INTRO

 

Well let’s go hello hello  welcome to the autism 360 podcast the  360 method a weekly podcast where we  talk about everything  on the autism 360 program each week  we’ll be catching you up with what’s  going on in the program chatting with  team members and talking about all  things mindset as well as exploring  relevant ideas that autism parents think  about  this week i’m so lucky and excited to be  chatting with michelle michelle is one  of our senior speech therapists here at  the program and has been with the  company for nearly two years  uh michelle herself was diagnosed with  adhd in her twenties and is gonna share  her journey of understanding herself and  what her diagnosis means about how she  can be her best self welcome michelle  how are you i’m good thank you so much  for having me today oh that is my  pleasure i’m so excited to hear about  your story  i’m ella i’m an autism 360 veteran coach  and explorer of all things parenting  support  and welcome to you our lovely listeners  we care about you we care about your  thoughts and experiences and so whether  you’re a program member or not we would  love to hear from you so please  whatever your thoughts if you’ve got  feedback or questions drop us a line at  hello  autism360.com  so before we get started i would love to  acknowledge the gadigal people of the  euro nation on whose land i live and  work and from where this podcast is  being broadcast today and also to say  specifically for today’s session  um that this is not a substitute for  medical advice if you have concerns  about yourself concerns about your child  please do seek medical attention  so michelle i’m so excited to hear about  your journey today  i thought we would get started by  chatting a little bit about  your early life what was your experience  of childhood like looking back now that  we know that you had undiagnosed adhd  sure  so um

CHAPTER I

 

i think the most um significant  thing that i remember was just a lot of  overwhelming anxiety  and just not understanding what was  happening around me  um  not um very fussy eating  that started when i was about a toddler  um just very very hyperactive my mom  would say that uh i was  neighbors would call and i would was in  the neighborhood without her knowing  like pushing the pram  getting into things that i shouldn’t be  uh drinking toxic things just on the go  yeah  i would say strong imagination lots of  nightmares  rocking my head to sleep because i  couldn’t sleep  um  lots of those types of sleep issues  and um  when i was very little the nursery um  school as i used to call it told my  parents let’s face it  linda your daughter isn’t very bright  she’s not conforming wow  yeah i do have memories of being there  and being very overwhelmed by the kids  all like rushing to sit in their these  favorite this squiggly table and they  all wanted to  oh it just gives me chills  yeah yeah yeah that sounds really  overwhelming  yeah thank you yeah thank you for  understanding absolutely and and just  different interests that were um like  obsessions with like um anything like  dangly like keys  so my grandfather was a bus mechanic and  i got all these keys  um  yeah obsession like i used to love shoes  and i would look at them and i wouldn’t  walk straight like i’d always look at  the shoes constantly  yeah and  even like the noise of cars going by  when i was little in the backseat of the  car  constantly  um  trying to hear it and replaying it  repetitively like in play and just  making the sound in the car  i know it’s strange i just  look back and remember things like that  like  amazing okay and and you mentioned just  before we got started that um you did um  eventually get a diagnosis but that was  actually your 20s so what led you there  what got you to that point  what led me to that point was the um the  lack of not being able to hold a job  yes because of disorganization  or not being organized really starting  tasks and not completing them so  employers would say um you know you’re  starting things but you’re running  around you’re not completing anything  i probably interrupted others a little  bit too much i was  still at that point um on the  hyperactive end which does go away as  you mature it does drop  down  um yeah and i would say definitely it  was  unemployed yeah just not unemployment  but just the difficulty holding jobs  also  uh  becoming very bored  and not being able to hold a job as well  because of getting bored  and not um finding certain i was looking  in the wrong direction so i wasn’t  finding things engaging  yes well  okay yes  yes and so  did you start to look around to find  answers to why you were struggling in  this way did somebody suggest  trying to find a diagnosis how did that  come about  yeah well one major thing in my life was  what they call like today it’s i don’t  think it’s formally recognized in the  dms five i believe but it’s called um  rejection sensitive dysphoria so that  was another thing my whole life as a  child was  feeling um hyper sensitive to  even things that i perceived would be  maybe something like  someone  maybe i thought they were talking about  me or um constructive criticism

 

