140: What It’s Like to Grow Up with Undiagnosed ADHD, with Lia McCabe

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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What I most wanted to know when my son was little was what it was like to have ADHD. I wanted to know his experience so I could be as helpful as possible. I asked as many ADHD adults as I could what would be helpful for my son. Lia McCabe is sharing these same insights as an adult who grew up with undiagnosed ADHD in this episode of the Podcast. She shares her story with you to help you understand your child and what they need from you most. 


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My Guest


Lia has a Master’s specialized in Human Factors Psychology and is a User Experience Researcher by trade. She is a Parent’s Place of Maryland BabyLeader, certified in Special Needs Parent Training and mentorship. Inspired by her autistic children, Lia and her husband founded AutismWish, a charity initiative granting wishes to children on the spectrum. Both neurodiverse themselves, the McCabes also launched the Embracing Autism Podcast to provide parents of autistic children with tips, guidance, and resources and a newfound perspective. Her life’s passion is to destigmatize autism and other learning disabilities while spreading awareness and compassionate acceptance.



Lia McCabe 0:04

The part that I struggled with the most growing up was really the inability to keep focused and keep attention in school academically. And that was probably the hardest part for me because I grew up basically with low self esteem and thinking that I was actually just unintelligent, like I thought I was dumb. And it wasn't the case at all. I found out later on, I was actually quite bright.

Intro 0:31

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 other ADHD a Holic and mindset Mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started.

Penny Williams 1:00

Welcome back to the parenting ADHD podcast. Today I have with me, Leah McCabe. And we are going to talk about what it's like to grow up with undiagnosed ADHD. I'm really excited to share this conversation with you. Because I know Lee is going to be able to share a lot of insights about what it's like for your child to have ADHD and answer some questions like, when should you tell your child should you tell your child about their diagnosis? So we're gonna get so many insights from someone who's been there and had a childhood with ADHD and some of the pros and cons. Thanks for being here. Will you start just by introducing yourself? Let everybody know who you are and what you do?

Lia McCabe 1:42

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. My name is Leah. I am the founder of autism wish, and I am a ADHD and neurodiversity self advocate. I am also an advocate for autism in general and a little bit of an activist there. So it's kind of my passion right now.

Penny Williams 1:59

Yeah, absolutely. I think we get the best information and leadership from those who are the most passionate in their advocacy work? Where do you want to start? You want to start by telling us, I guess a little bit about your childhood? And maybe when you got a diagnosis, and then maybe we can look back on how that might have changed things if you'd had an earlier?

Lia McCabe 2:18

Yeah, absolutely. So for me, it was kind of interesting, because I actually come from a rather large family. And pretty much everybody in my family has some sort of neurodiversity. For the most part, almost all of us got diagnosed with ADHD at some point in our lives. So it's definitely something that's really strong and prevalent in our family. But when I was growing up, because of that, actually thought I was, quote, unquote, normal, for lack of a better word, because I was surrounded by people who all acted like me and thought, like me, and process like me. So it didn't really hit me that I process things differently until I started getting a little bit older, more like the middle school high school age. And the part that I struggled with the most growing up was really the inability to kind of keep focused and keep attention in school academically. And that was probably the hardest part for me, because I grew up basically with low self esteem, thinking that I was actually just unintelligent, like I thought I was dumb. And it wasn't the case at all. I found out actually, later on, I was actually quite, quite bright, but the learning disabilities made it seem impossible.

Penny Williams 3:35

Yeah, even kids who know about the diagnosis, often will feel like they're stupid. I know, My son has said that many times over the years. And he has a gifted IQ. So we know he's not stupid. And but that's, I think, how kids interpret what they're experiencing when they don't have more appropriate explanation.

