddenly you've lost interest and you've moved on to this other friend, or even just forgetting to call someone back, forgetting a birthday, forgetting their name. I mean, it's endless and it's something that you just have to be really open about. 

Nick: And so, yeah, just kind of allowing him to do different things, but also trying to keep him on track has been difficult. 

Stephanie: The last week or so I've been talking with my my closest friend about this and how hard it is to see my once happy, adorable, little playful kid who's now just kind of sullen, keeps himself kind of hold off in his room or in front of a TV or a phone because he needs the dopamine that makes him feel comfortable and calm and that he doesn't want to be around his family very much. So that's hard.

You know, for me, I feel like I'm not at all the parent I thought I would be able to be. I feel a lot like I'm failing. And a lot of times I just let him, you know, go hang out on his own in front of his screens because I need a break, too. And sometimes for me, the best parenting strategy I can have is to, you know, take some space from him. And that's been really sad for me. 

Gretchen: That's a hard and very honest note to end on. 

Rachel: It is, but I think it highlights how important it is to hear from someone like Roberto, who works with teens and their parents and caregivers all the time, and who can provide insight and advice that hopefully will make it all feel a bit more manageable. So, Roberto, welcome back to "In It." 

Roberto: Oh, it's great to be here, as always. 

Rachel: As you know, puberty plus ADHD can be kind of a double whammy for kids and their parents. So let's get into why that is. But talking about the challenges that puberty presents on its own. What do we know is going on for kids at this stage of life? Like what's changing physically, what's changing from a social-emotional standpoint? All of the things. 

Roberto: Yeah, I mean, in some ways I think of it as what isn't happening is probably the better question. 

Gretchen: That is true. 

Roberto: Because there is so much happening. So, we start with just biologically that, you know, our bodies are getting this surge of hormones that result in a lot of dramatic physical changes. That really is the first time in our conscious life that we're developing in this kind of way. I mean, we don't remember when we're infants and kind of developing in that way.

So, that can be such a awkward at best and scary, you know, to people. Everything from your voice changing and hair growing in places and growth spurts and parts of your body that are changing, that are very different, and how you move and how you operate in the world. So, from even just your relationship to your body and body image and all of that becomes this huge issue and there isn't a one-size-fits-all. I mean, there are some people where if they're, let's say, developing more early, they can have a harder time with other people if they're developing later. 

I mean, generally speaking, research shows that for boys who develop later, it's often sort of seen as more of a negative experience for them. For girls who mature earlier, it tends to be more of a negative experience. Yeah, they've seen the whole gamut.

And I think because of that attention on the body and physicality, you know, you have now sort of this whole other platform of thinking about oneself as a sexual being and sort of sexual identity and sexuality and all of that coming in with the rush of hormones and the way we relate to our peers and think about peers. 

The big question psychologically is, who am I? Is the big identity question the capital I. And part of that is because now is the body is changing your thinking of yourself in a different way. And psychologically, you know, your prefrontal cortex is developing. So, your ability to think more outside the box, to think more abstractly, to think about your thinking, your metacognition. And as a result, it's very normal for kids to start to kind of move away from parents and really close to peers.

And that makes a lot of sense because your peer group is going to be who affirms you in a certain way that affiliation is so important. And then you have the the importance of the peer group in wanting conformity and at the same time wanting a uniqueness. So, there's this tension in adolescence of "I want to be like everyone else, and I want to stand out in some ways," and how that sort of works out. 

On a larger scale, you have a much bigger flow of executive function demands that you start to see in high school and more responsibilities: driving, school, work, all of that. And so as a result, it's just your world just opens up on so many different levels, which is exciting and scary at the same time. 

Gretchen: OK, so, it's a lot. So, let's talk about some of these changes that come with puberty and how they might interact with ADHD. So let's start with physical developments. So, as you said, kids hit puberty, their bodies start to change and they require a little more self-care. So, how does that tend to play out with ADHD? 

Roberto: So, this is where that intersection is so important because, you know, with the increasing executive demands and when you think about, you know, I just remember the thing that I hear a lot from parents is, "Oh, my gosh, my kid has to remember to brush their teeth and wear deodorant." Like, teenagers smell like, you know, all those hormones that they're there sweating out and being aware of that kind of self-care, which on one hand, you'll see this increase with adolescents who become very attuned to that because they don't want to be ostracized. But then there are other things that they might completely, you know, neglect. 