CHAPTER II

 

it  didn’t matter you know or if i was told  off  just extreme pain and i think that  caused problems on jobs  with relationships as well  so um  i think what happened was i couldn’t  take being in the wrong job anymore  and feeling like i was just dying inside  because i wasn’t  living  my life you know i unstimulated and  so i started researching and realized  that i wanted to do something in the you  know maybe um guidance counselor uh so  you know uh  uh social in the social field social  worker or  and then someone and i met with a friend  anyway happened upon he mentioned speech  pathologist and i loved studying  languages and hence  researched that  got in thank goodness six years later  after  graduating with a bachelor’s not go you  know all these different jobs i finally  found my niche and haven’t looked back  yes  amazing okay  i mean it that must have been a  challenge in and of itself you know  speech pathology is not a walk in the  park  you know no it’s not  yeah it’s not ella and what happened was  um trying to get into like the met like  i had to do a couple of bachelors to get  into the masters in order to do that you  have to do standardized testing which  i struggle with and also i should have  said in childhood definitely learning  disability in math like what they call  dyscalculia  um suspected auditory processing because  i can’t some i struggled to understand  and especially noisy environments and my  son was then that diagnosed but anyway  and add  so  all those things impact and so i wanted  to  get some special  length of time like added extra time for  these testing  and so at that time the professionals  that tested me already had my diagnosis  from a nice understanding psychologist  but the school wanted to use the  university their team of psychologists  and  all that  and at that time they didn’t  they just looked at me basically and  said well you’re functioning where  you’re at because they look at  intelligence tests and don’t take into  account short-term memory issues and  all those things and also i had a test  that day i had to study so anyway i  didn’t qualify because they basically  said you’re functioning where you’re  you’re at but there was such a  discrepancy if they looked at my skill  set  they call it like scattered skills  and they just so i wasn’t granted that  but i found other ways but yeah yeah  amazing amazing okay  and  i guess kind of starting out as a speech  pathologist and you know starting your  uh professional career  you know having this knowledge about  yourself and and having this knowledge  about the way that your  brain thrives  what have been some of the most  important  i guess uh cognitive strategies or  strategies more broadly that you find  really helpful to support yourself  trying to get things done absolutely in  my 20s i briefly had medication but back  then i think they didn’t really  understand uh  the levels and  so  i i did love the way it helped me  concentrate and look at the world it  slowed down time unbelievably i couldn’t  believe the way i was living  and the noise in the brain and how  but back in those times the medication  was limited and what they so there was  awful  side effects when it wears off called  rebound effect yes so i managed to um  compensate i think years of compensating  got me through with with my you know  getting the speech pathology master  science degree  and i think that i loved it i was able  to focus  having supported home  helped and i think um just starting to  learn the reward of wow if i start this  sooner  you know like i will if i you know i  will finish it and that felt good to get  things in so that was a learning curve  like learning all that  but the problem is is that you can  compensate so much  but then there could be comorbidity like  with adhd so there could be like  an anxiety depression so sometimes  things could get too much  and um you know sometimes you can psych  yourself up and snap out of it like i  was able to in my  at that time  but later on in perimenopause i found  out adhd women will most likely low

 

CHAPTER III

 

