216: Helping Kids & Teens Develop a Strengths-Based OS, with Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D.

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Instead of viewing ADHD and autism through the medical model, we need to view them through a strengths-based model as the neurodiversity movement does. A strengths-based model uses interests and strengths to help with challenges. We talk a lot about it in terms of parenting and educating, but now it’s time to teach our kids to operate through a strengths-based lens.  

In this episode, Dr. Matt outlines the steps to help your child develop a strengths-based perspective specific to their own strengths and weaknesses. This puts challenges and non-preferred tasks through a lens that the child or teen cares about, making it much more doable. As Dr. Matt reminds us, “Rising tides raise all boats.”


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My Guest

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D.

Matthew “Dr. Matt” Zakreski, PsyD is a high energy, creative clinical psychologist who utilizes an eclectic approach to meet the specific needs of his neurodiverse clients. He is proud to serve as a consultant to schools, a professor, and a researcher on Giftedness. He has spoken over 200 times all over the world about supporting neurodivergent kids.

Dr. Zakreski is a member of Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children (NJAGC), and Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE). Dr. Zakreski graduated from Widener University’s Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology (IGCP) in 2016. He is the co-founder and lead clinician at The Neurodiversity Collective: https://www.theneurodiversitycollective.com/


Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 0:03

It's amazing how often I see teachers say, Well, yes, this kid is dyslexic, but he's got to be able to read the chapter test. Well, maybe? Or could this dyslexic student create a PowerPoint presentation about all the information in that chapter, we're gonna hold it to the same high standards, but then that kid is playing more to their strengths, while still showing that they know the stuff that we're trying to teach them.

Penny Williams 0:29

Welcome to the beautifully complex podcast, where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started.

Penny Williams 0:52

Welcome back to the beautifully complex podcast. I am very, very excited to have Dr. Matthews kreski. Here with me. Today we're going to talk about helping our kids learn how to take a strengths based approach, which we talk about all the time as parents as educators, but how do we help our kids also make that mindset shift? And look at their challenges in a different way. So I think this is going to be a wonderfully helpful conversation. But I just want to start Dr. Matt, will you introduce yourself, let everyone know who you are and what you do?

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 1:29

Yeah, I'm very excited to be here. So I'm Dr. Matt Zakreski. Everybody calls me Dr. Matt. So feel free to do the same. And I'm a clinical psychologist, I specialize in working with neurodivergent kids and teens Mostly. And I got into this work because I'm a twice exceptional person myself. I was identified gifted in second grade, diagnosed with ADHD in high school, which made a lot of things make a lot more sense. But I always wanted to work with kids like me. So I've built my career out of serving kids in the neuro divergence space. And what I find like minded people like you, Penny. I mean, it's like, well, let's just jump in and have a conversation.

Penny Williams 2:08

So let's start by defining what we mean by a strengths-based approach for anyone who doesn't know.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 2:16

The idea here is that a lot of things in psychology and education took on this sort of medical model, right, this idea of like, disease model, you are well, or you are sick, right? But things within the education and psychology spaces, they're not that clear cut, because the brain is much more complex, right? So, what we find is that kids with ADHD, yes, they have trouble paying attention, and organizing and with time management, but they're also creative and charismatic and can think on their feet. Those are skills. Right. So the heart of the neurodiversity movement is that you can't just talk about deficits, you have to talk about the skills as well. Because by playing to a student's skills, you inherently amplify the good things about them. And what that happens, it brings everything up with it, right, a rising tide lifts all boats. So by starting with a strengths based model, we create those relationships, we get to know our students, and we put them in positions to succeed, rather than wondering why they can't do this thing that they have never shown us they're able to do.

