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Welcome to the world of neurodivergence!
If you or your child has been diagnosed with a neurodivergent condition, you may be feeling a range of emotions. But don't worry, you are not alone.
Neurodivergence is simply a term used to describe a range of conditions that affect the brain, such as ADHD, dyslexia, and autism. These conditions can present in a variety of ways, and some people may not even realize they are neurodivergent.
This week, Mary Klovance joins Hailey Kanigan to talk about the best ways parents and guardians can address signs of neurodivergence when they appear in their children.
Mary and Hailey discuss the difficult nature of understanding and treating different aspects of the neurodivergence spectrum. They talk about labeling and diagnosing different types of neurodivergence, and how different types of therapy can be extremely effective.
In this episode:
The good news is that there is a lot of support and understanding available for neurodivergent people. With the right resources, you can learn how to manage your condition and thrive.
Mary is the owner/operator of Victoria BC's new Neurodiversity Family Centre and specializes in parenting support and helping youth ages 14+ with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD), challenging behaviours and addiction issues. She has worked in private practice for two years, for over 5 years at Victoria's youth detox and shelter, and for over 10 years in the Victoria' School district as a school counsellor.
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Disclaimer: Therapy Talks does NOT provide medical services or professional counseling, and it is NOT a substitute for professional medical care.
Hey, it's Haley. Welcome back for another episode of Therapy Talks. Today we have Mary Klovance joining us to talk all things ADHD and neuro divergence. We talk about what youth are struggling with today within adhd, different therapy modalities that can help, and some really practical tips and strategies that parents can rely on.
What's lovely to meet you today, Mary. I'm Hailey. I am just super excited to talk today about neuro divergence, adhd and just like your practice and like what you offer. So it would be really wonderful if you could maybe just introduce yourself and your professional background. I started off as a school counselor and even before that I started off working with Youth at Risk at our local detox youth center.
So I started with the detox, then I got into teaching counseling. And then what I noticed is in our school system is we don't have a lot of support for folks with adhd. And just generally neurodiversity. And I found a lot of parents were coming to me as a school counselor saying, What can I do other than medication or what can the school offer me?
because a lot of youth who have just ADHD can't get what's called an iep, an individualized education plan. Whereas if you have like autism, which is another type of neurodiversity, you can get one. That kind of made me start realizing I'm from Victoria, bc, I should have mentioned that. And in Victoria we don't.
a lot of sports. There's like nowhere people can go. And so that made me think, you know what, maybe I need to start stepping into private practice and filling the gap so that I, there's a place for schools to be referring these kids. That got me into opening the Neurodiversity Center, which opened up on March 1st this year.
And my journey educationally to get there was a lot. I had to take a lot of degrees. I felt like I had to start with my bachelor's. Got into the education program with the Bachelor's of Education and then going into the master's in counseling because that's what you actually need to be a school counselor.
And that's what helped me with the private practice cuz in order to be a registered clinical counselor, which is what I am you need to have your master. So yeah, that's my roundabout way of answering your question. So it sounds like you really noticed that gap for those who are neuro divergent within the school system.
And so I would love to really focus today on like youth and like their experiences from what you have seen and how that's showing up. Because I think that there's a lot of individuals who really could benefit from that and like that ability to feel like they could relate to some of that information.
So what were you seeing within the school system that really were some indicators of neuro divergence? The indicators are, neuros is everywhere, right? It's really. Some people present obviously, and some people don't present, obviously, and I think the real gap is that the youth who are not so obvious in what's going on for them.
So a lot of adults that I know or people coming to me either privately in my personal life or through the center, are like, I think I might be neuro divergent . I've never been diagnosed, but I'm realizing that maybe that's what's been going on for me my whole life. And . As educators, we are learning more about neurodiversity, learning more to notice what that looks like and how that can present differently and going, Okay, hey, parents, we're noticing these things.
You might wanna consider talking to your doctor about that. But I think what happens also in the school system is teachers are afraid to say those things to the parents, because some parents, of course, they get their backup and they're like, What do you mean there's nothing wrong with my kid? And, and it's.
They look at it as a, there's something wrong instead of Neuro divergence. It's just a divergence from that's why we got neurodiversity, which means diff like different diversity versus typical we'll talk about typical or neurotypical. And so part of that is trying to educate parents and saying, Hey, if your child is neuro divergent, there's nothing wrong with them.
It just means that they're gonna learn in a certain way or they're gonna need certain things to be able to do things right. And every kid's unique. Really, it's just a label. We've given a category. Youth, and even then there's different labels underneath. So I would say the biggest thing in the school system is noticing that a lot of educators don't know some of the traits that aren't as obvious when it comes to neuro divergence and trying to teach them that so that they can notice these things and pass it on to parents and just at least just share what they're noticing.
Because obviously as educators we don't necessarily wanna say you should get an assessment because that's not necessarily, that's not a teacher's job. A teacher's job is not to say your. Should get assessed for this, but they can say, I'm noticing these things, which lines up with maybe this, that I know about ADHD or this that I know about autism.
. And so what would you suggest to an educator to keep their eyes out for. It all depends. So if we're, like, neuro divergence is a large category, so I think it's easier to focus. So I'm just gonna focus in on, let's say adhd for example. When they come to adhd, there is three different types.
There is primarily hyperactive, so we're looking at a hyperactive youth. It can present differently in the sexes. It can present differently just on personality type. So for example, my, I'm adhd primarily hyperactive. So with me, you're gonna notice that I shift around a lot. I use my hands. I need to move.