But it requires at first like a certain mindfulness and attunement to just even being in the present moment to know what does our body need? And so, when we think about the biggest issues that will often see with the ADHD issues, you know, sleep, of eating, of, you know, movement and all of that, like what is the body requiring? And as an adolescent, we're also getting into spaces where our parents are not in those spaces with us anymore.

And so, like I know for me, like I grew up in a household, but it was very health conscious, like no soda, no sugar cereals. But my best friend had Lucky Charms and, you know, Orange Crush, and I would jug that thing down like there was no tomorrow. And I was not as attuned to having ADHD myself. I was not as attuned to, oh, drinking a two-liter bottle of soda doesn't make me feel very good afterwards and kind of tuning in to what that does and reflecting on that, you know, on the body and understanding the importance of that kind of maintenance on the long term. 

Just recently I had a parent that said, you know, "My kid, he's not brushing his teeth, he just pops mints. He doesn't want to have bad breath because that would be socially a big faux pas, but he doesn't understand that it's he's going to lose his teeth when he's 40 if he doesn't brush his teeth." And I said to the parent, "This is actually quite common in teens and adults, frankly, with ADHD is being able to see the long-term consequences sometimes of these everyday habits that we have to perform. 

Rachel: With all of that in mind, we know there's hormonal surges going on, right? So, whether your child has ADHD or not, I'm guessing we can expect some amount of moodiness. Not that I've ever seen that. 

Gretchen: I know, me neither. 

Rachel: So, does ADHD exacerbate that? 

Roberto: Sure. So, we know that, absolutely, that we're getting, you know, this increasing levels of hormones. So, we know that that kind of hormonal sort of fluctuations absolutely is implicated in sometimes emotional dysregulation that you'll see in every teenager, the sort of dramas and chaos that sometimes we can find ourselves in. With ADHD, there's much more of that.

So people with ADHD, one of the features is a dysregulation on a number of fronts and one of which is emotional dysregulation. So, people with ADHD do have a higher risk of developing a mood disorder, for example. And there is neurobiological research showing this, that the emotional processing in an ADHD brain makes it harder sometimes for people to self-soothe or to inhibit from acting on an emotion. 

So, it's not that an ADHD person's emotional response is overactive per se. Like, studies will show that they're reacting initially similarly to, let's say, emotional, provocative stimuli as someone without ADHD. The difference is the non-ADHD group can soothe themselves and properly distract out of that negative emotion better and faster, and they're more likely to connect to their frontal lobe that says, "Oh, this teacher is making me mad. I want to swear at them, but I'm not because that could get me into trouble."

An ADHD person's brain has a delay in that connection to the frontal lobe. And if you think about it with emotions, even a three-second delay can be a huge difference in terms of how a situation manifests emotionally. 

And people with ADHD, you know, often will score higher on and rate themselves as being more emotionally sensitive as individuals, particularly rejection sensitive. And I think the upside to that is that we can also be seen as more empathic. But as a kid with ADHD, I mean, I remember like, OK, I like that I'm empathic and I like that I'm an emotional person, but I need some way of filtering this because this, I can be drowned in this like very, very easily. It was very apparent to me at a very young age. I had to figure that emotional storm out. 

Gretchen: Mm-hmm. So, lastly, related to hormones, I wanted to mention for kids taking ADHD medication, do hormonal changes typically affect how these meds work? What can parents expect from that? 

Roberto: So, it's so important with I would say compared to virtually every other class of medications — anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications — the thing that's so important to understand with ADHD medications, stimulants or non-stimulants, is the nature of ADHD is almost reflected in some ways is even the relationship to medication. For example, there isn't a specific protocol of "This medication works for this kind of person with ADHD," it really can be trial and error.

I've worked with identical twins at different times where one brother responded well to one medication. The other brother had nasty side effects from that same medication and they have 100% of the same DNA. And then in addition, that medication is interacting with a specific biological system at a specific moment in time, in a specific environment. So, meaning that especially during puberty, it's not unusual sometimes where a medication that might have worked well when a child was eight or nine might not work the same at 13,14.

