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  • In It

    Busting myths about learning differences and ADHD

    There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about learning differences. Let’s get the facts to debunk them.  There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about learning differences. Is ADHD just about hyperactivity? Is dyslexia a vision problem? And do kids outgrow learning differences? In this episode, host Gretchen Vierstra shares common myths about learning and thinking differences for co-host Amanda Morin to bust. Listen to Amanda debunk these myths with the facts. Learn why these myths persist and how you can help fight against them. Plus, hear the misconceptions that Amanda, Gretchen, and their producer believed before they learned the truth about learning differences.Related resources6 common myths about learning and thinking differencesWhat are learning and thinking differences?When gifted kids need accommodations, tooEpisode transcriptAmanda: From the Understood Podcast Network, this is "In It." On this podcast, we offer perspectives, stories, and advice for and from people who have challenges with reading, math, focus, and other types of learning differences. We talk to parents, caregivers, teachers, experts, and sometimes even kids. I'm Amanda Morin. I'm the director of thought leadership for Understood. And I'm a parent to kids who learn differently.Gretchen: And I'm Gretchen Vierstra, a former classroom teacher and an editor here at Understood. And today, we want to do some myth busting. There's lots of misconceptions out there about learning and thinking differences.Amanda: And it's totally understandable that there are misconceptions, because a lot of what we've learned over the years about these differences is complicated. It's counterintuitive, and we are still learning, too.Gretchen: Exactly. I don't know about you, Amanda, but I can still remember some of the ideas I had way back when, when I started teaching at a mere 23 years old, that I now know were totally not true.Amanda: Me, too, Gretchen. I think I started teaching when I was 21, and I don't know about you. Do you have, like, examples that stick in your mind of your misconceptions?Gretchen: Yes, totally. You know, as a general education teacher, one of the things I thought I knew about ADHD was that I would be looking for kids and probably mostly boys who were hyperactive. I wasn't thinking about the fact that it could be a student who was quietly not able to focus, right? Couldn't finish the book, perhaps couldn't get through a whole test. I really wasn't thinking about that. I only thought about hyperactivity.Amanda: I think me too. And I wonder how much of that is about when we started teaching and how much of that is about just sort of that expectation that, you know, you see it, you see ADHD in that — that it's like the boys who are running around and bouncing off the walls and jumping off the top of the playground and all of those kinds of things. But we now know that's not true. ADHD, the "H" is hyperactive, but there's also attention deficit in that, right? So that inattention matters as well. There are kids in classrooms, there are kids all over who maybe don't show those hyperactive or impulsivity kinds of things. That's a common one, right?Gretchen: It is. And also, what about the fact that I, going into teaching, thought it would mostly be boys and that the boys would definitely be the hyper ones? I mean, I will admit that is what I thought. And I know that's not true.Amanda: Yeah. And I think, like, I can take that as an early intervention specialist, we often saw boys first, you know, because boys tend to have hyperactive-type ADHD a little bit more often than girls. And that's the first thing people notice. But the truth of the matter is inattentive-type ADHD, that distraction, that daydreaming, that kind of thing, it's also really common. And it's not just girls who have that. So you see it in girls and boys, but it's not the kind of thing, like in a classroom, it's not the kind of thing that like jumps out at you. Because when you're trying to manage all of these kids, the things that are like literally popping up are the things that you're paying attention to more.Gretchen: That's right. What about you, Amanda? Is there any particular idea you had about learning differences that tripped you up as a teacher or maybe as a parent?Amanda: Oh, my gosh. Yes. So as our listeners know, I have kids who have learning differences, too. When I first started this with my own kids, you'd think because I had experience in the classroom that I'd notice it and I'd not have these myths. But I remember thinking with one of my children. I remember thinking like, "Why doesn't he just try harder? He can do all of these amazing things." And it's like what teachers would say to me: "He's just not trying hard enough."I didn't do a real good job at first of pushing back on that and saying, you know, this stuff he needs to learn and has trouble with. I think I may have accepted it more than I should have. And I — that's a whole other thing. But as a teacher — gosh, you know, you have that one kid you remember, you know? I remember from maybe my fifth year of teaching, right? So more years ago than I'm willing to say. But I will say that this child is now probably has her own family, let's just say, right? Had a really hard time learning how to read and do letter sounds and stuff like that, but was also kind of like balky about it. Wouldn't do it and was sort of tuned out a lot of the time. And and I kind of chalked it up to she was being stubborn. And as I look back at it, I realize like she was telling me with her behavior that she was having trouble. And I think that now I would definitely have a conversation with that child's parents and say, "I think we're seeing some signs of reading issues. I think we're seeing some signs of inattentive, maybe ADHD, maybe...." You know, I wish I'd had that conversation and like, I still think about that. And I wonder, you know, how is she doing? What did her rest of her school career look like?Gretchen: I know. It's hard not to focus and blame ourselves for things that we may have missed. The word "blame," though, right? Also reminds me of something else that I think comes up, which is hearing people blame parents for their kids' behaviors. Actually, not just behaviors, but the learning differences themselves. I've heard things like, "Hmm, maybe you just didn't read enough to your child," for a student who has dyslexia. Or "Hmm, are you setting boundaries? Maybe that's why your child has ADHD." I've even heard things about like, "Maybe you're feeding your kids too much sugar." These are all myths, right? This blame that we're placing? These are all myths, aren't they?Amanda: They totally are. And the sugar one, I don't know how many times I've heard that. You know, "If you change his diet a little bit, you know, he'd be calmer." And I kind of have this like maybe if I change his diet, I'd be calmer, but I don't know if he would be calm, right? But I think you're right. Like, I think a lot of times people are looking for a place to put blame and they don't do it deliberately. I think they do it weirdly. They're trying to be helpful. They're trying to say, like, well, if you just tried this, probably it would get better. But what it comes out to, like parents like me, what it is, is like you're not doing it right. And that's really hard. I am going to do the thing where I put our producer Julie on the spot and ask her to chime in. Because Julie, you've worked with us for a few years now, and I'm wondering, what didn't you understand at first or maybe still don't understand about learning differences?Julie: Yeah, I think there's a lot of things that I didn't understand and that I'm still learning. I'm a little embarrassed to tell you this one, but it is true that a lot of times when people ask me when I'm working on it, I'm telling them about this podcast, I'll say it's, you know, for families who have kids with learning and thinking differences. And then I say, like, you know, ADHD or dyslexia, and then I sort of trail off.Gretchen: You mumble and....Julie: I feel like I know there are others and some of them we have actually done episodes on. But I wonder, can you spell out for me, what do we mean when we say learning and thinking differences? Amanda: I can do that. OK. So at Understood in particular, we have sort of what we call core issues, right? Issues that we specifically focus on. And the word "learning differences" encompasses a lot of things. But when we talk about some of our core issues, they're actually learning disabilities. And so dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. So that's one of them. There's written expression disorder, which is sometimes known as dysgraphia as well, another learning disability. And then dys-cal-cu-luh — or dyscalculia or however people say it — is a third learning disability that we also focus on. And then we also focus on ADHD, which is not a learning disability, but it can get in the way of learning. And that's another myth. A lot of people think ADHD itself is a learning disability. And then the last thing that we focus on as a core issue and Understood is language disorder. So receptive language, the ability to make sense of what other people are saying to you. And expressive language disorder is the ability to take your thoughts and put them out verbally and have other people understand you. There are other differences. Those are just the ones that we particularly focus on. So now you can go answer that question differently or have people listen to this podcast.Julie: Exactly.Gretchen: No more trailing off.All right, so we've just learned a lot and we're ready to learn more. Because there are actually quite a few misconceptions that we've come across. And I'm so happy that Amanda is here to help us sort through some more of them. So, Amanda, are you ready to tackle another one?Amanda: Indeed.Gretchen: So here's one we hear a lot. It's the belief that a child who is diagnosed with a learning disability will grow out of it. Does that actually happen?Amanda: Oh, that's a really common one, right? It doesn't happen. If you have a learning disability, you have a learning disability because your brain is just processing information differently. What may happen is kids, as they grow older, have more strategies. So they've learned how to accommodate for themselves. So it looks like they maybe they've outgrown some of the things you saw when they were younger. But it's not that they're outgrowing a learning disability. I think that does a disservice to all of the adults out there who have learning disabilities. Because at 18, you're not like, oh, no learning disability anymore. It may change what it looks like and how it shows up, but it's not that it doesn't exist anymore.Gretchen: And what about ADHD, though? I've heard different things about this.Amanda: There is a very small percentage of people, and this is not my expertise, so I want to be really cautious in saying. There's a very small percentage of people who do sort of outgrow the symptomology of ADHD, but it's a very small percentage.Gretchen: All right. Well, here's another one. And I think this is something I held on to for a while when I was a kid. When I first heard about dyslexia, I thought dyslexia was either a vision problem or I thought it was just seeing letters backward and that's it. But we know that's not the case, so please explain, Amanda.Amanda: I think we think that because you see it a lot like in TV and stuff like that, when somebody has dyslexia, you see like the words are swimming on the page or in front of them or that kind of a thing. It's not. I think we're just going to say that. It's not just that. It's not a vision problem. You know, people with dyslexia may have vision problems, but I'm sitting here with my glasses on. I also have vision problems and no dyslexia. I think one of the best things I heard is somebody that we work with who has dyslexia. She said to me, "It's not that I can't read, it's that I had trouble learning how to read, right? I had trouble with the sounds and putting the sounds together in the language." So that was really helpful to me to realize what dyslexia is, is more about that language learning and the being able to decode the sounds and being able to get the vocabulary and get all of that put together. And people who have dyslexia may often have difficulty with sort of their spoken language as well, like retrieving language when they're talking. So that's why it's called a language-based learning disability.Gretchen: Got it. All right. Well, here's another point of confusion, I think, that has to do with kids who are what we call twice exceptional, or 2e. Can you explain what 2e means and how does it throw people off?Amanda: I'll do a quick one and then I will also put a plug in for the fact that we did an episode on twice exceptionality that people can go back to and listen more about. 2e or twice exceptional means that you have a child or adult who is intellectually gifted and also has a disability. It doesn't have to be a learning disability, and I think that's important to note, too. But when we talk about it, we're often talking about kids who have learning disabilities and are also intellectually gifted. And what throws people off there is this myth that, like, you know what, you can't be gifted and also have a learning disability. And it's just not true. One of the things that I think people — and I probably held this misconception as a teacher when I first started, too — is that it sort of cancels each other out, right? But you can have a learning disability and also be in like AP classes. And you can have accommodations in all of those gifted classes. And we all have things that are difficult for us and are not difficult for us. So I think it's just a magnitude thing to think about it that way, too.Gretchen: That's a good way to explain it. All right. Here's the one that people have trouble pronouncing: dys-cal-cu-li-a or dys-cal-cu-luh? I know, I think I say dyscalculia. In any case, this is often described as just math dyslexia. But that's not really how we should be describing it, is it?Amanda: No, no. I've heard people say it's also just like significant math anxiety, which it is also not. Again, I'm going to go back to the brain part of this. It's the way your brain is wired and the way it processes information around math. I actually like the word "dyscalculia" because I can remember it sounds like calculator, so it makes me remember that it's math, right?But you know, it impacts sort of the ability to learn numeracy, which is kind of a fancy way of saying like all of those underlying concepts about numbers — you know, counting, one-to-one correspondence, knowing that a numeral matches a group of numbers, knowing patterns and shapes, estimating, proportionality, all of those kinds of things that are math concepts that we actually use in everyday life. So it's not just about being anxious about math. It's about those everyday skills. You know, people may also have trouble with, like, calculating the tip, you know?Gretchen: Yeah. I never thought how helpful those tip calculators on the end of a receipt. I always thought they were just trying to push me to give more money. But really, maybe it's an accommodation. I should think about it that way.So speaking of accommodations and things like calculators, a lot of people have confusion around this. They see some of the tools that some people might use as accommodations as cheating. So, for example, I'm thinking of assistive technology, things like dictation apps, or audiobooks, or even the calculator. Are those things cheating? Are we stopping people from learning or doing things in the way that they should? I'm using air quotes right now. Or are those things just accommodations? What's the what's the deal here, Amanda?Amanda: It's not cheating. Like, I'm just going to say that flat out. It's not cheating. I've heard that, you know, with kids with a written expression disorder, people say, like, my kid refuses to write, and I think they just want to use the computer. Or, you know, this kid will only read comic books and that's not really reading. And like, those things just aren't actually true, right? These adaptations, these accommodations are actually helping us learn. And what's really interesting is that everybody uses accommodations in their daily life, right? The example I often talk about is way back when, when you used to go to crowded restaurants or whatever, right? And there was a lot of noise going on, and if there was a game on the TV or whatever, oftentimes you have the closed captions on because you can't hear over the crowds, right? My Mr. 12 — we talk about Mr. 12 sometimes, right? He uses closed captions all the time on the TV, not because he needs the closed captions, but because it helps him process the language. He uses the closed captions as an accommodation. But you know what? It helps everybody. Those kinds of things help everybody.Gretchen: Yeah, exactly. And as a former English teacher who filled my classroom with books, I would like to just point out that graphic novels, comics, magazines, all those things counted as reading is my classroom.Amanda: Reading is reading.Gretchen: Reading is reading. Exactly.Amanda: Well, and I would add to that audiobooks, right?Gretchen: Yes. Audiobooks, too. Exactly. Yep. All right. I think one last thing here. A pet peeve, Amanda, that we were talking about just the other day. We were saying how we are not fans of hearing things like, "Oh, I'm so ADHD today," or "You'll have to excuse me, I'm a little OCD." Explain. Why don't we like that so much?Amanda: Gretchen is watching my face do a whole thing right now. I actually have OCD, so that one is very personal to me. It's just like I get frustrated when people use it as a shorthand for explaining what they're having trouble with, right? I have OCD, and I will always have OCD. And so I don't get to put it to the side. "I'm OCD today and I'm not OCD tomorrow and I'm not," you know, like — and so when people use those phrases like, "Oh, I just, you know, I'm so ADHD today" or, you know, "I'm a little OCD," it feels like it sort of diminishes the experience that people have on a daily basis. You know, you don't get to put it away. You don't get to have days when you're not ADHD. It doesn't acknowledge that there are people that this is their whole experience all the time.Gretchen: Yeah, exactly. All right. I think we've covered a lot. Is there anything else, Amanda, that you think we should address?Amanda: I think maybe just that these are just a few of the myths that are right there, right? There are tons of myths and misconceptions which are — that's very hard to say. So the more we bust them, the less we have to say "myths and misconceptions." So just, you know, take a moment to think through. And if you don't know, ask. And if you don't have someone to ask....Gretchen: Write in or ask us.Amanda: Right? I know!Gretchen: Write in or ask us, or go to, where we have a ton of articles on many of these myths. We've got articles that are called like "7 Myths About ADHD," for example. I don't know if it's seven, but you know what I mean. We've got lists. And so if you go to a, you can find some of these lists and they can explain things. And, you know, if you have someone in your family who maybe is questioning some of the things that perhaps like your child is is learning, they have a diagnosis and a family member saying "that's not true" or "that's not real," send them these facts. We've got fact sheets and we've got myth-busting sheets. And you can send those along to people to help, you know, better educate them and give them the tools so that they can talk about it.Amanda: Send the tools. And I think that what that does is take some pressure off you for having to be the one who feels like you're always educating other people. And we will put links to — I wouldn't — probably not all of them, because we have so many of them. But we'll put links to a lot of them along with other resources in our show notes for this episode, so that you out there can start educating other people and be a myth buster on your own.Gretchen: That's right.Amanda: You've been listening to "In It" from the Understood Podcast Network.Gretchen: 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.Amanda: And if you liked today's episode, please share it with the folks around you — other parents, your child's teacher, or other people who may want to know more about learning differences and debunk some myths of their own.Gretchen: Understood is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people who learn and think differently discover their potential and thrive. Learn more at "In It" is produced by Julie Subrin. Briana Berry is our production director. Andrew Lee is our editorial lead. Justin D. Wright mixes the show, and Mike Errico wrote our theme music. For the Understood Podcast Network, Laura Key is our editorial director. Scott Cocchiere is our creative director. And Seth Melnick is our executive producer. Gretchen: Thanks for listening and for always being in it with us.

  • How’d You Get THAT Job?!

    Changing focus between two jobs fights off my ADHD boredom

    Rachel Basoco’s two jobs keep things interesting for her ADHD. She works full time at Fidelity, and part time at 11:11 Media, Paris Hilton’s company. Rachel Basoco ADHD, works two different industries. She’s full-time director advancement growth digital communities Fidelity. also works part time 11:11 Media, Paris Hilton’s company, building Web3 community. considers “the finance bro finance bro’s girlfriend.”Having two different jobs makes planning workday easier Rachel. flexible schedule, pivoting one project another brain gets bored. positions, works passion: fostering community.Listen week’s episode hear Rachel developed community among Latina business owners. Plus, gather advice self-advocating managers.Related resourcesADHD boredomWorkplace accommodations fact sheetA day life employee ADHDEpisode transcriptRachel: stayed one place one time bored, would picked skill set today.Eleni: Understood Podcast Network, "How'd Get Job?!," podcast explores unique often unexpected career paths people learning thinking differences. name Eleni Matheou I'm user researcher Understood. means spend lot time thinking find jobs love reflect learn are. I'll host.Rachel Basoco next guest. Rachel ADHD. passion community building, two jobs two different industries. She's full-time director Advancement Growth Digital Communities Fidelity, financial company. also works part-time 11:11 Media, Paris Hilton's company, working building Web3 community. Rachel diagnosed ADHD last two years. reflect together past experiences shaped self-image things like boredom taught pay attention ignites her, also guided seek supports positions make shine. Let's hear builds work work her. Super excited show, Rachel.Rachel: know. Yay. Exciting talk way.Eleni: know. actually haven't talked much work, funny. feel like bunch friends New York City where, like, literally took year even find day job was.Rachel: Yeah.Eleni: there's many things talk about. So, exciting. Rachel friend New York City. know overlapping communities, feel like it's appropriate we're going talk community community building conversation. know, know you're two jobs moment, maybe could tell us little bit them.Rachel: Yeah, definitely. Exactly said, work two jobs, I'm always kind picking jobs there. mean, think way brain works. something's exciting new, do? jump in? need structure life. So, work two roles.My full-time role Fidelity. director Advancement Growth Digital Communities there, extensively helping build digital peer-to-peer space community financial wealth advisors, kind creating space find sense belonging amongst one another digital space. really isn't something like size we're looking build it.And part-time, every week go I've building digital presence digital community Paris Hilton. So, web3 community manager there, really kind maintaining community Discord, working VP Growth design really we're moving Paris Hilton audience. so, two roles have. kind joke, I'm finance boyfriend finance boyfriend's girlfriend.Eleni: love that.Rachel: like day, I'm calls talking market capital gains. afternoons I'm talking about, know, simple life glitter and, know, unicorns rainbows. so, really love kind duality day jobs.Eleni: Yeah, really polar opposite. It's great. love it. would love hear little bit like setup, know, works you. Like, like it? Like, relate like brain works?Rachel: Definitely. mean, think something that's really super helpful roles I've like massive over-communication managers, like boundaries place. Like don't calls 9 a.m. night owl need night owl need able work kind like way work, sometimes day might look like paper, like people do, like 8 5 9 5, know, right? can't work way. need take breaks. need moments it's, stop I'm focus something else come back it, it's exciting get bored quickly.So, know, typical day way I've structured might look like, hey, two three meetings, rest day like open space actually block calendar like focus time. get decide, focus time used Paris project Fidelity project? really depends priorities, allows kind go back forth without getting bored one them.Oftentimes find I've bored certain task, like can't focus. I'm logged like brain. might logged like green computer, right? putting best energy. I'm putting best effort. can't productive I'd like be. so, it's honestly strange like "Hi Rachel brain, productive actually need to, like, stop things boring something else that's exciting." so, it's really nice kind make balance.Eleni: take time figure kind work situation works best you? Like, led that? Rachel: think, yes. mean, honestly, I'm thinking about, like past roles losing mind boredom, nothing exciting, nothing new. like sitting room, like office like 8 5, then, like, everyone would leave, I'd like didn't get anything done today. ultimately ended happening like, bored job, like making like started building company side. so, like, ended building first online marketplace made Latinas.Eleni: That's amazing.Rachel: like, "I'm bored like, hate..." used work fashion "I like, hate I'm right now. Like, I'd really love create online community space people buy things made Latinas, talk mean Latina in-person events."And honestly, got community bored job needed creative outlet needed something else do. telling you, like don't structure, don't two things do, brain it. It'll like start...Eleni: Create something else.Rachel: like, "Let's something else. Let's try something else."Eleni: Yeah. wondering, like, tools strategies kind needed day day support challenges maybe need less found like environment?Rachel: Yeah, mean, definitely think like work later afternoons evenings week. so, think work-from-home work flexible work schedule helpful that, allows tap like productive, creative, focused times. Like, honestly, like hours 7 p.m. like 11 p.m., I'm probably focused day. yeah, could like sit like hammer like lot, like super focused.But hours probably 2 p.m. 4 p.m., I'm always like, "I'm useless right now." Like there's much like, jump-start unless it's something that's new exciting kind create a, again, faux excitement around it. tools resources really like a) learning structure day works me, productive. b) also able communicate team managers people work firm boundaries, think took figure out.I mean, wasn't diagnosed ADHD year half ago, two years ago. so, didn't know. thought like, "There's something wrong me. can't like everybody else?" it's actually not, like can, needs structure format.Eleni: Yeah. Yeah. diagnosis changed way perceive challenges?Rachel: Yeah, think oftentimes kid, especially young girl looking back, it's like obviously, ADHD, you're Chatty Cathy, like book like first grade, talking book, talked turn, teacher like, write thing come back home this, like talking book like, "Rachel talks much class. Rachel does, know...." know, like was, yeah, like wasn't, know, think diagnosis young boys young girls different.And ou

  • 6 phrases to use when asking your professor for support

    Do you need extra support or accommodations from a college professor, but don’t know how to ask? I’ve been there. I have dyscalculia, a math learning disability. And it’s taken me a long time to figure out what to say and when to say it.It can be intimidating to ask about accommodations — like extra time on an assignment. But getting support in college is worth it. So, I created this list of phrases you can use. 1. “Can we have a conversation about the accommodations I need for your class?”You need to ask for support to get it. Starting a new class can be a busy time, but it’s the perfect opportunity to meet with your professor. Ask to meet before or after class, or during office hours. Sending an email is also a good way to reach out if you feel anxious about asking in person.2. “Here’s an info sheet about my learning disability in case you need more information.”When I meet with my professors, I give them a copy of an info sheet that I made. It describes what my disability is and some of the areas that I struggle in.Taking the extra step to provide your professors with an info sheet shows that you’re ready to advocate for yourself. It also helps professors understand more about you and why you need support. (Check out fact sheets about ADHD and dyslexia you can use.)3. “Can you help me understand this better or explain it in a different way?”The way that professors teach a lesson or describe an assignment can be confusing. Anytime this happens to me, I ask my professor to explain it in another way.Going to your professors’ office hours can be a chance to learn at a more comfortable pace. It may take several explanations, but asking for help and guidance is always a good idea.4. “Can we create a signal to let me know when you’ll call on me in class?”I’ve always had anxiety when it comes to answering questions in class, or having to explain my work. It’s something that I’m still actively working on.Work with your professor to create a signal for when you’ll be called on, like a hand gesture. Knowing when I’ll be called on lessens my anxiety, helps me focus, and increases my confidence when it comes to speaking up.5. “Can I have more time to work on this?”Having some extra time to work on an assignment can make all the difference. It may not always be an option when it comes to group projects or assignments with hard deadlines. However, it never hurts to ask your professor about getting a deadline extended.6. “I think having another person help me explain what I need will help us come to an understanding. Can we set up a meeting with my disability advisor?”Sometimes, a professor may not be willing to provide the support or accommodations that you’re asking for. What then?You don’t have to do this alone. Set up a meeting between the school’s disability access consultant and your professor. This meeting can start a conversation about your needs and address any concerns the professor may have. Attending a meeting like this may be intimidating, but it will give you a chance to feel supported and speak up. 

