120: Helping Your Child Find Their Path, with Tom Bergeron

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Our culture tends to dictate a certain path to success in life. Yet, we are free to choose our path and there is no more liberating message for kids with ADHD, autism, or learning disabilities. In this episode, I’m discussing how to help kids, teens, and young adults find their path with co-founder of the Inventive Labs, Tom Bergeron. At Inventive Labs, they focus on interest, aptitude, and engagement to help their students create a path to success. Listen in and learn how to start empowering even young children to find their path. 


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My Guest

Tom Bergeron is the co-founder of InventiveLabs, a career and business incubator focused on college-aged adults with dyslexia, ADHD, and ASD. The Lab runs a hands-on program helping individuals find their path forward by exploring career and school options, or maybe even starting their own business. Tom has worked at various start-up companies helping identify how new products fit into their market. He now uses the same concepts he learnt in business to help individuals find their “market fit”.

Tom experienced many challenges in school, but by charting his own path he found success in business. He noticed the traits that hold some individuals back in school can actually be their advantage in the workplace. He is now committed to helping the next generation find their path forward and launch their careers. He believes it isn’t a race to the finish line, but a journey of learning and exploration to find a livelihood that offers fulfillment and success. Prior to Inventive Labs, Tom helped launch a number of innovative products while leading sales, marketing, and product development teams.



INTRO (00:03): A lot of what we try and do is work on the acceptance aspect, but also a lot of the concept of reframing, what is your mindset and how do you reframe? So, if the individual is feeling down on themselves, so I'm stupid, I can't get this done. I can't do my homework, whatever that might be. How do you work with them to identify what they do well and where their strengths

Penny Williams (00:28): Welcome to the parenting ADHD podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author ADHD, a highlight and mindset. Mama honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started. Welcome back to the parenting ADHD podcast. I'm really excited today to have Tom Bergeron on from inventive labs. And he will explain to us what inventive labs is, but we're also going to chat about finding your path, how to help our kids find their own path and being okay with them, taking their own journey, whatever that looks like for them. Thanks so much for being here, Tom, will you start just introduce yourself who you are and what you do.

Tom Bergeron (01:25): Thanks Penny. I'm honored to be on the show. I'm a co-founder of inventive labs. We run a career in business incubator, really working with college aged students. Most of them with either ADHD, dyslexia or autism spectrum, and it's a hands-on program, helping individuals find their path forward. We explore a lot of career and school options for them and a couple even start their own business. Now, personally, myself, I struggled a lot in school but really once I made it out to the business, what would I find a lot more success? So I've noticed that a lot of folks successful in business have similar traits and do well in the workplace and are really committed to kind of helping the next generation, find their path forward, get their careers launched. So we believe it's a journey. It's not a race to the finish line and kind of each individual has their own journey. They take to find a livelihood that really offers them fulfillment and success.

Penny Williams (02:16): I love it. I'm so in love with that, you and I talked back when you were launching inventive labs and I was so excited about it. My son was probably middle school age, then he just graduated, but it's just a really exciting opportunity for kids who have struggled in school and who aren't ready yet, or may not be interested in sort of the traditional path to four year education. Let's start, I think, by talking about how to let our kids really guide us in discovering their path. It starts early, right?

Tom Bergeron (02:53): Yeah, it does. It's interesting because you know, one of the questions you get is what age can, you should just start talking to your children about careers and what they want to do for a living and definitely for younger kids, they tend to say what the adults want to hear. So so you always, when do you have that discussion? I think a discussion you can have early on though, and this continues even for us up through our program is really kind of what are the activities that bring enjoyment and bring energy. So our engagement, so definitely with ADHD, the hyper-focus aspect. So what are the activities that your child will hyper focus on that they want to spend a lot of time and as importantly, what brings them energy after, because sometimes those activities you know, building a Lego set, building it up high, when it collapses at the end, it drains all their energy. So watching for the activities that drain energy for them, as opposed to one that then when they're done, they have a lot of positive energy coming out of.