Now, part of that is how that's metabolized could be very different. You know, part of that is, you know, hormonal influences, other biological influences, and the executive demands have risen. So, a lot of times when, particularly I hear this from college students who will say the medication that they were on in high school no longer works.

And the question is, OK, is it that the medication stopped working or the demands obviously, have risen in college that the dose you are on or the medication you are on is not meeting the demand of where you are today? But physically I've also seen that, when people have growth spurts, when people sometimes lose weight, gain weight, even though stimulants in general are not even dosed on weight compared to other medications, but just all of the changes that can happen biologically. So, it really does take a nuanced, individualized approach of looking at sort of how it's working for that individual, especially when we're thinking about puberty. 

Gretchen: Makes sense. 

Rachel: Yeah. You know, I think it's really important for parents to keep in mind and like I've heard people talk about this, what you just said, that it's not necessarily even just the dosage. Like as a kid's body or circumstances are changing, it could also just be that the medication needs to change entirely. Like, it's obviously so important for them to talk about that with their doctor. But I would imagine that it's just kind of the go-to is like, "Well, I guess we need to, you know, increase it or decrease it," but it could be an either. 

Roberto: Exactly. 

Rachel: So, I want to talk a little bit about social lives and social pressures and how puberty and ADHD may work together or not on those fronts. Kids this age are faced with a lot of hard choices. They try to work out who they are, how to fit in with their peers. Some may be experimenting with drugs or alcohol or sex, and they're just generally more independent, whether we like it or not as parents. So, does having ADHD create an additional layer of complexity with all of that? 

Roberto: Oh yeah. I think having ADHD by nature adds a whole other layer of complexity... 

Rachel: Or I guess the better question is, how does it? everything. 

Gretchen: Yeah, I think we knew. 

Rachel: We know the answer is yes. 

Roberto: Yes. So, first is, for parents, it's so important to understand that you have a teenager, you know, an emerging teenager. And if you have friends who have teenagers and on one hand, there's going to be a lot that you have in common with your friends who also have teenagers. But then it's going to be clear to you the differences. If your friends have teenagers who have ADHD and the ones that don't, because the ones that do, they'll, there's this understanding of this kind of push-pull that sometimes happens because kids, again, teenagers are typically separating from parents.

They want to do things on their own. Maybe they want to get their driver's license and drive and they still, an ADHD kid might need help in reminding them where their keys are, and reminding them to brush their teeth, which can feel infantilizing to the teen. And sometimes for the parents, they don't like doing that and they're sort of torn. 

So, there's this push and pull sometimes around, "Well, you want your independence, and at the same time you're depending on me, you know, for certain things." And sometimes parents are like, "Well, should I just push them out of the nest, you know, a little bit more? They need to learn, but then they're going to fall on their face."

So, I think it's so important to have conversations right off the bat. And all of this comes down to just full education about ADHD, that there's going to be parts that your teen will thrive and be able to be independent fully. And then there are other things that are going to need that scaffolding. They're going to need that help. 

One example that comes to mind, I have a son who has ADHD and dyslexia and he's a freshman in college. I can't even believe he's in college now. But that's a whole other story. He's doing great. He loves it. 

Gretchen: Nice. 

Roberto: I'm so happy for him. But I remember at the beginning of his junior year of high school, the assembly at the school to the parents, and they were starting to talk about college, and they said, "Now, remember, parents, this is your kids' journey. They have to drive the bus and they're going to do everything. They're going to do this, this, this, this." And I'm sitting there thinking, "No, my kid's going to need my help with some of these things. I'm not going to do it for him, of course.

But he's, this is going to be a collaboration. This is not 'OK. It's all on you to do this.'" And frankly, I think that's a lot for any teenager, but especially for an ADHD kid. I thought and I sent an email afterwards, a nice email, you know, to basically say just to be aware of particularly kids on a neurodiverse spectrum, that I don't want the message for parents to be like, "Oh, you know, your kid is not independent. If they need you to help them set up college tours and to sit with them while they're writing their college essays and things like that." 