I'm like, I'm always outta my seat. So in school, it presented as, I'm always outta my seat. I'm a chatter box. I'm always talking. I'm getting in trouble for talking. Sit down, stop talking to everyone. So when I was in school, that was just a chatty girl. That was actually part of my hyper activity. I needed to move.
I couldn't just sit in my seat. So I think the more obvious traits are the youth that you do see running around the classroom, the kids who are constantly needing movement, who are bouncing around, who are really just, versus maybe just shifting in their seat. Cuz I was more of a shift in the seat versus getting up and running around.
So that's part of the hyper activity. The talking, talking fast. You'll notice that I probably talk a bit fast and I have to remind myself to slow it down. Other parts of hyperactivity. Will go in for inattentive as well, is that emotional dysregulation. We will often go from zero to 10 for whatever emotion we're having, but of course, that's also very natural for teenagers who are now hormones are being implemented.
So that's why those. Who have adhd, who've got the hormones and adhd, so it makes it very intense feelings. That would be another bit. When we talk about primarily inattentive, those are the types that we often miss because if you're primarily inattentive, you're often actually not as hyperactive.
You're not moving around as much. So you're maybe just quiet and sitting at the back so people don't notice that, hey, you're having a hard time focusing. You're not able to repeat what was just said to you. You're zoning out a lot. And you might notice, wow, that teacher's been talking for 20 minutes and I have no clue what she's even been talking about, let alone the topic, let alone, so those are the ones that are missed the most. And then you've got combined type. So combined type is both hyperactive, both the inattentive I find those are the youth that struggle the most, and those are the ones that are often suggested to be medicated because it's just so much to balance versus youth who maybe just are primarily one or the other, sometimes.
Medication is just not a good fit for them. , and you bring up some really interesting points about like, how those can be, those different types can be show up within ADHD and in youth in the classroom. And it's interesting do you align with that idea that as like society has given some labels, it's like in an effort to better serve and support those youth, but like in the past we may have just said that's just the child.
Like it's okay to be different. Like we wouldn't maybe have given it a label in that way. Absolutely. And this is, I think, a really hot topic, this concept of labeling and diagnosing because I have worked with many parents who are very uncomfortable with their child being diagnosed. Suddenly they feel and the child also having a lot of issues with, Oh my gosh, I have this thing and being diagnosed, and it's, there's this fear base because I think we are making a big shift into it's okay to be different.
And I feel. If we go back, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years, it wasn't okay to be different. And now our society's really embracing that. So I think that is one big part of it. But yeah, a lot of families are afraid of saying no, my kid isn't hyperactive adhd. They're just, a rambunctious boy.
Or a chatty girl. And yeah, you can say that, but also how knowing that, are you doing anything to support your child when they are struggling? Because if we can actually diagnose someone with adhd, we can think of all that. We can go back to all the other. Struggles they might have and start to teach them the skills for those, so if I have a hyperactive child, an hyperactive ADHD child, I also know they might have troubles focusing, and they might have troubles with emotional dysregulation. They might, they're gonna have trouble with dopa dopamine and having that happen all the time. So they're gonna have what sometimes we call they can have a addictive personality, right?
They might really get into gaming or, that hyper focus that we see. So for me, I am a big believer in. Diagnoses, AKA, I guess labels, but it doesn't mean bad. There's no, for me, there's no negative to it. And it's about what you do with that diagnosis, right? If it, if you go, Hey, your kid has this thing, and you do with that diagnosis, there's something wrong with them.
We need to fix them. Da. That's a problem. But if we go, Hey, this child has adhd. Okay, now we know we need to make sure they get movement breaks every 20 minutes. Awesome. Let's put that into our plan. Let's realize when that kid calls out in class, they literally can't stop themselves from calling out.
So I don't need to get upset with them because they need a bad choice. I understand that their prefrontal cortex is not at the maturity level of the other youth in the. So there's, it's a lot more understanding that comes along with it. . Okay. And just to play devil's advocate for a bit, just on the other side, just for fun, if you don't mind.
I'm just curious. Yeah. It's just it sounds as though it's not necessarily the label that is helpful. It's like what we're doing to manage this situation. Yeah. And it sounds just like the. Yeah. You know what I mean? Because you said like the label then leads into that awareness and action and solution focused approach, which is very compassionate and kind rather than just having a label.
It's like what we do with that label. Cuz if we label it and do nothing, then nothing changes. It's more about the. Proactive or in the reactive approaches that we're doing to like support that youth with this situation that they have. So even if you label your child as like rambunctious boy, and that's okay, but it's more about how do we support that child to feel like they can learn and can flourish.
. Yeah, definitely. And part of it, like I said, is. The difference between a Rebus, like if I just said my child's like a Rebus, his child versus my child has adhd, is if I know my child has adhd, I can, like I said presume they're having these other difficulties that maybe I can't notice, like they're zoning out and I haven't noticed that.
So I can also preplan supporting that child versus Oh, they're just, they just like to run around. . But why are they always, they're always yelling at me. Why are they always screaming at me? My kid's bad. They just run around all the time and they're just yelling at me. Actually, if we know it's adhd, we know they actually are also experiencing emotional dysregulation because their brain is not at the maturity level in that emotional regulation plate as my other child who, when they were that age.
So that's why I think there is a difference between. Rambunctious versus, Okay, now I know there's all this other stuff I need to be aware of too. Yeah, like I think you're highlighting my point of like parents being compassion and kind and not feeling this defeatism when their child isn't behaving in the way that they would like to.
It's more about actually getting to know your child. So I don't know if it's just on my side of things, just cuz it's also not an area I focus in, so I'm just saying some of these different ideas. But it's almost about that parent, which parenting is so tough and such a huge role, but it's going.