Penny Williams 3:26

Yeah, I want to emphasize a couple of things that you said. One, amplify and love the use of the word amplify, because our kids all have greatness within them. And it's a matter of helping them to discover it, and to amplify it, right? And then a rising tide lifts all boats. I just want the listeners to like really think about that, right? Like we can lift others. And what we ask a lot of time for teachers to do in classrooms, they work for everyone, a strengths based model works for all kids. We're not saying just do this for neurodivergent kids, this works for all kids, this is a great way to approach kids, teens in general. Right? Yeah. So let's shift a little bit to talking about how do we help kids? We talk all the time about parents taking on a strengths based approach, teachers taking on a strengths based approach. I don't remember ever reading anything or hearing a conversation on how to help the kids themselves, take on that strengths based approach, which is exactly what we want, right? We're trying to raise kids who are kind and good and feel good about themselves, and can be successful adults in their own way, in their own regard. And I think that we have to have that strengths based approach to get to that point. Yes. Would you agree?

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 4:53

I completely do. And I think it starts with a thorough and honest self assessment. Hmm.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 5:00

I mean to use myself as an example, right? I'm a pretty successful professional, right? I get to be on podcasts and fly places to give talks. And it's very exciting. I love my job. Yeah. But I run my clinical practice, with my wife, who's also a psychologist, but she handles all the paperwork, she handles all the billing stuff. I'm really bad at it. If I did that we would be in the red some I don't know, I would have somehow like, lost the money, put it in a sock drawer.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 5:35

So if you say, I am a psychologist, am I a good psychologist or a bad psychologist? The bummer thing about our brains is our brains pay more attention to negative and unpleasant thing. Right? So my brain is gonna pay more attention to the stuff I can't do or the stuff I'm not so good at. Right? Like, oh, yeah, you'd be a great psychologist, if you didn't always make these mistakes. But if my job was just sitting in a room talking to people doing therapy, and somebody else took care of the scheduling, and billing and all that stuff, I would be the best psychologist in all the land. Right? Right. So a reasonable accommodation, through a strengths based mindset is saying, Here's what I'm good at, I'm gonna play to those things. Here are the things I'm okay at. And here are the things I need some help with. And I'm going to get whatever help is available to me for those things, like marrying somebody who has a very well developed prefrontal cortex, who makes Excel spreadsheets for fun.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 6:32

That means that I get to spend more time and energy focusing on the stuff I'm good at. Yeah, and that's what we want for every single person on planet Earth, but especially our different brain, kiddos.

Penny Williams 6:44

Yeah, by the way, I am your wife in my own relationship, and my marriage as well. I have paid the bills for 26 years, I do all of the paperwork, yes. Because we figured out who's good at which things and we step up and we take care of what we're skilled at. Yeah. And yeah, so I'm just thinking about, like, here's what I'm good at, here's what I'm okay. Here's what I need help with, like, creating a worksheet for my own kid for that and saying, like, let's have this conversation, my son is 20, almost 21. And he's really struggling with kind of, where he's going, what he wants to do those sorts of things. And so this is amazing. This is a great thing for even us to do. And so then what's the next step? Start with the self assessment? What's next?

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 7:36

And the big thing about the self assessment is to actually make time for it. I tell all the teachers I work with, if you started at the beginning of the school year, and spent the first day or two just asking kids like, what are you like, what are you interested in? One of my favorite questions to ask kids as a therapy icebreaker is, if I gave you $10,000, in a day off of school, what would you do? Because instantly that points of it's like, oh, I would buy the video games. And I would play video games. And I would, and I would go to Chuck E Cheese. And I would have all the right like, yeah, yes. Right. And some kids are like, Oh, I'd probably go to my ski chalet in Vail. And so for sure, do you think right, but kids are not robots. They are not vessels to be filled. They are humans with different strengths and interests and weaknesses and good days and bad days. So the more we know, the more we're actually able to customize what we're doing.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 8:33

And it's one of those things that my grandpa always used to say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When I was little, I would just sort of nod blankly at him. But now that I'm an adult, I get it, like spend a week to get to know your students or your therapy clients. You're gonna realize that that pays for itself. October, November, January, March, right? Because, well, you can lean into like, well, okay, I'm having trouble connecting with Jimmy on this thing. But I know Jimmy loves Pokemon. So let's see, there's definitely a way I can use Pokemon to teach him this thing. Right. Now I've customized this thing for Jimmy feels seen and heard by me. And then Jimmy is more likely to learn that lesson. So Jimmy feels better about himself. Yeah, yeah. So really committing to the time and then having check in times throughout the year. Because kids shift they adapt, they evolve, right? So we want to make sure we're doing things and include them in those conversations. One of the things that I often work with when it comes to the classes I teach as a as an adjunct professor, but also when I'm talking to teachers is, do differentiated assessment. If you put your your students in a room say, Okay, who wants to write a paper, who wants to do a chapter test and who wants to do a presentation, that presentation can be live to me or you can record it? You're gonna get different percentages of kids saying yes to different things and

