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Faster Than Normal - The ADHD Podcast

Having ADD or ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Hear from people all around the globe, from every walk of life, in every profession, from Rock Stars to CEOs, from Teachers to Politicians, who have learned how to unlock the gifts of their ADD and ADHD diagnosis, and use it to their personal and professional advantage, to build businesses, become millionaires, or simply better their lives.
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Now displaying: February, 2021
Feb 24, 2021

Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson is cross-appointed to the Faculties of Social Work, Medicine and Nursing at the University of Toronto. She is also Director of the Institute for Life Course & Aging.  She has published more than 150 articles in peer-reviewed journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, and Cancer. Her research examines ADHD and mental health, the association between early adversities and adult physical and health outcomes, and disparities in health. Her work has widely cited in the media including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and CNN. We’re talking about why the number of Women with ADHD are underreported, about the dark side of ADHD, depression, how to lookout for warning signs in your child, and strategies for making a positive difference. Enjoy-

 

***CORONA VIRUS EDITION***

 

In this episode Peter & Dr. Fullerton-Thompson discuss:

1:12-  Intro and welcome Esme!! 

1:53-  Is it true that there is a big difference between males with ADHD and females with ADHD?  Ref: (requires log-in) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cch.12380

3:07:  Ref: More Play, Less Problems?? Episode with Dr. Debbie Rhea. LINK Project

3:10-  How ADHD is looked at differently between males vs females and how they act and react with it?

5:38-  Without strategies to manage your ADHD things can go terribly wrong; women with ADHD have substantially higher odds for things to go wrong than men. How do we address this from early-on in a child’s life?

9:00-  On the need of structure and how it’s a key component of managing your ADHD

10:15-  Ref article: The Dark Side of ADHD: Factors Associated With Suicide Attempts Among Those With ADHD in a National Representative Canadian Sample

11:45-  As numbers of suicide are higher than before, what can parents, teachers, doctors do to be aware/on the lookout for signs, and how to move forward once diagnosed?

13:14-  On addiction and depression.  15:18- Ref: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  Impulse Control

16:35-  Dr. Thompson, how can people find more of your studies of your research? Just type in Fuller-Thompson + ADHD, HERE on Google Scholar, or via https://socialwork.utoronto.ca/profiles/esme-fuller-thomson/

17:40-  Thank you Dr. Fullerton-Thompson! And thank YOU for subscribing, reviewing and listening. Your reviews are working! Even if you’ve reviewed us before, would you please write even a short one for this episode? Each review that you post helps to ensure that word will continue to spread, and that we will all be able to reach & help more people! You can always reach me via peter@shankman.com or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials.

18:02-  Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits!

As always, leave us a comment below and please drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! Do you know of anyone you think should be on the FTN podcast? Shoot us a note, we’d love to hear!

 

TRANSCRIPT: 

Hey everyone, happy day, Peter Shankman here, welcome to another episode of Faster Than Normal, I'm thrilled that you're here, as I always am.  We are going to touch on a subject today, we're going to talk about ADHD, um, it's not as happy-go-lucky as my normal episodes, but that's okay because sometimes they can't all be happy-go-lucky., and sometimes you’ve got to talk about stuff that is, um, a little disturbing to sort of get along and to make sure that people understand all aspects of ADHD, I highlight the good points all the time.  But you know, it's, there are times where they're not so good, and I think we all know that, and so I am thrilled today to be talking to Professor Esme Fuller Thompson.  Um, she's cross-appointed to the faculties of social work medicine and nursing at the University of Toronto, and she's also Director of the Institute for Life Course & Aging. She's published more than 150 articles in peer reviewed journals, including New England Journal of Medicine, at The Lancet and Cancer, her research…. examines ADHD and mental health, the association between early adversities and adult physical and health outcomes and disparities in health.  She's been quoted in New York Times, Wall Street Journal,  Time Magazine, CNN… whole bunch of others. And I'm, I'm, I'm really, I'm honored that you took the time to come in today professor. Thank you so much. 

Thank you so much for having me, I'm delighted to be here. 

So what I found... you, because there was an interesting article, um, that came to my attention and I think,, there were a couple of them.  One of them was in child health care, uh, development, and that was attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, casts a long shadow findings from a population based study of adult women with self-reported ADHD. We don't talk about gender breakdowns that much, um, I, I think no one does really…. does, um, in the ADHD/ADD world, but there is a big difference between, uh, males with ADHD and females with ADHD.

Well, I think women with ADHD tend to be under the radar screen. Most teachers and health professionals are not really thinking about women and ADHD, and you may present a little bit different, uh, in a different way, so the majority of people with an ADHD diagnosis are males, and for sure it is higher in the... among men, but I think because women often present more, um, distractible rather than the hyperactive, they're… they really don't get noticed enough, and our research is indicating that the women with the diagnosis of ADHD are quite vulnerable with respect to a variety of mental health concerns. 

Yeah, I, and I believe that, you know, we had a professor [Episode with Dr. Debbie Rhea] from the  University of Texas on the podcast who, uh, spent a semester in a junior high school, um, giving I think elementary school or a junior high school, can’t remember which one,  giving, um, they changed the, the workout schedule, the recess schedule from 20 minutes a day to 60 minutes a day. And they changed the lunch, the lunch, uh, options from, uh, primarily carb-based to primarily protein based, and they saw a drastic, not only decrease in ADHD outbursts from boys, but addressing increase in, um, girls who were willing to participate in class.  And that, that struck me, that's always stuck with me, you know, we don't, we don't look at ADHD as the same thing. And, and there are a lot of differences between... between male and female, boys and girls and how they, and how they act and react with it. 