My child is not functioning or learning or flourishing in a way that's best for this child. How do I best support them? And so the label, the ADHD would encourage maybe a parent to research, but some parents may not even research once they have that diagnosis. It's really, I think, goes down to that core of how do parents best support their child's regardless of their differences that they may.
Absolutely. Absolutely. And it's, it gives them that Google search term, right? And that's totally right, is that research. Like one of the things that we offer at the center is workshops because of this kind of stuff, right? You, your child may get a diagnosis and then you're like, Okay, but I don't really know what that means.
What am I supposed to do about that? Or what do I do with it? So here I am saying it's great to have a diagnosis because at least teachers can do this, Schools can do this. But for a parent, if they're not educated, they're kinda like that doesn't help me. Unless they're able to access the inform.
Or know how to access the information. So I think that's a, another huge gap in the system is for parents when they get that diagnosis. Often the doctor's Okay, here's your diagnoses and do you wanna medicate your kid? And then they're like, Okay, but what else? , Can I also know what that means? And then the doc, doctors don't have two hours to sit down and say let me educate you.
, which is so wonderful and it's so great that your center is offering to fill in that gap. But it goes back to that idea of parents having the desired time and effort and availability to do that research, to make that informed choice on behalf of their. The big thing is relationship, right?
I think when you have a child, the best thing that you can do for your child is focus on the relationship. So whether they have a diagnoses or whether they don't, doesn't matter. It all goes back to relationship, right? And if you know your child, like you're saying, and you can be in tune with some of that stuff.
That's the most important bit. . And like when you said like the label of ADHD and the diagnosis of it, it's like really important for that child to have a good relationship with that diagnosis because sometimes we can have those self-limiting beliefs because of the diagnosis that I am different and that's bad, or it's wrong, or I'm only gonna be able to do this, or I'm only gonna be able to do that instead of allowing the child to know that is just a difference that they're experiencing and does not always have to be the way that they, in which lens that they view the.
And what kids don't also know and parents don't know is as an educator, the class, everybody's different. Like often I think people have this idea that okay, let's say you have a class of 30 kids, that 20 of them are neurotypical, average. There's only like 10 who have all this stuff. That's not the case.
I do class building. We know what's going on for our kids and it's not the case. Everybody's different. We've got learning disabilities scattered in there. We've got neurodiversity scattered in there. There's so many, We've got mental health. Scattered in there. We've got giftedness scattered in there.
So really everybody's different. Everybody has their own thing. We got the kids who are really great at math, the kids who are really great at English, right? And the kids who are really great at languages, and I think we have to step back from that. There's this. Average, typical large amount of people.
Then there's these people who are different. Cause we're all different. Everybody is, Everybody's unique. Yeah, exactly. That's what I mean. So that's what it's about is like really, like you're saying, the relationship that you would have with your child right. Is to know what would be best to support them.
To do the research, to educate oneself. And that's not only the parents, but like you're saying the educators. Because there is that gap in how to best support children. Cuz it can just be so overwhelming just to be a parent and to get food on the table and to clean. And it's like now if your child's struggling, in some ways it can be even more challenging to support their unique needs.
Absolutely. . Yeah. I would love to jump into the hot topic of medication, if that's okay for adhd. Sure. I'm not a doctor, so I make sure that's very clear. Yes, definitely. Yeah. We're both not doctors, but I'd love to just have your opinion or some ideas around it, because I know there is like a pro and con kind of discussion on whether to medicate a child if they are challenged with adhd.
Yeah, there definitely is. So there is, I think the biggest myth is that you medicate your child. They are more likely to have addiction issues, and research has shown over and over again that it's the opposite. If you medicate your child, it decreases. Their chances of becoming an addict. Because what we see is we see as a child who is not medicated for their adhd, discovers something like marijuana and they go, Wow, that chills me right out.
And they start smoking and they're self-medicating because now something's actually helping them calm down, slow down, relax for once, and now they're self-medicating, which can lead to addiction versus a child who is medicated. Who didn't need to find something else to chill them out because maybe they weren't supported through the system of the school.
Learning that, hey, maybe I don't need to actually chill out. Or if they are feeling anxious and they're feeling hyperactive, learning skills and strategies through counseling or workshops, right? That I would say is the biggest myth that I definitely wanted to address if we were gonna talk about medication.
Yes. Yeah, that's a really great important point to note because it's like you're saying, it's they're self-medicating to manage what they're experiencing because I will acknowledge it's harder in many ways to learn those skills and to master them and to really implement them because of all the different challenges within adhd and just even like being a normal human being and trying to take care of yourself.
It's just hard to like, Do adulting perhaps, but or even isn't, even at a young age. Just take care of yourself. So then they turn towards those things. So I'm glad that we've talked about that myth and shown that it's not something that's true. I'm more curious on what your opinion would be on like long term use, say a child in their early ages or diagnosed with adhd, they choose to medicate.
How long should a child medicate for? I couldn't answer that question cause that's definitely a doctor question. I do know that research has shown as well that if you medicate for a longer period of time, it actually can change the way the brain works so that you no longer need medication. So that's another recent thing that's come out.
That's about all I can say on that. Cuz I can't say how long you can medicate because it really is a unique situation if the, in my personal opinion, if a child needs medication, they need medication. , there's no time limit on that. If they don't need it, they don't need it.
And that's where the assessment comes in of where the parent's assessment, the child's assessment, the doctor's assessment. If there is a mental healthcare worker or counselor, They would probably chime in on that going, I think they might be ready to come off. Yeah. So you're saying it's a really individual kind of situation depending on that, but you're also saying it doesn't necessarily have to be forever.