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 10:00

that plays to their natural strengths, which means they're going to study better, they're going to learn better, they're probably going to get better grades, right? I mean, it really becomes a win win. I mean, any, it's a little bit more work for the teachers up front. But then you're not spending that time responding to angry emails from home and send test corrections, right? It's really, it's amazing. How often I see teachers say, Well, yes, this kid is dyslexic. But he's got to be able to read the chapter test. Yes, well, maybe. Or could this dyslexic student create a PowerPoint presentation about all the information in that chapter, we can hold it to the same high standards, but then that kid is playing more to their strengths, while still showing that they know the stuff that we're trying to teach them?

Penny Williams 10:47

Yeah, yeah. And I'm thinking about how we use this information as parents. The same, I think can be said at home is take those interests that your kids have, and use them to help them with the challenges, right? Yeah. They're interested in Pokemon, which I don't know enough about Pokemon to give an example for that.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 11:06

But I do.Yeah.

Penny Williams 11:11

And what you said is so profound, that our brains focus more on the negative, this is the science of it, right? Our brains focus more on the negative. And as parents, there's like a pit of negative that I think we fall into, it's really easy to just fall right into that pit. When my son was first diagnosed, I lived there for so long. And I like talked about was ADHD, and all I read was ADHD, and all and people started staying away from me. And I was like, wait a minute, maybe something's wrong here. But it also just made this, like dark cloud that just hovered over all of us wherever we went, right. And so I had to sort of wake up and recognize what was going on. And the fact that I had to really start focusing on the good, there's much more about my kid than ADHD. So I have to start focusing on that other stuff. I can't just focus on what's hard. But now knowing because I didn't know then, that our brains focus on the negative helps me to give myself some grace about all of that time, where I was just focused on the negative like, Okay, well, my brain was doing that. And I didn't know, I didn't notice sort of tried to stop it or try to pivot from that. So I think that's really important for parents to hear like, it's not that you're choosing to focus on the negative, and we have these outside forces to your right, we have calls home from school, we have the coach at Little League, who's frustrated with our kid climbing the fence during the game, right, and all these things that come in, and we have to work really hard, I think, at shifting to that more strengths based model.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 12:53

We really doa nd one of the things that I use, it's a classic therapy technique is this thing called the magic ratio. Since our brains are more drawn to negative thoughts and feelings, we need to have a tool to balance that. Right. Right, it takes three positive thoughts to balance out one negative thought, right? And the more you do that exercise, the better your brain becomes, at seeking out those positive things like, okay, I just thought like, what happens if I strike out in the baseball game, I can remember that I hit a homerun in our last game, I'm friends with my teammates, and that we're up 70, nothing. So the stakes are pretty low. So like, those three positive thoughts are gonna balance out that negative thought, yeah. And fundamentally, it's a nice tool for our kids. Because it's not about vaporizing that negative thought. It's not about pretending it doesn't exist. It's about accepting it, but having something to respond to it with, because that's so key here, right? I mean, for all the people who have sort of taken the ADHD world and like gone to that like almost toxic positivity place with it, like our kids are creative, and ADHD is a superpower. And I won't take any questions about that. It's like, listen, there are parts of ADHD that are wonderful. But as an adult with ADHD, it still makes my life harder basically every day. Yeah. Right. So I don't, I'm not here for a conversation about how ADHD only makes my life better. Nor am I here for a conversation that ADHD makes my life only worse. There are parts about this that I love and parts I hate, like the vast majority of things, right? So fundamentally, a strengths based perspective, really is like it's almost a 360 degree perspective. You're really saying, here's the good, here's the bad. Here's the average. I contain multitudes. Let me explore all those things. Because I have a deep box of tools that I can use all