Penny Williams (03:44): That's such a good point that I hadn't really thought about. You know, kids can, and, and adults, we can enjoy something, but still find it really draining. And if it's draining, maybe you don't want to do that thing all your life every day.

Tom Bergeron (03:57): Exactly. Yeah. I think for adults, it's kind of easy. You can, you may be engaged in discussions on politics, but at the end you're quite drained where someone else at the end is, has a lot of energy from it. So I think as adults, we have those same things, but work with the child and even having conversations is important, so they can start recognizing themselves what they really enjoy doing and what are the components that they really feel good about once they're done.

Penny Williams (04:20): Yeah. And I think this is such an important topic, especially for our family is our neurodiverse kids, because a lot of them don't do well in school. And so we tend to, as a culture, decide that that means they can't be successful adults, which is absolutely not true as we know. And it's just so important to really start thinking about their interests when they're young and what could that career path look like? Like for instance, my kids have both been into video gaming and my daughter picked a school for animation for college and then took about a year's worth of classes and decided animation was not for her. It was not what she wants to do every day, but she has transitioned into something else that still allows her to potentially work in that kind of industry, because that's what is really exciting to her. And I think as parents, we think of things like gaming as a waste of time when they could be completely preparing a kid for a particular career of interest or for just, the way they, they look at life and constantly sort of leveling up.

Tom Bergeron (05:31): Yeah. I think that's a key component for us is activities that a child can feel good about. And quite often that might be outside of school and whether it be sports or gaming or music or whatever the component is, that's really a key component for self-image because when you're struggling in school, you can really form negative self images. So having that activity that they can fail well well about is good. And the other kind of piece of it for that penny is also by doing, you learn a lot, you talked about your daughter, the idea of being an animator was probably great and sees the finished product, but actually doing it sometime is different. Right? One of the I forget the name, unfortunately, one of the actresses on Broadway, she talked about, she can tell who's going to last in a failed, who isn't because the people who make it are the ones that love to rehearse.

Tom Bergeron (06:18): They love to audition. She said, everyone loves opening night. You go out there and you're on stage and people clap, but it's the one who really you'll love the details, but others might consider the grind that do well. So having your child go out and experience doing things, things that they feel they may enjoy actually go out kind of doing it, see the details. And for some people actually animating just brings a lot of energy. It's very tedious, a lot of work, but they really enjoy it. Other folks, they enjoy the end product, but not necessarily the activity to get there.

Penny Williams (06:44): Exactly. Yeah. And really exploring, sometimes our kids have really odd or quirky interests and really just being open and thinking outside of the box and exploring all ways, all sorts of perspectives of that interest. Maybe like for instance, had a conversation with Dr. Maccachren once about finding your child's strength, using a strengths based approach. And she had worked with a teenager who was completely obsessed with roller coasters. That was his interest. And he wanted nothing to do with anything else, but roller coasters. And they really explored that. What are the different careers that could go in that? What are different jobs? What are the parts that you enjoy? And he ended up becoming an engineer who designs roller coasters and he loves it. Right. And it's such a, a topic that we would not think really has the amount of expansive opportunity that it does.

Tom Bergeron (07:48): Yeah. That's interesting. That's one of the things we really look forward to is kind of the traditional careers. And ironically, I did work, I did a lot with computerated design in my prior career and actually did work with one of the few roller coaster companies in the U S and amazing group of folks, very creative and engineering, but also a lot of creativity that kind of went into it as well. So the ability for, for us, we kind of look at heading into careers, two aspects that is aptitude, and there's also interest. And someone who may have the interest in rollercoaster may not have the engineering aptitude to do it, but there's also a lot else you can do in that field. You can be someone who does marketing for them. You can be the sales guy traveling around to the amusement packs to sell them. So we look at interests, but we also look at attitudes, where do you kind of fit into that? And so from a path forward, almost any industry that you have an interest in, you can take an aptitude you have and kind of move in that direction.

Penny Williams (08:43): Yeah. There's so many creative aspects of so many industries. And like you said, marketing and business and sales are common throughout a lot of industry. And so you could be super passionate about roller and go out and sell them, and be a great salesman because they're exciting to you. So it's just really a matter of like being completely open as a parent. You know, we just have to really throw out the box and be completely open and creative about it and let our kids, give them the opportunities to explore all of the things that they find interesting or passion around.