So, that's important for parents to sort of know and work out with their kids. and for the teenagers because we have more exposure and sort of more independence. That means we can get into a lot of trouble or, you know, we can open ourselves to these great opportunities. And I say to all of my ADHD patients, to my children "Having ADHD, it's so important to know that whatever we like, we run the risk of liking too much.." 

Rachel: Yes. 

Roberto:  "...very quickly. And the fact is, people with ADHD have up to 4 to 6 times the risk of addiction of any kind of addiction. So, of course, we talk drugs and alcohol. But it could be gambling, it could be pornography, it can be food, it can be anything."

Gretchen: Yeah. 

Roberto: And I've certainly seen that in my experience. It's just part of how we're wired. And what's important about that is because we know teenagers are going to be exposed to drugs, particularly cannabis, you know, vaping, alcohol. And it's important for, again, from an educational point of view to let them know that the research shows that the bridge between experimentation and full-on dependence is much shorter if you have ADHD. So, you'll see lots of your peers that do these things and don't have a problem with it and just know that you are at high risk of having a problem with it if you like it in that way. 

So, having that kind of education I think is really important in having kids sort of make sense of that because there is a difference when you're, when you have ADHD of how you're going to be in the world, how you manage friendships and relationships. I mean, some teens that I work with with ADHD are almost overwhelmed by having friends.

You know, they want to have friends, but they're like, "Oh, my gosh, like all these group texts." You know, my daughter was saying to me the other day like, you know, she loves her friend group and she's like, "There's sometimes a hundred text in this group text. I can't keep up with it. Like, it's just too much."

Rachel: Who can? 

Roberto: Exactly. And with that, you know, to know that, you know, our kids are growing up with social media and with the Internet. And honestly, that's something I think even before they become teenagers, that it is so important to talk about. I mean, what I said to my kids is "If I grew up with the Internet, I don't know if I would have graduated high school." I mean, I would have been on YouTube like nobody's business. I mean, my parents didn't get cable till the day I went to college and they knew who their son was. I was really mad about that, because I wanted my MTV. 

Rachel: Oh, my God. 

Roberto: And I'm like, "Are you kidding me, the day I go to college?" But they knew who I was... 

Gretchen: Right. 

Roberto:...because I would have been, I loved TV. Like if I had access to that, so I was very strict as a parent around social media. And I told my kids the reason is not about not trusting them. It's that this is like it's almost like putting candy, you know, in a three-year-old's hand and saying, "OK, you handle this on your own." Are you kidding me? I would have shoved that candy corn down my throat. Like and then having conversations. And I think a lot of times, particularly with ADHD, a lot of the parenting books that might say, "Oh, do this, do this," they don't always apply if you have a kid with ADHD.

And so, fine for parents to find community with other parents who have ADHD, podcasts like this and educating themselves is so, you know, key and important because it is a different way of kind of being in the world. And then for those kids to know, here are all of these different options. 

And I think the most important thing is having them at least buy into the model of, "OK, I do have ADHD and that means X, Y, and Z," because a lot of the conversations are going to come down to why they might need this kind of structure, why they might need this. And if a kid understands, "OK, yes, having ADHD, I do procrastinate. So I might need kind of, you know, to write on the whiteboard in the kitchen. OK, 7:00 I'm going to start working on this assignment," and sort of being a collaborator because you don't want to get into the battles of parents saying, "Do this, do this, do this," because parents don't like the way that feels and teens don't like the way that feels. 

Gretchen: I've heard a lot from parents of teens, you know that I know, like lots of times when they're exasperated with a kid's trouble with executive function or their mood challenges, they're like, "Maybe it's ADHD," for these, you know, kids who aren't diagnosed. So, if your kid's not diagnosed, how can you tell if this is just a teen thing or is this an ADHD thing and you should look into it? 

Roberto: So, right, because it's normal in adolescence to push back to not always be motivated, you know, academically because your peer group and the social part sort of takes over. You know, to be, not always have your room clean, you know, and those kinds of things. So, where you start to wonder, you know, is this ADHD? is well, one: is there a family history? So, are there other members of the family, including the parents themselves?