Penny Williams 14:57

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Penny Williams 16:02

I'm thinking about how we teach our kids to take on the strengths based approach. And thinking as you were talking about name three good things. Yeah, you strike out. But what are three positives, like just doing that activity with our kids sometimes not, of course, in the midst of meltdowns and really challenging intensity, right? Because nothing works, then that involves talking. But other times where there's like, Man, this really sucks and we can ask them. And maybe we start with just one because I can imagine like my own kid for a long time. What about I don't know nothing, nothing is good.

Penny Williams 16:42

Or bad. I might as well not be here. And which is sad. But it's a reality for a lot of families. Many, many parents who are listening have heard that before. But just asking like at first, what's one good thing about this? What's one good thing about playing baseball? What's one positive thing about what's happening right this minute for you and starting to get them to think about that? Because I think first we have to pull that into their orbit, right? That there are positive things when something negative is going on.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 17:14

And even using the language like what doesn't suck right now. Like there's things that suck right now, what doesn't suck, that could be neutral, that could just be average, bad. So it's like really lowering the threshold here. But once we get to get them unstuck from that negative spiral. I love that. I love that. What doesn't suck right now?

Penny Williams 17:37

I'll be using that today. I bet, let's say, right. So yeah, let's talk about what else is there that we need to be doing to help our kids to sort of adopt this strengths based model as their own operating system? Like how do we make it so it's just natural at some point. And I know that's time. And that's practice. And that's repetition. But what are the other steps involved?

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 18:03

So choice is everything right? choice based on interest. During the pandemic, when a lot of kids were at home, we unlocked this thing. And it's funny, I say we in the sense of like a lot of people who do what I do for a living. And we found that cooking is math. Cooking is also science. Cooking is also art. Cooking is also reading. Yes. And all of a sudden it's become this like experiential learning module, right? How does someone take a bunch of stuff that's on your kitchen counter and make a thing? Okay, well, I need to do these things I need to make sure I have I'm gonna make a hamburger, I need to have ground beef, I need to have an egg, I need to have breadcrumbs, seasoning cheese buns, I need to have a pan I need to have a spatula. But it's like it's this very simple idea of hamburger turns into I need all these things, all these tools, all these skills. And now we're measuring. And now we're time management. And now we're doing this in our pleading. Right. And what we found is that if your kid has an interest in cooking, which some kids do, I certainly do. We just did basically every meaningful academic skill in one exercise, right? And if your kid doesn't want to cook, does your kid want to write short stories? Does your kid want to build the world's greatest Minecraft village? Like what we start with their interest and then we can expand things out from there. You when kids share what they like with us, they are giving us a key to their door and saying use this key. Like although is I was never really interested in learning much about philosophy. It was never not too nebulous. For me it's just not how my brain works, right? But when I took that class in grad school and they connected philosophers to famous

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 19:59

psychologists. Now it's like, oh, so I can see how the Transcendentalism connected directly to Freud. Oh, that's really interesting. Because you put it through a lens I cared about right things, we care about our strengths. Caring is a strength. And in a world that increasingly feels like caring is not cool. And caring is dangerous. There's something very protective about being able to articulate your interests and passions, and use that to further your academic or professional career. So

Penny Williams 20:36

yeah, yeah. And I talked so often with parents that I coach about exploring that interest, they'll say my kid is only interested in this one thing, maybe gaming. That's, that's a big one that comes up a lot, right? Well, how can you nurture that interest? Because you don't want them to sit in front of the computer and game 24/7? That's the issue. So how do you engage them in that interest in other ways? Can they take a coding class? Can they take an electronics class? Could they do robotics club, what gets them excited because they're into gaming, that is a different activity, right? And things like gaming, there's a whole industry around gaming now. It could be their career, it could be the path that gets them going. And instead of sort of being so bristled and upset about their interest in gaming, how do we explore it with them in a way that broadens their interests, their activity level, all these things that we worry about with them sitting behind a screen, there's plenty of ways to expand on that, in ways that maybe parents find more appealing.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 21:53

