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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.