Cause I think one myth that I've heard is that if you choose to medicate a child, they will forever have to be medicated. But I don't think that's the case. I think like medication is a tool and that we can use that tool to also learn other tools, like behavioral skills and things to better support that individual.
I 100% agree with that. Absolutely. It's just like in mental health, like if someone is experiencing anxiety, they can get medication or they can use counseling or they can use both. And often in mental health we'll say, Okay, your anxiety is so debilitating, you're gonna ch, the person will choose, okay, I wanna do medication for now while I learn the skills, because I can't learn the skills when I'm not medicated because I can't handle even going to counseling.
And then once they learn the skills, they'll come off cause they now can do the thing. So it's the same with. ADHD or other NeuroD diversities as well. , do you believe in your opinion that a person who's struggling with adhd, and I know there's all the different types and ways and things, do you think they can get to a point that it's so well managed that they don't feel like they're struggling with it anymore?
A hundred percent. I personally don't ever feel like I have struggled with my adhd. I think that's why I was never diagnosed, because it's my superpower. I find I learned exactly how I like to work and I work in that way, and it works best for me and for me. I don't really think it's inhibited me in any way other than.
Me cutting people off when we talk. and I talk fast and I would say those are the socially that was a bit difficult. And school for me, I definitely, social stuff was hard when elementary age, but then I found my people middle and high school and it was not a problem. So I a hundred percent believe that it can.
Not be debilitating for a lot of people. Yeah, I know what you mean. I love to speak quickly as well and I force myself to slow down a little bit . Cause I like to have intense, like quick conversations and things. So I totally get that. I just wanted to bring up that point because sometimes I feel as though neuro divergence is looked at as like this.
Once you have it, that's like it. Like you're always going to you're always gonna have neuro divergence, but it's always gonna be like a struggle that you have. And I wanted to give a moment of like hopefulness for individuals if they're listening to this, that they don't have to. Feel like it's a struggle.
It's something that you can learn to like work with, like you said, like you've learned how to best work in a style that best supports the way that you function, right? And so it no longer feels like a challenge. And I wanted to make, like you said, that analogy towards like anxiety. Like anxiety is something that I work with a lot.
Within my private practice, and I always like to tell people like, Hey, if you're anxious, and it's an experience of anxiety, like we don't always have to feel anxious. We can learn the skills and techniques to better management, or we can have an understanding as to why the anxiety's coming up and the triggers and things like that to be able to soothe and regulate effectively.
So I just wanted to make sure that individuals knew that like they don't always have to struggle with the experience of neuro divergence or specifically adhd. 100%. It's something you can get a handle on in anyway, cuz again, it goes back to the world we live in is really focused on that neurotypical brain.
And so once we can identify that we're neuro divergent, we go, Oh, okay, so I do this even though, for example, working my might be expected to work nine to five, sitting at a desk. One task, and then I do another task, and then I do another task. I learned for me that even though my day is set up nine to five, I don't have to do one task and then do another task.
I can do three tasks at once. I can flip between three tasks all day and then get them all done by the end of the day because my brain needs to keep switching to stay engaged and to stay focused. But to complete a task and then move to the next doesn't work for me. And a lot of people think I have to do it that way cuz that's what they tell me to do.
Now, dude, as long as you just get done what you gotta get done, that's really what they care about, right? So it's those little things that once okay, that's how my brain functions and you just adapt. And wouldn't you say it's fair to say that like the experience of discovering that if you are neuro visions is similar to the experience of just knowing one's self in general?
It's like I think that as a youth, like we are, we don't have the ability to really have a true, strong relationship with oneself. And I think that's something. Thing that I see a lot with late teens or early adults is like this discovery of self and what will be self-fulfilling and how do we best function or what careers would we align with or what things are we passionate about?
But not only that, but like how do we best show up in our lives in a productive way that feels good. So I think that it's also just like similar to a lot of people who are neurotypical. It's like that discovery of self and how you best do things. Yeah, it's a puzzle piece. I always say to youth that we are, we're all made up of puzzle pieces, right?
And there's different puzzle pieces that mean different things and sometimes there's empty spots where we haven't found the puzzle piece yet. Or we don't know how to identify that puzzle piece. And a diagnosis of neuro divergence in any type is just another puzzle piece to the mosaic that creates us.
. And I wanted to also switch to talking a little bit about oppositional defiant disorder. If you don't mind, I know that saw something that you also work with, correct. Could you maybe describe what that is for people who maybe do not know? Okay. Oppositional defiance disorder is usually linked to adhd.
So if you have adhd you may have O D, but if you have O D, it's very likely you have adhd. So if that makes sense. So it's a, when you have O D, it's a pretty high percentage that you also have adhd, so oppositional defiance. The myth is that it's caused by bad parent. What it really means is I had someone, I was listening to another actual podcast and they explained it this way and I liked it, thought it made sense.
It's almost like child care if they win, they just want you to lose. So it feels very personal as a parent. Okay. It feels very much like they're doing this to just piss me off kinda thing. . But they're not doing it. It's the way the brain kind of doesn't want them to win. So I'm gonna give you an example.
So an example might be you ask your child to put on, not ask, but you tell your child to put on your, their shoes and you say, Okay, Jimmy, you gotta put your shoes on. Jimmy has oppositional defiance. Jimmy was like, No, you can't make me. You're like, Jimmy, it is pouring rain outside. You're gonna get soaking wet.
Put your shoes on. Nope. Definitely not doing it. You can't do it. So Jimmy will go outside and bare feet just to be like, Gotcha. You can't make me put my shoes on so that you lose. Now he's losing too cuz he's cold, his feet are wet. He's not actually winning anything, but it's like wanting you to lose.