Tom Bergeron (09:23): And I think the interest and that's kind of what we like to look at. And, for the younger kids just kind of work in an interest in what brings engagement for the Otis students, as they start actually looking for a particular careers. And we started having that discussion as far as what direction are they going to go in? Do you do then start honing in a lot on potential interest in and passion that they have, but also what is the path for that? So we talked about an engineer as for the rollercoaster. So that might include the NESA having a four year degree, at least a four year degree to be an engineer there. Versus if you look on the sales side, a four year degree would help you get into sales for that, but you don't necessarily need it. So that's what direction they want to go. But then also looking at the path to get there. And there's quite a few professions, sales being one of them that you don't necessarily need a college degree. Great. If you have one but there's a lot of aspects you can do on that. And there's other careers you look at, if you're determined, that's the direction you're going, then you definitely have to map out, the school aspect and reasonable aspect of, can you make it through the school.

Penny Williams (10:23): Right. And I love that you brought up that there are plenty of careers that don't require a four year degree or a graduate degree. I think there's a lot more than people realize out there that's available. My son and I have started just looking at what's around while he sort of takes a little time off of school and what programs, what classes do the community colleges offer in the area and stuff like that. And really just seeing how much is out there that doesn't require a four year degree. And that could be really interesting. You know, it's not just sort of what we call grunt work, I guess, or you know, something that's not so interesting. There's lots of opportunity.

Tom Bergeron (11:04): Yeah. We're big fans of community colleges because they tend to be a lot more sinked into the workforce than a lot of the universities do. Now they have a lot of strong relationships and a lot of certification type programs. And even on the technical career side of things or computer programmer, you don't necessarily need a four year degree. There's certain companies, if you want to work for Google or other, some biologic companies, you probably do the four year degree, but this coding bootcamp set lasts three, four months. We can go and it's full time. You spend all day, you learn how to code. You build a portfolio. And a lot of the smaller companies, startup companies, if you have the ability, they'll bring you on board and you get to kind of launch your career that way. So regardless as you said, there's a lot of careers out there that people may not recognize, but you can definitely go a different path to get to that career.

Penny Williams (11:48): Yeah. And I liked that you brought up the coding and the aspect that you don't really need a four year degree. My husband's good friend has no college degree and he's a very successful programmer. I've been with the same company for 20 years or so I think, so there are some things like that that I think you just have such an aptitude that you don't need anything additional. And I think companies are starting to recognize that more.

Tom Bergeron (12:16): Yeah. And it's interesting because yeah, if you go back the degree, wasn't quite as important. My wife's grandfather was actually the chief engineer at a power plant and he never had a formal degree, but it was a very good engineer, worked his way up. I nowadays, it'd be very difficult to take that path. But as you said, I think companies are starting to realize there's other ways to find talent and skills out there. And it's kind of a long path, but definitely companies doing it and companies like SAP and Microsoft and Ernest young are out looking at alternative ways to hire now and alternative paths for bringing folks on, on board, especially for the neuro-diverse for the, the folks who think and learn differently.

Penny Williams (12:56): Yeah. And it's so exciting and so exciting to see us talking more about neuro-diversity and companies and employers really embracing it. You know, the world is changing in a positive way in that aspect. And it's really exciting to see. Do you want to talk, let's talk a little bit about inventive labs. Let's talk about what that process is, what you guys do. It's obviously a successful program you've been around for several years now, and I would love for you to share a little more about it.

Tom Bergeron (13:26): So now we started originally purely as an entrepreneurship program helping folks generate business ideas and they'd launch those business ideas. And what we kind of realized through that process is a lot of individuals really liked one aspect of entrepreneurship starting their own company. As a doctor that may have really liked the sales side, they merely may really enjoy developing products to the customer trash aspect. And that kind of put a lot of the folks that came to us actually went off to successful careers. And so we've adapted and we've added a gap year and a career prep program as well. And both of those run very similar. What we do is we spend about four months with them on a discovery phase. About two months of that is building up a whole list of potential careers they could do. We try and get to about 50 different options.