  • In It

    All about language disorders

    Understanding what a language disorder means for your child can be overwhelming. Here’s help from an expert. Language disorders can lead to many questions, both in the classroom and elsewhere. How will the school handle it? What can you do to help at home? And what if you’re not even sure if a language disorder is what your child is struggling with?In this episode of In It, hosts Gretchen Vierstra and Rachel Bozek talk with Kelli Johnson, a Minneapolis-based educational speech-language pathologist who is also a writer and expert reviewer at Understood. Kelli explains what her job is all about, and what it means to have a language disorder. She also talks about making her work with students fun while helping them navigate this learning and thinking difference.Related resourcesLanguage disorder fact sheet What are language disorders How speech-language pathologists work with kidsEpisode transcriptGretchen: 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 getting into language disorder.Gretchen: A term which includes receptive language disorder and expressive language disorder. Rachel: Joining us to break it all down is Kelli Johnson, an educational speech-language pathologist based in Minneapolis. Gretchen: Kelli holds a master in communication disorders and is also a writer and expert reviewer here at Understood. Rachel: We're so glad to have her helping us out today. So, Hello Kelli. Kelli: Hello. Rachel: Welcome to "In It." We're so glad to have you here. To get us started, would you mind telling us what it means to be an educational speech-language pathologist? Kelli: Well, an educational speech-language pathologist is somebody who serves disabilities in the school setting as they relate to a child's ability to participate in the school curriculum. And so, the disability areas we deal with are things like stuttering, speech sound disorders, or articulation, where kids have difficulty saying specific speech sounds.And what we're going to talk about today, which is language disorder, where kids' language development is really significantly... they have significant challenges compared to their same-age peers. Gretchen: Let's go into a little more depth. What is a language disorder, exactly? Kelli: Broadly speaking, language disorder is a disorder or an impairment that involves the ability to understand the language that's all around you. The meanings of language, the language that we get in writing or verbally, and also expression. So, how we use language to convey the messages that we want to put out there. Gretchen: How common are language disorders? Kelli: So, you know, the studies that we have available on five-year-olds — which is kind of when, language disorder tends to be discovered — is that it occurs for 1 in 14 kids. And that is the rate at which it's identified in kindergarten. But those language difficulties generally persist in some way or other, in some severity or other through adulthood. Rachel: Wow. You've touched on this already, but I wonder if you could say more about the difference between receptive and expressive language disorder. Kelli: Sure. So, receptive language is all about what you're taking in. It's language understanding or language comprehension. And so, these are kiddos that are going to have difficulty taking in, longer directions like 3-step directions. These are kiddos that, may not understand the question you just asked them. They will certainly have difficulty understanding verbal instruction. You know, when teachers are teaching a longer lesson. Expressive language is how kids or how people use language to say their own ideas express themselves. And so, these are kiddos that are going to have trouble putting sentences together in a way that is meaningful to the people around them. And so, that can look like, difficulty with grammar. It can look like difficulty with what we call syntax, which is sort of how we put all these words together, telling stories, or difficulty organizing sentences. But broadly speaking, expressive language disorder is difficulty putting the message out there in the way that you want to say it. Rachel: So, what are some of the signs? We talked a little bit about kindergarten being kind of the beginning of when this might get spotted. What are some of the signs that might indicate that a younger child has a language disorder? Kelli: Right. And I do want to just kind of clarify a little bit. We've got good studies in kindergarten that tell us that often those distinctions will get spotted really early because, you know, little children aren't meeting those really well-explained developmental milestones, you know, with their checkups with their pediatrician. So, they're not starting to put two words together at the age that you would expect them to put two words together. As they're getting a little bit older, you know, as teachers are sort of interacting with them in class, they might notice, "Wow, this kiddo is using just single words or pointing at a lot of things." They might notice that when that child is trying to say something that happened to them — you know, they have a conflict with another kiddo — they can't tell the story of what happened to them. They might have a more limited vocabulary. They tend to be not the kids that are raising their hands to participate. If it's a receptive or receptive-expressive difficulty, those are the children that are going to struggle to follow directions in the classroom setting. They're going to be the children that answer questions in an off-topic way. So, you're saying you know, "Who did you see?" And they might start telling you a story that is, you know, completely unrelated. And some of that is just a thing that children do. But as you're comparing it, you know, you're comparing it to the other kids in class you're going to find that that's much more of a trend with children who struggle with receptive language. Rachel: And how does that differ as they get older, like, is what you see different with older kids? Kelli: It is. I mean, I should say, for children with language disorder, we generally see those concerns much earlier. It's not usual to identify, say, a fifth-grade child with language disorder. However, the things that stick out are going to be different because the academic demands have been increased. So, you know, in classroom discussions, you might find that they're just not as able to show what they know. Maybe they do understand what's going on. And you can kind of tease that out if you ask questions that don't require longer responses, but they're not going to be the child that can kind of explain things in a complex way. You're going to start seeing it in their writing. If it's an expressive language disorder, those are going to be kids that really struggle with those composition assignments. In part because, you know, these are often children who also have reading and writing difficulties. You know, they're getting support in those areas, too. If it's a child who's experiencing receptive language problems, reading comprehension is going to continue to be difficult. And you may see this mismatch between decoding and comprehension. Many of these children are fluent readers. They can decode words but when you ask them, you know, just to check up on comprehension questions, they will typically have a lot of difficulty. And these are often kids that will sort of like use what they know about the subject to answer the question instead of what's really on the page. There are children who are not going to do as well under, you know, answering questions on tests. And those are also children who may start to have some social difficulties because they are not, you know, they're not able to pick up on all of the language that's coming at them from their peers. And so they're not responding in a way that their peers would expect. Gretchen: So, who would be the one at a school or anywhere to typically diagnose a language disorder? Kelli: That's me. Yeah. It goes to the speech-language pathologist and it you know, there's a process, right? The teacher or parent will identify an area of difficulty. And schools do have a process for getting everybody together and saying, "I'm concerned about this child." And there's an early phase where you sort of try to tease out what, what needs another look. But I'm the person on the team that does all of the testing to identify language disorder. Rachel: So, a quick question before my next question. When we're talking about all of this is the kind of like common terminology to say, "Kids who have a language disorder" or "Kids who have language disorder," like, that's the name of it? I just want to make sure we're kind of like, asking it the right way. Kelli: I think you're asking it the right way. Children who have language disorder. Yeah. Rachel: OKKelli: Yeah, yeah. Or a language disorder. That's really fine. Rachel: OK. So, can you tell us a little bit about what your work with kids who have language disorder looks like, and maybe walk us through, like, the kinds of exercises that you might do with younger kids first, and then we can talk about older kids. Kelli: Yeah. So, we always start with what the evaluation tells us about that specific child. And language disorder breaks down into all these little subsets of skills. Right. So, some children might have a really difficult time with using what we call morphemes. Right. How we create the past tense, how we show that something is going to happen versus did happen. So, that child, you know, obviously would have a goal in that area. Some children might have difficulties with prepositions — in, on, whatever — and then there's some variability in how every speech pathologist works. I embed those skills in play for little kids. And that can also be books. You know, we sort of want to get them interested in books pretty early because that's where we're going in the academic setting. But we might do play-based things. So, for a child that is struggling with place, right? I might read a book about — there's really, there's a book I use a lot — called "Rosie's Walk," where a chicken's being followed by a fox, and the fox keeps changing position. And so we can talk about "On top of" "Behind" "Between." And then, you know, because this play-based, I get a little toy fox at the end and we play a little game where we put the fox at different places around us. If it's a child who's working on using longer sentences, I might get a bunch of toys that that child likes. And, you know, they can practice asking me. I'll give them a little frame for, "I want the... red one. I want the... black one." And so little by little, we add these words in and we start to expand. We can also just do things where they give me an answer, and I reframe it to add a couple more words and then say, "You tell me that." But for little children, trying to tap into what they are already interested in, is where we really want to go with that, because we want language to have a payoff. It should stay fun. Rachel: Yeah, yeah. Kelli: So, older kids, we start thinking a lot more about the direct connection of language to academic expectations. I try very hard to use texts or adapted versions of those texts in the context of our language sessions, and we might work on how do we summarize that. You know, some of the kids I see because you know, they have reading challenges as well. We might do this in a verbal way. You know, stories have these parts. They have a character, they have a setting, have kickoff where the story starts. So, they'll learn all those parts, and then they learn how to tell a cohesive — what we call a narrative or a summary — about that story. And the great thing is, it kind of applies to when we're telling stories about our lives and trying to give details about, you know, what happened when I got in a conflict with this other student? We might use writing more. I do a lot with what are called graphic organizers, where, you know, they may have an assignment in their class to write a report. And so, I kind of consult with a teacher about what those expectations are. And we put that in the context of a graphic organizer. And I might supplement it with, you know, kind of the step-by-step instructions from the classroom that I can add visuals to. And then that, you know, the other piece of that is, I would collaborate with the classroom teacher a lot to see how can we sync up what we're doing. How can you use these sorts of visuals, these sorts of verbal cues or written cues to help this child be more successful when they're actually in the classroom? And how can I pick up on my end to help them understand the expectations and meet the expectations with a little bit of language support. Gretchen: That relates to this question I have, which is what are some common classroom accommodations that kids might get in their IEP if they have language disorder? Kelli: Right. So, when I'm thinking of receptive language difficulties in particular, you might see an accommodation that says "The teacher should check for understanding after delivering a direction. Direction should be given in small pieces. Check with the child within five minutes of starting the assignment to give feedback or redirection." Expressive language accommodations might look like having graphic organizers available, having extra time to complete assignments, having a visual of what the expectations are, you know, because that puts it — without getting too deep in the weeds — kids who are trying to complete something that's really, really difficult might not have the working memory, right?The ability to kind of keep one thing in their head while they're doing another thing. They might not have the working memory to remember what the expectation is, and also use their little, graphic organizer to complete the assignment. I like to do buddies — you know, so to help kids access a peer who can maybe work with them to do, like, if it's a written assignment that will be a presentation — how can we work with a buddy, and how can the teacher help divvy up the responsibilities of each part of the buddy system? And then also, there's usually an accommodation that the speech-language pathologist will connect with the teacher on the specific accommodations that are needed by that kiddo, right?Because language disorder looks different for different children. And so, what they're working on at any given time will be different. You know, they're so just sort of staying in touch with the classroom teacher and saying, "This is the specific thing we're working on right now. Here are some ways that you can practice this in class." Rachel: So, can language disorder be cured? Or is there a point at which some children are not struggling with it anymore? And those might not be the same thing, but... Kelli: Well, it might. Yeah, exactly. When children are identified really young with language disorder, sometimes it is a need for more exposure. Right? Every household is different. What every kid is exposed to is different. And so, sometimes those little people, when they end up in, say, an early childhood program, which is all language, all the time, super engaging. I have seen kids just blossom. And so, you know that in those cases, we've just come across a child that just needed some really intense stimulation, maybe a little bit of extra time and maybe the, you know, the speech therapist is no longer involved after age 5 or 6. Typically, language disorder is something that is going to persist into adulthood. People can acquire skills. You know, therapy is helpful. It can make a difference, but it doesn't really go away. It is generally the case that while folks who are adults who had language disorder as a child are very functional, it is likely going to be the case that their verbal skills are not going to be their best skill. And, you know, the best-case scenario is that they have learned ways to self-advocate. They have learned specific skills that help them be better at communicating their ideas. But it might be still an area where they feel like, "Yeah, communication is not my strong suit."Gretchen: Yeah. And it seems like you said, too. All the strategies, hopefully right, that they've learned over the years just come into play. And so, it's less of a challenge because they're used to using strategies to work with that challenge. Kelli: Right. And you know, I think too, you know, the best outcome for people who've had therapy for language disorder is that they sort of just come to appreciate the totality of who they are. Right. That there's just this "Yes, this is a thing. Nobody's perfect. This is just something that I've had to work on in my life. And, you know, I'm proud of the things I've done to work on it." Gretchen: What are some things that you encourage parents and caregivers to do at home to help a child with a language disorder? Kelli: I would say the first thing is, you know, talk to your child's speech pathologist because they are going to know specifically what's being worked on at that time. One really fun one that we tell parents to do with the littles is engage them in everyday household stuff. "Let's do this together." Usually at that age, they love it, right? As kids get older, they may not be as interested in making dinner with their mom, but at that young age they are often very excited about it. It gives an opportunity to talk things through, use vocabulary they maybe haven't heard before, and it keeps it really fun. I really feel like kids need it to have a payoff. It shouldn't feel like homework. For parents who are, you know, trying to help their older child who, has a language disorder, making them aware of maybe what supports are needed. You know, at the end of the day, when you want to talk to your child about their day, maybe we can have like a specific set of questions we go through. Maybe when the child gives a short answer, you can sort of recast that and confirm with a slightly longer answer and not necessarily have the expectation that the child's going to copy you, but keeping it natural, you know, just talking through what you're seeing with them. Keeping as much verbal communication as possible open as a model, as an opportunity, without having this huge expectation that feels like homework for the child. And there may be some specific little things, like when a child uses the present tense to express all things that happen. They might need some really specific practice, and I might send home, "Hey, you know, we're working on adding -ed to make the past tense. Maybe you can, you know, go through these flashcards during the day." But mostly just like, use it or find opportunities to say, "Oh, wait, I didn't understand that. You know? did that happen? Is that happening right now or did that happen before?" There are lots of different ways, and the best jumping-off point for the parent is to connect with the speech pathologist and say, "You know, what are you working on? How can I include that in our everyday communication?" Rachel: So, we hear a lot about how some learning differences, like ADHD also have upsides, where, you know, we hear a lot of the word lately, "Superpowers." Like they have the ability to kind of hyperfocus on things that they're really good at or that they're interested in, like we've talked about here. Is there any kind of equivalent or parallel that you've seen with kids with language disorder? Kelli: Well, I'll tell you. One thing I see — and I can't really say their causal right, that the absence of strong language skills leads to this other skill — but what I can say is that every single child I see has something they're just superstars at. Maybe they have strong math skills. Maybe they are just that kid that's got really great social skills in spite of not being really conversational. You know, I have those children that are just beloved because they are so kind and they're so interested and they want to help. I have children who are phenomenal at art, and I have among my receptive language kids with receptive language difficulties, kids who get really good at observing what's going on around them. Because when you don't understand the directions, you are looking around to see what the expectation is. So, I don't know that we can say, you know, there's a causal relationship between those things, but all of my kids have areas that are huge strengths for them. I have kids that are better than I am at lots of things, and I point this out to them all the time that, "Wow, you just taught me something today." That is not an infrequent occurrence. Rachel: That's great. That's great. Gretchen: Yeah, yeah, I think it's a good note to end on. Right. Strengths, that everyone's got their strengths. Kelli: Absolutely. It keeps me coming to work every day. Gretchen: Well, thank you so much for talking with us today. Kelli: Thank you for having me. It was a wonderful conversation. 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've 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. 

  • 5 tips for employee communications about disability inclusion

    You got executive buy-in for your disability inclusion initiative, and your program is off to a strong start. But there’s another piece you’ll want to have in place from the beginning: good internal communications. It’s the people in your organization who will make your disability inclusion program a success, so it's important to keep them engaged and give them the tools they need. Below are strategies and examples to help you develop a successful employee communications plan for your disability inclusion initiative. 1. Check the accessibility of your internal communications.If your employees can’t access your message, the information will be lost. Conduct an audit of your current internal communications. Ask yourself who might be missing out on this information. Are videos and presentations captioned? Is information presented in a variety of formats? Are visuals accessible to people with low vision or color blindness? Offer a variety of channels and methods for people to ask questions or get more information. List these on your communications to employees. For example, you could provide a link to an internal website, contact info for the steering committee, and details of upcoming discussion groups. 2. Lay the groundwork for your employee communications plan.Your company is undertaking a disability inclusion initiative for important reasons. Make sure to communicate those reasons to your employees. When employees understand the potential benefits for all stakeholders, you’ll be more likely to have their active support and enthusiasm. You can repurpose many of the points from the case you made to leadership. Many employees may have heard myths about disability inclusion at work, particularly when it comes to reasonable accommodations. Set the right tone by sharing some facts about accommodations in the workplace. 3. Leverage existing meetings.Integrate disability inclusion discussions into meetings that are already happening. Manager meetings are a great place to start. Give your managers the tools they need to open these conversations, including FAQs and scripts. Make sure they have information about workplace accommodations, and let them know how to handle situations when they don’t have the answers right away. Executive support is critical to the success of your disability inclusion initiative. Making that support visible — for example in larger team meetings — can show the organization’s commitment. Give the executives background information and talking points to help them act as champions of the program. 4. Use visuals and take-homes.Providing information in multiple formats is another way to improve accessibility. Offer pamphlets, posters, and other visuals in common spaces like bulletin boards, break rooms, and lobbies. These pieces can be a good complement to messages delivered in emails, videos, or meetings. Items like pamphlets that can be taken home and considered later are useful for employees who might not have the time or ability to take in a message on the spot. They can also be helpful for employees who want to refer job-seeking friends with disabilities to work at your organization. Here are a few ideas for visual materials:Print our downloadable fact sheets about workplace accommodations and employee rights under the ADA and offer them to each employee. Create a series of posters around a theme, such as invisible disabilities in the workplace. Post announcements about ways to get involved on bulletin boards and TV screens. 5. Share updates on your disability inclusion initiative.Plan regular communications aimed at keeping disability inclusion front of mind for your employees. That will help to emphasize its importance to your organization. And by sending out these messages on a regular basis, you’ll have more opportunities to inspire employees to participate. These communications could include specific, transparent progress updates to show that your company is invested in the success of the initiative. For example, in your company newsletter, you could include a graph showing progress toward the initiative’s goals. To keep employees engaged, provide them with information they can put into practice. For instance, you could share tips on workplace disability etiquette. Your employees are the greatest asset in your disability inclusion initiative. By developing an accessible and proactive plan for internal communications, you’ll help them play a strong role in your program’s success.