estrogen will experience increased  symptoms wow  yeah so even though i was able to cope  back then at some level  it was because my life was very  structured i was very motivated i  you know writing things down you know  having support  um  amazing  but yeah it’s still um  there’s always that  that things struggle  yes yes  that it can  you can unravel or things can fall apart  um it’s very exhausting um  you know at times because you’re you’re  always  uh trying to keep you know like they say  regulate throughout the day so there’s a  lot of emotional regulation there can be  irritability restlessness  masking because you’re trying to hide  especially with women  you know they might feel um  and they become people pleasers because  we learned that  um because we don’t want to feel the  pain from that condition of that pain is  so deep  from any slight  you know remark or and so you just  become  you compensate a lot mask a lot and  sometimes it can become overwhelming so  i suggest parents if people are feeling  um  overwhelmed that they get professional  help with the right professional that  understands  adhd and the fact that there can be  other conditions happening with it hmm  yeah i uh i had a couple of friends that  i went through uni with in our undergrad  who  uh  who i would have described at the time  as scattered i would have described them  as  um  disorganized scattered  uh  difficult uh  struggling with time management that’s  you know you tell them that actually the  event starts half an hour  earlier that it really starts so that  you can get them there on time that kind  of thing  and it’s funny because after so one of  them finished her medical degree  and then the other one finished her uh  engineering degree they both  came to recognize  their adhd symptoms and both of them  went and got diagnosed and i have just  found  there is a huge there are a huge amount  of women  high achieving yourself speech  pathologists high achieving hugely  successful women who are going through  life  you know managing these symptoms  not recognizing or or or maybe  increasingly recognizing i think  increasingly you know lately  um  but actually what they’re dealing with  is is something really quite significant  you know it’s a it’s a cognitive  disorder what are you absolutely  absolutely absolutely so the executive  function skills can be really uh an  emotional dysregulation  are two of the biggest things that can  really impact  um a lot and  and  sometimes what happens is um  it just  yes we we compensate and we can get some  things in order  but we’re very fragile like it can fall  apart easily  and it’s good to get the right help so  apps are great but sometimes even with  apps we don’t look at we forget and we  put it in our brain and then it’s still  the wrong time  and i think that  high achievers sometimes with adhd if  they have um that inner drive is from  trying to prove yourself  and and go overboard because you’re over  compensating now  you know and because maybe you’re also  very passionate as well  and so sometimes um  if it’s all too much you it’s good to  look at options and for me  uh  eventually i just it all became too much  like i couldn’t  things weren’t working anymore because  of maybe this you know low estrogen or  maybe like your friends it might just  where um i had to you know investigate  and go back and and look at some  some medications yeah wow yeah yeah  i hope i’m following on what you  were saying about you  yes yes absolutely and that cognitive is  definitely yeah  totally well and it’s something that  i’ve noticed with i mean parents um of  our clients um more broadly but a couple  of moms that i’ve worked with  specifically  you know once they’ve worked with us  they do coaching to understand their  child better they understand um  you know what  um their adhd diagnosis means for their  child or their autism um means for their  child  and that growth of knowledge and  understanding about their child  helps them to reflect about their own  experience and so i’ve had a couple of i  guess in you know specifically in these  examples moms then go seek their own  diagnosis to see if that’s something  that can help them understand  themselves have you had this experience  is this something you see as well  definitely definitely i’ve um had  parents they start like a mother start  to suspect a bit  and then um if once i have a good  relationship  i feel more comfortable

 

CHAPTER IV

 

i can share i  can you know i find out you know how  more about them and how it’s impacting  and then if they they might already  suspect if they don’t you know i might  remind them about family history  and um and just discuss what they might  be feeling and how um  i can understand that i it runs in my  family and how  um  yeah how it may look and how it presents  in women as well  and how um there is help and and you can  go as long as you find the right  professional because some psychiatrists  unfortunately if they don’t understand  or  you know they just maybe didn’t un study  that as much or understand they might  just look at it as as um a busy mom or  menopause or perimenopause or it’s just  just anxiety and depression  but they  they have to find someone that tweaks  everything because there’s so much  happening  that can be happening so yes i i  definitely um mother’s mother that i did  that i remember specifically yes she was  able to get on her journey and begin  that healing process  and um  yeah  yeah yeah so um yes i’m always trying to  you know if  well i think  uh  there is something  awesome something extra something  about real life lived experience of  neurodivergence  that is so valuable to our clients and  you know you’re on your own journey of  self-acceptance and self-understanding  but  what do you think  helps you  you know about your own experience of  neurodivergence  to  connect with families in your job here  i guess definitely if i find that  if parents are very sensitive like  if um yeah if they’re very sensitive  also um inattention can be a huge thing  so for instance um i guess they call me  like a mixed type i’ll the inattention  can be so like if they’re  not um  if they’re feeling overwhelmed if if the  if they’re having that inattention  um  that high sensitivity  feeling very chaotic feeling a lot of  anxiety brain talk  definitely those can be those um  signs yeah where um  i’m so sorry ella mm-hmm  you did ask the question and i went off  and i of course now i so no  that is great and you know  you asked a question about how it  relates to the pair like how yeah  and i wanted to make that connection and  yeah and i was trying to get to the  point  so with our yeah  i love yeah there i go there i go yeah  so um  i definitely  explained to them that i that i  understand that yes  like i might  say that i i i see that you might be  feeling this  i see that you might be and i can  empathize with that because you know and  i might mention about my son and his  journey  and then i might mention a little bit  about me and in a way that’s  professional that can help them without  getting like too  you know too personal because it’s about  them  and um  yeah and  hopefully what i find is that  they feel better they yes yes yes  michelle they’ll they’ll  start to yeah  yeah and then that coaching is very  rewarding because they can um through  understanding themselves better  they understand their child better  and i guess for me my you could say my  obsession  has been to understand more about not  just me but about the human brain and  neurodiversity  totally and and i’m still learning all  the time about brain differences because  like sensory processing like how that  might look in adhd versus like they can  have it too  versus autism and how there’s studies in  the brain that show different parts of  the brain  um there’s so much like sugar cravings  glucose uptake to the brain can be slow  there’s been studies  because