Tom Bergeron (14:10): The ADH eers are great. They usually come up with a hundred, 200 options, always too many. We have seven more critical thinkers. They may struggle to get to 30, but but either way we evaluate that larger list, get it down to 10 and eventually a top three at the end of that discovery phase. So here's three things that really fit me well, and I have a strong interest in doing and a second phase of the program, the next four months is called launch and that's actually building a plan for them to get there. Does it need schooling? Does it need certification? And let's do some projects that mimics what that, like you said for your daughter mimics what animation would be, what do you do day to day and kind of building out a plan. We get mentors for them as well in that industry.

Tom Bergeron (14:48): So they can see what the day-to-day looks like, which we think is a lot kind of in the, in the college environment. But helping them build a plan and see exactly what that profession looks like. And as they leave our program, they're ready now to go to a school and quite often for ADHD in college, no one why is a big piece for success. So they're in school and they know why they're there and what the end point looks like. And sometimes it's directly, as you said, into the career force or some other certification program.

Penny Williams (15:13): Yeah. It, two words come to mind as you describe it, structure and guidance and the mentoring aspect. I'm really glad that we're talking about that because I know a lot of successful adults with ADHD that I've spoken to over the years, finding a mentor really made a huge difference for them.

Tom Bergeron (15:34): Yeah, we agree that meta-programs probably one of the strongest pieces. It does multiple things. It helps them understand what's going to happen going forward, but it also gives them connections into the industry as well. And it gives them kind of real world most jobs, you can have different aspects of it. You can have people kind of more introverted personalities, kind of working on aspects and folks who are more extroverted side that might be doing more presenting and stuff like that. And they can kind of see the industry better and identify which direction they want to go. So if you're going back to school, know what classes you want to take really helps if you kind of know where you fit in that field that you're going into. So the mentorship is key. And as you said, the structure we give a lot of freedom.

Tom Bergeron (16:16): So unlike a typical school environment where you have certain projects, you have to work on, they get to identify the projects they want to work on. But the important piece of that is having some structure around it. So setting some goals, setting some timelines, we meet with them daily in the morning for a check-in, Hey, what are you working on today? What's the timeline. And we have one-on-one meetings with them every week, at least two meetings where they meet with one of the guides to kind of go through where they're at and their projects and talk through it. And that's probably, we do a lot of sessions, but those one-to-one interactions are probably the most important aspect of the program.

Penny Williams (16:47): Yeah. And I would imagine for creative types, often the business aspect, just like, what do I do? How do I get started all of this that you're sort of guiding them through is not really intuitive and more difficult. Often. I think people find it when they're in a super creative space, a career or a job or a passion in that space. And so often they really have everything they need to be really successful except you know, that day-to-day business sort of stuff that people don't think about all the time. They have a great idea and they're really excited about it and they want to do something with it and have their own business, but getting there can be the really hard part. And it's amazing that you have this program that helps people with great ideas, actually be able to bring them to fruition.

Tom Bergeron (17:39): Yeah. And Rick and I come from a business background, not an education background. So we really try and build a structure to be more like an office environment, which again allows a lot of folks to kind of shine and show their, which is good. But also show in that more office environment is the ability to you know, reporting structure and update folks on what you're working on. So really kind of giving them the freedom to do what they want, but also some accountability. And really, they put the accountability on themselves, they set the timelines and they put accountability on each other. Cause they all know what each other's projects are out and keeping track of that for each other.

Penny Williams (18:12): Yeah. What size of a group do you typically have?

Tom Bergeron (18:15): So we tend to run cohorts about 12 folks, sometimes slightly smaller 10 to 12, we find it's a big enough group to have some diversity. But also small enough that everybody knows each other really well. You know, one of our key components is just, acceptance, accepting of others and kind of working together for others. We fail in the school system sometime a lot of great individuals doing a lot of great things, but sometimes the accommodations kind of take over the acceptance aspect. And for us, we see that as a big difference. We often feel accommodations, why aren't they offered to every student that way, the folks who the students with an IEP may not feel, maybe feel different or left out of the group by having a special accommodation where if you can expand those to the larger group and really accept everyone's differences, it's just a lot better experience for the child.