  • In It

    Surviving the holidays with sensory processing challenges

    The sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season can be a lot for some kids. Get expert tips for making the holidays more manageable.While the holiday season can be exciting, it can also stimulate the senses in a way that makes it less fun for some kids. For kids with sensory processing challenges, the holidays can be overwhelming.In this episode, hosts Gretchen Vierstra and Rachel Bozek welcome returning guest Keri Wilmot. Keri, a pediatric occupational therapist, shares some of the ways the holidays can bring on sensory overload. From costumes to new foods and more, Keri has strategies to help you and your child enjoy the holidays.Related resources How to make a sensory travel kit for your childPicky eating: Why it happens and how to helpSensory processing challenges fact sheetPlus, check out Wunder to get expert support around sensory processing challenges and connect with other parents.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 how the holidays can rattle the senses. Gretchen: Whether it's a beloved but scratchy Halloween costume, Rachel: or the loud and crowded gatherings that come at the end of the year, Gretchen: holidays can be a real challenge for kids who have sensory sensitivities. Rachel: So, what can we do to make this sensory overwhelm a little easier? For some excellent tips, we've invited Keri Wilmot to join us. Gretchen: Keri is a pediatric occupational therapist based in Texas, who we had on the podcast once before to talk about quote-unquote picky eaters. Rachel: Yeah, you know, that episode was before I was part of the show, but I listened to it and it was super helpful. So, Keri also leads a group over on Wunder, Understood's free community app for parents of kids with learning and thinking differences. And we're so glad she's here with us today. Gretchen: Keri, welcome back to the podcast! Keri: Thanks, Gretchen. Gretchen: So, today, as you know, we're talking about some of the challenges that can come up for kids who have sensory challenges. For some context, though, I was wondering if you could tell us if this is something that comes up for you in your practice as a pediatric occupational therapist. Do you see a lot of anxiety around things like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and all the holidays that come up at the end of the year? Keri: I do. I think as the holidays come closer, you know, especially now that everybody's getting back together in person and we have lots of events. You know, there's trick or treats, family dinners, school orchestras, you know, holiday parties. There's work parties. You know, so I find that there's generally a lot of stress around events. And so, yeah, definitely it is something that I think parents are stressed about. Rachel: So, Keri, we thought it might be useful to break this conversation down by looking at one sense at a time. So, that would mean vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste. So, let's start with one that I don't think people automatically consider first, which would be the sense of smell. What with pumpkin spice everything, scented candles, lots of cooking going on, it seems like there might be some extra triggers during the holidays. What's your experience with that kind of thing? Keri: Yeah, there's lots of different smells, like I think that's kind of the hard part for a lot of kids. They're used to like, maybe one or two smells at a regular family dinner, right? And then you walk into an event, or you're at a family party and there's a whole buffet out there of just so many different things. And so, for kids that I know that have struggled with this, it almost hits them like a brick wall. Rachel: Yeah. Keri: It really shocks them to their core and they're not quiet about it. Even my son will do that. He'll be like, "This smells terrible," you know? Rachel: Right. Keri: And that's like maybe even a nice way to put it, because they're usually like, "Ugh, phew!" So, that is the hard part with smell. Like, is it just, you don't know it's coming, you know? But one of the recommendations that you can usually try to do, and I think a lot of what I'll kind of recommend today is more about that preparation ahead of time. You know, there's always going to be these things with sensory kids that come out of nowhere that you couldn't really predict. But if you think about the whole experience in general, there are some activities and things that you can practice through and problem solve through so that you at least maybe have a strategy in place to try when you get there. So, you know, for smell, a lot of times that might be at home just talking about smell, and going around the house and finding things to smell: different candles, different foods, different shampoos, different lotions, you know, and really just getting a sense of the kinds of smells that your child likes and dislikes. But what's really neat now is they make a lot of scented slimes and pencils. Somebody told me the other day, which I think is a terrible idea, they have scented scissors, you know? Rachel: Oh, no! Why?Keri: I have no idea. That just sounds awful. You know, but for kids, I think it's important to kind of bring something like that. If there's a way to do that in a certain situation, like if it's a family party, find a scent they like in a form that they enjoy, like, you know, scented slime is perfect because it offers that tactile sensory component that helps kids calm down and they can have that scent that maybe replaces the scent that they don't like. Gretchen: I've done that. I've put lavender on my wrists to smell when there's a scent that I don't like. I'm very scent-sensitive, so I get it.Rachel: What about vision? This is another one that I think we don't think about a whole lot. Keri: Yeah, for sure. Again, back to those events. I think when there's a lot of people in the room that are moving about, that is a lot of visual information to process. Same kind of thing like, you know, if you're having a party in the house and there's just decorations all over the place, right? All over the walls, all over the tables, you know, Halloween, you've got these bright orange tablecloths. There's just a lot of different things to look at. And that in itself can be enough for them to just get a little bit overstimulated, not knowing where to look, not knowing where to go, where do I find things? Lots of competing backgrounds. So, just like we might do the same thing in a classroom, I would, you know, say to a teacher, "Hey, we should be mindful of all the information that's going on in here." It would be the same thing at a party. I'm not saying don't have decorations, you know, but just be mindful of kind of where they're placed. Maybe have a space that isn't decorated as much for kids to gravitate towards where they can have a place to calm down and chill out. And then there's the food, right? Like, why does holiday food look so different? It does! I mean, there's kids that, like, you could make chicken the same way, but it's a holiday meal and you're going to add parsley as a garnish, and all of a sudden it's like a game changer. Like, "What is that green speck?" And so... Rachel: Right. Gretchen: Or marshmallows on top of things. Keri: Yeah, exactly. We have these garnishes and these seasonings and, you know, and kids are just really that one little piece they hone in on to, it looks different and they're like, "No way." And I think in the food realm, a lot of people think it automatically is like a tactile taste thing. Like, you know, they don't want to eat it. And it's really sometimes that they just take one look at it and they can't even get beyond the visual piece, never mind get to the actual touching or eating part. They're so turned off by that. And so, I encourage a lot of parents to like when you present kids with food, like really look or an experience, right? Maybe it's those ooey gooey eyeball pasta things that you do at Halloween, you know, like when you present something to them, watch. What's their body language telling you? And so that's something to kind of keep in mind if that visual sense just gets really overwhelmed. So, one way around that is to kind of, again, like practice. You know, for foods, I'll often tell parents "Practice letting them tolerate something sit on their plate." There is no expectation to eat it. There is no expectation to touch it. You can just keep it, even if it has to be on a separate plate next to your plate. Keep it in a place where you can get comfortable looking at it and then when you're done, throw it away. Sometimes it's really just, that's the first step. Gretchen: I really like your tip about when it comes to sights of maybe having a decoration-free room. I feel like it would be good for anybody. It's like a deprivation chamber. Keri: Yeah. Gretchen: You get to go in the room without all the little tchotchkes around and everything and just be like, "Ahhh." Keri: Yeah, I think that should just be a party thing in general, right? Because a lot of the strategies that I have, kids that have sensory issues, they're seeking control, but then they get overwhelmed, you know? And no matter where they go, having a safe space anywhere is really key so that you can redirect them to that room or that space or that place or that, you know, just outside the auditorium or a quiet area where they can have a few minutes. Ideally, if it can be near where the major part of the party is, great! If it has to be in the room a little further away, no problem. You know, you want to prevent that feeling that you have to get in the car and go, right? Like, that you can't go at all. Rachel: Yeah. Keri: That's the struggle for a lot of families that they tell me is "It's a lot of work to get there, and then I'm going to get there, and then I'm going to have to leave in like 5 minutes. And so, we'll just not go." Gretchen: Right. Keri: But it's so important, I think, for kids to have those experiences. But again, it's the preparation and the planning ahead of like, "How can we make this as successful as possible? Knowing yeah, maybe the end result is we're going to have to leave, but maybe we only have to leave in 30 minutes instead of like right away. Gretchen: I want to talk a little bit about our sense of touch. And you kind of brought this up with the gooey stuff that goes on at Halloween sometimes. And for me personally, I love Halloween, and I love all things like that, like fun little haunted house stuff and, you know, touch this random thing, and... But I imagine that there's so many triggers for kids at Halloween, and touch is probably one of them. But then there's other things as well. So, can you talk a little bit about how we might help kids prepare or get through Halloween? Keri: So, in terms of dealing with those tactile issues, I have some really good strategies, right? These are those times where you're making something that has like ingredients. You have to mix with your hands and get all kind of messy. It could be those really fun Halloween ooey, gooey experiments, and that would be like gloves, like just find some like household cleaner gloves or just regular disposable ones. And I think it's OK for kids to know like, you know, "Hey, we can wear gloves and we can still have this experience." Gretchen: That's great. Carving a pumpkin I, ugh, I can't get in there with my hands. Rachel: Pumpkin guts are not your thing? Gretchen: No! So, I use a spoon, big spoon, and now I think I'm going to get a pair of gloves. Keri: Lots of kids like to have a little bit of distance between what they're touching and how they're participating in the activities. So, you know, maybe they don't want to get their hands in like the spaghetti for Halloween, but they might want to poke around in there with like a fork. You know, there's other ways for kids to explore it in utensils. Check out the utensil drawer. There's got to be something in there that you can use.Gretchen: That's great. Keri: For costumes, one of the situations that comes up a lot, it's like they want to be this, you know, important figure in their life that they watch on television, right? And then all of a sudden, you go to the store to find that particular costume that goes along with their hero, you know, And then it's like "There's beads!" You know, a lot of kids, I find, like they don't like things that make noise. They really don't like the T-shirts that have like the plasticky, like apliqués on the front. Gretchen: Like a Superman plastic thing on it. Keri: Yeah, like, depending on how it's made, right? Like, if it's like a not a really super soft T-shirt,  and this really like, crunchy stiff apliqué. Rachel: Scratchy. My kids call it scratchy. Keri: They don't like those, you know. And so, whoever like made the ability to have like, die-cut stickers is like a hero at Halloween, right? 20 years ago, we didn't have that option to just get a really super soft T-shirt and print "This is my Halloween costume" and stick it on there, you know? Gretchen: Right. Keri: You know, so I think like now people are so creative with what a costume can be and it can be a T-shirt that they're comfortable wearing with just a saying on it. Rachel: So, while we're on the costume topic, I saw a question come up in the group that you ran on our Wunder app related to this, and here's what it said "What should I do if my child feels different than his friends because they're all wearing a mask trick or treating and he doesn't want to. Should I encourage him to try wearing a mask or figure out another way to handle it?" What's your advice for for someone in this situation? Because I think it happens to a lot of parents. Keri: I think it's a conversation you need to have with your child when they're in a calm place, when they're not stressed out. These are the kinds of conversations, you know, you really want to have. You know, gee, all your friends are going to be wearing this particular mask. Do you want to wear a mask? If they say no, then, you know, I think it's important to kind of respect their wishes not to, you know, and certainly that's a good time to kind of ask why like, well, what is it about the mask that you don't like? Do you think it's scary? You know, but I think it's also important to ask questions that don't necessarily, like put ideas into their head either, right? Like, "Oh, you don't like it because it's scratchy," you know? "Oh, you don't like it because it looks scary." It's hard because, especially as parents, like you kind of have this connection to your child to read their mind, like you can anticipate whatever it is that is probably really the issue. But I think it's important for them as they get older to really, truly understand on their own like what does that feel for me? Because I think the more kids become verbal and the more they get in touch with their feelings and emotions and understand these concepts, you're going to be shocked and surprised at what they can tell you about that experience. Gretchen: Let's get to another area, which is taste. And I know we had you on the show before where we talked about so-called picky eating. But I imagine that if you have an eater in your house who is sensitive, it can be especially challenging around the holidays because there's so many meals that you don't have control over and there's so many opinions by relatives and friends and family about what people should eat at these events, like, you know, the turkey at Thanksgiving or Latkas at Hanukkah, fruitcake at Christmas. So, let's get into that a little bit. How can we help kids prepare for these eating experiences in the holidays? Keri: Yeah, again, preparation. You know, if you can call ahead and find out sort of what's this, you know, menu going to be at the party, then that's a great first step. You know, kind of poke around and try to find out, is there something that your child likes or doesn't like and then fill in the gap, right? What can you bring that sort of meets the requirement of, you know, bringing something to the party that also, you know, is something that you kind of know your child will eat, even if it's just a couple bites of it? Aside from that kind of knowing the menu ahead of time, then you can prepare it at home, right? You can you can make that thing at home. You can try to make other foods at home that you might expect to be there, although they're never truly always the same, right? Like, how can mashed potatoes like, taste so different? Gretchen: Needs salt. Keri: I know, right? It tastes better when somebody else makes them. But, you know, I think it's really important again, to just try those experiences and kind of like jumping back to where we were talking about that visual aspect before, you know, I feel like people are always kind of looking like, what, is their plate full? Like, did they eat enough? You know? And so, like, that's a conversation you can have with your child too, like, "Look, I don't care if you eat it or you don't eat it, but hey, can you just put it on your plate? Because I bet, like, if it fills up some space, like people are just going to think you're eating and it's OK, you know? And then when nobody's looking, just go throw it away, you know?" And so, like, it's when the plate's empty and somebody looks over and they're like, "Why are you not eating?" You know? And so, some of it, I think, could kind of just be like trickery, trickery to the people at the party. Because going to a party is not where you should say, like, "We're going to have 20 bites of this thing that you've never had before." Just set the expectations up amongst yourselves and make sure that it's reasonable and not something that's going to, you know, send kids into like a tizzy because there's an expectation that they're not used to in a place that they're totally unfamiliar with that's going to trigger them to just get overwhelmed. Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. You just dug up a memory for me that I didn't even know was in there, and I don't think my mom is listening. But like, there was probably at least five years where I did not eat turkey on Thanksgiving. I just didn't want it. I didn't really like it. And there were years where I did exactly what you just said. I just, like, faked it. I just like, would have it on the plate, perhaps even chewed it, and then kind of like threw it in the napkin. I mean, complete trickery for years. And I'm totally outing that right now. But it was that, it was like I was just like, "Ugh, I don't really want this, but it's going to be a thing if I don't eat it." Keri: Yeah, and it's important too, like it really, again, goes back to conversation, Is there like a little secret look or like, "Hey, if I blow you a kiss, Mom, like that means get me out of here," you know? Rachel: That's great. Keri: You know, how can you work together to sort of overcome this problem? And from the parent perspective, here's the hard part, right? Because everybody wants to judge everybody else, you know, like, "Why do you let them get away with not eating? And how come, you know, this is such a problem, they should just eat," you know? And so, I think as a parent, if you expect it coming, then expect to have an answer, right? Like, what kind of comeback can you put in the queue and practice over and over again? So, if you suspect it's coming, it probably will. You know, how can you divert that to a place that says like, "Yeah, this is just how we do it in our family. We're OK, you know," and change the subject. Or whatever your comeback is. You know, it doesn't have to necessarily be a huge long conversation about, you know, your child's sensory issues, and this is something called tactile defensiveness, and there's a reason why, and we have therapy 5,000 times a month. And, you know, it doesn't have to be your whole life story. But I think a lot of times if you have something witty that you're confident and selling, then it's going to divert that pretty quick. Rachel: I like that. Yeah. Yeah. Comebacks are really helpful to have. OK, So, last but not least, we're going to talk about hearing and sounds and we've got plenty of jokes out there about the oppressiveness of hearing holiday songs on repeat in every store you walk into during the holidays or like starting in October. So, for kids who have noise or sound sensitivity, are there other ways that the holidays can be hard?Keri: Oh, absolutely. Again, you know, there's only a few times a year where my KitchenAid mixer makes it to the counter. So, you know, appliances like blenders, you know, like mixers, those especially blenders, you know — that kind of falls in line with the hair dryer and the vacuum cleaner category — but the types of sounds that really trigger kids are those really loud, unexpected, either high frequency or low-frequency sounds. Like high frequency would be like a siren, like an alarm or low frequency is like your blender that, you know, like real loud, deep one. The other part about those sounds that sets kids off is like, generally, sensory kids don't have great body and space awareness. So, when those sounds come on and come out of nowhere, it's like they're being attacked, you know, like they can't locate where that sound is coming from right away. And so, a lot of times it sets off that like panic fight flight fright response, where they are just terrified. And so, the important piece for that is, again, control, you know, like, "OK, hey, I'm going to turn this blender on. It's going to be on for 2 minutes. So, do you want to go upstairs, like in the furthest point of the house, and hang out there while I do this? Do you want to just watch from over there so you can see what's going on? Do you want to push the button? Like, do you want to turn this on? You can turn it off in 5 seconds and then go back upstairs." And a lot of times kids are, they feel so much better about it when they can control it. Rachel: Yeah. Gretchen: Yep. Turn it on, then run away. Keri: Just make sure the top's on. Yeah. Yeah. So, for sounds, it's again, it's control. And noise-canceling headphones are super cool now. You know, like 20 years ago nobody wore over-the-ear headphones and so, I think it's a little bit more socially acceptable you know for kids to wear those. And so, if they have to wear those, they have like, you know, a phone that's hooked up to those headphones where they can listen to, again, music that they like that drowns out the sounds of music that they don't like. It's really about finding those coping mechanisms that help make you feel good. I mean, that's what we would do, right? You know, And so I think it's important to just give kids those strategies and let them know, like, hey, it's OK to be different. We all have likes and differences, but let's just try to come up with a way to respond where we're not, you know, stressing people out because you're screaming and yelling when the blender is going on in the kitchen. Rachel: Totally. Wow. Keri, you're giving us so much great stuff to take away with us.Gretchen: I think I'm going to take away the not having decorations in one corner area and also thinking next time as you're sprinkling the parsley on top, does that really need to be there? Maybe there could be a side bowl with a parsley and a spoon and folks can put it on themselves. Rachel: Yes, I do that a lot with like side things where it's like kind of this add-on that you wouldn't have at a regular dinner, but in my recipe at Christmas time, there's extra garnish or whatever. I'll do like half of them with. Gretchen: That sounds great. Well, Keri, thank you so much for being with us today and talking about this important topic as the holidays come. Rachel: Thank you so much. Keri: Oh, thanks for inviting me to be here. Rachel: If you found this conversation helpful, you might also get a lot out of the group Keri leads on our Wunder app. It's called "Ask an Expert: Movement and Sensory Challenges," and you can find it by downloading the Wunder app. That's W-U-N-D-E-R.Gretchen: You can also find some great free resources about sensory processing challenges on our website One of my favorites is a sensory travel kit, and we've got a download and a video on how to make one for your child. Rachel: Love it. We will share a link to that and lots more in our show notes. 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 "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.

  • 5 Ways Kids Use Strategizing Skills to Learn

    If you’ve ever had to figure out a way to get your kids to school, various afterschool activities and then home, and still manage to finish your work, pick up some groceries and get dinner on the table, you’ve used strategizing skills. Strategizing means coming up with a plan to get things done.When kids use strategizing skills for schoolwork, they usually aren’t consciously thinking about planning. They just know how to approach a problem or task in a logical, orderly way. If your child has trouble with strategizing skills, however, learning can be more chaotic. Here are five ways kids use strategizing skills to learn.1. Strategizing and Learning to ReadBeginning readers use strategizing skills to make sense of new words. To sound words out, they have to plan what rules they’re going to use. With the word shape, for instance, kids use strategizing skills to know that s and h work together to make the sh sound. They might also look at the e at the end of shape and decide if it’s silent and how that will affect what sound the a makes.They also strategize by using things like context clues (other words and pictures in the text) to learn the meaning of an unfamiliar word. If your child has trouble with strategizing skills, these reading processes may not be as automatic, and he might benefit from additional or different kinds of instruction.2. Strategizing and Reading ComprehensionAs kids move from learning to read to reading to learn, strategizing helps them figure out how to interact with what they’re reading. Kids read fiction and nonfiction in different ways. If your child struggles with strategizing, he may have difficulty figuring out what’s important information and what’s not.For example, if your child is reading a nonfiction book about sharks, his strategizing skills help him know to be on the lookout for unfamiliar facts and shark-specific vocabulary. If he’s reading Jaws, on the other hand, it’s still a book about a shark, but a fictional one. Fiction requires different reading strategies from those needed for nonfiction. With fiction he needs to pay attention to the plot, setting and characters.3. Strategizing and MathMath requires strategizing skills from the start. Kids need these skills for looking at groups of numbers (one group of four or two groups of two?) and for counting things (by ones or by fives?). Word problems require a strategy for matching up clue words to operations, such as fewer than to the minus sign.Strategy is also needed for organizing information into charts, tables and graphs and for knowing which part of a problem to solve first. If your child has weak strategizing skills, he’ll likely need help learning to plan an approach to take with a problem. One option is to create “cheat sheets” with examples of problems and common ways to solve them. You can even talk to the teacher about allowing him to refer to the sheets in class.4. Strategizing and WritingStrategy goes into writing long before kids begin writing out coherent ideas. Beginners need to plan how to form letters, put them together into words, decide where those letters go on the page and where to put spaces between words and sentences.As kids start writing to express ideas, they must strategize to decide the best way to present that information. For a story, they need to plan out the characters and plot. For an essay, they need a strategy to get the points across and add supporting details.If your child has trouble with strategizing, breaking writing down all these steps can be pretty daunting. Using graphic organizers like story maps or flowcharts can help your child organize his thoughts and writing. Creating an outline is another way to get ideas together and figure out what order to present them in before writing.5. Strategizing and StudyingKids use planning to study and take tests, too. Taking notes in class requires figuring out what’s important enough to write down and how to keep listening while writing. When studying, kids need strategizing skills to organize and review notes in time for a test.Those same skills help kids decide how to approach taking a test. For example, eliminating the wrong answers on a multiple-choice test can make it easier—and also faster—to choose the right answer. This strategy saves time by reducing the number of options to choose from. If your child struggles with planning, it may take him longer to study and take tests because he has trouble coming up with the most efficient ways to get things done.The Good News: There Are Ways to HelpIf your child isn’t skilled at planning and strategizing, it doesn’t mean he won’t be able to improve. But he’ll need more support. Your child’s teacher may be able to provide classroom accommodations, such as giving more detailed instructions and allowing the use of calculators, graphic organizers and fact sheets. You may want to ask whether your child’s school uses Strategic Instruction Model to teach children who need extra assistance with planning and organization strategies.There are also tools and techniques you can try at home to improve his planning skills and help make learning easier.