Lia McCabe 3:57

Yeah, and I think for me, what also kind of led me to that conclusion growing up was essentially how my peers were treating me. So I did have friends, I was pretty good at keeping friends, at least on kind of like a superficial level. But there are a lot of people who noticed my inability to like process information as quickly as them and they interpret it as me being dumb. So this was prior to me being able to have any sort of diagnosis or accommodations or anything like that. So like, for example, I remember one time I was in class, and I had an assignment that I had to work in a group setting. And so I was working on that assignment with my classmates and my classmates couldn't understand why I had a hard time understanding just the instructions, like it was just a matter of like, I couldn't keep on on track and on task, and I was trying really hard but it just felt like kind of like in one ear out the other like I wasn't able to process what was being told to me. So I remember That moment of them kind of looking at me with like this kind of snarky look. And they're like, come on, you can do this, what are you down that sort of situation. And that's when it started really kind of affecting me. And when we decided that we were going to try to pursue some sort of like testing or something, because I basically went through all of high school without having gotten a diagnosis and knowing that I was going to be going to college, that diagnosis was going to be important.

Penny Williams 5:26

Yeah. So you were diagnosed after you graduated high school?

Lia McCabe 5:29

Yeah, I got a really late diagnosis. And the reason why we pursued it is because my ADHD and my learning disabilities were causing a lot of anxiety. So I was not able to do homework without having like a panic attack, because I thought it was the end of the world. And I couldn't get this homework assignment just right, because I couldn't understand it. And it felt like completing my homework accurately, was a way of myself validating myself to the world and being like, No, I'm not dumb, I can do this, that sort of thing. But I couldn't, I couldn't do it without the accommodations. And then once I was finally able to get that diagnosis right before college, and I was able to get the accommodations, I mean, I ended up now I have a Master's that I got with a 4.0 GPA. So it made all the world of difference. When before I was struggling, just to get a B or like a C, like sometimes D was great for me. So it really made a huge, huge difference.

Penny Williams 6:28

Yeah. And I imagine after you worked through that diagnosis that impacted your self esteem in a more positive way, you had something to attribute those struggles to?

Lia McCabe 6:37

Yeah, absolutely. It. I remember something that stuck with me that my counselor, not counselor, so the psychologist who diagnosed me, one thing that he said that really stuck out to me was, he said that when I tested through all the testing, that like your son, I actually had really high intellect levels, like they said that I was like in the 99th percentile. But what he described to me as with the learning disabilities, and the ADHD, and all that, that essentially all that knowledge was locked in this treasure chests. And he was saying that with the ADHD, it was like having a ring of hundreds of keys on there. And I had to go one by one by one through that key ring, to be able to figure out which one's the one that unlocks that treasure chest, but that once that treasure chest is open, my treasure chest was way fuller than the average person my age. So that's how he described it to me. And because of that, the accommodations, were basically a way of saying, okay, we're gonna eliminate all these keys, here's three keys, your chances of finding the right one on the first try are much higher now. So that's essentially kind of what I went through.

Penny Williams 7:45

I love that analogy. I love that analogy that you have a treasure chest and it just might take more time to get it open, you might have to use lots more keys. And processing speed is such a big deal for a lot of people with ADHD. That was one of the big things that we learned about our son that really helped us understand. For example, I felt like he wasn't listening to me, he never responded. And what really was happening was he just needed longer to respond. And I didn't understand that yet. And so I would get impatient and say, Oh, he's not listening to me and get frustrated. When I learned to give him a little more time to respond. He almost always responded. And so that's a really big piece for parents to understand about their kids, is that that could be what looks like a lot of other behavior could actually boil down to just needing more time to process needing more time to find the right key.

Lia McCabe 8:39

Definitely. I know for me, processing has always been something that I needed help with. Specifically, like, if you're giving something to me verbally, I have a much harder time with verbal instructions than with written instructions. So unfortunately, growing up in life, and in jobs and stuff like that, I've managed to be pretty successful in my career. But I've had to learn to self accommodate because I've never disclosed to my jobs or anything that I have any sort of learning disabilities, mostly because I have been so good at self accommodating that I haven't really felt the need. But one of the things that I've noticed is like with auditory processing, I usually can't follow any sort of directions that you give me whatsoever. Like I kind of nod I'm like, Uh huh, but I'm writing everything down to then go back to my desk, and then reread it and then process it.