And I think about specifically like to stay in the videos or eSports, right? I mean, to put people in a room that have these high level skills and these shared interests, watching them bounce off each other, is really fascinating. Yeah. And I mean, listen, I'm a terrible gamer. I'm like, I would not have any space in any of those circles. But when I give these sort of talks to parents, this is usually when I isolate the dads, and I'm like, Alright, where my dad's at, right? Because I'm a dad, and, like, alright, so What sports did you play in high school? And they inevitably, like football, wrestling? Baseball, like okay, yes, like very good sports. And I'm like, So what good things did you get from sports and teamwork, resiliency, hard work. Because, right, there's a sports are wonderful. They're great for a lot of people. But if you ask a kid who wants to play chess, to join the rugby team, that kid is not going to engage. That kid is not in an environment where they feel safe, right? And so they're not going to get the best benefits out of it. And I tell parents, like, listen, there are cool people in every organization, from Glee Club, to chess club, to extreme sports club to whatever comes in between. But if you lead with strengths and interests, your kids are going to find their people, they're going to build the skills that we want them to learn resiliency, hard work teamwork overcoming adversity communication, I happen to get a lot of that stuff through musical theater in high school. Yeah, well, I also played soccer and got a lot of good stuff from that it doesn't have to be all or none. But the idea is that the world is vastly different than when we were kids. Right? And we need to increasingly put our kids in a position to tell us what it's like on the ground out there. So they can then give, bring that information back to us. So we can point them in directions that unnecessary, right? So if your kid says like, softball isn't for me anymore. I know, I played for years. But all of my friends are doing this cool Brazilian jujitsu class. And I would like to get in on that. There's a part of your parent brain that's like, does not compute.

Penny Williams 24:12

Quitting. Right. But if you're just telling you, then there's probably a reason to follow up on that. Yeah, I think that so often, we don't let our kids guide. We don't let them lead. But they're telling us what they're interested in. They're telling us what they will engage with. You know, they're giving us all these signals and clues. And sometimes there's coming out and saying it. And we don't know, it feels like sometimes we as parents, try to find why that would be a bad thing first, like, right, like we're trying to prevent the problems that might come up. And so we're gonna run down this whole list of how this can be bad. And why we should say No, our first inclination is often just to say no, I don't know where that comes from.

Penny Williams 24:59

Um, but we have to do the hard work to shift that for sure. And I hear a lot like, I don't want my kid to be a quitter. I don't want to teach them that they can just stop doing something. And I with neurodivergent kids, I think we have to hear them out. Yeah, are they just quitting because they want to be lazy, which is hardly ever the case. Right? If they, you know, there are reasons where Yeah, that might be a problem. But usually, it's an indication there's not a good fit, right. And it's the same thing that we talked about with school, we're trying to fit our neurodivergent kids in a neurotypical box in our educational system. And that doesn't work. And I think all of us parents have neurodivergent kids know that that doesn't work. So let's extrapolate that and use it for other parts of life, right? Let's say okay, well, in sports, maybe we're trying to fit our kid in a box that doesn't fit for them. They're not okay with it. They're not getting any pleasure or joy or, you know, fulfillment out of it. It's okay to pivot. We don't have to call it quitting. We're recognizing that it's not a good fit, and we're gonna move on to something else. Right. And like, for my son, I was always like, okay, you know, baseball tee ball is not working for you. Clearly, it was the kid who turned around in the outfield during the game, and peed.

Penny Williams 26:20

So clearly, he was not a good fit for that. But his sister played softball forever and loved it, right. But we said, Okay, well, if that's not working, what do you want to try next? Yeah, not, we're just not going to do anything. Now. Forget it. What do you want to try next? We just had to learn to like, be in constant pivot mode almost right, until something really fit? Well,

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 26:47

you know, and I think that that ability to pivot, you know, the ability to be flexible is so important. You know, I mean, things shift quickly, you know, and, and the idea here is that there are ways to build resiliency through going through challenging things, right. And that is very much a true thing. You know, I always tell my kids like, Listen, don't quit on a bad day. Quit on a good day. If you have a good day, and you still want to quit then quit, right? You have my blessing, right? Because I was miserable baseball player, I was terrible at it. And I would strike out four times, and I would be sobbing and my dad would be like, do you want to quit? Like, yes, he's like, well then quit on a good day.