  • The Opportunity Gap

    ADHD parenting tips from a Black clinical psychologist

    Kristin Carothers, PhD, joins the show to explain what families of color should know about ADHD, and shares her experiences as a Black doctor.What should families of color know about ADHD? The hosts welcome Kristin Carothers, PhD, a Black clinical psychologist who specializes in working with families of kids who have ADHD and learning differences. “Dr. Kristin” shares why ADHD — and ADHD medication — often weigh heavy on the hearts of Black families. She gives practical tips on what to do if you think your child might have ADHD. And she offers strategies for families who don’t have resources or health insurance to get professional help. Dr. Kristin and the hosts also reflect on Black Lives Matter and her personal experience of being a Black doctor.Websites and approaches discussed by Dr. Kristin in this episode:Child Mind InstituteAmerican Academy of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryParent Child Interaction TherapyThe Incredible YearsAlan Kazdin Parenting ApproachRelated resourcesADHD fact sheetWhat I tell Black parents who worry about labels like ADHD for their child How to get a free or low-cost evaluation for your childEpisode transcriptJulian: Welcome to "The Opportunity Gap," a podcast for families of kids of color who learn and think differently. We explore issues of privilege, race, and identity. And our goal is to help you advocate for your child. I'm Julian Saavedra.Marissa: And I'm Marissa Wallace. Julian and I worked together for years as teachers in a public charter school in Philadelphia, where we saw opportunity gaps firsthand.Julian: And we're both parents of kids of color. So this is personal to us.Welcome back to the show. Hey, Marissa.Marissa: Hey, Julian.Julian: We're really hyped today because we have a very special guest here: Dr. Kristin Carothers, PhD. She's a graduate of Howard University and DePaul University. She's a clinical psychologist. That means she works directly with families of kids with learning and thinking differences, like dyslexia and ADHD. And in addition to working with families, she's also a professor of psychiatry at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. And she's worked with Understood on many different projects, including our Wunder app, which we're really proud of. So let's welcome Dr. Kristin to the show.Marissa: Thank you. That's awesome. Dr. Kristin, welcome. It's so great to have you. Thank you for joining us.Kristin: Thank you for having me. I'm really happy to be here today.Marissa: Everyone has this idea of what ADHD is, but for those who are new to this, or maybe not new, but maybe just unsure and unclear of what it is, how do you explain that to families? How do you unpack what ADHD is for families?Kristin: First thing I try to do when I'm explaining to families what ADHD is, is to let them know that it's a thinking difference that has a brain basis. So if we think about our brains and how they work and how we in a given day have to manage like multiple demands, right, so we've got a plan. We've got to organize. We have to respond to some things. We have to filter out information that we don't need to respond to.And what happens with ADHD is that you can have difficulty meeting those demands for a number of different reasons. And so we call it a neurodevelopmental disorder. And so what that means is that there's a brain basis for it, but it also has many environmental components that play a role in symptoms and presentation. But when you go to see a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist, or even a pediatrician, and they tell you, oh, your child may have ADHD, what they're talking about is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.And in the past there was ADD or attention-deficit disorder. And there was thought there's a difference between ADD and ADHD, but now we only use the one umbrella, ADHD. And then there are three presentations under that umbrella. Sometimes parents will say, "The brother is ADHD. He can't be." And so what they might be talking about is differences in symptoms that they noticed, but that's because there are different presentations.So the first presentation is the hyperactive impulsive presentation. Those are the kids who are talking all the time, jumping when they should be sitting, running, climbing in situations where it might be dangerous. We would say those are Energizer Bunnies. So that's the hyperactive impulsive type.The next presentation is the inattentive presentation. And these are our kids who are maybe forgetful. They're losing things all the time. It's almost as if you tell them to do something, goes in one ear and out the other. If the hyperactive kids are like Energizer Bunnies, the inattentive kids are like my space cadets. So it was like, "Hey, come back to Earth. Bring it back. Where were you?"Then we've got the third presentation, which is a combination, where kids present with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity and also symptoms of inattention. So they've got like this gumbo going on, where they have a mix of the symptoms at any given time.Marissa: That's super clear and really helpful. I've heard it before. I've never heard it explained so well, so thank you very much for that explanation. And I can like envision and see the students that I've worked with and the family members and people that I know and love. That is them.Julian: So from your perspective, what is unique about ADHD specifically for people of color? And then, even more specifically, for Black families?Kristin: I think a perfectly timed question. So I'm also Black, in predominantly Black settings, and wasn't even really introduced to the concept of ADHD until my high school years, when the setting that I was educated in was predominantly Black, but it became integrated with more white students. And at the time, what had happened was some students had been put out of their Catholic school and they were sent by their parents to their neighborhood school.So it was an interesting community because it's a white community, but the school in the community was all Black and the community didn't send their kids. But once they came, we learned about, oh, people take medication during the day to help them focus. Well, we had never heard of that.And so I'll disclose I was in high school in the late '90s, early 2000s. I didn't really know anybody who was on medication for ADHD or who had been diagnosed with ADHD. But I started to become aware that some of the kids who came to my school, that they were either diagnosed, that they had been on medication, that people would say things to them: "Did you take your meds today?" And I was like, "What is this?"Why am I saying all that? I think from the perspective of Black people, if a kid was evaluated or diagnosed, it was sometimes parents might say, oh, you're letting the system label them. OK, so there's already this like cultural mistrust for us and especially parents of Black boys. So that if a school system or a teacher wanted to evaluate a kid who was a Black kid and they presented with symptoms, parents would become mistrustful, because we don't know — you can't trust what the government does.You can't trust that label won't be applied to your kid and that label won't follow them through their life. And then they won't be able to get a good job and they might be fast-tracked for the prison system. So we have all of this like healthy cultural paranoia that I think impacts Black people historically and currently, when we think about ADHD and diagnosis.I was talking with my mom today about a friend that I grew up with and, or a couple friends I grew up with, where in retrospect probably did have ADHD, but we were so afraid. Even family members were so afraid of the intervention, due to the labels, that the intervention did not happen.And in hindsight, yes, maybe they did, but at the time it was not safe to be evaluated, get the label. Or we felt it was unsafe to medicate. So that's kind of my perspective when it comes to like how we're moving through this cultural acceptance of can ADHD be a disorder that doesn't necessarily mean we've got a label that's gonna follow us for life. We can get help, treatment for it.Julian: I didn't hear about this until I went to college and it had been something that I just was floored by. I didn't realize that medication was a thing. I didn't realize that these symptoms were actually scientifically proven to be a disorder. I just thought it was kids couldn't sit still. And so it was a really eye-opening experience for me, specifically because I went to a primarily white institution for my college. And I had grown up in primarily Black settings, too. So going to that situation, it just, it opened my head up.Given that this is both of our experiences, right, and I think people in our age group probably experienced similar things, do you see it changing? Do you see some of that being altered now?Kristin: I definitely see a little bit more acceptance in the Black community for the fact that a kid's symptoms can be tied to this like brain basis. That is not because the kid is just bad or acting now. But I think where we're still on the border and on the fences around medication and mistrust around like institutions and medical doctors. I think that some of that is mistrust. And some of it is like lack of knowledge. So if a kid is diagnosed and prescribed medication, parents may think, "Well, I gave it to him that one day, but his stomach hurt. I didn't give it to him again." Or "We gave it to him one day or four week and it didn't work. So we didn't do it again." Or "Medication doesn't work" or "Therapy doesn't work." And so I think what's happening for us is there's a lack of education about what the evidence-based treatments are — the fact that there are different classes of medication for ADHD.So because one medication doesn't work, it could be that the dose was too low. It could be that it's the wrong class of medication. It could be that the kid will respond better to a different medication. Or it could be that it's an environmental thing and that there needs to be an environmental intervention.Not every child diagnosed with ADHD is going to take medication. Most of the work is going to be parent and teacher training to modify the environment. And so that's the biggest thing that I find that people don't know.Julian: As a clinician specifically with what you do day to day, how do you go about treating and providing treatment? Is it a combination of advising the behavioral modifications? Is it subscribing medication like the parent side? Like what is it that you typically do?Kristin: So I'm a clinical psychologist. And so I do not prescribe, I'm not an MD. So across the states, in most states, the only people who can prescribe medication are psychiatrists. So psychiatrists have gone to medical school. They are medical doctors. Or pediatricians, depending on the state, you, which you live. Some pediatricians are more comfortable with diagnosing and medicating, but most pediatricians will refer parents to a child and adolescent — a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist for medication management if that's something they should decide to do.Evidence-based suggests that the fastest response is going to be to medication. Long-term, though, the longest-term effects are going to be with behavioral parent management training and school consultation. So what I do is behavioral parent management training and school consultation.And so there are a couple of different models that, um, clinicians can be trained in. There are some individual, there are some group models, there's some individual models, parent intervention, that are all based on the same premise that the coercive cycle of interaction between parents and kids can drive or increase these impulsive behaviors. And that the environment has to be modified or shaped so that the kid receives lots of positive attention for on-task behaviors, thus increasing those behaviors.And we try to actively ignore negative, attention-seeking behaviors as much as possible, and also set the kid up for an environment that's successful. So what I do is behavioral parent management training and school consultation.Julian: Focusing on the positive reinforcement aspect of it. Gotcha.Kristin: And you know what I'll say about that positive reinforcement thing is sometimes people are like, "Oh, well you want me to just praise my kid?Just praise my kid? What about what they do something wrong?" It's not just about praising your kid. It's about getting them to understand that there are certain behaviors that you're going to be really specific about that you're going to help them to be aware of that they need to increase. And when they increase those behaviors, you're acknowledging it.I also want to remind parents that we enjoy praise and we enjoy reinforcement when we do something well. So none of us shows up to our jobs for free. We enjoy getting a paycheck. We want that compensation. So there's nothing wrong with giving people feedback about positive behavior. That's how we work as human beings.Marissa: Yeah, it's so necessary. It's just ingrained, right? And I'm listening and I'm thinking to myself, how do you start to get the buy-in?Kristin: When I'm trying to like join with a family or a parent that might be resistant to the idea that their kid is presenting with these problems, is that I try to keep in mind that parents are the experts on their children. And so even though I may see this kid in a number of settings and notice things, at the end of the day, the parent really is the expert on their kid.And so as much as I can find out from them: What do you notice at home when you tell them to do X, Y, or Z? How many times do you have to call before the person comes or addresses? Have you noticed that the kid is having difficulty breaking away from this, but then they're really super focused on this. You can’t get them to do homework, but you can get them to do this for hours. That actually has a name, and this is what it's called.And so sometimes it's like parents have that "aha" moment because there are things that they thought of as maybe being a personality thing that might really be a symptom of ADHD. And I'm validating that they are having this experience at home. And it's likely a similar experience that teachers are having at school.Julian: Parents, do y'all hear that? Do y'all hear Dr. Kristin talk about how you all are the experts with your own children? Just want to lift that up and that everybody out there listening, Dr. Kristin is validating the fact that you all are the ones that know your kids. And that's something that we've been talking about a lot with our podcasts since the beginning.Marissa: And that is something that we need to continue to remind our families, because I think that is a key part that's missing a lot of times. And that's why students are often struggling in school, because they're — that parent piece is always, or there's assumptions that are made. And I think it's important that our parents know how valuable and important they are.So then with that being said, Dr. Kristin, I'm curious, for some families who are trying to get help, however, they might not have access to some of the resources or they might not have the financial ability or the insurance. Or even just like you said, there might be a knowledge gap or something missing there. What tips or advice can you give to those families?Kristin: This, this is a big issue, right? There aren't enough clinicians to do the work. Even if there are enough clinicians, some of them don't accept insurance. Even if they do accept insurance, they don't have any space. So what do you do as a parent?I often refer family members, friends, potential clients to sources of evidence-based information that are online. So for instance, I had a family member who reached out a couple of weeks ago about a child who has ADHD. They had medication from a pediatrician, weren't able to follow through. I say first, step one, you're going to go to this website, And you're going to look at what are learning differences. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. These are websites that have evidence-based, accurate information that parents can access, right? It's not treatment, but at least it's information, so you know you're not alone.The other thing that I recommend is that parents reach out to the academic medical centers in their community or the closest big city to where you are.The reason I say this is because academic medical centers typically train child and adolescent psychiatrists. And if they also train clinical psychologists who are doctoral level or pre-doctoral level. If you don't have an academic medical center, do you have a university, a college where there's a doctoral program in clinical psychology, where there are programs for licensed clinical social workers.Those universities, schools, often have community-based clinics where they provide services at a free or very reduced fee. And so the other thing I think is you check in with that pediatrician. You say to the pediatrician, "Hey, I need help. I need referrals."And then the final thing I would say is you gotta be careful with what you watch and consume because you don't necessarily know how truthful it is. But often there are YouTube videos that are by like organizations like Understood and AACAP — American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry — that provide information about symptoms and what you might see. So the web, I think, while you're waiting to get treatment, use that as a resource.Julian: You know, I guess the takeaway is that you don't have to feel like you're alone. You don't have to feel like nobody has not gone through this before. And you have to remember that as families with children, you have a right to the services that are needed, you have a legal right to get what is needed. And so don't ever feel like you have to take this on by yourself.Marissa: And I think one thing that stood out that you were talking about, Dr.Kristin, and I think is important for families and for educators to know too, is the piece of it that is so much the changing the environment. Because I know I've worked in schools with families where a lot of times there is a holdup with their pediatrician. There is a holdup in getting their medication refilled. And so that can't be the only answer. Yes, I understand that it's part of their management piece and part of what they need. However, it is also up to what we're doing. How are we developing our environment? How are we supporting them with what they need in so many other ways that are non-medication related?Kristin: Yeah, I agree. The other thing that I was going to say in terms of resources that are like, based on that environmental piece, some of the evidence though, the websites for evidence-based interventions that we do that really do impact that environment or that parent child interaction. They'll have resources on their website about, OK, what can you say to your kid? How do you structure the environment? So one model is called parent child interaction therapy, PCIT. And if you Google PCIT and international, you can go to their website and they'll have a list this just for parents.There's another model that's a group-based intervention called the Incredible Years. If go Google the Incredible Years program, you'll get to their page. And it'll say for parents, right?Or the Alan Kazdin behavioral parent management approach, Google it. And there'll be books that come up for really good information that can help you to start it if you need tips about, OK, what do I do at home to get them on task for getting ready for school. What do I do at home to motivate them for getting through homework?Julian: I would love to know, Dr. Kristin, um, and you know, I think about even my own children, just the experience of interacting with a Black doctor. What's that like for you and formulating that, that relationship and just what's it feel like to move into a family's home, and regardless of the race of the patient, just being a Black doctor, what is it like for you?Kristin: Depending on the context in which I was in and the time, things have changed. So if I think back to graduate school, when I was coming from the South Side to work with families on like the near North Side who were in public housing and I clearly was not in public housing, it was I'm Black, I'm from Chicago. But economically I've had a very different experience. And so working with a Black parent, I remember the parent was talking about being in public housing. And I say, my family came from public housing too. And she said, but you all were fortunate enough to get out.Then I go to New York and I'm in Washington Heights, and I'm working with parents who are undocumented. I'm working with parents whose children have to interpret for them. That I'm able to still build a really strong relationship because we have this consistency, but they had to teach me so much about the culture because I know nothing. And so I'm in a position where I have to learn about not just like that, there's a language difference, but there is a cultural difference.And so, can I connect with them when I can't speak their language and I'm Black and I'm not Dominican? So there's that. Then I go to Child Mind, and the families that I worked with that were Black were like me, middle-class. But there were very few of them. And so almost exclusively, my clients, the clients that I worked with were white and affluent and almost, for the most part, I was always respected.There were a couple of times where it was like, I knew that because I was Black, things were different. So there might be client that was supposed to come to me and then they didn't come to me. And I don't know why they didn't come or they didn't stick. And it's like, am I bad therapist? Or did I not stick because I was Black? Or is my rate of getting clients and keeping clients different? Because when you're on Park Avenue, people are looking at your diplomas, where you went to school, and they're looking at what you look like. We gotta be, we real about that. Just like they looking at that when they're in Atlanta and they say, I want a Black therapist.And so with the whole Black Lives Matter movement and everything, it's been as a Black doctor who's around other doctors who aren't Black, it was like really important for me to let people know, like I am Black, like Black-Black. And so this movement is like my life. And so I need you to know that if you work with me, or if you're in spaces with me, and then I guess where it breaks down for families and kids is now, there will be some times where I'm working with Black families and there will be some things, and they're like, "I don't have to explain this to you cause you know what I'm talking about." And it might be like a, a family, like a, some family-level issue. It might even be something about a sorority or a fraternity. And they're like, but on the flip side, when I'm talking to my white patients about it, I'm like, you got to explain that to me. I don't know.Julian: And I think that's the point of asking it, is that for our listeners, regardless of who they are in hearing the complexity of your experience and what it means to be a Black professional in this work, is important to hear. And it's also important to hear that it's not a uniform experience, but we all have different things that happen to us and different things that shape who we are. But it doesn't change our devotion to the work and our devotion to what we do and how we're uplifting people.So I just, I love everything that you've shared with us today. I love everything that you've chosen to talk about in terms of the recommendations and, you know, your life story is inspirational on so many different levels. You you've hit the gamut.Marissa: And just to piggyback off of what Julian saying, I think it's a breath of fresh air too, for us to listen and to hear. Because a lot of the conversations we have, sometimes we don't always have easy answers and not, and not that you gave easy answers, right? I do think though, that you gave a lot of applicable and a lot of tangible things for our listeners to connect with. And because of just the diversity within your experiences, that in itself makes you relatable. So thank you seriously, so much gratitude, Dr. Kristin.Kristin: Thank you. And I just want to let families know, and parents. Like, this is hard work when you get this information. They're like, "Oh, my kid has ADHD. What now?" And even sometimes I feel like when my family comes to me, I'm like, oh, I'm failing my family. How am I sharing all this information with all these different resources and my family doesn't even know?It's because it's like really hard work and it can be exhausting. And so you are not alone. And if you feel like you're tired or you just don't know where to start and it's overwhelmed, totally get it. But places like Understood — and I was going to Understood before I was even like any way affiliated with Understood.Marissa: I remember in graduate school, right in graduate school. I was like, especially as a special educator. And it just was like, again, like, I felt like there wasn't often a lot of times besides like your textbooks, right? They were like, here's where you get the information. I was like, well, no, I need things that are a little more up-to-date websites.Kristin: Yeah. The IEP Toolkit, like the Understood — the number of times that I've sent emails to parents, like just go to this website and read what it says. And here's the letter to request that like, here's a template, like this will walk you through it.Julian: I, again, I just want to reiterate the pleasure that we have of having you join us, and we really appreciate everything you had to say, your time. But also for our listeners out there, let's help encourage more of our young people to be like Dr. Kristin. We need more of you out there. We need more of you to be out there doing this work from a place of authenticity.Everything that you said comes from a place of realness and authenticity. Our families out there, really encourage people in your lives and community to find ways to do this type of work, because we need it, but find people that you can trust. That's really what it comes down to.This has been "The Opportunity Gap," a part of the Understood Podcast Network. You can listen and subscribe to "The Opportunity Gap" on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.Marissa: If you found what you hear today valuable, please share the podcast. "The Opportunity Gap" is for you. We want to hear your voice. Go to gap to find resources from every episode. That's the letter U, as in Understood, dot O R G slash opportunity gap.Julian: Do you have something you'd like to say about the issues we discussed on this podcast? Email us at We'd love to share and react to your thoughts about "The Opportunity Gap."Marissa: As a nonprofit and social impact organization, Understood relies on the help of listeners like you to create podcasts like this one to reach and support more people in more places. We have an ambitious mission to shape the world for difference, and we welcome you to join us in achieving our goals. Learn more at"The Opportunity Gap" is produced by Andrew Lee and Justin D. Wright, who also wrote our theme song. Laura Key is our editorial director at Understood.Scott Cocchiere is our creative director. Seth Melnick and Briana Berry are our production directors.Julian: Thanks again for listening.       

  • Classroom accommodations for anxiety

    It’s not uncommon for students who learn and think differently to also struggle with anxiety. They might worry a lot or be withdrawn at school. They may hesitate to participate in the classroom, make frequent trips to the bathroom or the nurse’s office, or even refuse to go to school at all. All of this can get in the way of learning.What are some classroom accommodations for kids with anxiety? Here are strategies teachers can try.Providing emotional supportEncourage the student to use self-calming or anxiety-reducing techniques that were taught by a counselor or therapist.Allow the student to have a self-calming object or family pictures on hand.Build in “call home” breaks (for students with separation anxiety).Let the student seek help from a designated staff member with mental health expertise when feeling anxious.Classroom setup, schedules, and routinesProvide classroom seating where the student is most comfortable (near a door, near the front of the room, near the teacher or a friend).Let the student sit near the back of the room or by an exit during assemblies.Assign the student a designated buddy for lunchtime, recess, and/or hallways.Allow preferential grouping for field trips so the student is with a teacher or friends.Provide a “take a break pass” to let the student walk down the hallway, get a drink, or leave the classroom when needed.Create a plan for catching up after an absence or illness (for example, excusing missed homework or having a known time frame for making up work).Give advance notice of planned substitute teachers or other changes in routine.Give the student notice and extra time before upcoming transitions, like before recess and lunch, and rehearse transitions in a private or low-stress environment.Giving instructions and assignmentsClearly state and/or write down classroom expectations and consequences.Break down assignments into smaller chunks.Check in frequently for understanding and “emotional temperature.”Provide a signal before calling on the student and a signal for the student to opt out of answering.Offer written instructions in addition to spoken directions.Exempt the student from reading aloud or demonstrating work in front of the class.Let the student present projects to the teacher instead of to the entire class.Introducing new concepts/lessonsGive extended time on tests and/or separate test-taking space to reduce performance anxiety.Allow use of word banks, cheat sheets, or fact cards for tests (for students who freeze or “go blank” during in-class tests).Set time limits for homework or reduce the amount of homework.Assure that work not completed in that time won’t count against the student.Provide class notes via email or a school portal for the student to preview.Give notice of upcoming tests (no “pop quizzes”).When students are being treated for anxiety, it’s crucial for all of the people working with them to be in contact with their mental health providers about using school strategies like these. Together, you can all ensure the accommodations are a good fit for the student. You can also visit the Child Mind Institute, an Understood founding partner, to learn more about what anxiety in the classroom looks like. What's nextDoes your student have anxiety? Learn more about school anxiety. Find out how teachers can use compassionate curiosity to show students that you’re trying to better connect with them and their experiences.Does your child have anxiety? Read expert advice on when it’s time to get your child help for mental health.

  • How’d You Get THAT Job?!

    How starting a creative small business fit my ADHD and dyscalculia

    Lindsay Miguelez has ADHD and dyscalculia. College wasn’t right for her, so she took a shot at starting her own wedding photography business.When you have ADHD and dyscalculia, you need lots of tricks for keeping up while running a business. Taking advantage of her smartphone is just one of the tricks Lindsay Miguelez uses. Like so many of us, when Lindsay was growing up, she was told that she wouldn’t always have a calculator in her pocket to help with math. Thank goodness that was wrong!It took seven years of struggling in college for Lindsay to decide to focus on wedding photography. Today, she’s in demand for her whimsical, romantic style. Of course, she still faces doubt and fear of failure. But she knows that sometimes you just have to say yes and figure things out later. This week on How’d You Get That Job?!, explore how you can take a passion and turn it into a career. Hear about Lindsay’s journey, and get her tips for starting a small creative business.Related resourcesWhat is dyscalculia?Dyscalculia fact sheetEntrepreneurs who learn and think differentlyEpisode transcript Lindsay: Maybe because I grew up performing, I love that, you know, we have a start time and it's go, go, go. And things have to keep moving. You can't pause. You've got to keep going. When I was tested years ago for my learning disabilities, they actually found that I had a super high processing speed. Um, and so I feel like because of that, I just love, I love the fast pace. I just love the go, go, go.Eleni: From the Understood Podcast Network, this is "How'd You Get THAT Job?!," a podcast that explores the unique and often unexpected career paths of people with learning and thinking differences. My name is Eleni Matheou, and I'm a user researcher here at Understood. That means I spend a lot of time thinking about how we find jobs we love that reflect how we learn and who we are. I'll be your host.Have you ever thought about running your own small business or making a passion into a career? Our next guest, Lindsay Miguelez, turned her love of photography into a thriving business as a wedding photographer. But it wasn't easy. Lindsay has ADHD, executive functioning challenges, and a math learning difference called dyscalculia. In this episode, we're going to talk to her about her learning differences and how she got her small business going. Welcome to the show, Lindsay.Lindsay: Hi.Eleni: So, Lindsay, I know that you're a wedding photographer. What is your favorite thing about your job?Lindsay: Well, there's a ton of things. I think just having the freedom to make my own rules. I like to say that a lot. I mean, obviously I'm serving my clients. I have my couples that I love dearly, and I'm providing a service for them, but just really being able to take my business in directions that I want it to go in, that I know that I have, you know, where my strengths are and where my weaknesses are, and where, you know, I, when I started my business, there were things that I tried to do that I just came to the realization that just were not going to work out and weren't benefiting me. So just being able to take my business in the direction that I want it to, and just not having someone make rules for me and telling me, you know, what to do.Eleni: Yeah, definitely. Is entrepreneurship something that you were always interested in?Lindsay: Actually, no. Um, my dad's an entrepreneur, but I just never, ever thought of that. I was gung-ho on going to college, and I was getting a history degree. I just kept my creative, you know, things like photography and dance, um, just things that I was going to keep as a hobby, and I never thought that that would ever amount to any sort of career.So I was very focused on school, which at the same time was doing horrible in and having the most troubles, but it wasn't till I made the decision to stop going to college that I was going to pursue what I really wanted in life, what I was passionate about. And, you know, I wanted to always, I knew since I was little, that I was not meant for a typical nine-to-five job. I knew that I wanted to do something that I truly loved. I felt like I looked around at people who got their, you know, had their careers, but they just complained about their jobs all the time and they hated it. And I've never been the kind of person that looks at something just for money that, "OK, I'm going to do this because of the money." I want to do something that I love.So it was really, until I made that decision seven years ago to start my business, that I was like, "OK, I'm an entrepreneur. I'm going to, you know, run my own business." And that was very foreign to me. I'd never done that before. So that was definitely a learning process. Figuring out how to do that.Eleni: Definitely. You mentioned that you always knew a nine-to-five wasn't necessarily for you. And one of the things that you love about entrepreneurship is this idea of being able to do what you want and, um, you know, not necessarily have to answer to other people. I would love for you to talk about how that might relate to your differences, and, you know, we haven't really talked about what your differences are. So if you could like introduce what some of your differences are and, you know, if you've thought about how that might connect.Lindsay: Yeah, definitely. Um, so in the fourth grade, I was officially diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder. I was able to easily fall through the cracks because I wasn't necessarily hyper. I was very shy and quiet, so, but my grades reflected poorly on me. So it took a little bit for, um, teachers to take notice. So my mom got me into testing, and the diagnosis was attention deficit.As I progressed through school, and doing more testing here and there, it came out that I had dyscalculia, which is math dyslexia, which I realized was probably the biggest issue that I had in school and just with my learning differences. And just overall, I am a very visual, hands-on person, and I need to teach myself. So, um, having teachers teach me in a certain way, I wasn't able to comprehend. I wasn't able to do as well as the other students, and I really, really struggled. So I think that having my own business, I've done away with that person telling me how I need to learn this.I mean, even with my camera, when I started my photography business, I wasn't an expert with my camera. I still didn't understand how aperture worked. But it was easier because I could teach myself in a way that I knew I was going to learn. And I can learn from mistakes, which is really how I learn. I, once I make the mistake, I will never, ever make it again, but I have to make that mistake first.Eleni: I think it's interesting to think about, you know, you mentioned teaching yourself photography and then having to learn a lot about running your own business, um, and doing that in the style that works for you. And also setting a business up in a way that plays to your strengths. You mentioned strengths as well, earlier, so, I would love to hear like what some of those lessons were, like what were some of the things that you needed to learn about running your own business?Lindsay: Yeah. Oh my gosh, there is a ton, but just having a creative small business, really learning how to put yourself out there. And there's so much fear that comes with that. I thought, you know, what, what are people going to think about me and this baby business? You know, I know I'm not that good yet, and I'm just learning, but I had to put myself out there.Um, so there was a big lesson that I needed to learn in just saying yes, just doing it, just going for it. I always think of the Tina Fey quote. She's like, "Just say yes and figure it out later." And that's what I kept telling myself, 'cause I would get an inquiry for a wedding, and I had not done a wedding myself and I was super, super scared, and I just, I didn't feel confident.And I just thought, you know, of all the bad things that could happen, what if I mess up? But I just said, "You know what, we're going to book this. I'm going to prepare myself as much as I can. And then of course, you know, that first wedding, I learned a ton just about how the day works, you know, different lighting situations with my camera and everything. So there was a lot of fear I needed to put aside and just put it in the back of my head and just really go for it. And I find myself doing that even today, even though I have a well-established business and I have people willing to hire me and loving my work. There are still things that happen that I do get scared. And I think, "What is this person going to think? Or what if I fail? What if I don't do a good job?" And I had to keep reminding myself, "We're just going to say yes. And we're going to think about it later. We're just going to do it." I mean, even this podcast, I was super nervous, but I'm just like, "We're just going to do it. I know it's going to, it's going to be fine."Eleni: I really enjoyed the way that you phrased that, because I think a lot of people, when they think about like starting anything new, can feel like a really daunting thing, but it's really humbling to think about, well, no one really knows what they're doing until they try. And, um, you know, all of the learnings are so unique to, I'm sure, like your own unique business in your own unique situation. So I'm sure that you're learning, like, you know, what you need to learn for yourself personally, and that may or may not relate to, um, to everyone.So you mentioned ADHD and dyscalculia. Are there any challenges that come up that are related to running a small business, and those differences?Lindsay: Yes, definitely. It's definitely difficult with attention deficit when I have a lot of administrative work. And since I am the sole runner of my business, I do everything. Absolutely everything — emails, accounting, the contracts, paperwork, and also, you know, going out in the field and, and shooting and working with clients. And that I have a very easy time doing. When I am hands-on, when I'm with people, I am completely on, completely focused, and I'm loving every second of it. I can just feel that it's, you know, what I'm meant to do, and this — or just being in person with people and photographing a wedding day, I get a high from it. But when I'm in my office having to edit the thousands and thousands of photos, I — of course, I do love editing because that's the next half of the creative process and producing the images, but it gets hard, being distracted with a house, you know; I have pets, I have laundry, I have things to do.And so, working for yourself, you also need to have self-discipline. And so, sometimes I do wish I had someone who was kind of telling me what to do, even though I love that I don't have anyone in this business telling me what to do. But sometimes I feel like I need somebody to kind of keep me on track because it can just be very overwhelming.I just say my ADD is flaring when I can't concentrate, and I try to do all I can to, you know, to get things done in the time that they need to be done. Um, as far as the dyscalculia, that involves numbers. I always say numbers don't mean anything to me. They don't have any value. And I, I have never understood them. And so obviously, my job doesn't revolve around any math or any computing or anything, but simple things like my prices, like, or the amount someone owes me, I always need to have that written down somewhere because I cannot just pull that from memory. It's even hard for me to remember relatives' ages or birthdays, because it's, it's a number. It doesn't really mean anything to me. So I definitely have difficulty that I, you know, I try to hide when someone's like, "Oh, what's the price of this?" And I just, I just have to make sure, because I know in my brain the numbers are going to get jumbled.Eleni: Yeah. Well, firstly, in terms of what you talked about around, you know, a small business requiring a lot of like time management and organization, we know that, you know, there are like some executive functioning challenges that come with ADHD that relate to organization and time management. So what do you do to cope with that like when your ADHD is flaring?Lindsay: Yes. I definitely have, that's one of the things that I was diagnosed with, like executive dysfunction or I'm not sure exactly the name, but the, I remember in school, they were like, you know, it has to do with note-taking and getting homework in on time and things like that. And that was definitely something that I always had an issue with.So now I utilize my phone, my reminders, my calendar — you know, I know when I need to even remind myself to put an alarm on my phone to start getting ready. But I definitely had trouble in the past when I was first starting in, in that time management and you know, how much time I needed to get from one destination to the other, how much time I needed to really get ready. But now, doing this for many years and having the same types of sessions and the same types of weddings, I utilize my phone and alarms and my calendar to really help me, you know, keep track of time because time is, uh, is another big thing with dyscalculia that's really hard for me to grasp. I always think it takes a lot less time than it does. So in order for me, you know, not to be late, I make sure that I kind of lie to myself and tell myself, you know, if the wedding starts at two, it actually starts at 1:30, and that's the time, you know, I give myself a false time to start and act like that's the starting time. And that way I can ensure that, you know, I will get there on time and I have all my ducks in a row.Eleni: Yeah. I think it's really great to normalize, even though you have a job that requires like some of the things that you struggle with, like the time management organization, you have ways to manage that day to day and that it's still totally possible to like get those things done.We haven't talked too much about dyscalculia on the show, so, um, I think it's really interesting to hear like the way that you describe it around, you know, not necessarily having like a concept of numbers or like being able to understand what they are. And, you know, one of the ways that it comes up is, um, pricing. Do you ever get like any support around, you know, those types of challenges, like either from other people? Are there like coping mechanisms?Lindsay: I think mostly, I mean, the people that really understand how I am with numbers is my mother and my husband. So they are, as far as outsiders, it's very easy for me to just keep these things to myself. I don't want to say it's not a common thing, but you don't usually hear "dyscalculia." A lot of people hear that word and they've never heard it before. They've heard of dyslexia. So I just say, you know, it's kind of like math dyslexia.But you know, as far as in my industry, it's easy to kind of hide those things and something that I felt like I've hid my entire life. I've just known that I've got to pull out my calculator for something, or I have to look at it written down. I'm not going to — if it has anything to do with numbers, I'm just not going to remember. But thankfully in my line of work, I get inquiries, you know, via email. Nothing's ever in person. So I'm able to send pricing and send it already written out, which is good. And then, you know what I have like timeline calls with couples and everything. I make sure I have all the papers out and I see, you know, how many hours they hired me for and how their timeline looks.But a lot of times going through timelines, either creating them or viewing them from planners, sometimes it's hard, too, because it's all different parts of time, and I have to kind of calculate, OK, how much time do I need to do, to do this? Or, you know, what time do they want me to arrive versus, you know, leaving?Um, and a lot of times it's over the phone, and I'm just kind of trying to do the math, you know, to the side really quickly, but sometimes I do get a little anxious and like flustered, um, because I just know that I just can't do mental math easy in my head and quick like other people. And I'm sure no one looking at me is realizing what's going on in my brain and realizing that I'm having a difficulty, um, but, you know, it's just, it's always going to be an insecurity for me. But I'm just glad that phones have calculators and we can have calculators in our pocket all the time, unlike what teachers said in grade school, so.Eleni: Exactly. Yeah, you mentioned, you know, working with couples, obviously that's a really big part of wedding planning, um, and wedding photography. Do you want to talk a little bit about what you like and maybe even what you don't like about working with people?Lindsay: Hm. So, I am an introvert, and I a lot of times like to be alone, but there, um, so you would think that I didn't like working with people. But I think the big crowds of a wedding day, sometimes it can be frustrating with guests because they don't know me; I don't know them. And you're trying to kind of herd masses of people to do certain things. Or you have someone who's like in your shot or walking down the aisle in the middle of the ceremony and, those little things can get annoying and frustrating. And I know it's that way for a lot of people in my industry. Um, but as far as the couples that I get to work with, it has been such a — something I didn't realize that I would love and really cherish the fact that I get to know these people and we become friends or good acquaintances, and they hire me throughout their life and they grow their family and have babies and I get to keep up with them. And it's just, I feel like I have all these friends and, it's just really been, been great to, you know, get to know them and just follow their journey. And it's just, it's really awesome.Eleni: I know that you mentioned early in the conversation that it also gives you an opportunity to be really creative. And, you know, I imagine that a lot of couples have like a very clear vision of, you know, what they would like and what they would want their photographs to look like. Um, how do you help like bring that vision to life and make them feel really special?Lindsay: Yeah, so I really try hard with my consistency to produce the same quality of work and the same style, because there's a lot of different styles in wedding photography these days. I'm very, very up-front with my style, so I make sure that when someone wants to hire me that they do love my style and they like what I produce and they want the same thing. They really trust me with the creativity and to produce, you know, what they're looking for.Eleni: How would you describe your style?Lindsay: My style is light and airy. I like it very crisp and clean. Actual film photography is still a thing. A lot of people are surprised about that. I still shoot digital, but the look of film photography is, is gorgeous to me, but in weddings, I need to see what I've shot. I need to shoot digital. I'm not ready to make the jump to film, but I try to emulate, um, that style, that, you know, just kind of whimsical, romantic style so when, so that when my couples look back at their day, you know, all they feel is obviously happiness from the memories, but I want the photos to portray that as well.Eleni: Can you talk a little bit more about what you enjoy in — on the day of the wedding? I'm sure that a lot of people have misconceptions about what a wedding photographer does. Do you want to talk a little bit about what it looks like on the day?Lindsay: Yeah. Yeah. I look at it as just like a big production, maybe 'cause I grew up performing. And so I love that, you know, we have a start time and it's go, go, go. And you know, things have to keep moving. You can't pause. You've got to keep going. When I was tested years ago for my learning disabilities, they actually found that I had a super high processing speed. Um, and so I feel like because of that, I just love, I love the fast pace. I just love the go, go, go. And then I love seeing my couples just relax once they hit the reception, because the ceremony is over and, you know, being in front of the crowd is over, and they're just, they're ready to party and they're ready to have fun. And it's just awesome watching them experience the best day of their lives.Eleni: Aw, that's so sweet. I also love that you really love the fast-paced nature, and that really relates back to, you know, the way that your brain works and your differences, in terms of having a high processing speed. So I love how that all like tied together. Last time we spoke, you said that you were in college for seven years. Why do you think that it took you so long to come to that realization?Lindsay: Yeah, I think about this a lot that, you know, "Oh, if only I had started my business earlier" and "I should have started it earlier." I think that I just never saw a way to do it. I never saw any examples until I was seven years in. My now-husband and I, we had just moved in together. We were dating and — but we were reaching that age where a lot of people were getting married. And so I started seeing other people, you know, posting their engagement photos. So when I decided, hey, I love photography. I see these people running their own businesses, working for themselves full time, being able to do photography, but they're doing it with weddings and portraits. So I got a job at a portrait studio in the mall thinking, you know, "They will teach me how to do this." And, so I did, and they, you know, kind of taught me how to pose, and I learned more about the camera. I only stayed there a couple of months 'cause I thought, "OK, I'm learning enough. Like I want to get this thing going. I have my name picked out. Like, I'm just gonna — I'm just going to go and do this and give it a try." And I did a lot of, you know, free shoots for people. I just contacted everyone and anyone I knew who was a couple or a senior or families to say, "Hey, like, let me take pictures of you. It'll be no charge. You'll get the photos. But I just need to build my portfolio, and I really need to practice."Eleni: That's great. You know, I think for a lot of people there's a lot of pressure, like societal pressure, family pressure, to go down the college route. And it's interesting for you like one of the main blockers really was that you didn't have role models for like people that were doing something different. It wasn't until you saw that in practice that you were able to envision it for yourself. And, you know, we hear about a lot of people that have like a passion or hobby but they didn't believe they can make it into a career. So it's really interesting to hear how you made that happen for yourself, even though it took you a while, you still got there in the end, and it sounds like you've found something that's really compatible with your differences and with your strengths, too, which is really great. Looking back, is there anything that you wish you had known sooner, um, as you were like struggling through school and college?Lindsay: The main thing I was always worried about in college was that, you know, was I going to be successful or not? And that to me in terms was not with money or anything, it just was, you know, doing good in my career but also working a job that I loved. And I really have always had a passion for history, so I knew if I got a job, you know, I would enjoy it. Um, but with college and the way my grades were reflected and how I, you know — all the struggles that I had already faced and that I knew lied ahead in order for me to get my degree, I just, it, it leaves you very insecure. It leaves you feeling like you aren't going to be successful. You're never — you're not going to make it. You're not going to, you know, be the person that you want to be. And it  took me at a very, very low point in my college career to decide to quit. And that was my first, that was what I first did; I first quit. I didn't even think of photography. Like I just said, "I have got to stop."I always wanted to be the person to, you know, fall seven times and get up eight, and just keep going, keep going, keep pushing through it. But it breaks you down the more that you fail, and breaks you down mentally. And so my first decision was to stop. And I even thought, "Maybe I'll go back next semester, but I just think that I need to stop." And so I knew I had to do something else. And so, you know, a lot of times when that's, when it feels like this is your only option, you just go for it and you don't look back or look around or anything. You just look forward.Eleni: Yeah. Do you have any advice to people who might want to start a small business based on a passion or hobby?Lindsay: Yeah. I would say, you know, any of those fears that creep up — because they will creep up; I think you're crazy if you don't have any fears — to put them aside and, and literally say yes and figure it out later. When you get any, take any and all opportunities that you can take. And I always tell people, you know, "If you quit, that's the only way you're going to fail is if you quit." If you continue to go, you cannot possibly fail. I think of the artist Lizzo. She said that at one point like she was working for like Liberty Tax and dressing up as the Statue of Liberty even, she was still pursuing her dream, and she just kept going and she did not stop. And that's how she got to where she is today. And just thinking about if she had just stopped and given up, she wouldn't be where she is. And same with me. I wouldn't be where I am. And I see a lot of people in this industry think that it's a lot easier than it is, and they go all in and then they end up quitting.And really, if you just push past those barriers and those struggles and, um, those downfalls, you know, you will make it eventually.Eleni: Well, thank you so much for having this conversation with me.Lindsay: Thank you.Eleni: This has been "How'd You Get THAT Job?!," a part of the Understood Podcast Network. You can listen and subscribe to "How'd You Get THAT Job?!" on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you like what you heard today, tell someone about it."How'd You Get THAT Job?!" is for you. So we want to make sure you're getting what you need. Go to to share your thoughts and to find resources from every episode. That's the letter U, as in Understood, dot O R G, slash that job.Do you have a learning difference and a job you're passionate about? Email us at If you'd like to tell us how you got THAT job, we'd love to hear from you. As a nonprofit and social impact organization, Understood relies on the help of listeners like you to create podcasts like this one, to reach and support more people in more places. We have an ambitious mission to shape the world for difference, and we welcome you to join us in achieving our goals. Learn more at"How'd You Get THAT Job?!" is produced by Grace Tatter. Briana Berry is our production director. Andrew Lee is our editorial lead. Our theme music is created by Justin D. Wright, who also mixes the show.For the Understood Podcast Network, Laura Key is our editorial director. Scott Cocchiere is our creative director. And Seth Melnick is our executive producer. And I’m your host, Eleni Matheou. Thanks again for listening.