Penny Williams 9:29

Yeah, it's amazing, the different accommodations that you taught yourself just out of necessity. And I'm a little bit marveling at your, your motivation to do that because some kids with ADHD, or adults just kind of give up they feel like it's hopeless. And sharing your story then helps other kids and families understand that you can learn to do things differently to do things in a way that works for you and to self advocate so that you are allowed to do things different Really, I think that's a big piece for kids, especially in school and older kids, they need to learn to self advocate, we have to kind of step back as parents and support that and teach that but let them take the reins there.

Lia McCabe 10:13

Yeah, absolutely. Like for me, one of the things that I always did growing up that I learned to kind of self accommodate is, honestly now in the digital age, having a cell phone helps so much, because I use my calendar like excessively, I use my planners and alarms excessively, I literally put in my calendar, any little tasks that I need to do, there's this app from Microsoft called to do, and I use that as well. And I organize everything, I have to do that day with little alarm systems to kind of go off and let me know how to do or when to do it. And honestly, the one negative to that is once you start accommodating, you start getting comfortable. And then you start thinking, Oh, I don't need this. And then you realize like the once or twice time that you forget to set it you do forget you can't stay on task. So that's the only downside of it is sometimes once you rely on things, you think that you don't need them anymore after a while.

Penny Williams 11:11

Yeah, I think that happens so often, in a lot of cases. Do you want to talk a little bit about what it was like to process the diagnosis for you? Did you have some grief around it? Or did you experience shame? I know a lot of adults and young adults to experience a lot of those types of emotions that make it really hard to sort of accept and move forward. Sometimes it takes a lot of work.

Lia McCabe 11:36

I think, honestly, for me, it was kind of the reverse. I was going through all of that prior to the diagnosis, because you got to remember, I didn't get my diagnosis until just before college. So basically the entire period of the critical years of your life, that entire character building self esteem period, all that part of my life was without the diagnosis. Yeah, so I had pretty significant self esteem issues growing up, I thought I was incapable. I thought like, I remember thinking, Why can everyone else do this? Why can't I do this, everyone else can do it. And I can't, the only explanation is I must be like broken, something's wrong with me. So getting the diagnosis actually did the opposite. It made me feel validated, it made everything make sense. For me, it made things easier, because I also then learn about how to accommodate more. And I was able to get extended testing time, I was able to get quiet testing time, I suddenly got empathy from people rather than this kind of like looking down on you sort of reaction. So I think had I gotten that diagnosis at a younger age, it would have changed everything. Because I had to kind of undo all the damage afterwards emotionally. Yeah,

Penny Williams 12:52

yeah. When I talk to parents, I say the same thing, like your child's already aware that they're different, that they're struggling. And in the absence of telling them about their diagnosis or helping them understand their brain works differently, they're going to automatically decide that they're bad or broken or stupid. And that's really damaging. It's really, really hard. And especially as you said, in the formative years, during development, kids need to have positive experiences that affects the way they develop. And so it can be a lifelong issue. Not knowing about a diagnosis earlier, I think. So I would guess that you are pro telling your child about their diagnosis. Oh, absolutely.

Lia McCabe 13:35

I mean, after I learned about it, I've always been kind of attracted to neuroscience. But I mean, I ended up majoring in neuroscience, I became an EKG technician, and neurofeedback and TMS technician. And I just kept learning more and more. And one of the things that I noticed when I was a tech in the neurology field, is when I did these ages on people, there are physiological physical changes in their brains, like people who have ADHD brains versus people who have like neurotypical brains, there's actual differences. And the way your brain is wired, you can see it on a map, you can see the neurons going off in places they shouldn't be and stuff. So it made it easier to empathize. Once I understood like, Hey, this is like a physical thing. It's one of those invisible illnesses or invisible disabilities, where people don't take it serious because they can't see it.