So I think that when parents hear that and they go, That's what it feels like and it's not on purpose, again, it's not something they're doing cuz they mean to it's part of the way the brain works that if they feel like you are demanding something. Versus a request. And that's what I work with families.
I say, No, we gotta start wording things as requests, not demands. So the second a demand is put on them, they're like, Nope, you can't make me And adults even have this too. I know adults in my personal life were like that. If I ask them to do something, all of a sudden it's they explained it to me like you just took, it's like taking the wind outta my sail.
So an example might be my roommate is, People do the dishes, they're thinking, Oh, I'll do it later. Cuz they have ADHD and they're putting it off and they're like, Yeah, I'll do it later cause it's not fun. And I'm like, Hey, can you do the dishes? They're like I was gonna do the dishes, but now you just made it your idea and not my idea, so now I don't wanna do it anymore.
So it's about that kind of wanting to take ownership of their life and themselves and what they choose to do. And it's to the. Where does that come? Oppositional defiance. Yeah. So where does it come from then? Like why do, What's the information of like, why this arises? I'm not a hundred percent sure to be honest.
It's other than just the way that the brain is wired. The brain is wired to say, basically respond with you. Can't make me that idea of top down. If you tell me what to do, I'm not gonna do it. Okay, ask me to do it. Or we have a discussion about it. It's just the way the brain works it evokes emotion within them.
This, ugh Nope, you can't make me, you get that when you're little, like when kids are really little, they have that and then they grow out of it because the brain develops. But it's like that part in the brain has not developed yet to say, Okay. They're not telling you in a mean way.
They don't, they're not trying to force you to do they're really just trying to help you. Yeah. It makes me think of some of my friends, two year olds that their favorite word is no as a, like a young child, a toddler. It's always no. Even if it's do you want a cookie? They're like, No.
So its autonomy. Yeah, and it's almost like this need for control in some ways. And so I think I was doing some reading that there is like a bit of a link between like trauma and this need to feel in control and to safe. And so it becomes out in a way of the oppositional because they're trying to regain control over the lack of control that they had from maybe some traumatic events or experiences that they had.
Or a lack of secure attachment. And so they really try and state their own individual like stance on things. And like you're saying, it's like saying the no, or I don't want to, because it feels like a demand rather than their willingness to answer a request from their own desires to do yeah, that would make sense to me.
And also it goes back to, like I said, a lot of the time there's the ADHD bit and when someone has adhd, there's often some, small traumas that have happened because of their their inability to self-regulate or their executive dysfunction, which is something I didn't mention earlier.
But not being able to say, is this a good idea? And then doing it, like thinking about something before they do it, that think before you act. And so that can cause traumas to happen for them to feel that way. But yeah I personally am not super aware of any exact specific thing. Cuz the other link too is anxiety too, right?
That anxiety of going back to what you just said, just anxiety, not necessarily trauma based, but a lot of people who have ADHD have anxiety or depression and that not knowing and being afraid and, okay, what can I control? I can control what I do. I can't control what they do. I can't control anybody else, but I control myself so I'm not gonna let anybody else control me.
Cause that's the one thing I. Yeah, definitely. And so in your practice, what are some of the main approaches that you use to supporting the youth with neuro divergence? So you said you do some workshops, you work a lot with the parents. Are there any specific modalities or treatments that you use? So I, our center focuses on raw screens approach for the collaborative problem solving approach.
So everybody who works in center has done some of the training. I'm gonna be doing some more like intense training with it. So it's really. Collaborating with the youth. So we do require that parents involve themselves in counseling. So parent involvement is required. So it's not just a parental intake.
We're gonna talk to your kid and try to help them. We go, Then we require to keep checking in with the parents. So our approach is really a family based approach. So we try to give parents the tools to help their kids because they're seeing their kids every day. We only see them, for an hour, once or twice a week, or once every two week.
For us, it's so important to educate the parents so that they can help their kids through the things. And then we work with the kids. So I would say that's our overarching approach. And then each of our counselors have their own therapeutic modalities that they work from. Yeah.
Could you tell me a little bit more about the raw screen approach? Cause it's something that I'm not familiar with. You said it's really interactive between the whole family and so you said like more like solution and problem focused, like trying to, or solution focused approaches of trying to do some things.
Like what would be some examples of. Yeah. So the cloud problem solving approach is basically to address the issue with the child and try to figure out what's up. His big favorite thing is to say, What's up? So you say something like, Hey Jimmy, I notice it's hard for you to get up in the morning. What's up?
And to start the dialogue. And they're like, What do you mean? You're like, I don't know, I've just noticed the last couple days. It's been really tough for you. And then they'll be like, Yeah, it's been really tough. And you're like, Yeah. So what's going? I don't know, maybe I'm not getting enough sleep.
So you start with kind of understanding the problem together, because often as parents, like you mentioned earlier today, we don't have time. We feel like we don't have time to get to the stop. We're like, get up, let's get outta bed, let's go da. And then you're doing that every morning. Instead of actually going, we're gonna sit down and talk about what is the problem, understanding the problem, and then moving on to a solution for it.
And the solution is a collaborative thing. It's not a parent going maybe you should go to bed earlier, or maybe you shouldn't have your phone so late, or da. You really go. So you're saying that you're not getting a lot of sleep. Why do you think that might be? What are some ideas on how to help and you let the child come up with as many ideas as they want?
Cause a lot of the time people go, How am I supposed to do with my four year old? I do it with my four year old all the time. They can have crazy ideas. It's hilarious. That's good. We want them to be brainstorming. Then you come in with yours and then you guys both decide on, Okay, let's try this.