  • Bullying fact sheet

    When kids face bullying, it may seem like they’re the only ones. But it’s a widespread problem. And kids who learn and think differently may be especially at risk. Get essential facts on bullying. Click on the download link above to print this one-page fact sheet.

  • In It

    Bringing sensory differences into kids’ books with Lindsey Rowe Parker

    The hosts interview kids’ book author Lindsey Rowe Parker. She talks about her new picture book about sensory differences in kids.From the colors of the classroom to the noises of the playground, school can be overwhelming for kids with sensory processing challenges. One author has turned these experiences into a new picture book. The book aims to help kids who have trouble processing sensory information. In this episode of In It, hosts Gretchen Vierstra and Rachel Bozek talk with Lindsey Rowe Parker, author of Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes: Calming My Jitters at School. It’s the second in a series of picture books about sensory differences for kids.Lindsey was a child with sensory differences. And now she’s a parent to a daughter with autism and a son who is neurodivergent. Lindsey begins by reading a section of the book. Then she talks about the importance of representation in children’s books. She also shares some of the sensory challenges she faced as a kid, and other real-life stories she included in the book. Related resourcesWiggles, Stomps and Squeezes: Calming My Jitters at SchoolSensory processing challenges fact sheet Surviving the holidays with sensory processing challengesSummer survival guide: Hacks to help your family thrive  Episode TranscriptGretchen: 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 calming the jitters with children's book author Lindsey Rowe Parker.Gretchen: Lindsey has a new book coming out, all about a girl with sensory differences. It's called "Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes: Calming My jitters at School." And it's the second in a series. Rachel: Lindsey herself was a child with sensory differences and is now a mom to a daughter with autism and a son who's neurodivergent. Gretchen: We wanted to talk to her about the importance of representation in children's books for kids like she was, and for her own kids. So, welcome to the podcast, Lindsey. Lindsey: Thank you for having me. Gretchen: We're so excited to talk to you. And we wanted to start by congratulating you on your new book. So exciting. We really, really love it. And so, we were wondering if you could actually read us, maybe the first few pages from it so we can give our listeners a sense of it? Lindsey: Absolutely. "I need to wiggle. I need to spin. I can't explain why. 'Today is a school day, school day!' Mom sings. She takes my hand and we spin, spin, spin around. She makes me giggle with her goofy songs. 'What would you like to wear today?' She asks. I want my favorite shirt. The one with the dinosaur. I point to it. It's in the stinky pile. 'Hmhm. Can we try another shirt with the planets today? \That one is clean and we'll get the dino shirt washed for tomorrow.' I feel my jitters start to bubble inside. Little bubbles. Like the kind in orange soda. She shows me the shirt with the planets. They have sparkles and they match my shoes. I nod. I do like planets, especially Jupiter. That's my favorite. She takes my hand and we spin, spin, spin around. And that's what calms my jitters down." Rachel: Thank you so much for that. And since the listeners can't see the illustrations, I just want to say that the illustrations by Rebecca Burgess really give the reader a feeling of the narrator's sensory experience. Like the spinning and the sounds of the bus, and like, the loudness of the letters on the page that are coming off, you know, from the teacher. I just, I really loved that part of it as well. Lindsey: Thank you. Well, and when I was looking for an illustrator — because we started this process back in, oh goodness, 2019 maybe — and I knew I wanted an illustrator that had the lived experience of sensory experiences. Because it's kind of a, if you don't know what you're looking for, not quite sure how to share that information. So, I reached out to Rebecca on Twitter and I was like, "Hey, I have a crazy idea. Would you read this manuscript? And I would be so honored if you would consider doing a project with me." And they jumped at the opportunity. They themselves are an autistic creator. And since our original partnership, they've gone on to illustrate a bunch of other books. And I'm so excited for that journey for them. I'm so, so lucky to have them on this project with me. Gretchen: That's awesome. So, I'd like to know what inspired you to write a book about a girl with sensory differences. Lindsey: So, I actually didn't start out to write a book about sensory differences. I was just writing little snippets, from, you know, my day with my children. I do have a little girl and a little boy. Both are neurodivergent. One is autistic, and the other, has not been diagnosed yet, but very, very clearly it runs in our family. So, I kind of just was writing these little vignettes or these little snippets of the day. And after going through a lot of occupational therapy with my daughter, I kind of started to see the differences in sensory experiences, and I was able to identify a lot more of the things that I grew up not knowing were sensory differences, I just thought I was weird. And so, kind of through that process, this evolved from just a little snippets of our day to identifying like, "Oh, what I'm actually writing is about sensory challenges." And I like "Oh!" and light bulb went on and I was like, "OK, this makes so much more sense." And we also didn't start out to do this as a series. It was just going to be one book. You know, I'm an unknown author, and it was my first book. And, you know, I thought that was going to be a one and done. And, because of the response from the first book and the need in that space in children's literature for — not only books about sensory differences, but books that celebrate neurodivergence in general — you know, we decided to keep going with it because the response was wonderful. And so, that just kind of I was like, "OK, we're going to keep going, because it's needed." Gretchen: You said when you were working with your own children that — occupational therapy for example — you looked back at your own childhood and sensed, "Huh, maybe some of this was me, too." Would you mind sharing some of the things you realized, maybe you thought you would label as just like, "Quirky," but actually were sensory differences? Lindsey: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I had so much internal narrative of myself that I've collected over my 40-plus years of — you know, I have ADHD and sensory differences — I was labeled a dreamer. I was labeled as not applying myself. Spacey, obnoxious, like all those things. And it just kind of becomes your internal dialogue after years and years. And going through that process of learning about sensory differences, specifically during my daughter's, you know, therapies, I was like, "Oh, wait a minute." So, I also then got, unfortunately got into a car accident and had to go do some neuropsychological testing. And that's when I actually got diagnosed, was after that. So, while that was a, you know, a hard time of my life, something really beautiful came out of that, which was a diagnosis that I didn't even know that I needed. And it just made so many things make sense. And then I was able to kind of retrain myself in my own narrative and be like, "No, you're not lazy. You're not spacey. You're not, you know — well, maybe I am obnoxious. I'm not sure — and all these things that I thought that I was. I'm like "No, that is not what it is." I think I have ADHD and I have sensory differences and these things I can manage, I can find supports, and I can give myself a little bit of grace, too. And I'm so grateful for that to have happened, even though I'm an adult, it has taught me so much of how I can try and help my kids not create those internal narratives for themselves. Gretchen: Are any of the sensory experiences in the book, ones that either you've experienced in your childhood or that your own children experience now?Lindsey: Oh, absolutely. The food ones, the clothing. I mean, one of the ones that was actually me, in this new book, is when the child is putting their face on the table and the table is really cool. And they're feeling the scratches or the divots in the table. And like, that exactly happened to me as a kid. I would just sit there when I was overwhelmed with whatever was happening in the classroom. I would then just, you know, feel senses around me. So, I put my warm face on a cool table. And it looks like, who knows what it looks like to the teacher that you're doing, or to the other kids. But what you're doing is you're just trying to regulate yourself. And it varies so much from person to person, as far as like, what things are difficult for them. Gretchen: That example you just gave of the head on the cool table and like feeling the little cracks on the desk like, yeah, you're right. To someone from the outside — like, I'm a former classroom teacher — I don't know, I might have looked at the kid and wondered what they were doing. So it's really informative, this book, to teach people that, actually this might be a way that they're calming themselves down amidst all of the commotion that's going around them. Lindsey: Yeah. I mean, it's fun and almost kind of, healing to like, kind of put it on the page and have the outcome be something that maybe didn't actually happen the way that I would have liked it to happen. Some of these responses that we show in the book are not necessarily how those moments actually played out. This is more of how I wish they could have played out. Rachel: Yeah. And I also really liked how understanding, like you said, that the outcome wasn't always how it really went for you or for either of your kids. Because there were moments while I was reading where I'm like, "Oh no, how is this going to go?" And it went OK. So, thanks for that. And so, another thing that struck me in the book is the repeated phrase, "I can't explain why." Like, when the narrator is saying, like, "I need to wiggle, I need to spin. I can't explain why." And it seems like there's something really important that you wanted to get across there. Can you talk a little bit about why you left it there, that you didn't add an explanation or anything specific about a labeling or a diagnosis? Lindsey: That's a great question. I think while I was crafting this, I had a lot of different authors — I was in a group, a critique group — we would get together and read each other's manuscripts. And part of that was saying, like, "How are you going to wrap this up? Like, how is this going to go down?" And, you know, I was like, "I don't know if we need to explain why. I don't know if a child explains themselves like, you just feel it. It is just your reality." And one of my critique partners, he was just like, "That's it. That is your repetition. That is your 'I can't explain why.'" And I was like, "Huh!" And he was so right. And you don't necessarily need to explain why all the time. You just need to be accepted, and supported. And so, even if the child or the adults or whomever it is can't tell you why they're doing the things that they're doing or why they're feeling the things that they're feeling, it doesn't matter. We still need to support and, you know, accept people and meet them where they're at. Gretchen: Lindsey, we mentioned this earlier that, we just appreciate how the story doesn't have, you know, a teacher coming in and saying, "What are you doing? Why are you doing that?" That the teacher is really supportive. And I feel like other authors might have gone the other way, because they might have thought it was more interesting, right? To have like, it's sort of like a children's movie. Some of those movies have these, like really harsh points because they think that that's what kids need. So, why did you choose to not add that? Why did you choose to have such a supportive teacher, supportive friends, etc? Lindsey: This was a definite choice. It took me actually a while to get this book published because, as I was shopping it around to different editors and you know, publishing houses, they were like, "Oh, we like it, but it's too quiet. Your story's too quiet." You know, "There's not enough drama in it. If you could make it a little more..." And I was like, it didn't sit right. And I understand that, you know, their job is to sell things. I get it. But for this specific, you know, I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to make it more than it needed to be. The arc in both of these stories is dramatic enough for the person experiencing it. More things don't need to be added to make that experience valid when other people see it. And so, that's partly why there is no like, huge explosion outside of just internally in that person's experience. And then having these supportive adult figures was so important to me and my illustrator for this particular series, because we want to model the way that it should go for kids. We want kids to see the way it should go for them. And, I was in another interview once with the first book and they said, "So, is this how you respond? And I was like, "Well, sometimes I can, sometimes I mess it up." You know? So, this is not like me doing all the things perfectly in this book. This is me showing what I would love to have happened. And I don't always get it right either. But modeling that type of support from adult figures in a kid's book, I thought was very important, and I was not willing to change that just to get it solved. Gretchen: Yeah, I agree. I mean, when my kids were little and we would watch, you know, the typical kids' movies that had those dramatic moments in them, they hated it because they felt unsafe. They felt like, "Well, what's going to happen? I'm scared." And so, I feel like this book is so great for kids, because they're reading it and they don't have to feel worried for the main character for the most part. And it does feel safe and warm, right? So, I like that about the book a lot. Rachel:Yeah I think it's nice to have a quiet story that is relatable for, especially for kids who maybe don't have a lot of quiet, because they're always getting the like, "What are you doing? Why are you doing that?" And now they're like, "Oh, it's OK here." So, yeah. I love that. So, Lindsey, you haven't just written these two books for your series — and I shouldn't say just two — but you've also recruited other children's book authors and creators to put out stories about sensory needs and challenges. Can you tell us a little bit about how that came about and what's come out of that campaign? Lindsey: Sure. So, I started seeing — as I got deeper down into the children's literature, like industry or environment or community, I guess you could say — I started seeing that there were actually a lot of books coming out specifically for, you know, neurodivergence, sensory differences by autistic authors and illustrators and creators. And I did not necessarily encourage them to write these books. They were already doing it. What I encouraged them to do was come together and not see each other as competition. And more see each other as like collaborators or community. And so, there's probably about 20 or so of us now that are either creators, illustrators, authors and even just advocates and other organizations. And then, during Sensory Differences Month in October, you know, I just really promote all of the different stories that are available and out there that have this, that's not the same story, but it is a similar feeling in the fact that, like, "You're not broken. There's nothing wrong with you, but this is an actual thing that people experience, and sometimes it's hard." And here are a lot of different resources for you to understand yourself, to know that you're not alone. And just to, to kind of like make a community of people who have the same goal. Gretchen: I'm wondering if you've heard from kids or parents and caregivers about your books, like, have you gotten any memorable feedback that's really stayed with you from those families? Lindsey: Yes. I have so many beautiful reviews that it just like each time I read one I tear up a little bit. But I think the one that got me the most, it was in person and I was at a children's hospital reading to the kids. And there were some parents there, and one of them came up to me after, and she was crying. She's like, "Thank you for seeing my child. No one sees my child." She's like, "You see them in this book and they can see themselves." And I was like, "Oooh." And I've heard that, you know, I don't wanna say many different times, but really is a very common thing for them to say. But having a mom in front of my face tell me, with tears in her eyes, that just got me pretty good in the heartstrings.Rachel:Yeah. So, looking ahead, do you have ideas for a next book in your "Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes" series? Lindsey: Yes I do. Absolutely. So, we have the two — this next one I should actually be getting just like in three days. I can't wait to unbox it — I also have an activity book that goes along with it. But then, aside from those three pieces, I'm hoping to do, I mean, the dentist right now is a big one in our home. So, that's a rough one. So, I'm thinking that might be one of the next ones. Holidays are usually like, sensory nightmares. They can also be really exciting for sensory, because I mean, I'm a seeker for the most part, a sensory seeker. And I love lights and loud noises and all this kind of stuff. But at some point it gets overwhelming. So, I might explore that a little bit. And then travel, you know, going on airplanes or going to new places with your family. That one can also be really fun and exciting, but hard. So, those are kind of the three that I'm toying with manuscripts right now. Gretchen: Those are all so good. I must say, I could really benefit from the dentist. Rachel: Yes, and we did episodes about the overload of the holidays and of traveling. Gretchen: We have, yes. So, we'll have those in the show notes. Rachel: Yeah. But like, yeah, those are big ones. Gretchen: Those are big ones. Lindsey: Yeah. And I try and pull from things that we experience personally, because I feel like most of the time it's so much more authentic to write from something that you understand and know. So, I'm sure there's a million other scenarios that I could write about, but because those are right now pretty, pretty intense for our family, I think that's why I'm gravitating towards those. Gretchen: Yeah. Do you have anything else you want to share before we wrap up? Lindsey: I just... I want kids to know that they are not weird or broken, ever. They're not. And it's — whether that's through books like mine or through other, you know, ways to find that out — I think it seems like there's a shift in the way that we talk about disability. And it seems like it's getting better and more inclusive and more accepting. And I'm very happy to be part of that. And I want to keep pushing that message like, "Hey, you're not broken." Rachel: We wholeheartedly agree. Thank you so much. This was really a great conversation. It was so nice to get to know you. Gretchen: Yes. Thank you for talking with us. Lindsey: Thank you for having me! I was so excited. I love Understood, I think it's such a great organization.Rachel: Lindsey Rowe Parker's new book is called "Wiggles, Stomps and Squeezes: Calming My Jitters at School." 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've 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.