Penny Williams 14:26

Right. And I think that's such a struggle. I know that it was certainly a struggle for my son growing up knowing the diagnosis and, and sharing it with teachers and school officials, but still was a struggle. And I think that the more information we can give our kids especially when you talk about the science and the biology of it, when they realize that it's actually like their body and the way it is the way their brain is the way it functions. I think that takes a little bit of that self pity not self Penny, but just blaming themselves. I think it can remove some of that. Because they can see that it really is just who I am and what my body does.

Lia McCabe 15:05

Yes, I think that self acceptance, and the whole neurodiversity movement is so critically important. There really aren't many, quote unquote, normal people out there. There's people who are dyslexic, there's people who are you no autistic, this and that. So when we kind of categorize ourselves in a bubble, we don't really realize that in our diversity, we are kind of all the same, if that makes sense.

Penny Williams 15:30

Yeah, totally.

Lia McCabe 15:31

I basically think that once I got that diagnosis, I didn't take it as like my identity or anything like that. But I took it as like an aspect of me that suddenly explained a lot.

Penny Williams 15:42

Yeah, I want to talk about what happened when you were a child, and maybe even post diagnosis like in college, that was really helpful to you, what did people do or say that was really helpful. And then maybe were there times where people, teachers or parents did or said things that weren't helpful, that maybe you would warn parents against doing?

Lia McCabe 16:04

So college was actually kind of rough, although I did have the diagnosis, and I did get the accommodations, that aspect of it was great. But the difficult part was the peers. I think there's not enough awareness out there, I think there's not enough understanding or empathy out there. And it was kind of surprising. I went into college pre med. And the only reason I had a lifelong dream of becoming a doctor, the only reason I gave up that dream was because of my experience in the pre med program. It was directly due to how they were treating me, because they all looked down on me and thought I was dumb, and kind of that soft bullying. So that was something that was difficult to handle. But one of the things that was done very well, I think, was I had this one professor. And he was amazing, because I was taking organic chemistry. And to this day, I cannot, I cannot do organic chemistry. But he understood that I had ADHD and learning disabilities. And he took so much care and time for me, it was so meaningful to me, because not only did he allow me to come into class early, so that he could go over stuff with me, he would put things on the board and explain them. And he could read the look on my face, because I was so used to just telling people yeah, I get it when I didn't get it because of you know, their their attitude. But he could read my face. And he's like, you don't get it to hear it's no problem. I'll try again in a different way. And he tried over and over and over in different ways he would break it down to me, he gave me office hours during his lunch break, which he did not have to do. And he went and took his lunch and brought me there. And he was like, let's keep going. So that sort of like humanizing people with learning disabilities, and kind of going the extra mile. Like that made a lot of difference to me. And although I didn't actually pursue that course anymore, because it was too difficult for me. What he did kind of stuck with me. And it gave you kind of like that optimistic like, wow, okay, so there's people who care out there.

Penny Williams 18:10

Yeah, Josh ship, I don't know if he's a public speaker, and motivational speaker, and he talks about, all it takes is one caring adult. If you just have one caring adult in your life, it can turn your life around. As a child, I think he came from maybe foster care or adoption, or something like that was his background. But that's always stuck with me, since the first time I read that. It's so true, when you have somebody who really cares, who shows that they're willing to do the work to understand you to get what you're going through and to help you. It can be life changing. And, like you said, You didn't even pursue that subject matter, but the way you were treated stuck with you. And we can find those people, we can find mentors, or one teacher, that's really the go to person for a kid at school, or a parent, even all those teens, a lot of times they don't want us to be their support system and sounding board. But it's so valuable. And I think we forget because we get so busy. We forget how valuable just connecting with somebody and seeing them and hearing them and showing compassion is so powerful. And it really is simple to do.