I often suggest to. To actually start off with the kid's idea. Even if you're like, I know it's not gonna work. I know my kid. But the thing is, need 3 1, 3 things. They need to feel accepted. They need to feel heard, and they need to feel loved. That's all. And when you come down with your idea first, they don't feel accepted or heard, but you're like, and a lot of parents I talk to will say I know it's not gonna work.
That's okay. They can, It can not work the first time because now the kid's gonna buy into your. You're gonna go, Okay, let's try your way. Try the thing. It, it fails as you knew, but you're like, Okay, we're gonna try it. And then you go, Okay, that didn't work. How about this idea? Then they're gonna be willing to try yours.
Especially when we're talking about that oppositional defiant child, right? They're gonna wanna do their way, great. Let's let them do their way. But again, parents are often so solution focused. I wanna fix it now. I don't have time for this. Let's. They're trying to do top what we call top down and they're trying to say, this is what we need to do.
And then the kids don't buy in and that also doesn't work. So it's really that feeling like you're coming together, coming to an agreement, finding solutions together. And it's not just the parent saying This is what's gonna work, cuz I know that's what's gonna work. So you really highlight that collaborative piece between the parent and the child and really trying to help the child to understand what is happening.
Because they may know what's happening, but they're not necessarily aware of it. So they need to be like help to shine a spotlight on it and come up with their own ideas and efforts and trying to allow them to have their own independence, to try things out to fail, but then to then move into maybe something that's more likely to work.
So it's like a bit of that journey process instead of just cutting off the the wings before they've had a chance to fly. Absolutely because it's so important to teach your kid problem solving. And what I find is parents go, I don't trust my kid. They're not making good choices. Yeah, because you've been making the choices for them.
You've been telling them what to do. You're not allowing them to collaborate with you in problem solving and so that you can model it. Cuz that's what we're doing when we're collaborating with our children. We're modeling how to problem solve. We ask questions. So a child might say I think that I should.
Not have to get up so early and you're like, Okay, so you don't think you should get up so early. So what time does school start? Starts at eight 20. Okay. So if you got up at seven 30 instead of seven, do you think you'll make it on time? No. Okay. So do you think that's a great idea? No. Okay. No, it's not.
So you're helping as a parent to ask the questions that they might not be thinking of modeling that for them so that they can do that problem solving versus. This is Ross screen calls it the plan B is the collaborative approach, and then there's the plan A that's you just need to go to bed earlier, or I'm taking your phone away from you at night.
That kinda a thing. That parent top down. . Okay. Those are some really interesting approaches and it sounds like some of those are really just great tips for anyone just to give a try. If they feel like they're struggling with their child and they wanna encourage that problem solving skills within their own child as.
And he's got a lot of book, lots of books, so anybody who's listening can just look up raw screen. He's got tons of great books that you can read and teaches you exactly how to do it. He's got printouts on his website, so you don't have to take a training and you can go on Audible or anything like that.
For sure. I'm just trying to think what other questions I had for you. Are we missing anything so far? I think we highlighted a lot of the important things, cuz I think there is fear when from some people, when you think of nerd, there's that fear of, okay, what am I supposed to do? Because again, we've got the parents who feel like they have to do something, right?
I'm a parent, I gotta do stuff, I should be doing. This means something, what do I do? So that idea of, okay, what can you do? So I just wanted maybe to highlight some of that. So if you have. If you're getting, if your child is diagnosed with a neuro, a virgin the first thing you're gonna wanna do is research that.
So easy peasy is going on YouTube and just looking up ADHD, and watching some video. I would strongly encourage to watch videos with your child as well. Maybe watch some videos and then keep some and then watch it with them because you guys can learn together. This is a journey that you can do with your child.
It goes back to what I was saying with the relationship. You want the child to know they're not alone in this, and that you're gonna learn together. So you can both learn how to best support them. Again, if you're in Victoria, we've got the Neurodiversity Center where we have workshops and we have counseling support.
We're working on having other supports available sooner than later. Getting to know those things, asking questions, talking to the teacher, talking to the school counselor. See what resources are available in the school. I think, there's lots of Facebook groups going in and finding parenting Facebook groups.
There's a, like a British Columbia ADHD group. I know I have a Vancouver Island ADHD parenting support group. So there's lots of different peer support groups, which are great because peers are so amazing because they've tried and tested a lot of different things. So it's so awesome to go ahead and see what other people are doing and get their opinions.
I think that's really community. Yeah. Cuz like parents want to do right, but sometimes they wanna do too quickly. They wanna jump to something to fix it right away. Instead of having that journey of learning and investigating, researching and figuring out what are the best ways to support their own child.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that community and peer support is so helpful because I think often we feel alone at first when something new happens, it's Oh my gosh, what do I do? I don't know what to do, Who do I talk to? A lot of parents who have children with O D D. Feel like very judged by their people, right?
They're like, or even with adhd, they're like, Why is your kid doing that? Why are you letting your kid throw that stuff? Why are you letting your kids scream and hit other ki all of these challenging behaviors And they think, Oh, you just need to be a better parent, or you need to be more harsh with them.
All of these things. So it becomes very isolating and feeling a very alone. And so finding community I think is probably the best thing any parent can do. So finding other locals who are experiencing that peer support groups. And whatnot. For sure. And what could like the dopamine cycle look like within a child?
I know there's a large focus on like having the dopamine regulated in a certain way. Could you maybe speak to that with what that would look like in the youth? Absolutely. I had a student or a youth that I was working with explain it to me in this way. And I just loved it. And he said, you know when people say you gotta fill your cup, fill your cup with all the good stuff, which we're gonna say is dopamine, right?