Penny Williams (19:04): Absolutely. Yeah. I would love for education in general to go that way because we all have different needs. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and we're not modeling that very well in regular education. I think we're saying, Oh, you, you, this group, you have problems. You know, it's just the wrong message.

Tom Bergeron (19:23): Yeah. Jared Blank, he's an author. He's he has dyslexia. And he's done a marathon. I think he did seven marathons on seven continents and he has a great book just talking about his struggle to dyslexia, to school. And he talks about in high school when he didn't need a lot more support, he still felt he wasn't really part of the, the normal quote unquote normal group. Cause he still had to use the resource room. And all that stigma for him is something that staying with life. So it's great that there's a resource room. This is great that he had those extra services that help. So, we're big fans of accommodation, but also how you present that and how it's done in the school system. Why can't everyone use the resource room? Why didn't need to be like, Oh, the special needs kids go there. Can you set it up in a format that everyone feels like they can use it and everyone who's using it kind of feels accepted as part of the larger group.

Penny Williams (20:14): Yeah. I remember my son in ninth or 10th grade, he would say over and over, I'm the only one like this here. I can't find anybody. There's no one else like me. There's nobody else that this is this hard for. And even with an IEP and accommodations, he still was not seeing other kids who felt really similar to her. And it was so unfortunate and he did find his tribe and that got better. But just his sense of self at school was really tough. And, programs yours come along and say, we just want to focus on what you're awesome at and we want to help you succeed with that. And we see that all of these things about you that it's greatness, there's greatness in everyone and we're going to help you sort of let that shine, which is so powerful.

Tom Bergeron (21:06): Yeah. And then actually VRS was actually one of the drivers for starting the lab. You know, for me, my son had the same experiences, your son, he had an IEP since before first grade and by high school he just didn't want any more help would be associated with needing help. So he really kind of pushed back on that. So a lot of what we try and do is work on the acceptance aspect, but also a lot of, the concept of reframing, what is your mindset and how do you reframe? So now if the individual is feeling down on themselves, I'm stupid. I can't get this done. I can't do my homework, whatever that might be. How do you work with them to identify what they do well and where their strengths are and reframe. So when they get in that mind, when that negative self-talk starts, that now we all have, especially I think ADHD is have really, but I was like, I can't do my homework.

Tom Bergeron (21:53): I'm just stupid. It's kind of changing around to, well, what do you do well while I've pushed through homework before I tend to work really hard at it. So does that mindset change this? You know, someone who I may have more challenges, but I have persistence and I kind of push through that. So yeah, there's a bunch of different examples on just mindset and me, I'm late a lot. So, I can beat myself up for being late and kind of missing missing sessions, but I could look at it that, Hey, I live in the moment and that's a great thing. There's a lot of books out there talking about the power of living in the moment. And I tend to be able to do that naturally. And you know, by living in the moment, you tend to be able to engage with folks and individuals and that's a good trait to have as well. So when the beating yourself up for being late, changing that mindset, reframe me a little bit helps a lot. And we do a lot working with our students and we have a worksheet on that too, as far as how to kind of work with the child to help reframe their thoughts from a young age and through getting older.

Penny Williams (22:48): Yeah. Reframing is so crucial. And my work with parents, I'm talking about reframing all the time, all the time. You know, we have to look deeper and see what's really going on and change our perspective about it. Not be so negative about a lot of things, especially. And so I don't think a lot about actually teaching the kids to reframe themselves, but that's so necessary. You know, that changes whether you're walking through life, really distraught and down on yourself and feeling like you're somehow broken because you have ADHD or autism or dyslexia. And when we teach them to reframe, we're teaching them that they need to focus more on the good stuff and less on the struggle and focus on the struggle to be able to adapt to it or cope with it or strategies to work with it. But to really reframe everything, to think about it in a different light is really, really important for kids too.