Lia McCabe 19:24

Absolutely. And that whole like sticking to giving people alternative methods of doing the same thing like that was what was super helpful about that is he didn't give up. He was like, if you don't get the one plus one equals two, that I'm gonna break down with apples. If you don't get it with apples, I'm gonna break down with peaches. Like, he just gave me alternative ways to learn until one of them worked. And that I think is what really impacted me.

Penny Williams 19:51

Yeah. And that can happen in all grades in school. One of my son's best teachers most, I think compassionate but also Just understanding of what he was going through was first grade. And she taught through differentiated instruction. And so every lesson she had built in ways to reach all different types of learners. And I mean to this day, he's almost 19, he's graduated high school, he's still talks about that first grade teacher, and how amazing she was because he felt like she cared. So even if he was struggling with the schoolwork, and, staying on task, he still felt like she cared. And that made him willing to keep going and to feel like there was some good in him, and he wouldn't be able to find it. It's just, it's remarkable how just a little kindness can go a long way. Definitely, definitely, let's talk about, I'm trying to think about the diagnosis and really, like, how would you advise parents to talk to their kids about their diagnosis. And I know there are different ways to do it based on different ages, it has to be age appropriate, and developmentally appropriate. But I think parents struggle so much, because they don't want their child to think that there's something wrong with them, because they have this diagnosis. They don't want to make them feel more broken. But the flip side is that when you do tell them now, there's a reason for what's happening to them. And it gives an explanation that helps them to not blame themselves. So what kind of things do you think are important for parents to share when they're sharing a diagnosis with their kid?

Lia McCabe 21:33

So I always like to work in metaphors metaphors work really well, for me, I think it depends on the kid. Are they more of a like logical reasoning kid? Or are they more of a metaphor type of kid. But I usually try to use basic metaphors like one of the ones that I use, because I suspect that one of my children is also ADHD, but still too young to diagnose, is kind of like the idea of like a tangled ball of yarn. When you have like a tangled ball of yarn, you have two ends of it. And that point A gets to point B. But when you're looking at it, you don't exactly know how. So you got to work on that ball of yarn over a bit of time to be able to kind of weasel that out and figure out that linear path. Whereas if you have just, the nice ball of yarn that just pulls right off and goes straight, that's a lot easier. And for me, it seems like the ADHD brain, in my opinion, for me personally, it's kind of like that tangled ball of yarn, where people will be like, where are you going with this thought, what, where's this connecting? What are you saying, but in my mind, I'm like, No, this makes sense. I don't get from A to B, I promise you. So sometimes I have to kind of explain it to people, like a roundabout way, it's a different path. Exactly. But it's still a path and it still gets you from point A to B, it just might not be what's expected of you. It might not be what people understand easily. So I always say, have patience, try to follow that yarn. Even if you feel like it's confusing. Because, that's, that's our experience. And that's the only way sometimes we know how to express ourselves.

Penny Williams 23:12

Yeah. And I think to the conversation about neuro diversity and how everybody has differences, that's one that we've certainly used a lot in conversation with my son over the years, just to say, we all have something that can be more difficult. I have anxiety and social anxiety. And so that was really difficult for me as a child. And as an adult, really, it's something that I work on every day. And, letting your child see that the kids around, you may not be exactly like you, but they also are probably struggling with something, or will at some point in their life. I think that makes them feel more included in the grand scheme of things. So maybe I'm not exactly like my peers sitting next to me in school, but they might have some challenge that they're trying to deal with also.