Again, they might not be diagnosed, but that they can be like, "I can kind of relate to this, you know, in this kind of way," because ADHD is highly heritable. So, it's unusual that in a person who is biologically related to their members of their family, that they'll be the only ones with ADHD. 

But two is, a lot of times parents will feel it when they say there's such a disparity between what one would expect given that person's, you know, intelligence and the way that they are and they're functioning and in a way that even the teen themselves can be frustrated by. Because sometimes you'll have a kid that's like, "Yeah, I don't care about math, so I'm not doing it." 

Gretchen: Right. 

Roberto: And then sometimes it's "I don't care about it because I'm exasperated and exhausted because I cannot focus." And you'll either have, you know, the overachiever, ADHD person, which is not an oxymoron. Like I once said, "You know, ADHD people can struggle with perfectionism, too." And there was someone in the audience it's like, "Is that a thing?" I'm like, "Of course it's a thing. ADHD is not equivalent to, you know, not trying hard, and being lazy." 

Gretchen: Right. 

Roberto: And so, or you have the kid that sometimes is just they don't have the tools and strategies, so they give up and they're defeated not because they're lazy, but because they're like, "Maybe this just isn't for me." And so, you want to sort of tune in to is that — what can look like opposition — really someone that just doesn't have, you know, the right tools? How much does it start to get in their way?

You know, I have I have a patient who the parents started to notice something when they were not only running late for things that they think are boring, like going to church and family things, but they were always late, even for social events where it mattered because their friends were getting frustrated, like, "Why are you always running late?" And they couldn't help themselves. And then the parents like, "Oh, this isn't just, you know, them kind of rebelling against family events. This is getting in the way of their social life and they can't help that." 

Or they're being told by their boss if they have a job, you know, and you're, you know, running late or they would lose things or kind of get in their own way. You see the frustration. And then certainly when you start to see sort of flavors of anxiety, of depression, of a lot of negative self-talk, because unfortunately — and this is not a universal experience because different people with ADHD can have different narratives about what that is for them — but unfortunately, a common narrative could be even if they're, let's say, do well in school.

"Oh, I, you know, I'm not really smart. I just hustled, you know," or I would say "I just studied hard," or you start to notice them discounting sort of even their accomplishments.  Or there's a negative self-concept of like, "Oh, I'm so stupid. Like, I just space out, you know," or, "Yeah, I'm so forgetful. My brain...," and they start to use this very pejorative language. You start to think, "Oh, this is really getting to their self-concept.

This isn't just this kind of passing thing," but where someone it's really infiltrating their sense of identity — which again, going back to the core thing in adolescence is, who am I? And our identity, and where ADHD can, you know, for a lot of people, really emerge into this different dimension in adolescence, that gets very intertwined, you know, in ways. 

But one thing I should say that I think is definitely an upside of social media — because I have a lot of criticisms about social media — but one of the things I will say that's good is there's a lot less stigma, especially amongst young people, than I have ever seen in the 20, 25 years I've been working. So, I remember, you know, 15 years ago talking to kids about having ADHD, and it was, some kids were like, "Ugh," like it was almost like a death sentence, you know, almost. And now they're like, "Oh, I know I have ADHD."

Like it was so clear. And then, you know, they'll say, "Oh, my best friends have ADHD," and there's a lot, and even less stigma around taking medication. The adults, there's still a lot of, again, that kind of education because, you know, they might have grown up at a time where you were like the bad kid, you know, if you had ADHD. So, that's a good part overall. But it doesn't mean that even with less stigma, there isn't that negative self-concept that can sometimes still happen. 

Rachel: So, I have a quick question before we start to wrap up, because I need to know, how long does this fine developmental stage of life last?

Roberto: So, this is also a fact that I always share research bit that I share with parents — it's also important for kids with ADHD — Russell Barkley, who is, we consider the godfather of ADHD research, he said that "Having ADHD for a lot of adolescents, you have to think of their executive functioning as being up to 30% less their chronological age." So if you have an 18-year-old, they can have the intelligence of a 30-year-old, but have the executive functions of a 12-year-old.