 

CHAPTER V

i have huge sugar cravings but  they’re beyond what’s  the normal um  and that brain is starving because that  glucose uptake is slow  um fussy eating is another big one ella  where i can try to support parents like  um in terms of  trying to let them know how it feels for  the child  from my own um  yeah experience yeah i mean i didn’t put  green things in my like salad like oh i  just used to watch people in fascination  eat it because i wanted to and i  the gagging i couldn’t i  it wasn’t until i was about in my late  40s that i started to be able to eat it  but it’s got to be a certain way  wow  yes  and certainly  yeah and i don’t like lots of things in  my food like say  like like an oatmeal um my husband you  know some people love to put lots of  um  and say and i know neurotypicals can  feel this way too i i do get that but  for for us it’s just it’s like a  it’s you know what i’m trying to say  it’s that history and that level of  and i can’t deal with all that  the business  totally well often  and and you know as  you know my background is psychology so  i’m very familiar with the dsm and kind  of diagnostic criteria and all those  things and and one of the things that  the dsm is really  clear about pointing out is not that  that that lots of people don’t  experience these symptoms it’s not that  lots of people don’t you know experience  fussy eating or lots of people don’t  experience anxiety  but the point that the dsm makes is that  these symptoms um are to a level or to  an intensity that impacts functioning  absolutely like in attention you know  like um absolutely  you go away with the fairies you miss  chunks of time  i didn’t know that i like i had to  actually go on medication to learn that  and then  you know and then be able to train my to  try to catch that you know like say if  the medication hasn’t kicked in yet  um unorganized thinking trying to  organize thoughts  how um  fight flight  makes the person lose their higher  cognitive they can’t express themselves  properly  so there’s so much going on um  with it i hope that’s making sense with  absolutely makes sense with what you’re  saying um  yeah with the ds yes it’s just to that  that it does impact  the life and so like i try to explain  that to parents if they’re feeling that  or if they want to understand more about  why their child might be having certain  um experiences  um  yeah definitely with that neurodivergent  brain um  absolutely  i mean things have changed a lot since  you were experiencing those things in  childhood  you know even since your diagnosis and  those sorts of things what are some of  the positive changes you have seen in  the industry in treatment in you know  public opinion  um  you know in your time working as a as a  speechy  um  i think  more and more people are coming forward  in the  yes in the neurodiverse or neuro i  always i try to memorize you know i know  i get it wrong  yeah in the in the  community  more and more people are coming out and  talking about it and and  and having podcasts and discussing about  hey like i’m a autistic adhd you know  speech pathologist and so that’s been  really nice to see like people being  able to um you know  speak up and and embrace um definitely  facebook sometimes i can recommend good  books or podcasts or facebook pages to  parents you know um  so that’s out there which is definitely  getting better i i think um  the research is definitely um  saying that they did more studies need  to be done  not just on young boys with adhd but  like on on women and it presents it can  look you know there’s differences  and and like with autism too you know  like boys girls and and even for certain  types like my boy didn’t present like me  who was more obvious i had to fight for  them to recognize and then  because he was  more of an attentive presentation that  was stronger yeah  so um i would say that today  the more these things happen  the more people talk about it i think  hopefully like with jobs um i think like  i said before i think we talked about  there’s um definitely some i can say  improving in in the our world um with  and uh you could say the social model is  um  uh but i do feel that there’s a long way  to go still i think maybe those more  traditional fields  yes yes and i think the more you know  yourself you’ve done

 