Lia McCabe 24:04

And that reminds me of a quote that has always stuck by me, basically, ever since I got my diagnosis. And there's this quote, I think it's attributed to Einstein, but I'm not sure. But it says in the quote, if a fish is always judged by its ability to climb a tree, that fish will always think that it is stupid, basically. And that has stuck with me so much, because I love that if you judge the fish by the fish's ability to swim, it would then realize how fantastic it is. It's very skilled and adept at swimming. But because these tests, the SA T's, AC T's all these things are not structured for the learning disabled brain, or the ADHD brain. People are being tested to standards that their brains are not wired to really understand, especially with the time crunch and all of that. And they grow up thinking, well, I can't climb this tree. I must be so dumb. So I think that That's where there's a lot of work that still needs to be done is making sure that the testing is adapted to different kinds of brains.

Penny Williams 25:06

Yeah, and I would love to see in schools that we start teaching about neurodiversity. In the younger grades, we start talking about it when kids are little, that we're all different, but we're all awesome. Anyway, we all have greatness within us, then they're growing up through that framework. And I think they'll be more accepting of differences and which can only make the experience better for those who have learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism.

Lia McCabe 25:34

And sometimes it just takes getting to know the person because I know the one person in college who had, I mean, this person literally made me cry on the way home every day after my labs, because of how degrading their comments and stuff were, at the end of that semester, we ended up being friends. And it was just them having the exposure to seeing how I worked and starting to understand through like, just working with me over time that I just worked differently. And once they like, understood it, it like wasn't taboo anymore, and we ended up actually getting along quite great at the end of it. So sometimes it's just a matter of, if you don't understand something, go out and go talk to them, go hang out with them, ask them, like, Hey, what's up with this? Just, as politely as possible. I know, for me, I wouldn't have minded that at all.

Penny Williams 26:30

Yeah, yeah. And again, it helps a child to be seen and heard, it's sort of validating to have somebody asked you about it instead of have it be the secret that they're supposed to be ashamed of. And that's really the other piece of making sure that you tell your child about their diagnosis, and that you let them sort of take that wherever it leads. So if you tell your child they have ADHD, and then you tell them don't tell anybody, you're teaching them that they should be ashamed of it. Right. And so my son, I always laughed, because when he was little, even in like middle school, he would go up and introduce himself to somebody, and he would say, I'm Luke, I have ADHD, like it was part of his spiel of whenever he met someone, and I said, Okay, you don't have to tell everybody, right, the second you meet them, but he just was kind of oblivious to what what he was doing. And I would rather it be that way, then being, kind of fostering this culture of shame around it. It's nothing to be ashamed about, it's just a difference. It's not a choice. kids aren't choosing to struggle in school, they would love to just have it be easy and be able to do what their peers are doing. But when we try to tell them to hide it, it really explodes that feeling of shame for a kid. And I think that's really detrimental.

Lia McCabe 27:48

Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I think telling somebody to hide an aspect of themselves is never going to add Well, when it comes to like disclosing your own diagnosis. So I think that that kind of depends on the person too, because some people are totally cool with it. Some people like love going straight for the diagnosis, because they feel so like, it's so much a part of who they are. Me personally, I've always been kind of reserved about it. I don't actually, I guess that's ironic, cuz I'm telling the whole world now. But I don't usually go around and tell people that I have learning disabilities or anything like that. I don't think most of my friends even know. And the reason why is because to me, in my mentality, how I think about it is, I don't go around telling everybody I have brown hair, I don't go around telling everybody my favorite colors green, I don't go around telling everybody that, Oh, this is my favorite celebrity. Like, it's just it's part of me. And unless it's super relevant to the conversation at hand, I personally don't feel like I should have to tell people, unless, again, it's affecting the direct situation, then it's relevant to me.

Penny Williams 28:56

Yeah, absolutely. And I always tell parents, tell people when they need to know. So if your child is in T ball, and he's really struggling, and the coaches are getting frustrated, that's probably a need to know situation and just to share, and it doesn't even have to be the diagnosis, you can just share, my child really struggles to keep focused when when it's slow between batters or something, you can really just tailor that to be specific to the struggle instead of the diagnosis. But I think that not telling people in those sort of situations, then, they're judging your child and they're treating them as though their behavior is a choice. And it can be really hard. We always were open when it needed to be disclosed. But as adults, I think, a lot of times you don't want to say anything, you don't want to tell your employer because that can give them an excuse to let you go. Even though it's illegal. They do it anyway. Right. So you do have to be careful, I think But I think also, letting our kids share it when they want to and when it's appropriate is a good thing because they're getting comfortable with who they are. And they're helping other people around them understand what they're going through, so that they can connect.