  • ADHD fact sheet

    Looking for fast facts on ADHD (also known as ADD)? Click on the link above to get a one-page ADHD fact sheet. You can view and read the fact sheet, or download and print it out to take to give it to friends, family members, colleagues, and anyone else who wants to learn about ADHD.

  • ADHD Aha!

    ADHD and distraction in the military and at home (Justen’s story)

    Justen Scott has had trouble focusing since high school. When others in the military started to notice, he knew it was time to get evaluated for ADHD. Justen Scott got diagnosed with ADHD this year at age 27. His ADHD “aha” moment happened while he was stationed in Qatar for military service, and work just kept piling up. Trouble with focus and time management had been a problem for Justen since high school. But when others in the military started to notice his challenges, he knew it was time to get evaluated for ADHD.Host Laura Key and Justen talk about trying to seem “cool” on the outside — even as thoughts race a mile a minute on the inside — and how one small noise can be a huge distraction. Hear Justen’s take on how the military handles ADHD. And pick up a few tips on managing ADHD along the way.Related resources9 tips to help military families navigate the systemLearning and thinking differences that cause trouble with time managementHow ADHD is diagnosed in young adult and adultsEpisode transcriptJusten: I was over in Qatar, you know, I'm the deputy for my office. And at this time I had a lot of meetings to go to. And I went to my first meeting, and when I got back, my boss was like, "What are you doing?" I'm like, "What are you talking about, sir?" He was like, "You know, you have another meeting." And I'm like, "Oh, man." So I had to rush to that meeting, and I'm already late, so, you know, I'm kind of already feeling bad. So when I get back to the office, the phone rings. I'm on the phone, and I'm supposed to be doing some more work, fixing some Excel sheets. So after that phone call, I tell my boss, "Hey, I'm gone for the day, see you tomorrow."And he's like, "Did you finish the Excel sheets?" And I'm like, "Oh, those Excel sheets." So I had to stay a little later to finish the Excel sheets. And that's kind of like the time I was like, "Wow, what's going on, like, why am I always distracted? Why can't I remember stuff?" Then I realized that, well, you really got a problem, dude.Laura: From the Understood Podcast Network, this is "ADHD Aha!" — a podcast where people share the moment when it finally clicked that they or someone they know has ADHD. My name is Laura Key. I'm the editorial director here at Understood. And as someone who's had my own ADHD "aha" moment, I'll be your host.I'm here today with Justen Scott. Justen is a student in New York City who is currently in the Army Reserve. Welcome, Justen. Thanks for being here today. Justen: Thank you for having me. Laura: I'm excited to talk with you today. And I guess I want to start, I want to say thank you for your service in the military.Justen: Thank you for your support, ma'am.Laura: Tell our listeners what you do or what you have done in the service.Justen: So I went to Bethune-Cookman University. I was in the ROTC program there. Got a commission and I went into the reserves. For like three years, I went to drill and stuff every month, then I eventually got on active duty orders. I was in Kentucky, went to Fort Bragg, and then I recently, last year, came back from Qatar. And I'm a medical service officer, but when I was in Qatar, I was doing more, uh, operation contract work.Laura: What led you to military service?Justen: Well, when I was in college, I'm a physical education/recreation major, and I wasn't doing no extracurricular activities. So somebody put a little bug in my ear, said, "Hey, you should try ROTC." Tried it, got a scholarship, and then that was it.Laura: You're in the New York area. Is that right?Justen: Yes, ma'am.Laura: Where did you grow up?Justen: Fayetteville, North Carolina. Yeah, I'm an Army brat. My dad was in the Army.Laura: OK, so was that part of your motivation for joining the military as well? No? Interesting.Justen: The whole military thing was my ex's parents' idea.Laura: Got it.Justen: That's why I said a little birdie put it in my ear.Laura: Got it. Tell me about what happened in Qatar related to ADHD.Justen: My favorite boss that I ever had, his name was Major Jonathan Ward. He's one of those people who's like very detailed, like by the book, like, "Hey, after this thing, you do this. After this thing, you do this." So at the time, I was kind of transitioning to take his position before a new person came in. So I had to go to more meetings. And there was a meeting one time, I went to it, but we had other meetings scheduled after that. And me, my ADHD, I forgot. So I got back to the office and I'm just like relaxing. And he's like, "What are you doing?" And I'm looking at him like, "What do you mean?" "You have another meeting." I'm like, "Oh, my goodness." So I have to rush to that meeting, and, you know, and the Army don't like you being late. So now I'm kinda like looking all ashamed, like, "Sorry for being late," you know, it was my fault. And then I also had work to do previously before the meetings. So when I got back from that meeting, I got a phone call, got distracted, forgot to do my work. I'm about to leave, like, "Hey, sir, have a nice day." He's looking at me like, "Did you finish your other work?" And I'm like, "Oh." And that happened a lot, but luckily I had a master sergeant who was like my partner in crime. He would kind of remind me like, "Hey LT, you have a meeting. Hey, we got to go here." My mind would just be all over the place.Laura: What's LT?Justen: Uh, lieutenant. I don't like to be calling "sir," because it just feels weird to me. I feel older. I just say "LT" or "Lieutenant."Laura: This was an "aha" moment for you. This sounds like it was some kind of breakthrough. Like it, it really stuck with you, this incident or incidents that happened in Qatar. You were struggling with focus it sounds like, distraction, time management.Justen: It's one of those things, like when it keeps happening, other people will start noticing it too. So they're kind of like trying to help out. My girlfriend, she was over there at the time, and she wasn't even in my section, but she would remind me of stuff, too, as well. Like, "Don't you have to be here? Don't you have to do this?" And I'm like, "Oh, you're right. I do have to do that." So it was just like one of the things like when people, other people start noticing, then you start thinking a little more about it.Laura: So what did you do from there?Justen: So when I was in Qatar, they couldn't really do nothing there because COVID, and where I was at, they weren't letting us go off base or get a real evaluation from an actual doctor. So when I came back, that's when I went to the actual doctor, and they did like the evaluation.Laura: You went to your primary care doctor?Justen: Well, now it's my Veteran Affairs doctor.Laura: Yeah. You're going to have to school me a little bit on the terminology around the military. I'm not as familiar as I should be.Justen: It's all good. It's like the VA, you know, that's kinda like a separate entity. They deal with the veterans and everything. Then they actually had the, like the military providers.Laura: Is ADHD something that's openly talked about in the military, just based on your experience?Justen: From my experience, no. To me personally, like military stuff, when it comes to anybody that's different or has a problem, depending on your leadership, of course, they don't like to really talk about it or help, in a way. But there's some leaders that actually help out, like my favorite boss, I told him my problems I'm having. I also have a sleep problem too. So they think it's narcolepsy type 2. They diagnose, they diagnosed it, but I already took my sleep study test and everything. Like I can go to deep sleep in less than three minutes.Laura: Wow.Justen: And so I told him that, and he didn't need no diagnosis or nothing. He understood. So if I'm in the office — and that's what's messing me up, too, I might forget, I might go to sleep. And he'd be like, "Wake up, sunshine!" And "Oh, my fault, sir." Like, I can't help it. I just go to sleep. Depending on who your leader is, they'll either really help you out or understand. But some, they just don't care.Laura: You got evaluated.Justen: Yes.Laura: You got diagnosed? How old were you at that time?Justen: Twenty-seven.Laura: Twenty-seven? So that was this year. OK. Welcome, Justen. Welcome to our club.Justen: Welcome to the club.Laura: How was school for you? Did you ever experience any ADHD symptoms that you can remember growing up?Justen: Elementary school, like K through five, I used to get in trouble a lot because I finished my work before everybody. I ain't gonna lie, like I was, to me, I feel like I was really like a little genius-type thing. Like when I was younger, stuff was just so easy to me. Like, I'll finish my work and everybody else's still doing their work. So I'd talk a lot. And I'm like, "Hey, why are you still doing your work?" So then I'd get in trouble for that. And they always put me like in advanced classes in elementary and middle school.But when I got to high school, that's when I was like, I really don't, school's really not doing it for me. Like, I never did homework. If I did do homework, it was in the morning time, five minutes before class. But I could score high on the quizzes and tests. So keep my grade at like a C or something. If I would've did homework, probably could have been making all A's, but I wanted to go home and do what I wanted to do. I didn't want to come home to do homework.Laura: That sounds like you were procrastinating a lot in high school.Justen: Yes. And it could have been from, dang, I didn't want to do it and get distracted, while you think about it.Laura: I mean, that's a, that's pretty common with ADHD, and I'm not surprised to say that this started a pop up for you in high school because in high school, there were so many more demands on our executive functioning skills, our time management, our organization, our prioritization. So obviously you're super bright, super smart, and lots of people with ADHD are. ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence, right? You are in advanced classes. You're doing well. And then it sounds like maybe you hit a wall in high school.Justen: Yeah. And it was like learning wasn't fun for me then. In high school, I don't know, it's like a switch came. Like, in elementary school and middle school, I actually liked reading books and stuff. Like now I have to listen to Audible books because at least I could still move and listen. And I know people make fun of people for doing it, but I had to read with my finger because I literally get lost so quick. And then boom, page 10 come, and I'm asleep.Laura: That's actually a good tactic for people with ADHD. It sounds like maybe you were distracted looking at all that stuff on the page.Justen: Yeah. It's like the two lines above and two lines below it. Like they start smushing that line and I'm like, "Oh no." So either like you use the ruler or you use your finger.Laura: So they also have apps for on your phone where you can just like, you're only looking at the one thing you're supposed to be looking at. I'm not surprised to hear you say that was a way that you coped, just like you came to that on your own. So what were you interested in, in high school?Justen: Video games, sports. And hanging out with my friends. I played football and baseball, never made basketball. 'Cause they cut me, you know. They weren't really that good.Laura: What position did you play in baseball? I have a theory going in my head right now. I want to test it out.Justen: I was center field and left field. I wanted to pitch, but Coach didn't let me.Laura: Did you ever get distracted out in the outfield? You're laughing.Justen: Baseball, like when I'm in an outfield, I dance. Even in Little League. Like when I was a pitcher, I dance on a mound when I used to throw it. And when I'm in the outfield, I dance. Yeah. Especially if the pitcher's just having an off game and you see him just walk everybody. And you just like, "Come on, dude, like, I'm out here bored." So I just have to do something, so I just start dancing. And you just hear Coach, "J. Scott, stop dancing!" And I'm like, "My fault, Coach."Laura: You're kind of confirming my theory here. I talked to someone recently about baseball on the show and I was asking, "Is baseball one of the hardest sports for people with ADHD to play, unless they're the pitcher or the catcher?" Because there's so much downtime. Outfield's gotta be tough when you struggle with focus. I'm glad to hear you danced your way through that.So it sounds like you weren't as interested in like typical school subjects.Justen: Oh, no. It's like, oh, I was already thinking in my head, why am I even taking this subject? What is this going to do for me? So if I really thought about it like that, then I really wasn't doing nothing for that class. Like chemistry. I was like, what am I going to do with chemistry. Like, what am I ever going to need pre-calculus? Never.Laura: It's not like people with ADHD are all interested in math or all interested in sports. It's really just like any other human, you have your interests, but you have to have that interest to focus. Whereas people without ADHD, it's much easier for them to focus on something that they are less interested in.When I talk to you, you are very calm. I get a very calming presence from you, relaxed, in like the best possible way. Like, aware, but chill. Is your brain that way too?Justen: No, not at all.Laura: What's it like in your brain?Justen: Well, I was explaining to somebody yesterday that there's so much stuff that'd be going on, sometimes I could cry. I wouldn't say it's like a painful cry. It's like a cry like, "Why can't you just focus on one thing, Justen?" Like, cause it, plus my brain is so creative. I like making skits, and I like doing music, and I'm doing acting now. So I think of like short films. And then I think about one of my bros, he makes beats. So I think about songs and stuff.And just all this stuff that like coming at once and I want to like focus on it, but then something else comes in, I'll be like, "Oh, let me do this way." I'm like, "Oh no, this is a better idea." And I did, I had like three things back, I haven't even finished that. And that's just like the creative part in wanting to do something. But the actual just, even, I got a lot of dishes in the sink. I have to wash the dishes. I'm supposed to wash a couple of dishes because she cooked. But I see it and I literally have a fight. I'm like, "Justen, do you want to do the dishes right now? I mean, we could leave them to the morning, but what is she going to say? I mean, we could worry about it in the morning. It really ain't going to matter." And then if I, my room I go in to play the game. I just leave my headphones on the bed, controller on the bed, and whatever else I had in here and she'll come in and be like, "You don't know how to put the controller back and the headphones back where it was supposed to be?I'm like, I thought at the time, that's what the headphones and the controller and stuff supposed to be. And then, on top of that, I'm supposed to wash the dishes right after that, then I'm like, "Well, I need to go listen to music in the shower and go jam out." So I forgot about all these things because I'm focusing on going to take my shower and go to bed. So it just that'd be like the Flash is, and just like, slow down.Laura: The woman you're talking about and all that, that's your girlfriend?Justen: She doesn't have ADHD at all. Trust me, I know.Laura: Does she know that you have ADHD?Justen: Yes. Even before I got diagnosed, she was thinking it already too. She was like, "Do you have, like" — that's why I say when people start noticing, like, "Why are you always forgetting to do this? Why you can't never sit down nowhere? Like you always want to do something different. Focus on this, focus on that." I'm like, oh —Laura: Yeah. We have a lot of resources on our website, for all kinds of people. But one of the tips that we give parents who have kids with ADHD is try to avoid saying, "Just focus, just try harder to focus." 'Cause it's not like you can just flick a switch.Justen: I try to tell people, I am, like, I wish I could just be like, "Hey, let me just go wash the dishes real quick." And somebody would be like, "That should be easy." It's literally not easy. Like I had to fight my brain to say, "Hey, we're not about to do this right now. 'Cause is that important right now? Let's go do what we want to go."Laura: I hate that "should" word.Justen: "You should focus." You should leave me alone.Laura: You should leave me alone. So, your brain, your brain moves, what? A hundred miles an hour, a thousand miles an hour, 5,000 miles an hour?Justen: I'd say about almost a million, just about.Laura: But your actions aren't catching up to what your brain is doing.Justen: No, they don't. I try to be more chill. So you don't see me like expressing all that, because then you're really going to be like, "Dang, what the heck's wrong with him?" 'Cause I literally be bouncing around if I'm not like relaxed.Laura: You just reminded me of something growing up. I remember like before I realized that I had ADHD, like in high school and college, I always wanted to seem really like cool and relaxed, but it was such a hoax. 'Cause I just, I'm like the opposite of that.Justen: Oh, my goodness. Like I used to hate, like, if I was chill and relaxed, "What's wrong with you?" And I'd just be like, "What do you mean what's wrong with me?" I said, I can't be chill? And if I'm really relaxed, my voice goes to like, "Yeah. OK."Laura: You just dropped like a full octave.Justen: I was like, I can't just relax and chill? This is how I feel right now. And then that makes you get back into your mold again, like the whole like hyper-type thing.Laura: But then also a lot of energy goes into that. And then like, when you need to step away, it's like, "I need to step away, leave me alone. I need to be alone."Justen: Then on top of that, with me, I have like anger problems too. Like I get irritated real quick, and that's why my psychiatrist is trying to tell me that's kind of one of those things, too, with it, your irritability 'cause it is crazy how I get mad that quick.Laura: Mm-hm. I really relate to that, too, Justen. Listen, a lot of people don't know, and maybe you do know, but trouble managing emotions is a common sign of ADHD. It's related to your executive functioning skills, which is kind of like the CEO of the brain pulling the strings. And it's like, you can go from zero to 50 really fast. That irritability, I mean, I know that feeling, too, like sometimes I'll catch a sound from across the room and I'll just start to get irritated. And then I can't shake it for like 20 minutes.Justen: Yo! Oh, my goodness. That'd be me! I don't, like, I've loved being like petty, like once, like you get me upset or something, I like harp on to it. And I just like zone in and it's like, I feel bad for my girlfriend, 'cause she just, like, "I just say one simple thing and you can just get mad." I'm like, "You might not have thought it was something big, but my brain thought it was something out of this world. Like, you got me angry like that, so." They didn't put me in anger management yet. I'm still waiting to go.Laura: Justen, it has been so nice to talk with you today. Thank you so much for coming on.Justen: Thank you for having me.Laura: You've been listening to "ADHD Aha!" from the Understood Podcast Network. You can listen and subscribe to "ADHD Aha!" on Apple, Spotify, or anywhere you get your podcasts. And if you like what you heard today, tell someone about the show. We rely on listeners like you to reach and support more people. And if you want to share your own "aha" moment, email us at I'd love to hear from you. You can go to to find details on each episode and related resources. That's the letter U, as in Understood, dot O R G slash ADHDAha. Understood is a nonprofit and social impact organization. We have no affiliation with pharmaceutical companies. Learn more at "ADHD Aha!" is produced by Jessamine Molli. Say hi, Jessamine. Jessamine: Hi, everyone. Laura: Justin D. Wright created our music. Seth Melnick and Briana Berry are our production directors. Scott Cocchiere is our creative director. And I'm your host, Laura Key, editorial director at Understood. Thanks so much for listening.

  • Dyscalculia fact sheet

    What is dyscalculia? Click on the download link above to read the fact sheet online, or print it out and give it to friends, family, teachers, co-workers, and anyone else who wants to understand why some people struggle so much with math.

  • The Opportunity Gap

    Supporting kids’ mental health: Kier Gaines on fatherhood, self-care, and social media