Tom Bergeron (23:50): Yeah. And I think also, making sure they're not personalizing it as well, as far as making it as the individual, staying focused on the action for us as part of that reframing aspect as well. And what we really love about it is it, you do hear about reframing kind of working with the adults and students, but reframing for me came originally, we do a lot on the lab based on design thinking. And it's also a philosophy through designing products as well when it designed to get stuck, they use design thinking to reframe what the problem is. So it's actually, it's a tool that can be used in multiple aspects of life. And I just love how my different backgrounds have come together with something like reframing that ties into into both aspects.

Penny Williams (24:28): Yeah. It's amazing. It's super, super helpful. Do you want to tell us a little bit about how folks can learn more about inventive labs? How long are the sessions, all that good stuff. Okay.

Tom Bergeron (24:42): Yeah. We have a website, inventive labs.org that folks can go to and take a look at the sessions run for months. We've pretty much matched the college calendar. So we have a fall session and a spring session running the same September through December and then late January through to early may. And there's a lot of information about, for us, I think the alumni tell our story better than I can tell it. So there's some stories from some of our alumni talking about their path, where they were before they started with us and kind of where they went off. And actually one thing that we'll be working on this spring on social media is kind of where they now will be focusing on a bunch of our alumni and sharing kind of the journey they took and where they are now. As you said, we've been doing this now since 2014. So we have quite a few folks who've made it to college out in the workforce. Some will started their own businesses kind of seeing success. So for us, it's really nice to be able to focus on where they came from and kind of what they're doing now.

Penny Williams (25:41): Yeah. That's so fun to be able to reconnect with them. I'm sure it's fulfilling for you guys as well to find out where they are, but it's, so it brings so much hope to your other potential future students to at least see success stories, whether they go through admitted labs or not to see somebody who's struggled in similar ways and they're doing well, we need so many more of those stories out there.

Tom Bergeron (26:07): We've been blessed with having a lot of you know, guest speakers come in, we call them artisans that come in and share their stories quite often who have ADHD or dyslexia and kind of share that path forward. And I think one of the things I'm most excited about now, penny is we have some of our alumni who are now becoming those guest speakers because they're in a field of interest that someone else. So whether they're in college or whether they've made it through college and kind of out in the industry, it's great having them come in and kind of share their stories. And I think just great for students of all age to see folks who've had some of the same struggles with them and really be honest about those struggles know, I feel we live in a society where we all try and be perfect, whether it be because of social media or elsewhere to have folks who can step up and talk about where their struggles are. Also talk about their strengths. No, that's what I do. Well, this is where I struggle. This is how we've accommodated for some of the challenges. So we have folks who helped me out. So you haven't talked to students about that and especially in education where everyone wants to get an a and everything to talk about, the know this areas should do well areas you don't do as well. And see examples of adults who are successful, who can tell their full story, not just the glamorous story of how wonderful everything is.

Penny Williams (27:13): Yeah. It's so exciting when people are real authentic, and share that we all have struggle. We all go through, life ebbs and flows. And I don't think we are very open with that message. So kids with differences and even adults with differences really struggle with that because they don't see a lot of other people like them. They don't hear stories as much about people who they can relate to. And so it's really exciting that more and more of that is happening. I wanted to ask one more question before we close, which is, can you give us some ideas, some examples of the different kinds of interests and industries that some of your students have brought in and worked through there at adventive lab?

Tom Bergeron (28:07): Okay. That's a really good question. We tend. Yeah. I think a lot of time we have autistic folks and we have technical folks on the artistic side, it's always, how do I make a living out of art and kind of going forward? So we've had folks who've taken that interest in really gone into conceptual art and the gaming industry which is pretty cool to watch them do that. But also I think a path that people may come yo find pretty quickly, but I think one of the things, stories I really like is the therapy aspect. So we've had alumni go off for at therapy and drama therapy, nice, which really neat way to take, folks who really like helping other people. So just talking to them, we talked to you like what you like doing? So one of our students, she really liked to work with kids, babysitting kids, watching them.