Dopamine is our feel good hormone. And so people with adhd. Hole in their cup. So as much as you're filling it, there's a slow leak happening consistently. And I realize that's exactly how it is. And so what you'll find is youth with ADHD need a lot more dopamine hits than other people, and that's what medication does.
So medication helps them to regulate their dopamine, so it's more consistently over. And that's why earlier we were talking about that if they're not medicated and they need that dopamine, they can find that in illicit drugs. But there's other things, and that's where the strategies come in. And this is where we work with families and youth to go, Okay, I understand that you need more of a dopamine hit then maybe your sibling.
And I think that's always hard for parents at first. They're like, I don't understand why my one kid eats this. And the other kid could just chill and Yeah, because they can hold their dopamine in their cup. So for your neuro divergent child, you are, might need to. Make sure that what's their consistent dopamine hit?
What are they doing every two hours that's making them feel good so they can do the hard thing? I think a lot of neurotypical people are taught do the hard thing first and the reward is the easy thing. But actually, when you're thinking of adhd, we wanna do the opposite. We wanna. Fill their cup with the easy thing, the fun thing, the good thing first.
So they have the capacity to do the hard thing. And then once again, when the hard thing's done, we need more dopamine. So I often say to families, Oh, he doesn't wanna do his homework. Yeah, cuz he is probably stressed out. So what's something fun that you guys can do? Let's, how will you play a board game with your kid for 30 minutes?
Then get them to do homework for 30 minutes and then for 30 minutes they can play video. , to try to really sandwich it in versus that, No, we gotta do the hard thing first, and then you earn the easy thing. That's not motivation enough because of that dopamine, that lack of dopamine. , I think they're making some really good points of how it is different than someone who's neurotypical and like the ability to regulate dopamine and or the reward system like someone who's neurotypical might really be pushed to get to that reward of finishing their task.
And be able to manage the distress of trying to get the task done to get to that reward. But someone with who's neuro divergent may need like that consistent dopamine kind of experience so that they have the capacity and motivation and energy to complete their task that they may do not wanna do, such as homework.
For sure because I hear all the time with parents, they go, I tried everything. I told them that if they, clean their room, we can go to Disneyland and they're still not cleaning the room. And I say to the parent, that means there's a capacity issue. Okay. So I just wanna explain that cuz that's really important.
I always think of to do things we don't wanna do. There's two things we need. We need the skill, so to know how to do it, and we need the capacity, so the feel good to do it. People with ADHD need a lot of feel good to do the hard things. So the biggest complaint I get from parents is they won't do anything around the house.
Like they don't do anything they don't wanna do. They won't do their homework, they don't clean up, all that stuff. Even though it's only gonna take 15 minutes or they won't unload the dishwasher, that's something they don't wanna do. They try to motivate them by saying, But if you do this, you'll get this.
But if you do this, you'll get this. And the kid's Okay, I know I really want that thing, but like I just don't have the capacity. I feel crappy. So they continue to feel crappy and then nothing gets done. So we gotta help kids with that. Okay, what's our dopamine hit? Let's say we're gonna do this fun thing, and then we're all gonna go home and we're all gonna clean our rooms, and now we're gonna do the fun thing again.
So when our kid is not motivated by what I call an external motivator, like we're going to Disneyland example. That means there's a capacity issue. Sometimes there's also a skills issue. They. I did clean my room and the parent goes, You did not clean your room. So now that means the child has a different idea of what a clean room means if you do.
That means the skills need to be built. The parent needs to sit with the child and go through what does a clean room entail. Maybe write a checklist, a picture list so they know exactly what you need done and then they can do it to your pleasing, because I also hear that a lot. They didn't do it.
They didn't really do it. They said they did. They probably thought that. So that's a skills issue. So if your child is not completing. Try to check in. Is it a capacity issue or a skills issue, or is it both? , I think that's a really great point to make because that's like the differences between the experience that the child's having and then how to best support that child with either it's like the capacity issue or the skill issue.
So what is like the link between the need for exercise and adhd? It helps to calm the brain. So basically, again, that goes with hyperactivity, primarily hyperactivity or combined types. If you have primarily inattentive physical activity is not a major factor. So it depends on what type, And again, it's the same thing.
It's because I'll use my personal experience. So if I had to sit still, no talking, nothing. I explain it like it's almost like a building up of energy, and then my skin feels like it's on fire. Like I feel so uncomfortable in my body that I need to move and just a slight adjustment and I feel comfortable again.
So imagine that if you don't, that's never, you ever experience that all day. It's not great. So if you go and you run around a bunch and get rid of all that energy that balled up that, right? If you get rid of that, then you're gonna be able to sit for longer without feeling that burning sensation. So if I go and do 10 minutes of exercise, I might be able to sit still for 10 minutes.
And there's no mathematical scientific equation. I like to say scientific. I know it's not a real word. There's no scientific equation of how much physical. Time. You need to be able to sit for a certain amount of time. Everybody's different. But that's why we suggest a lot of the time for youth who have hyperactivity to bike to school, to walk to school so that they can actually and then do the hardest class first because they've got that physical activity or doing it right after lunch or right after recess.
Right? , I think that's a really interesting point as well. Is there a link then between the need for exercise and like completing the stress response cycle for those with ADHD as well? I would, that's a good question. I haven't thought of it in that way. I often suggest for my youth who have adhd, if they're feeling stressed out often it'll come up frustration too.
So feeling highly stressed, highly frustrated is to. Yeah, how do you get the energy out? Yeah, I would definitely say that can be helpful to complete it. We talk a lot about sometimes, throwing a ball at a wall that's oh, like you can just get it out, or grunting or making noises.