    In part one of our conversation on mental health, learn about the unique ways a parent’s journey can influence a child’s mental wellness. Get tips on how to support kids’ mental health. From the decisions they make to the words they say, parents play a huge role in supporting their child’s mental health. Kids may not always be looking to their parents to be perfect or pillars of strength. But they are looking for healthy ways to cope when life treats them unfairly. So, it’s essential for parents and caregivers to make mental wellness a priority. This episode of The Opportunity Gap explores the importance of good mental health for kids who learn and think differently and their parents. Listen as Kier Gaines, a licensed therapist and digital creator, explains:  The unique challenges of parenting and how it impacts kids’ mental health Social media’s influence on kids’ self-esteem and social interactions  Ways parents can promote good mental health to their child Related resourcesHow does social media affect mental health? It’s complicated.UCLA Health MARC Guided MeditationsMental Health America: Self-help tools Kier Gaines’ Instagram and YouTube channelsWunder by UnderstoodEpisode transcriptJulian: From the Understood Podcast Network, this is "The Opportunity Gap." Kids of color who have ADHD and other common learning differences often face a double stigma. But there's a lot that families can do to address the opportunity gap in our communities. This podcast explains key issues and offers tips to help you advocate for your child.My name is Julian Saavedra. I'm a father of two and an assistant principal in Philadelphia, where I've spent nearly 20 years working in public schools. I'll be your host.Welcome back, listeners. On today's episode, we'll kick off Part 1 of our conversation on the importance of mental health through the lens of Black fathers. We'll talk about the unique challenges parents of color often face and how these challenges impact kids. We'll dive into the world of social media and talk about how it influences kids' mental health. And we'll highlight resources that promote good mental health for kids and their parents.To help me get into this, I want to introduce today's guest, Kier Gaines. Kier Gaines is a licensed therapist and public figure who uses his platforms to amplify the importance of mental health. He's inspired millions of people to be more proactive in their own journey and reframe the way they think about life and especially parenting. He's been a speaker at events — wait for this one — at the White House. At the White House. At the White House. Yes! And honored by Sterling K. Brown and Oprah Winfrey on OWN's "Honoring Our Kings, Celebrating Black Fatherhood."Welcome to the show, Kier. It is so nice to have you here, brother. So nice to have you.Kier: Appreciate you, man. Thank you for having me on.Julian: An illustrious guest here. I don't know what we've done to deserve this, but I really appreciate you being here. As your biography shows, you've done a lot of powerful things so far. And, you know, we like to just kind of jump in and talk shop a little bit and hear from people and hear what their experience has been. So first and foremost, Kier, what's bringing you joy in your life right now? What's just giving you life right now?Kier: I'm a huge football fan. And in football, whenever a player struggles in their first year, in the second year, once they start to grasp the concepts of the game, they always say the same thing. They say, "The game as starting to slow down for me." It's just like this clichéd thing that players say, and it's supposed to signify that this job used to be like drinking water from a fire hose and now maybe drinking water from one of those high-pressure hoses that cleans off a deck. It'd still knock your tongue backwards, but it isn't as bad as it was before. And I'm finding joy in the fact that I'm getting used to the more exhausting parts of adulthood and parenthood. I'm finding real happiness.Julian: OK. All right. I love the analogy, too, now: as the game slows down for you.Kier: As the game slows down for me.Julian: So let's talk about that a little bit. So both of us are parents. Both of us are parents, right? And parenting, as you know, is a journey. And if I'm being 100 percent honest, it's a journey that comes without a manual, and there is no blueprint for it. For most of us, we just learn as we go.Now, for myself, I grew up in a single-parent household. My father passed away when I was 7. And so Mom, shout out to Michelle Saavedra, you are the number one. She raised us up on her own. And I just remember she did everything she could to take care of us, but also prepare us for what was out there. And a lot of times things got a little difficult. And I know that stress is something that so many single parents carry, especially when it comes to the mental health of being a parent without a blueprint, but also doing it on your own.When you were being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, you also shared that you, like I, grew up in a single-parent household. As we both have families of our own, can you talk a little bit about why it's so important for parents to take care of their own mental health?Kier: Parenthood is such a consuming position. It was while watching my mom do every day by herself, because looking at it through an adult lens, I realize that my mom was depressed. And we know in the mental health field that depression and uninvolved parenting go hand in hand. So it's because parenting is such a consuming job and it's such a consuming ask, there are pieces of you identity that can get lost in trying to keep it up, in trying to do what you need to do to just make it from day to day. And it does adversely affect your kids.But since people do change their entire identities because of parenthood, I don't enter that when it comes to the mental health space if I recommend that someone see a therapist or encourage someone to see a therapist, because it de-centers you. I'm not going to say, Julian, you could be a better father if you come to see a therapist. That's not the central piece. When you're a better you, by default you're a better father. So we say, Julian, I want you to come therapy so that you can be good for you. And then all of the people that are under your tree will eat all the fallen fruit. At least that's the big idea.Julian: And I think about that. That can speak so much to so many other aspects of life, right? Like, if you yourself are mentally healthy, then all these other aspects of your life will start to fall in place. Those of us that are parents, especially because, like you said, so much of our life is consumed by that identity. And so I appreciate that. Appreciate that. You're saying it de-centers the identity of parent and focuses on everything that encompasses you as a person.Kier: That's right. Take care of you, the person. And actually, I think there is — I don't know if it totally puts you in the mindset of centering yourself. I think it increases the likelihood that you'll be receptive to that mind state. Listen — me included. My daughter had a doctor's appointment other day. So did I. Guess whose doctor's appointment got canceled. Mine.It's easy to preach that. But in all actuality, all of the stresses and the guilt-inducing responsibility of parenthood can make you self-sacrifice and self-abnegate sometimes. So something you got to constantly remind yourself of for sure.Julian: I saw what my mom did for me and my siblings and how hard she worked, and how she made sure that we had what we needed. And when I got the chance to become a father myself, I said, I'm going to do my best to really do this thing right. It's a goal that we all try to aspire to.But I wonder if I've been placing this pressure on myself, like this pressure that subconsciously it starts to bring in these feelings of, Am I actually doing this right? Am I actually a good father? And because I didn't have my own father around, I don't really have a clear model of what it was supposed to be. Can we talk a little bit about that pressure that sometimes we as parents place on ourselves?Kier: Oh, man, it's the pressure. The pressure comes from larger society. The pressure comes from sociological best practices, right? We get pressure from comparing ourselves to our upbringings. We get pressure from contrasting and moving away from our upbringings. I grew up very poor and I don't wear that as a badge of honor. It's something I feel like negatively impacted me, and I do a lot to make sure that my daughters aren't in that situation. Probably sometimes overdeliver and do way more than I actually need to to meet their needs.So when you take all those different angles that the pressure is coming from, you're not getting beat up, bro. You getting jumped, you know, by all these expectations. Some of the things that I do to counter that, because I do understand that as my reality, is I had to reframe my idea of comparison. I know we say comparison is the thief of joy, and sometimes it is. But comparison is also a really amazing tool to help you evaluate where you are amongst your peers.I like to talk to my friends. Hey man, your kids doing this? And then when I hear other people respond, I feel a little more human. So my kid isn't the only one that doesn't flush the toilet. OK. I thought it was just me, dog. And then you continue to talk to people. You realize they struggle in their parent journeys, too. And humans, because we're such social creatures and because society sometimes is comprised of just made-up rules that we've just followed along for hundreds and thousands of years sometimes, we don't always know if we're doing a good job. And sometimes we need to see someone else struggle to have permission to be in our own humanity, you know?Julian: And I think it's interesting that as Black men and Black fathers, there's a very unique lane in the parenting ethos, right?Kier: Absolutely.Julian: I hear that, you know, me and my boys, we go back and forth like same thing. We compare, am I supposed to do like this? Am I going too hard on them? Should I ease up a little bit?Kier: Oh, I'm so glad you mentioned that.Julian: Right. And even — and that's pressure, right? That's something that even above that's something that induces anxiety, too. And again, as society already has this very strong current of what the vision of a Black man should be, I'm always kind of balancing like, where do I fit in what that balance is. Is that something you experience too?Kier: Oh, absolutely. Every single day of my life. I'm by definition, cisgender, six foot one, dark-skinned Black man. It's very easy for me to not say the right thing or for me to misinterpret my own understanding of something and alienate groups of people at one time, just from not fully understanding where I am or understanding the nuance or context in the way people talk and the way people identify, and the way people express their lived experiences. So I'm always really careful of that.Julian: I want to transition over to social media, because that has been a big portion of your life recently. You have this incredible following on social media, right? 400,000 followers on Instagram, 50,000 on YouTube. Couple of years ago, you went viral for posting a very transparent video on fatherhood. Listeners, the link will be in the show notes, so please check that video. I watched it about six times. You received a great response from people. And I got to ask, what's it feel like to go viral? And were you surprised by the response that you got?Kier: I was completely surprised, but it was beautiful. Came right after George Floyd was murdered. I think the world was in a place, our collective consciousness, to hear Black men another way, to hear about fatherhood in another way. And I think that the tone was different than a lot of content that talks to men.We don't talk to men with warmth, and it's always very hustle culture. Go get it. You got to do this. And I mean, everyone sounds like a drill sergeant. And even though I get that's stereotypically how we think men connect to messages, we see that it ain't. We see that that does not work.You work in the schools. You work with young boys. Even when they got those tough exteriors, you get them behind a wall and you start talking calmly to them, and you get to see a different person. In those boys, the only difference between them and the men that they'll grow into is a couple years' time and some experiences. They're the same person for the most part with very similar needs. So I think that's why the video hit like that. But I don't know — man, I ain't never expect all of this. You kidding me? And I didn't think anybody would care at all.Julian: I guess I'm personally interested, like, what was the spark that told you you needed to start doing this? Like, where did it go from — you said you were an educator and you're now a licensed therapist. What made you decide to say, I need to get some content together, I need to get my thoughts out there?Kier: It just felt good. It felt good. I started off doing fatherhood content, and in the process of that, in the process of this video exploding, I passed my licensure exam to become a therapist. And it just took me a while. I've always created content. I've been making content since 2000, 2001, on a big fat VHS camera with VHS-C tapes.Julian: We're going way back. Was this MySpace? Or are we talking Black Planet?Kier: Oh, we talking Black Planet, bro. We talking about MySpace top 8, yeah. We talking straight Black Planet and all those. But yeah, I just, I don't know. I don't think it was a singular thing that inspired me. I always liked to put my thoughts on tape, and I created — I got through this master's program and I started treating people and I started learning more about this counseling world. And there's so much information. You got degrees and stuff, academics. Academics will talk over your head all day "with a marginal propensity of the neurofibromatic." They love words and jargon.Julian: $20 words. Those are the $20 words. You gotta break it down to the five sometimes.Kier: Got to break it down to the five sometimes. Make change for me, bro. I don't care about — I don't care how smart you are. I just want to get better. So I was able to find a way to synthesize that. And here we are, three years and almost half a million people later.Julian: You know the videos that you do and continue to do, they're dope, right? Like, they're just content that needs to be out there. And to me, it's content that is part of that better side, that positive influence that social media can have. As a father, as again, as an educator, I appreciate that. I like to see positive messages, thought-provoking work. But then there's also a lot of challenges that come with social media.Now, as my role as an assistant principal in an urban high school, a lot of my day is consumed with conflicts that stem from social media: the chats, the group chats, all the beef that comes from the instantaneous sharing of things, the video, all of that — from bullying, altercations, the insecurities that students have because of what social media says. I'm interested to hear your take. As somebody who is a content producer of positive work out there, what is your take on the impact of social media on mental health?Kier: Oh, well, social media, we know — I think what you just said, research is already back that all of the heaviest negative mental health outcomes have been linked to heavy social media users. Suicide ideation, anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia. You go into — social media can be linked to an increase in some of those conditions and outcomes.But man, it also has so many positive aspects. We're social creatures. Social media is one of the most powerful tools in the world. You can figure out how millions of people think within a couple hours. You have access to so much data, you have access to so many tools and resources that can help you better your life. It's one of those things where I think social media exacerbates conditions that we already struggle with. I think that exists with a lot of things we grapple with.If I'm self-conscious about myself being poor, my mind is likely to drift to content that will look at a lifestyle that I wish that I had, and start to unfairly compare myself. We here — we know all of the social media reoccurring things that we talk about. You're watching other people's highlights. People don't talk about their downside on social media.But I don't know if people understand how incredibly curated the content is, and especially our children. And when they see that, they see the guy in the Bugatti who's 19 years old. Dude, you know, he is a one of a billion, but there's billions of people. And what if there are three of those guys on this kid's timeline? And now it's an overrepresentation of what exists in the larger world.Julian: Well, I think what you did say, though, we're a tool. And I think for our listeners, understanding that aspect of it, that if we frame the phone, social media, the instantaneous communication, the technology as a tool, all right. Like it's not just the end all be all. If like anything the tool is used for a purpose, then that tool can be harnessed for positive or harnessed for a positive purpose. So I appreciate that part.And, you know, again, as a parent educator, and I wonder, you know, for years, again, somebody who is a content creator, but somebody who also is a mental health specialist, do you have any concerns for your own situation as a parent? Do you have any concerns for how you're going to implement social media in your own household?Kier: It's tough to safeguard your children when there's access, when they can have access to the internet remotely. But the best thing you can do to safeguard your children is to have open and honest and transparent conversations. My daughter's 5 right now, so the extent of her usage of social media, she plays Roblox. And sometimes we'll be on Roblox and there will be somebody who requests for her to be a friend. And we got all the parental settings on there that safeguards the kids as much as they can.But I'll use that as an opportunity. Oh, who is this person? Do we know this person? Why don't we talk to strangers? What can happen if we talk to strangers? And we're not big on fear mongering in the house. Fear stops you from doing things, but not for a reason that is intrinsic to your understanding. You just know you're not supposed to do it. We try to explain it — like this is what can happen if you do this thing — and allow her to ask questions and feel comfortable coming to us asking questions.The second part to that for me is my baby's 5, my oldest is 5, my youngest is 16 months old. And I remember when my my oldest was 4 months old, I was such a judgmental parent. "I'll never let my kid have a whole bunch of screen time." Or "I'll never let my kid eat snacks an hour before dinner." And all of my "I would never let" have become my "I allow far too often.".So I don't want to — I'm not a John Wayne, two guns blazing, talking about what I'm not gonna to do when it comes to the internet. But my daughter understands what I do for a living. And with us, having a heightened level of visibility it's really important for us to talk about all of those fundamental ground rules of social media. For her, the one we establish right now, she watches YouTube. And we say, if there are no kids in the video, then you can't watch it. Because sometimes there's adolescents and pre-teens in this concert she enjoys, she's a really smart kid, but she's still 5 years old. We don't want her to be overexposed. So when she's on social media, we're in the background. When she's engaged, we're engaging too. Even if it's passively listening to the content she listens to it, and just having a level of involvement.Julian: I love the idea of open communication and modeling how you're using social media with her so that she sees that example. This is how we can use it to benefit us. And again, that positive way.Kier: Oh yeah, for sure.Julian: Parents, we really want to protect our kids. That's something that going back to that — yeah, you know, that that vision of what parenting is supposed to be: keep them safe. And we don't want them to see violent videos or read cruel comments. We want them to be confident in the way they look. But the reality is we can't always control or monitor everything that they see or hear. Do you have any helpful tips or ways for parents or kids to engage in positive social media, like any specific tips that you could provide?Kier: Yeah, I think it goes back to that open communication piece. That open communication piece and having — whenever kids come in to counseling, teenagers, I don't work with them very often. But when I do work with them, one of the most difficult things is having the parents understand there's a particular level of privacy that this young person enjoys while they're in counseling. And within that comes this unique power struggle. You know, the parent is the ultimate authoritative piece. I need to know every single thing.And what we learn in therapy sometimes is that the way that the parent responds to things that make them uncomfortable or things that they don't want to hear dictates directly how open that child is with them. I'm not saying that it be easy. My daughter's 5. She tells me things that make me fly off the handle sometimes. I don't always do a good job of that, but I am always practicing getting better.I use little opportunities. She told me something alarming. And I'm like, OK, baby, tell me more. I'm fighting it back. But it's important that she feels like she could be open and honest with me. We can't stop the bad things from happening, but we do have a solid foundation by which we can have almost any conversation for when those things actually do occur.Julian: I think it's also about just making sure that you're very intentional about the accounts that you and/or your child are following, making sure to monitor which accounts they have. And just making sure that there's age-appropriate boundaries for what pre-teen versus a teenager might post.Kier: I agree. Can I add something else to that? I think that's a really good point. Adding those boundaries and trying to stay consistent with them. Children, even teenagers, preteens, adolescents, these are individuals that took a brain that understood nothing and then learned language and then made use of it. They are very good at figuring out patterns. And when you're inconsistent, they'll see the pattern.Sometimes we got a rule on the way to school. Sometimes my daughter can't have her app, but sometimes I'll break the rules. In therapy, we call it norm in the room. Norm in the room is when you walk in and there's a group of people and you let every — you let everybody know what the expectation is and what the boundaries are before you say a single word. You norm the rule. Everybody knows what they expect.And you can norm your child in very similar ways. Whereas having the pre-conversation, hey, I'm going to let you play with your iPad today for extra hour or so because Daddy has to do ABC. That way, even though it's a deviation from the daily plan or from what you typically do, they have context as to why, you know, and it's not a complete disruption of the pattern of the rules that you establish. Because that consistency is key with kids, but it's very hard to keep up.Julian: That's funny you say that. That's — my kids get a little bit of extra Netflix any time Dad is recording a podcast. So they get excited when it's Dad's turn to do the podcast is oh, we get a little extra Netflix today. But again, the pre-conversation, the giving the rationale and pulling the curtain past of your thinking so that there's that open communication between parent and child.I want to just ask you a ton of questions myself because I think a lot of the conversation you can have for me will be helpful. But I appreciate just coming on and sharing your expertise, sharing your journey, sharing you know, who you are as a person. And I just want to personally thank you for joining me today.Listeners, before we go, I want to share some resources that promote good mental health. We'll also linked to them in the show notes. Kiers' Instagram @KierGaines, and his YouTube channel.Kier: Spell it out for them.Julian: UCLA Health, Free Guided Meditation, Mental Health America, and of course Understood's Wunder app. Be sure to check these out. They're all incredible. Kier, thank you again. I appreciate you, brother. I really appreciate what you're doing.Kier: I appreciate you. I appreciate all the work you do in the schools. I only had one — I only saw one Black male from the time I was in pre-K till sheesh, maybe 10th grade. So just your presence in the school and you actually caring about the kids that walk through those doors? It reverberates throughout their lives, whether you know it or not, man. So even off this camera and this platform, thank you for everything you do. It is critically impactful, man.Julian: Thank you. I appreciate that. And it's good work. It's the work that needs to be done. So, listeners, thank you so much for listening. I'll be back soon.Kier: Yeah, thank you.Julian: You've been listening to "The Opportunity Gap" from the Understood Podcast Network. This show is for you, so we want to make sure you're getting what you need. Is there a topic you'd like us to cover? We want to hear from you. Email us at you want to learn more about the topics we covered today, check out the show notes for this episode. We include more resources as well as links to anything we mentioned in the is a resource dedicated to helping people who learn and think differently discover their potential and thrive. Learn more at "The Opportunity Gap" is produced by Tara Drinks, edited by Cin Pim. Briana Berry is our production director. Our theme music was written by Justin D. Wright, who also mixes the show. 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 and see you next time.

  • IDEA fact sheet

    Get basic information on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal special education law, in this one-page fact sheet. You can view and read the fact sheet, or download and print it out to take to IEP meetings.

  • ADHD Aha!

    Twice exceptional: Raising a gifted son with ADHD (Emily’s story)

    From a very young age, Emily’s son would have meltdowns and get intensely angry. He was also really bright. From a very young age, Emily Hamblin’s son would have meltdowns and get intensely angry. He was also really bright. He was ahead of the curve academically and scored in the 99th percentile on standardized testing. His teachers would say he was just “smart and quirky.” That didn’t sit right with Emily, though. She knew something else was going on.Then one day, a friend suggested that Emily look into ADHD. Emily was skeptical at first. But when she learned more, it was clear that this was the missing puzzle piece. Her son was twice exceptional: He’s gifted and he has ADHD. This discovery even helped Emily recognize ADHD symptoms in herself.Emily co-hosts a podcast called Enlightening Motherhood, which aims to help moms who are overwhelmed by their kids’ big emotions. Listen in to hear how Emily reframes ADHD symptoms in a positive light.Related resourcesThe challenges of twice-exceptional kids7 myths about twice-exceptional (2e) students Twice-exceptional Black and brown kids (The Opportunity Gap podcast episode)Episode transcriptEmily: I had a friend and I heard her talking to someone about her child's behaviors. And I kind of stopped in my track because it was the first time I heard someone describe my son's behaviors. At the time, I took it as, "Oh, he's just disrespecting me." But finally, that friend said, "You know, that sounds like impulsivity. Have you ever thought that he has ADHD? Because emotional dysregulation is also a part of ADHD." And I was like, "No, no, no. There's no way he has ADHD. He can sit down and read a book without blinking for three hours. If he had ADHD, he couldn't focus that long, right?" And I of course, I fought against it. Then I looked it up and was like, "Oh, my goodness."Laura: From the Understood Podcast Network, this is "ADHD Aha!," a podcast where people share the moment when it finally clicked that they or someone they know has ADHD. My name is Laura Key. I'm the editorial director here at Understood. And as someone who's had my own ADHD "aha" moment, I'll be your host. I'm here today with Emily Hamlin. Emily is a life coach and a mom to a son who's gifted and has ADHD. She's also the host of "Enlightening Motherhood," a podcast dedicated to empowering moms of kids with big emotions. Hi, Emily. I'm so happy to have you on the show today.Emily: I'm so excited to be here. Thank you.Laura: Let's start by telling our listeners and me about your son.Emily: I'm going to use a pen name for him just to keep his identity a little bit confidential. I'll call him Jack. Jack has always been so bright. He was the kid when he was one year old, and we brought him up to the light switches he would study which light turned on. We'd see him turn and predict which one it was and get this look of satisfaction when he got it right. And so he's always been really, really bright. And when he was in preschool —he was 3 years old — I remember he started to have some kind of really intense behaviors. He would have meltdowns and scream and just become so intensely angry. And I felt like it wasn't very normal, like the twos were actually OK. Everyone says terrible twos, but for us, it was 3 and 4 that was when the, those kind of behaviors started popping up. But I kind of felt that it wasn't super typical.And I went to his preschool teacher and I remember saying, "He's doing great academically, but we're seeing these behaviors pop up." And she would say, "Oh, no, he's just copying the other kids, throwing fits at school," or "Oh, he's just a little bit quirky because he's so bright." And in kindergarten, he was reading 100 sight words before kindergarten, and he went to school, and they would say, "OK, well, here's the letter 'A.' It makes the sound 'Ah.'" And so, he would start to act up in kindergarten. And again, the teacher would call me in and she said, "Well, let's just skip him to first grade. I think that will solve all of his behavioral issues." And I was like, "Oh, he's already the little kid in kindergarten. I don't want to have him be this tiny kid in first grade," but that's kind of what was offered.So, we tried a lot of, you know, sticker charts and what I could at the time, never really figuring out the underlying issue. And we got him through that patch. First grade, he had a really good teacher who recognized "OK, he does not need to sit and read line by line with us in this book. Here, Jack, you can bring this book to the corner. You can read at your own pace." And it was like the perfect fit that we've ever had for him for schooling, but he still told me one time, "Mom, we had to partner read on the rug in school, and the book was just so easy that I decided to lay down out on the rug and roll around and make noises instead."Laura: Oh, wow. So, is this about the time that you discovered that Jack was gifted?Emily: Yes. They tested him in school, and he tested 99th percentile gifted. And there wasn't really a gifted program, but his teacher was accommodating him as much as she could. And it was really great because the homework was the worst when he already knew how to do it beforehand. And he would come home with, "OK, write the word 'cat.'" And he was reading Harry Potter at that point in time. It was like pulling teeth to get him to do it, even though it would only take him about five minutes or so, right? But he would throw a fit for about 40 minutes over not wanting to do the homework. And I couldn't quite figure him out. At this point, I really was suspecting that he was neurodivergent and I went to Google.Laura: Dr. Google.Emily: Yeah, Dr. Google. And I thought maybe he has autism. I don't know. And I went to his teacher, and I said, "Do you think Jack has autism?" She said, "No way. He's just smart and quirky." And that was what they always would say, "No, he just has these little, like, behavioral quirks to him and he's smart, and the two combined," and it wasn't really explaining the intense emotions, which is the hardest thing for us as parents to handle. So, it was not until third grade, where I had a friend and we were at a workout group and I heard her talking to someone about her child's behaviors. And I kind of stopped in my track because it was the first time I heard someone describe my son's behaviors, where he made a little mistake on his homework, and then suddenly he ripped it up and then he was raging for like 20 minutes over this little mistake on his homework. And I stopped in my tracks, I was like, "Can we connect?"And I don't remember exactly where it went from there, but I just remember her being this support. And I would say, "No, I just, I need him to listen to me when I say 'stay off my phone' and he walks past my phone and he gets on my phone and it's like he just ignores me and he disrespects me because he gets on it anyways," I had no idea what impulsivity was or what it meant. But looking back, that's totally what was going on. He just couldn't control that impulse. Whereas at the time I took it as, "Oh, he's just disrespecting me." And the teachers would say, "Oh, he's just been bad in class," or "He won't listen to us." Nobody understood any of that underlying things.But finally, that friend said, "You know, that sounds like impulsivity. Have you ever thought that he has ADHD? Because emotional dysregulation is also a part of ADHD." And I was like, "No, no, no. There's no way he has ADHD. He can sit down and read a book without blinking for three hours. If he had ADHD, he couldn't focus that long, right? Or he couldn't sit still that long, right?" Of course, that's what I thought. What everyone says on your show, what we thought and what we know now.Laura: That's what we do here. Yeah, that's right. So, it sounds like that was the start of your ADHD journey. Maybe your ADHD "aha" moment for your son.Emily: Yeah. And I, of course I fought against it. Then I looked it up and was like, "Oh my goodness." Like it was the whole package. It's not just "He can't pay attention and he can't sit still." It had that whole package, and I went to his third-grade teacher who was really close to students and really perceptive of them, which was great, and I said, "Do you think he might have ADHD?" It was like, "Yes, please go get him evaluated."Laura: Wow. What happened then? How did the evaluation process go?Emily: We just found an ADHD clinic and she emailed us all the forms ahead of time. So, we only had one in-person visit, but filling them out, we did the NICHQ, and looking through those questions and filling them out for him, I was like, "Oh my goodness." He was marking pretty much everyone. I don't remember the exact scale, but like very often, I think is what the highest one pretty much everyone was very often. And as I was filling it out for him, I had my own "aha" moment where I went, "Oh my goodness, I'm checking all these boxes, too." And I never even considered that I could have ADHD. But suddenly it explained my own emotional dysregulation and my own tendency to just get lost in time and not realize that time had passed or procrastination, things like that. It was like a double "aha" moment.Laura: Your son is twice exceptional. Could you define that for our listeners? This is the first time we've had the opportunity to talk about twice exceptional or 2e on the show.Emily: So, he's twice exceptional in it that on the one hand, he is academically gifted, but he also has this additional neurodiverse side to him, which for him is ADHD. So, he has both going on at the same time. Getting that diagnosis was kind of difficult because it was almost like the giftedness was masking the ADHD. He was compensating with his ability to do so well in academics, but we didn't notice really what was going on.Laura: It's so tricky already to spot signs of ADHD. There's so many misconceptions about ADHD and how it presents. That's just got to add this extra layer of misconceptions or confusion.Emily: Yeah, and there's kind of a social conception, too, that children that are academically gifted should be quirky. And so, they would just describe all of those quirks as a result of his giftedness that it couldn't be something else.Laura: Because your son is academically gifted. I imagine there are all these expectations around what he's supposed to be able to do, and he's supposed to be extra mature and extra good at everything. Do you find that that's true?Emily: Yeah, and I had that for a long time, too. I would say "You're too smart to be melting down over brushing your teeth. Can't you see that brushing your teeth will take you three minutes and this fit is taking you 15 minutes? Why don't you just brush your teeth? Why can't you be logical? You're smart enough."Laura: Did you ever feel judged as a parent during this journey?Emily: I mean, definitely. I feel like most parents feel judged for their children's behaviors, and I just felt like it took so much more effort and people didn't realize that I was trying. I would get like phone calls home, "Oh, Jack did this again in class," and I would be like, "OK, I'm working on him and I'm trying." And he was doing his best too. For him, it was frustrating. There was one time he was probably five or six and a neighbor girl came over to invite him to go to the park and she knocked on the door and we answered it and she said, "Hey, Jack, want to come play at the park with me?" And her dad was with her. It was a really safe situation, but he didn't know how to handle it. So, he just like froze and he turned around 180 degrees and just let her stare at the back of his head, and he just shut off.Laura: Oh, wow.Emily: And then they're looking at me like, "So what's going on with your son?" And I'm looking at my poor son, just my heart breaking. I don't know if they were judging me, but at the time, I felt judged. I could imagine them thinking, "Why can't you teach your son social skills instead of realizing, "Oh, your son is trying so hard. He just had a hard time."Laura: From that moment to where you are now, what kinds of things helped you cope with feeling, judged, and what kinds of strategies maybe brought you and Jack closer together or things that you would say?Emily: Mindset is huge. Realizing that he wasn't just trying to be bad, or he wasn't choosing to be impulsive and he wasn't intentionally melting down, realizing that he was really doing his best. There was just a lot going on for him. That helped me out a lot. Also starting to see behavior as communication of something bigger. That was a huge deal. Like, that's probably the biggest thing that I tried to share with everyone.My website has a freebie on why is my child melting down and what's at the root of their intense emotions. And it's this five-step cheat sheet that I, I try to just get everyone to take a look at because the more that we understand that "My child is not intentionally being bad, it's not their fault. It's not my fault. They just need help developing these skills." Like, it just changed me from being upset and trying to get him to behave a certain way to being completely compassionate and trying to help him develop those skills.Laura: Wow.Emily: I say completely, but I'm still human.Laura: Yeah.Emily: I still mess up. I still go back to like, "Why are you doing this?" Pulling my hair out, OK I'm gonna pause. He's doing his best. And what is going on? instead of this like, "What is my child doing?" It's like, "Huh, what is my child doing?" Moving from judging my own child to curiosity, that's helped me, and then realizing other people might be judging me. And they might not be. And it's OK. Like I can be a good mom, even if they're judging me.Laura: A lot of what you just described is the reason that I just went back to therapy. I'm not kidding. I recently went back to therapy just to cope with like, "How am I reacting to my kids? How can I change my mindset about things that bother me, etc." I'm wondering if you could maybe call out a few of the areas where it's tricky to unravel what is a gifted type behavior versus an ADHD behavior. If it's helpful to start you off, I heard you talking about boredom. And from what I know from our experts that we work with, I know that boredom can be a big factor for gifted kids. But boredom is also something that a lot of kids with ADHD struggle with. So, talk to me about symptoms.Emily: I feel like there is a lot of crossover. I've never actually thought about separating them. For my son and for me, we don't see our ADHD as like a debilitating or a disability. We see it as a superpower. Because, and that's actually what I thought was going on. His mind was just always going so fast, and that helped him learn things really quickly and it helped him understand and it helped him come up with these ideas. But it also leads to like acting really fast and you can't wait your turn to speak. You just have to blurt out your answer right now because it's fresh on your mind and you can't wait to share it and interrupting conversations, acting without thinking. I always thought it was just the super-fast brain.But a lot of things like impulsivity is a symptom of ADHD. And I'm like, "But being spontaneous," that's what we always call it, "is really fun and it can be really creative," right? So, is that the giftedness, or is that what most people think is ADHD actually having a good spin on the same symptom?Laura: How does Jack identify? Does he use terms like 2e year or twice exceptional, gifted, ADHD, or just not a thing for him?Emily: It's not really a thing for him. Once in a while, he'll say, "Hey Mom, so I was at school..." and stop mid-sentence, and then he'll come back and say, "Is that because I have ADHD?" Like, he's asking why he just stopped mid-sentence.Laura: Wow. Good for him. I love that curiosity.Emily: And so, we approach it from like, "Yeah, it's likely and it's OK, right? And so, we were totally accepting of it in our house. And rather than, "Oh, that's what's wrong with me," we use it as, "Oh, that explains that quirk."Laura: So, let's talk about your "aha" moment, Emily. When you were going through the evaluation process with Jack, which symptoms stuck out to you? Which symptoms in particular that really spoke to you and who you are as a person?Emily: There are a lot. I think interrupting was an obvious one. When I was first married, I would interrupt my husband a lot to the point where he thought I just didn't care what he was talking about and he thought I didn't care about anything he had to say. And that wasn't it at all. I cared a lot. It was just like the thought came into my head in my mouth opened up, and I didn't realize I was doing it until he stopped me. One day he was like, "Do you realize you just interrupted me like five times in this conversation? You didn't let me finish my sentence." And I stopped and was like, "Oh, really? And why am I doing that?" I was like, "Oh, OK. Well, that's one of my quirks."When I was younger, I did really well in school, but in college, for example, I thought everybody had the same struggles I did with sitting down and reading a textbook. I had to go to the gym to read a textbook. I had to get on a treadmill and walk or ride a bike, or I had to find an empty classroom and stand at a podium and read it out loud or pace around the classroom while reading it out loud, just to get myself to focus on it. So, I did really well in school, and I thought everyone had those struggles. And I honestly, I was graduated, and I was dating my husband, who was still in school, and we sat down — I sat down to grade papers. I was a teacher at the time — and he just put out this super boring history textbook and he sat there, and he read it, and he was turning pages. And I said, "Are you actually like paying attention to that?" He was like, "Yeah." I'm like, "No, like, you didn't have to go back and reread that first page six times?" And he was like, "No, I'm just reading it and paying attention."Laura: Oh my God. It boggles the mind. I mean, for sure I can't. I see people do that too, and I'm like, "What are you doing? Aren't you like, how are you just not moving around?"Emily: Yeah, he wasn't like twitching in his leg or like flipping a highlighter lit or like anything that I do to cope. And I was in my early twenties and was like, "Wait, that's possible? I really thought everyone struggled to read something boring like that."Laura: What about impulsivity? You mentioned that Jack has struggled with some impulsivity or some spontaneity. He has the luxury of being spontaneous. What about you?Emily: Oh, yeah. I'm a teacher and a mom, and it makes for a really fun teacher role. I'll just be sitting with the kids and be like, "You know what, kids? Let's go on a turkey hunt." And we had nothing to do with the lesson plan, but I just looked at the kids and they were fidgeting and the idea pops in my head and suddenly we're acting out a turkey hunt in the classroom and it's so much fun. But I do have to temper it because we want to be wise with that.It's easier as an adult. I think as a child, when my upper brain wasn't fully developed, it was my classic example. I was five or six and I was at my grandma's house visiting her. She had this beautiful — it was probably a handmade doily — on one of her end tables, and there was someone had set a pair of scissors on it. You already know what happened.Laura: Oh, my God.Emily: I didn't even think, I was just like, "I wonder what it's like to cut through that doily." And so, I picked up the scissors and I just cut right through. I don't even know if I cut through it. I just remember cutting it and feeling I was just curious to know the texture of when the scissors went through it. I honestly wasn't trying to be bad. I didn't even think it through. I was just like, "I wonder what it's like to cut through that doily." And I try to remind myself of that when my kids do things that I'm like, "What in the world are you doing?" And like, they probably weren't thinking. They probably just had a thought pop into their head, and they acted on it.Laura: Oh, my gosh. Emily, this is reminding me of something. When I was a kid, I remember that I didn't feel like I had enough shelves in my room, so I just went in, got some shoeboxes and some super glue, and I glued them up to the wall. And they were obviously, they were not perfectly straight either, so they were tilted, so the shelves didn't really work, but I just super glued a bunch of shoeboxes to the wall, and I was like, "Why are Mom and Dad so mad?"Emily: I think that's incredibly creative, which I feel like people with ADHD are incredibly creative. We have these out-of-the-box thoughts who would think to go and grab shoeboxes and super glue it into the wall? Like we could say that negatively, like “Who would ever think to do this?" But we can also think, "Oh my goodness, that is brilliant." You saw a need in your room and you just went for it and you totally thought of a solution that nobody else would have thought of. That's incredible.Laura: Thank you, Emily. And that's very, that's very validating. I appreciate it. Can you call my parents after we record?Laura: Has your son getting diagnosed with ADHD and now you knowing that you have ADHD, has that created a unique bond in any way? Is that brought you closer together? It sounds like you've always been close, but just curious.Emily: Yeah, it's helped me be a lot more empathetic, like where I realized, "Well, I wasn't trying to interrupt my husband," and when he interrupts me, I'm like, "He's not trying to do this. It just kind of that that in his head, in his mouth opened up."Laura: Right.Emily: I'll say something like, "This is our superpower." And his little brother was recently diagnosed with ADHD also. And I'm a little bit suspicious that the third one might have it, but he's not quite old enough yet for us to get him evaluated. And so, yeah, I just, my poor neurotypical husband, he never understands why we're like so creative and so spontaneous and just...Laura: I bet he loves it. That's got to be really exciting, right?Emily: He does, I mean, he married me for a reason, right?Laura: That's a lot of spice of life that you're going to have that you already have in your house.Emily: It is.Laura: You're like "It is, I'm tired."Emily: It's fun. It's fun. I really, I mean, I wouldn't want my kids any other way, but it is a lot of work. Yeah, it really the hardest has been the emotional dysregulation part of it that I had to learn to temper myself. I would just flip a switch and get angry so fast when they were doing something that I thought that they shouldn't and learning to catch myself before I get to that ten.Laura: That is so hard. I find that to be the most difficult thing about parenting. You know, I'll be fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, being a quote-unquote model mom, and I'm just I'm responding calmly to things and gently nudging and teachable moments. And then I just get to this point and I'm just like, "Just go to bed," and I just want to lose it. I'm like, "You got to get out of here. I can't answer this question again." And the way I just said it, it's putting it mildly. So, I feel you and I'm working on it. It's a journey.Emily: We're all working on. It sounds like you're human. Isn't that great?Laura: Thank you.Emily: And we were talking about like ADHD being a superpower. A lot of things list oversharing as a part of ADHD, and I was a little bit mind blown when I read that because I was like, "I've always called it being authentic." And I realized a lot of my really close friends also have ADHD, and a lot of us didn't know until we were in adulthood. And I realized like I was being authentic, they were being authentic.Maybe people were a little bit weirded out because they called it oversharing, but we connected with each other and just felt like we were totally open. And when people come to know me, they know the real me. I can't hide it very well. It's just who I am. And so that it's another spin on "Sure, you might be able to call it oversharing," but for me, I'm like, "I'm just telling it how it is, and now you know who I really am."Laura: You are so good at spinning this. So, I'm going to run down what I've heard so far, and then I may ask for more. So, oversharing, reframing that as authentic. Impulsive, reframing that as spontaneous. Can I try out a few more on you and see what you come back with?Emily: Sure, let's.Laura: Hyperactivity. Hyperactive.Emily: Energetic.Laura: Yeah. Distracted.Emily: Overly attentive.Laura: Oh, this is great. You're so good at this. Let me think. How about disorganized?Emily: I'm still struggling with that one.Laura: Creative.Emily: Human.Laura: Human, there you go. Forgetful.Emily: Oh, learning to use tools. Using a phone alarm all day long.Laura: Got it. Oh, my gosh, procrastinating.Emily: Oh, yeah. You're hitting some of my pain points right now.Laura: Sorry.Emily: Yeah, I don't have a creative spin on that one.Laura: So, you've learned to flip the ones that are primarily maybe your kid's symptoms, but tougher when it's things that are more about us.Emily: Well, yeah, I think just learning to flip the ones that I really do see as being able to be helpful. I can't, procrastinating is just one of those hard things we have to learn to find ways to deal with it, I guess.Laura: That was really good. I'm really impressed with your ability to do that. It's just like you really, your mindset is really lovely.Emily: Thank you.Laura: What's one or two things that you wish more people understood about ADHD?Emily: I think the biggest thing is that people with ADHD are really doing their best, that we're not interrupting you because we don't care about you. I guess that's the biggest one. People with ADHD are doing their best and that might look different than someone's best that doesn't have ADHD, but it doesn't mean that the efforts are not there still. And in fact, many times we're trying two or three times as much to do the same thing.Laura: Tell our listeners about your podcast.Emily: As you said, it's called "Enlightening Motherhood," and our goal is to help moms who are feeling overwhelmed with their children's big emotions, which often lead to big behaviors, too. And it's meant to help empower them so that we can turn that overwhelm to confidence so that they can confidently parent their children. It starts with us with our mindsets, with being able to handle those difficulties, and then we learn a lot of tools that we can apply to parenting.Laura: Emily, it's been so great to talk with you today. Thank you so much for doing this and just for your candor.Emily: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. And I love the work you're doing with this podcast and with Understood. I love to follow you on Instagram and just the compassion that you have for not only people that are neurodivergent, but also trying to get the information out there in the world so that we can all understand each other a little bit more. I just love your mission and what you're standing for.Laura: Oh, thank you so much. You've been listening to "ADHD Aha!" from the Understood Podcast Network. If you want to share your own "aha" moment, email us at I'd love to hear from you.If you want to learn more about the topics we covered today, check out the show notes for this episode. We include more resources as well as links to anything we mentioned in the episode. Understood is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people who learn and think differently discover their potential and thrive. We have no affiliation with pharmaceutical companies. Learn more at "ADHD Aha!" is produced by Jessamine Molli. Say hi, Jessamine!Jessamine: Hi everyone.Laura: Briana Berry is our production director. Our theme music was written by Justin D. Wright, who also mixes the show. For the Understood Podcast Network, Scott Cocchiere is our creative director, Seth Melnick is our executive producer, and I'm your host, Laura Key. Thanks so much for listening. 