And that's one of those things that when I say that the parents are like, "OK, that's helpful to know," because sometimes they're frustrated, like, "Why aren't you able to do X, Y, and Z?," and for the kid themselves. And so, we know that the neurotypical brain develops into early to mid-twenties. For someone with ADHD, it's like late twenties, the launching sort of, you know, into transitioning to college or to career and things like that. 

So, you know, I always tell people it's a process, that I mean, even in a neurotypical individual, it varies on so many, you know, different factors. But with ADHD, you want to consider that it's not like, OK, this person, let's say in high school, they have this down because once they go to college, all the things that you would see in a neurotypical individual, you just have to almost add a couple extra layers of dimension as to what that is for someone with ADHD, because now it's like a whole new kind of system of I have to adhere to sort of a whole new way of doing things and develop a strategy of how to kind of work, you know, through all of that. 

So, sometimes what can feel like those adolescent battles that occur at 15, 16-year-olds, you know, I'm working with people now who are 19, 20, who have those with their parents that are still kind of working it through. So, it can it could go into that. But I always want to preface it by saying the more education, the more we put it on the table, the more we understand the full nature of ADHD.

You know, because most of the time, even with a lot of the young people I work with, who are like, "Oh yeah, I know all about ADHD," and there is less stigma, but they see ADHD as you're a little hyper and you don't pay attention in class. And honestly, that's how even a lot of clinicians who are not well versed in understanding ADHD don't understand the full range of the dysregulation. And, you know, and all of the other ways of being in the world that intersect with things like puberty and identity development. 

Rachel: OK. Very last question, really quick. Puberty is not all that, right? I'd like you to tell us something good about this stage. 

Roberto: Oh, absolutely. You know, I know we were sort of talking about all of the slides. You know, I,  to me, it's very, it's an exciting thing. I mean, there's an opening up of just options in the world. And again, there's an aspect of that that can be a little, like freaky and scary, but it's also really exciting and especially for people with ADHD because I know, you know, my experience, I really hated school, like until up to college.

College and on, oh my gosh, it was so different. And you're kind of, you know, we're kind of feel like we're sort of marching in this similar formation, you know, we're all...and then after high school, whether it's college or a job or, you know, vocation, whatever it people do, you have just more options. And that was so exciting to me as an ADHD person of like, "OK, I can like spread my wings and whatever, you know, that can be. 

And so, although it can be a little scary and sometimes you don't always feel like your wings are fully formed in the ways that maybe your neurotypical peers are, the desire is there and it does. You open up to new people and to new experiences and having that independence and building relationships too with your family members and your parents, where it is morphing into, you know, where you're not always just being told what to do, but you see, hopefully, you know, your caregiver as a collaborator and as a friend. So, there's a lot of new stuff that you're exposed to that is great. 

Rachel: Well, thank you so much. This has been such a good conversation.

Gretchen: Yes, thank you so much. That was great.

Roberto: Oh, my pleasure. 

Gretchen: Okay. Well, to Stephanie, Nick, Brandy, and all the rest of you out there who are "in it," we hope this has made you feel less alone and more confident that you can get through it and come out the other end with your child and your relationship to your child intact. 

Gretchen: You've been listening to "In It" from the Understood Podcast Network.

Rachel: This show is for you, so we want to make sure you're getting what you need. Email us at to share your thoughts. We love hearing from you. 

Gretchen: If you want to learn more about the topics we covered today, check out our show notes. We include more resources as well as links to anything we mentioned in the episode. 

Rachel: is a resource dedicated to helping people who learn and think differently, discover their potential and thrive. Learn more at 

Gretchen: "In It" is produced by Julie Subrin. Ilana Millner is our production director. Justin D. Wright mixes the show. Mike Ericco wrote our theme music. 

Rachel: For the Understood Podcast Network, Laura Key is our editorial director, Scott Cocchiere is our creative director, and Seth Melnick is our executive producer. Thanks for listening. 

Gretchen: And thanks for always being "in it" with us.


  • Gretchen Vierstra, MA

    is the managing editor at Understood and co-host of the “In It” podcast. She’s a former educator with experience teaching and designing programs in schools, organizations, and online learning spaces.

    • Rachel Bozek

      is co-host of the “In It” podcast and the parent of two kids with ADHD. She has a background in writing and editing content for kids and parents. 

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