CHAPTER VI

 

your homework your research i think the  more you can advocate for yourself  in a professional kind way to maybe  those professionals that just might not  understand that yet they just they’re  not doing it always on purpose they just  might not  understand and need to do more of their  own yes and the adhd brain gets so hyper  focused mm-hmm we don’t shift attention  well like you know we want dinner and i  can’t get up can’t shoot and we want you  so much that sometimes like not that you  know it all but you you might know  sometimes more like in an area because  you  have been hyper focused on something and  you genuinely are uh you know you’re an  expert now because you spent nine  hours straight doing research on yeah  yes and it’s a gift because we like  taking pieces pieces pieces and we don’t  like to finish until we have a full  job  and so i think um  the more  we advocate i guess and that’s the thing  it’s  it’s very hard it’s i think it’s certain  jobs or places  it’s there’s a long history i can only  speak for myself of hiding hiding hiding  compensating compensating masking  and with the  hypersensitivity  you’re so afraid like if i do this if i  say this i’m gonna get fired  so i think that um  it’s it’s a long way to go because both  people have to step up and learn about  themselves and  and  yeah the other side learning too and and  both sides respecting and and embracing  and not using the diagnosis as an excuse  ever no no no you know what i’m saying  but  to let people know because we do get oh  but i don’t i’m gonna i don’t always pay  attention  you do get that and sometimes they might  mean it like they’re trying like i had a  friend recently say it and they might  just be trying to make you feel better  yes  but it’s not the right thing to say and  i know this in the with the autistic  individuals community they have their  reasons for feeling that too like really  and i know in my you know in the adhd  it’s very like when that when that is  said it’s it’s you you can just that  that  yeah the rsd again that but um but my  friend i think she’s just trying maybe  to make me feel better like yeah or less  alone  in your experience maybe so yeah so she  so i just paused and then she realized  and said oh no no it would be much worse  for you  yes so i think  yeah  yeah i hope that makes sense ella  i always have to say that in the end i  do  have to question i’m so sorry it’s  because i want to make sure i’ve come  out organized to you  yes absolutely and i think  being open about the way that your  brain is working about the way that  you’re thinking is part of unmasking it  really is and it’s okay  you know  um and and i want to finish up by  getting a couple of recommendations from  you  you know if parents are querying their  own neurotype if they’re looking at  their child and recognizing some of the  things that you’re mentioning about  where are some great places maybe maybe  a book and a podcast that you really  like  um  that parents can go to to even just to  hear about the experience of somebody  with adhd  yes i  i’m trying to think of like offhanded  name but i can definitely i’ll just say  what i always i it’s when i need to pull  i get nervous and it doesn’t come on  when i don’t know right away oh who  should i recommend but definitely  uh sue larky is a great place to start  in terms of um the child like you can  definitely learn about yourself too but  definitely with the child i’ll start  with her because  children spend a lot of time at school  yes and she has wonderful books and she  works with people  um  both she works with people neurotypical  people who are um neurodivergent  um  in a neurodiverse group should i say and  she recognized so she um she’s great  because she has some really good  resources that are very practical very  um child parent friendly um  podcast you know i’ll be honest with you  i do so much i need to think because  parents um  well  i tend to do research  oh so much research usually with parents

 

OUTRO

 

i start i might start with a facebook  there are podcasts out there i know they  are  um i definitely start i definitely do  mention facebook groups that um so that  and i even mentioned what if they’re  with you know what autism 360. but if  they’re looking specifically you know  they’re honing i could recommend a few  um  did you want me to say specifically  today well what we might do is we’ll we  i’ll get a couple of your favorites and  i’ll pop them in the show that would be  great because i know that yes yes that  would be that would be great  wonderful okay great well i know that  sulaki has a podcast as well so your um  sulaki recommendation covers it all it  just you know it’s got a bit of  everything thank you for coming and  chatting today michelle you’re welcome  thank you so much for having me i really  appreciate it oh it’s genuinely a  pleasure and  um i think  you know if this has brought up any  questions for parents or it’s um you  know  either about themselves or about their  children um i would really recommend you  know if you have a if you’re with the  autumn autism 360 podcast reach out to  your coach and ask if if they can put  you in touch with michelle or you know  you can always email hello at  autism360.com to ask a question  because um i think you’re such a wealth  of knowledge um about this topic and i i  think that anybody would um  do well to kind of pick your brain about  that sort of thing so thank you  and um we will be back next week talking  about another interesting topic um that  autism parents think about so once again  thank you to our lovely listeners and  until next week think 360.

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Michele's story of Neurodivergence as a Speech Pathologist
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Michele's story of Neurodivergence as a Speech Pathologist
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This week Ella is joined by one of our Autism360 Senior Speech Pathologists Michele. Michele received her ADHD diagnosis in her 20s and has been growing as a speech therapist and in her understanding of herself ever since then. Michele and Ella talk about all things speech pathology, neurodivergence and how the world is changing. We cant wait for you to hear her story!
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Autism 360
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