So what can you do to get it out? It doesn't necessarily, I would say have to be physical, like running around movement, but it could be more of stretching or just making like deep breaths, that kind of a thing. Expelling of energy for. Yeah, because like when we get into that stress, we get like the release of all the cortisone, right?
And or the cortisol. Cortisol. And then we need to like, cuz like whenever we see something stressful, whether it's like a snake in the grass or like an upcoming test or something, right? It still gives us the same stress response, whether one's life threatening and one's not. And so we need to almost finish that cycle.
So it's like when we feel stressed, even at the stressor has passed, we have to do something to teach our body that the stressor actually. Has gone down and we can let go of that stress. And so a lot of what I've read is like about this idea that we need to do something with our body that's physical to show us.
So when the snake's sling in the grass, we have to run away or we have to fight back against the snake. And so it's like pushing away from that by doing the either fighting or running right? And then our body goes, Oh, that expelling of energy. Now we've completed the let goal of that stressor. And they'll be like the same for that's why I maybe thought there might be a link there is.
If we do something like the deep breathing with the long exhale, right? It teaches our body that we can go back into the parasympathetic nervous system or exercise or something like a long hug can sometimes be nice as well. So with someone that you trust, because it can release like a lot of the the positive hormones.
Which 1:00 AM I thinking of? Oxytocin right as well. So it can soothe it and like close that cycle of that stress so that it can soothe and calm a bit as well. Yeah. Yeah, I'm glad you brought that up cause yeah, that makes sense to me. And I feel like another big strategy people will say is stuff like using weighted blankets, right?
The sensory, we'll see the weighted blankets, we'll see the sensory swings that are tight. And that's that same thing like you were talking about is more in the body. There's a lot of stuff that happens in the body, right when we get into, Now it's not my expertise area is body work, but there are counselors who really focus on that and that's part.
Why it's so interesting to have different therapy modalities, like you had mentioned earlier what do you guys use? Is we do have someone who focuses more on body work and getting that stuff out and how to use like you said, if you're closing the anxiety circle right, and using that body stuff, I think that's a really important point.
Yeah, Just because I want individuals to know that there's like a variety, like you're saying, there's a variety of different therapeutic options that they can choose from and they can path the autonomy to feel, find something that they feel resonates with them. Because I think like a lot of the times we stereotypically go it's this or that for adhd.
But like you're saying, there's so many different options and approaches depending on where someone is at in their journey or what specifically that they're experiencing as well. Absolutely. Yeah. For sure. Yeah. Okay. I also wanted to ask, What's your opinion on like routines with individuals who have adhd?
So we joke about this is one of those. Opposing concepts because people with ADHD often hate routine, but they need it and they function best when using it. It's is the word dichotomy when they're too different? I'm not sure what the word is that. I've seen a lot of talks about it being like, the funny thing about ADHD is we need these things, but then we don't want these things.
Or, we don't eat all day, we forget to eat all day, and then we binge eat at night or something. It's what is that about? And then I think is the biggest thing. Another strategies we always suggest is creating routine. For kids and it's harder to implement them in the teenage years, of course.
So really trying to work with the younger families, going, Okay, if you start this now, then it's gonna get the kid into seeing that, Hey, you know what? This really is working for me so I'm gonna do it. Versus if I'm working with a teen, they're kinda like I'm 15, I'm not gonna start doing routines now.
I'm like, Yeah, but you could, because when you're an adult, you might also realize you might start with those routines. So Absolutely. When any of the ADHD courses I've ever taken, they always talk about setting up routines. And, but the thing is I think people need to understand is they don't have to be strict routines.
They can be flexible within the routine. And I think the ADHD brain, especially the oppositional defiant brain goes, I don't wanna have to do this and this and this, and only have 10 minutes for this and 10 minutes. And by, they get so feeling like it's so restrictive that they don't wanna do it.
So it's no, we can spread it out a. It doesn't have to be, It can, one of, for an example might be getting into the routine of doing three things a day, three extra tasks, things that you don't normally do a day. And maybe your routine is you do one when you get up in the morning. First thing in the morning, you do one after lunch, you do one in the evening.
I'm not telling you nine o'clock, you do it, or 12 o'clock, like you can keep it some movement. And I think that's the key is to. Some flexibility within those routines, and that's the best way to implement and keep them happening because sometimes when you have a routine and you don't stick to it, you kinda go, Okay, I didn't stick to it three days, so I.
Especially with that ADHD brain, we, we like to get real into stuff for two weeks and then we stop. But it's no, it's okay if you, you messed it up or you didn't do it for a couple days, you can jump back in and there's some flexibility within that. Definitely. And wouldn't it be fair to say that most kids would just benefit from a routine in general just for like overall healthy lifestyle?
Absolutely. And just remembering stuff. And again, if we're talking about that ADHD brain, one of the symptoms is consistently forgetting things. Cause we're always thinking about a hundred things at once. So it's hard to be mindful and remember stuff. So if we. That routine we can remember to do the things.
And then just any child, any person. This doesn't matter what age you are, any human, I think probably functions better. Having a routine. Sorry, I've got a thing coming in. Setting up with a, I think any person is going to, Do better with that routine and doesn't matter your diagnoses or your age or whatever.
It just goes back to that flexibility. I think if we're too strict with routines, that's where they don't work. , definitely. I think you brought us some really wonderful points today. I really appreciate sharing all of your knowledge that you have. It's been really helpful and I hope anyone listening can take some of those tips and points and really look and see if they're needing that, like extra support as well.
So I think that's really wonderful. So thank you. Oh, thank you. I really appreciate it. It was good today and I feel like we actually got a bunch of different strategies in there too, so I'm excited for parents or families who are listening to this to try it out. Yeah, we really appreciate your time, so thank you so much.