Tom Bergeron (28:52): And she loved that. She was really concerned about going for the art degree. And then Leslie college in Boston, we did a tour out there and they started talking about their art therapy program. And for her, it was an immediate click it's like, that makes a lot of sense. I was interested in psychology. I was adjusted that I knew I couldn't get through eight years of school for psychology, but now I can get this at therapy degree, which spends a lot of time doing that, but also talks it's enough psychology. And then you'll, that's a career path and then drama therapy that kind of tied off of that. And then we've also had some folks go into cybersecurity, which is great, especially in the gamers. It was cybersecurity is kind of a game of breaking in and ethical hackers trying to get into systems.

Tom Bergeron (29:33): And how do you defend against that? Which has been great. And then also the startup world is a great workplace, especially for folks with ADHD or autism worry, larger company. Typical workforce may be a struggle if you have the skills. The smaller companies are greatly of where the gentleman is working. For a company, they take electric vehicles or electric trucks. They turn them into battery packs and electric vehicles, but unlike electric car, they're not using the energy to run the vehicle. You're using it to run the cab overnight because it's about a billion gallons of diesel is burnt every year by trackers for cooking and heating in the back of their cabs. So they're taking that battery power. So it's kind of a cool concept. He was able to start with him really as an intern working on paid, and now he's a part owner of the company and it's kind of cool to watch him take that path forward.

Penny Williams (30:21): That gave me goosebumps. It really did. Now he's part owner of the company. Like that's just, it's so amazing to see people succeed and our kids who are neuro-diverse, they have so many ideas and having something like inventive labs to help them sort of put it together and make it something that they can do in real life that they can keep on that path of that interest, but also to succeed with it is just remarkable. You know, it's, I wish college could be like that for everyone really, have the training, but also have this.

Tom Bergeron (31:00): Yeah. And I think Craig's an excellent example on that, where he went off to that company because he originally tried working in an office setting and he was pretty technical, but he cannot not sit there for 40 hours a week. Yeah. Desk and stuff like that. So he changed to something that he's out active. He's now work with batteries, working with trucks, still using his intellect, but being physical at the same time for him is just a really good match. So it gives me goosebumps as well, kind of looking back, I kind of see some of the journeys and where they started with, but helping them find that fit that works well. And I think that's a lot of the message for us is, really give hope for folks who a lot of parents struggle seeing their child in the workforce in the future. How are they ever going to go on to succeed there? If they struggle in school, the workforce is tends to be a much more diverse schools in many ways that limiting environment. And I just feel in the workforce, you can really open up and find a path that matches well for what the skillsets are.

Penny Williams (31:51): Yeah. I love that you brought up limiting environment because the inventive labs is the opposite of that. That's our goal. Yeah. That's what they need. We need to stop limiting people and really look at every individual which I could get on a big soapbox about. And I won't, but you know, we need to be raising individuals. We need to be educating individuals and programs like inventive labs offer that. And I think it's really remarkable for a kid who has been through K through 12 and just as had a really bad experience and doesn't really feel capable of doing more school. Doesn't, they, they get so beaten down when they keep trying and keep trying and they're misunderstood and their best isn't accepted, and then they don't have any interest in kind of learning, developing anything else. And, a program like inventive labs can offer something that really isn't school that really caters to them and can turn around that really negative self-image.

Tom Bergeron (32:52): Yeah. And we definitely fail. People are natural curious learners and given the chance to go out and do that. Sometimes it's just liberating for them and changing around the image of I'm not a good learner. I'm not very smart, helping them change around that image is probably one of the biggest things to allow them to go off and explore and be successful from there.

Penny Williams (33:11): It's brilliant. I've been a fan for years, and I so appreciate you taking some time to share more about the journey for our kids in general, and about inventive labs, really great information for everyone listening. You can get the show notes where you can find the inventive labs website, any other resources we've mentioned and more ways to connect with Tom and his [email protected] slash one, two zero for episode 120. Thanks again. I really appreciate it, Tom, with that, we'll end the session. I'll see everyone next time. Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, and don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama retreats at parentingadhdandautism.com.

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

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