Lia McCabe 30:15

Yeah, absolutely. I know, like when it comes to disclosing for my kids, because I have two autistic kids, and I have one who's suspected ADHD, but she's too young at the moment. And I know for them, whenever I go out, it's very apparent that they have something different about them. But I usually tend to disclose the parts that are relevant to the situation at hand. So it's because things are noisy, I'd be like, oh, they're, they're not great with noise, they're sensitive to sounds, or if it's an attention, focus, stanbic Oh, she's got issues sometimes being able to sit still and focus. So I feel that when you do it that way, it makes more sense to me because you're giving somebody something that's actionable. So when you say, Oh, my kid has ADHD, nobody knows what to do with that, like, right, unless what ADHD is, you're not going to know what to do with that. Now, if you say something like, my kid has a hard time sitting still, or my kid has, sometimes he likes to fidget or things like that, then you have actionable things. You're like, Okay, well, let me get him a beanbag. Or let me get him a toy to fidget with. So that's why that's my preferred method.

Penny Williams 31:23

Yeah, agreed. Definitely. This has been such an insightful conversation. I always love talking to adults who are sharing their story and sharing their challenges and how they've kind of found their path and life in their own success. And I know that it's going to help so many parents listening, to be able to relate more to their kids and also understand what they're going through. And hopefully to be more open with their kids about their diagnosis to you and letting them know that there is a difference. And it's not that they're stupid or broken. There's just so much power to that. And I just thank you so much for being open to share your story. It's not easy to do that for everyone. And it's so, so powerful, though.

Lia McCabe 32:07

And if I could just say one more thing to your audience, for parents who do have, ADHD kids or kids with these disabilities, absolutely do not, do not give up on them. Like, I know, a lot of people think when you get a diagnosis for your child, a lot of people and I fell into this trap initially with my kids was their future is doomed. And I worked really hard, I self accommodated, I got external accommodations, like there were nights that I had to work all night and get up and I had no sleep test to push harder than everyone else had to, to reach the same goal. But I was able to achieve that I was able to attain that I have a very successful career, I have a spouse and children, I have all those things everybody else has. It just took a little more effort. And I just want the parents to know that, is all possible for your child. So don't don't lose hope. Just be there for your kid, be empathetic, get those accommodations and definitely, definitely give them that hope of that future that they already dream for. Even if they were, neurotypical like the same dream applies.

Penny Williams 33:13

I love that. That's such a good place to end to. For everybody listening, you can get links to Leah's website and autism wish and anything that we've talked about in the episode in the show notes, which are available at parenting ADHDandautism.com/140 for Episode 140. And with that, we'll end the episode thanks again. No problem. 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 parenting, ADHD and autism.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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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Quick Start: 3 High-Impact Actions to Transform Behavior

Transforming negative or unwanted behavior is a long and complex process. HOWEVER, there are a few actions you can take right now that will provide a big impact. These 3 high-impact strategies address foundational aspects of behavior, empowering you to help your child feel better so they can do better.



Makes time visual for those with time blindness.


Blends gaming with off-screen activities to teach coping skills through play.


Manage chores and routines while building self-confidence and independence.


A chair that gives kids a sensory hug.

About the show...

I'm your host, Penny.

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…

My approach to decoding behavior while honoring neurodiversity and parenting the individual child you have will provide you with the tools to help you understand and transform behavior, reduce your own stress, increase parenting confidence, and create the joyful family life you crave. I am honored to have helped thousands of families worldwide to help their kids feel good so they can do good.

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