  • ADA fact sheet

    Learn the basics about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in this one-page fact sheet. This federal civil rights law protects from discrimination people of all ages with disabilities. That includes people with ADHD or learning disabilities. View the fact sheet above, or click on the link to download and print it. Learn moreSee how ADA compares with other laws that protect kids with learning disabilities and ADHD.Find out how ADA can protect against discrimination in the workplace.Get basic information on Section 504, another civil rights law.

  • Understood Explains Season 3

    IEPs: The difference between IEPs and 504 plans

    Learn the key differences between two common plans for school support, and which one might be right for your child. The terms IEP and 504 plan may come up a lot when you’re looking into special education for your child. These school supports do some of the same things, but one can provide more services and the other is easier to get. And it’s important to know the differences in order to get your child the support they need. On this episode of Understood Explains, host Juliana Urtubey will break down the differences between IEPs and 504 plans, and which one might be right for your child. Timestamps [00:53] What is a 504 plan?[02:16] What’s the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan?[08:15] Can my child have an IEP and a 504 plan at the same time?[09:36] Should my child switch from an IEP to a 504 plan?[10:45] What do multilingual learners need to know about IEPs and 504 plans? [11:58] Key takeawaysRelated resources504 plans and your child: A guide for familiesThe difference between IEPs and 504 plans (comparison chart)10 smart responses for when the school cuts or denies servicesUnderstood Explains, Season 1: Evaluations for Special EducationEpisode transcriptJuliana: As you look into getting your child more support at school, you're likely to run into the terms IEP and 504 plan. They do some of those same things, but one has a lot more stuff and the other is a lot easier to get. On this episode of "Understood Explains," we explore how these plans are similar and how they're different, and which one might be right for your child. From the Understood Podcast Network, this is "Understood Explains IEPs." Today we're going to learn about the differences between IEPs and 504 plans. My name is Juliana Urtubey, and I'm your host. I'm the 2021 National Teacher of the Year and I'm an expert in special education for multilingual learners. And speaking of languages, I want to make sure everyone knows all the episodes this season are available in English y en español. Let's get started. [00:53] What is a 504 plan?OK. So, what's a 504 plan? Before we get into the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan, I want to quickly explain what a 504 plan is. This is a tailored plan that removes barriers to learning for a student with disabilities. The goal is to give the student equal access to learning. To do this, a 504 plan often includes assistive technology, meaning things like screen readers, noise-canceling headphones, or speech-to-text software. Many 504s also include accommodations, which are changes in the way things get done. A common example is getting extended time on tests or getting to leave the classroom to take short breaks. And the other thing I want to mention is that some 504 plans include services like speech therapy or study skill classes. This doesn't happen all that often, but services can be part of a 504. So, the basic components of a 504: Assistive technology AccommodationsServicesRight about now, you may be thinking that 504s sound a lot like IEPs, Individualized Education Programs. And you're right. These two plans have a lot in common and can provide a lot of the same supports. But there are some key differences. And that's what the whole next section is about. [02:16] What’s the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan?OK, so what's the difference between an IEP and a 504 plan? I'm going to focus on three key differences: First, IEPs provide special education services. Students with IEPs may spend a lot of time in general education classrooms, but the heart of an IEP is the specially designed instruction to help a student catch up with their peers. For example, a student with dyslexia might get specialized reading instruction a few times a week. The IEP also sets annual goals and monitors the student's progress towards reaching those goals. So the key thing here is that IEPs provide special education. 504s on the other hand, do not provide special education. There are no annual reports or progress monitoring with 504s. What 504s do is remove barriers to the general education curriculum. So 504s can be good options for, say, a student with ADHD or written expression disorder, who doesn't need specialized instruction but does need accommodations, like sitting in a less distracting part of the classroom, or showing what you know in a different way, like giving an oral report instead of taking a written test. To give you a more detailed example, I want to talk about a student of mine named Brian. He had a 504 plan to help accommodate his vision impairment. To make the plan, I talked to Brian about what he needed, and I worked with the school's assistive technology department to find some helpful tools. We learned that Brian had an easier time reading and writing when he used a slant board to help raise up the paper. He also benefited from having what's called "augmented worksheets." Rather than having a bunch of math problems on one sheet of paper, Brian would get several sheets, so the problems were spread out and enlarged and he could see them better. With these supports, Brian could do all the work on his own. And to create his 504, a school staff member wrote up the plan and included my suggestions for accommodations and assistive technology. And the only thing we needed to get started was his parents' consent. And this brings me to the second big difference between IEPs and 504s. They're covered by different laws, and IEPs come with a lot more rights and protections than 504s do. So, for example, IEPs are covered by the federal special education law, which is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. This law is very focused on education and one really important detail about IDEA is that it says parents are an equal member of the team that develops the IEP. But that's not true for 504s. 504 plans are covered by an important civil rights law called The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This law bans discrimination against people with disabilities in several key areas. It has a big section about employment. It has a big section about technology, and it also has a big section about education. This is where the name "Section 504" comes from. So, IEPs and 504 laws are covered by different laws. And one difference between these laws is how much schools are required to involve parents. With a 504 plan, parents don't have to be equal members of the team. Schools don't have to involve parents in creating this kind of plan. They just need a parent's consent before starting to use it. Although I want to mention that many schools encourage families to help create the 504 plan, schools aren't required to involve them. There are also different rules about what schools need to do to make changes to these plans. With 504s, schools have to let parents know if a significant change is being made to the student's 504 plan. But the school doesn't have to send a written notice about this. With an IEP, schools have to send parents a letter and have a meeting with the full IEP team before they can change the IEP. And if parents want to dispute the changes, the school has to keep the current plan in place while the dispute gets resolved. With either of these plans, families can ask to make changes, but families have more rights and protections with IEPs. We'll talk more about IEP rights and dispute resolution later this season. There's a third big difference I want to mention. IEPs are harder to get than 504s. The process for determining who is eligible for an IEP takes more time and it involves more steps. Students need to have a disability to qualify for either plan, but to get an IEP, kids need to go through the school's comprehensive evaluation process. You can learn all about this process in season 1 of "Understood Explains."OK, so kids need to be evaluated by the school to get an IEP. By contrast, kids don't need to get evaluated by the school to get a 504. This kind of plan is easier to get, but it's less likely to include specialized instruction. So for example, let's look at students with ADHD. The main thing they'd need to qualify for a 504 is a diagnosis from their health care provider. But to qualify for an IEP, those same students would still need to go through the full evaluation process through their school. It's the same thing with dyslexia or depression or a hearing impairment or any type of disability. It's pretty quick to start getting accommodations and assistive technology through a 504. It takes longer to see if a child qualifies for an IEP. We're going to talk more about this later this season, but for now, I want to briefly mention the two eligibility requirements to qualify for an IEP. The evaluation team has to determine that you have a disability and that the disability impacts your education enough to need specially designed instruction. OK, that's a lot of info, let's summarize quickly before we move on. 504 plans are meant to remove barriers in general education classrooms. IEPs provide specialized instruction. They take longer to get, but they come with more supports, including legal protections and annual goals. [08:15] Can my child have an IEP and a 504 plan at the same time?Can my child have an IEP and a 504 plan at the same time? Yes, it's technically possible to have both an IEP and a 504 plan, but it's unlikely your child would actually need both. That's because an IEP can include everything that's in a 504 plan and more. For example, if your child has speech impairment and ADHD, the IEP can include speech therapy as well as accommodations related to that ADHD, like reducing distractions in the classroom and helping your child get started on tasks. There are, however, some situations where it might make sense to have both kinds of plans. For example, if a child has an IEP and gets a temporary injury, like a broken hand and needs some writing accommodations until it heals. Rather than going through the hassle of adding and removing those accommodations from an IEP, the school might choose to add them via a 504 plan. Another example of when a school might use both an IEP and a 504 plan, is if the student has a medical condition that doesn't directly impact academics, like a peanut allergy. So, there are some special cases where both plans might be OK, but in general, if your child has an IEP, keep it to that single plan. It's easier for you and for teachers to manage just one plan instead of two. [09:36] Should my child switch from an IEP to a 504 plan?Should my child switch from an IEP to a 504? So, this happens a lot, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe your child has made a lot of progress and no longer needs specialized instruction. For example, let's say your child has dyslexia and their reading skills have improved, and now all they need are tools or accommodations. This can include extra time on tests and digital textbooks that can highlight the text as it's being read out loud. Both of the supports could be covered in a 504, but if you think your child still needs specialized instruction, you can advocate to keep the IEP. We'll get into more specifics about this later in the season, but for now, I'll just put a link in the show notes to Understood's article on what to do if the school wants to reduce or remove your child's IEP services. The other thing I want to mention is that it's possible to move from a 504 plan to an IEP, but your child will need to be evaluated by the school and it takes longer to qualify for an IEP. We have a whole episode coming up about deciding who qualifies for an IEP. [10:45] What do multilingual learners need to know about IEPs and 504 plans?There are two really important things that multilingual families need to know about IEPs and 504s: First, getting your child an IEP or 504 plan does not put you or your family members at any greater risk of immigration enforcement. It's completely understandable that families with mixed immigration status might have concerns about getting formal supports at school, especially if it involves filling out paperwork with personal information. But all students in the United States have a right to a free, appropriate public education, no matter their immigration status. Plus, schools are considered sensitive locations, which means immigration enforcement cannot take place there. I'm going to talk more about this in a later episode that is all about multilingual learners. But for now, the one thing I want to mention is that formal supports in school, whether they're part of an IEP or a 504, should happen in addition to being taught English as an additional language. It's not an either or situation. You don't have to choose between disability support and language instruction. If your child needs both, your child can and should get both. [11:58] Key takeawaysAll right. That's all for this episode. But before we go, let's wrap up with some key takeaways. 504 plans are covered by a civil rights law that bans discrimination against people with disabilities. 504s remove barriers to general education. IEPs are covered by special education law and provide specially designed instruction and services for kids with a qualifying disability. Both plans can provide accommodations and assistive technology. And last but not least, specialized instruction is a core feature of IEPs, but it's not very common in 504 plans. That's it for this episode of "Understood Explains," tune in for the next episode on IEP myths. You've been listening to "Understood Explains IEPs." This season was developed in partnership with UnidosUS, which is the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Gracias, Unidos! If you want to learn more about the topics we covered today, check out the show notes for this episode. We include more resources as well as links to anything we've mentioned in the episode. Understood is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people who learn and think differently discover their potential and thrive. Learn more at  Credits Understood Explains IEPs was produced by Julie Rawe and Cody Nelson, with editing support by Daniella Tello-Garzon. Video was produced by Calvin Knie and Christoph Manuel, with support from Denver Milord.Mixing and music by Justin D. Wright.Ilana Millner was our production director. Margie DeSantis provided editorial support, and Whitney Reynolds was our web producer. For the Understood Podcast Network, Laura Key is our editorial director, Scott Cocchiere is our creative director, and Seth Melnick is our executive producer.Special thanks to the team of expert advisors who helped shape this season: Shivohn Garcia, Claudia Rinaldi, and Julian Saavedra.

  • Dyslexia fact sheet

    What is dyslexia? This one-page fact sheet provides essential information for beginners. Click on the download link above to read the fact sheet online, or print it out and give it to friends, family, teachers, or co-workers.

  • Language disorder fact sheet

    What is a language disorder? This one-page fact sheet lays out the basics. Click the link to see fast facts on language disorders, or print it out and share it with friends, family, teachers, and co-workers.

  • Workplace accommodations fact sheet

    The word accommodation may sound technical, but it’s a simple idea. In the workplace, accommodations are changes that support the different ways people think, move, and interact.Workplace accommodations are not special treatment. They remove barriers so people with disabilities can do their jobs.The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes “reasonable accommodation” a right for employees with disabilities. It also covers job seekers. If you need an accommodation to do a core part of your job or to access benefits, your employer has to work with you to find a solution. The ADA applies to workplaces with 15 or more employees. Similar state laws often apply to smaller employers.Download this one-page fact sheet to learn more about workplace accommodations.More resourcesA huge number of things can be considered accommodations. For example, noise-canceling headphones might help an employee with ADHD concentrate. A flexible schedule might help an employee with a chronic illness keep up with work while juggling medical appointments. Use these resources to learn more:Explore examples of workplace accommodations.Read three common myths about workplace accommodations.Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

  • Section 504 fact sheet

    Get basic information about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in this one-page fact sheet. You can view and read the fact sheet above, print it out, or share it with others who want to learn more about this civil rights law. (Click on the download link to print the fact sheet.)

  • Sensory processing challenges fact sheet

    What is sensory processing? How does trouble with it affect daily life? Click on the link above to get a one-page fact sheet about sensory processing challenges. You can view and read the fact sheet online. Or download and print it out to share with anyone who wants to learn about trouble with sensory processing.

  • Written expression disorder fact sheet

    What is written expression disorder? This one-page fact sheet lays out the basics on this learning difference. Click the download link to read it online, or print it out and give it to friends, family, teachers, and co-workers.

  • Slow processing speed fact sheet

    Use this fact sheet to get and share basic information about slow processing speed. Click on the link above to read the fact sheet online, or print it out and give it to teachers, family members, and friends.

  • Learning and thinking differences fact sheet

    What are learning and thinking differences? Get basic information in this one-page fact sheet. Click on the download link to see the fact sheet, or print it out and give it to friends, family, teachers, or co-workers.

  • Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) fact sheet

    What is developmental coordination disorder (DCD)? Use this fact sheet to get basic information on DCD, which is sometimes referred to as dyspraxia. Click on the link above to see the fact sheet, or print it out to share it with anyone who wants to learn more about DCD.

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