Penny Williams 27:27

I love that.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 27:28

And it came to this point. After a while I came back to me said, Dad, I haven't had a good day in three months, and he goes, then it's time to quit. Right? That's okay. Yeah. Right. But it was, you know, staying involved in it. And parents will say like, wow, they see they building grit. They're building resilience. Sure, but with a hefty side dish of trauma. Yeah. Like, it's easier. And the research on this is abundantly clear. The best way to build resilience is to have the right level of challenge. When things are easy, we disengage when things are too hard, we shut down. So if your kid doesn't want to do T ball anymore, okay, what do they want to do? They say, I want to play Quidditch, I'll find you a Quidditch League, and you're gonna play Quidditch, because you're engaged in that you're going to push yourself to a level where there's a meaningful challenge. And that's the space where you build the most resilience. Yeah, you know, it's not about, you know, I see this all the time. And when the the kids I work with try activities, they'll sort of like, well, you know, I'll do the easiest version of it. I'm like, well find where you want to go. And let's start there. You know, because I'm not going to spend the time teaching you all the rules and positions of Quidditch, if you've read all the Harry Potter books, so many times their thumbnail to oblivion. But if you want to play, I'm going to teach you how to be a keeper in real life credits, right? That's a reasonable place to start. That's where we're going to build the resilience, because they've given us that connection of what I actually want to do versus what that looks like in the real world.

Penny Williams 29:03

Yeah, the zone of proximal development, right is the technical term for that. Yep. And we talk about it a lot. Because I always say, you know, you don't want to push so far that you break them. The trauma, I'm so glad you brought that word in, because that's what we're talking about. You know, we don't want to traumatize our kids by pushing too hard. But I never actually thought about taking that idea of the zone of proximal development and pairing it with something that they're super interested in. And that really pushing, you know, learning the skill of resilience. I love that. That's amazing. It's such a good idea and another action item that parents can take away right now. You know, think about what activities your child really enjoys, and how can you build some just right challenge within that. So many good things we have spoken about, like so many great things. I'm actually going to create a little worksheet and put it up for everyone in the show notes. For Yeah, you know, here's what I'm good at.

Penny Williams 29:59

Here's what I'm okay at. And here's what I need help with. I think this is going to be such an impactful exercise for the parents and educators who are listening. So I'll put that in the show notes, as well as any other resources that we've talked about, and Dr. Matt's website, and social media, all of that is linked in the show notes. And that's up parentingADHDandautism.com/ 216 for episode 216. And thank you so much. I'm so glad that we've connected and that you were able to share some really wonderful wisdom with the listeners out there.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 30:36

The pleasure was all mine. And, you know, I mean, I love that we made some pretty complex stuff tangible. Yeah, I think that's a really wonderful thing. Because yes, this stuff is so hard, and where do you even start and like, well, now you guys are gonna have a worksheet. And, you know, that's pretty awesome.

Penny Williams 30:52

Yep. Yep. I have learned, like, Give me something tangible to use to do the thing that you have asked me to do. It makes it easier to get started, right. Some parents, you know, this is Oh, this is a big project or a task, it makes it easier to just say, okay, I can get started with this. I can do a little bit of this, I have this piece of paper, that's gonna remind me what to do, right? So I'm all about the principles and the worksheets, and the reminder sheets and all those things now because I just find it really helpful for so many, so I will definitely link that up in the show notes too. And I guess with that, we'll end the session and I'll see everybody on the next one.

Matthew Zakreski, Psy.D. 31:30

Thank you.

Penny Williams 31:30

Take good care.

Penny Williams 31:33

Thanks for joining me on the beautifully complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parenting ADHD and autism.com and the behavior revolution.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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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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