Absolutely. So, I mean, there's two things. One possibility is that women with ADHD are doing more or doing less well, which is what our data seems to indicate, but it could also be that if anybody, there's a whole spectrum to ADHD, like there's a spectrum to everything… and it might be that the, only the women who are at the far, far upper end of the spectrum with the most symptoms, are the people that are being actually diagnosed. So these negative outcomes may be more true for men who are at the upper end, but it's just that men along the whole spectrum may have been diagnosed.  Um, the other piece of what you raised that… isn't particularly, um, from my data, but other research exercise,  is so key exercise structure, organization, it just makes life more livable for sure, for people who have, um, impulse control issues and, and, and disorganization, personal coaches, there's all kinds of positive things that can really make a difference because I think these mental health outcomes that we're looking at, are partly because there's a cascade of negative, um, outcomes, relationships, uh, income, uh, that all of these things, if you can't get yourself completely organized. So, um, being physically active, having lots of structure, having some, maybe some personal coaching, there's all kinds of strategies to minimize the negative, um, outcomes related to ADHD and also to be able to maximize the positives, which I know is your major emphasis on this podcast. 

Right. And it really is a question of getting those strategies in place. I mean, you know, there was, there was a study that showed that, um, a much, much higher number, and I wrote about it in, this, in the book a much, much higher number of incarcerated males have ADHD that are just not diagnosed.  And, you know, if you look at that from the, the bigger, the 50,000 foot perspective sure. You know, they do something wrong, they get in trouble, you know,  they, they, they forget about their court date. Well, now there's a warrant out for their arrest, they get arrested, they can't afford a lawyer, you know, and it just, it just goes on and on.  And so.. so looking at the concept of ADHD, um, you know, from things that we don't often notice, right, and, and ADD and ADHD do things we don't often notice is, is huge. And you know, this, the kind of research you're doing is, is, is so needed. Um, I want to read something that, that, uh, from the results on your, on your, uh, study about, uh, adult women, self reported ADHD, women with ADHD had tripled the prevalence of insomnia, chronic pain, suicidal ideation, childhood sexual abuse, and generalized anxiety disorder and double the prevalence of substance abuse, current smoking depressive disorders, severe poverty and childhood physical abuse in comparison with women without ADHD, even after adjustments for age, race, education, and income, women with ADHD had substantially higher odds of a wide range of problems. What does that tell you, uh, that we need to do? How do we start addressing this um, from the perspective of, of at a, at a younger age, teachers and, you know, moving forward. 

Well, I mean, our finding is that there was a very high link between childhood sexual abuse, childhood physical abuse,  and ADHD, both in men and women.  It's just that women were much even more vulnerable than the men. Um, certainly says at a minimum, we need to be protecting these children. So it, that ...that abuse may not have happened inside the household, but children, who are…  have impulse control issues, tend to be a little more vulnerable in the community as well.  They may not be quite as thoughtful about, um, you know, where they're at, what time they're out, those types of things. So there's a lot of concerns even right at step one about keeping children safe with respect to, um, almost all of these outcomes, if the young adult has made it through university or college, they're much less likely to be suicidal, to be depressed, to have anxiety disorders.  So anything we can do to provide an infrastructure, to keep children in school and, and, and, or, you know, in the trades or something, but getting something, um, post high school that gets them a good job because not my research, but others have indicated that the serious debt is associated with suicidality and those with ADHD as well.  So how do we, help people manage their funds, learn... learn basic financial management and organizational skills around that.  So basically from child on up, keeping them in school, having them actually get lots of exercise, um, to kind of keep them saying, providing as much structure as possible, personal coaching, uh, there's all kinds of ways to make life more livable and therefore allow people's strengths to come through.

That's a phenomenal point. I find a lot, almost always, it has to come back and focus on structure... it’s so much, I mean, this is the one thing I realized more and more, the more research I do on this. And again, you know, I'm not a doctor, you are, but the more research I've done on this and the more,...and the more I read and read studies like yours, you know, structure is just such a key component.  And, and I remember when I got diagnosed, I spent the next several years trying to figure out exactly what it meant, you know, I can put most of the times where I went to a bad place or a dark place or, or, or a period of time where it was, where I look at it upon that now as negative, all, a lot of which had to do with, I didn't have any structure.  I didn't have, um, you know, I wasn't focusing my days, it wasn't scheduled. It wasn't organized, it was, it was just, you know, things happen. And, and I guess there's something that, you know,  better scientific way to put this, but when you're ADHD, you know, it tends to be, uh, you tend to find things to do that most of the time or a good portion of the time aren't necessarily beneficial right, and, you know, it's, it's the joke I always make about, I won't do this and it's true. I won't do a speech in Vegas where I have to stay overnight, uh, because I don't, I don't want to be, um, I don't want to be unstructured for 12 hours in Las Vegas. Nothing good is going to come of that, and let’s move a little...  you recently published a study that came out in... I believe the end of December., uh, yeah, December 21st, 2020, um, the dark side of ADHD factors associated with suicide attempts among those with ADHD and a national representative Canadian sample and the results... ADHD, adults with ADHD were much, much more likely to have attempted suicide than those without. 14% versus 2.7%  That's a huge number….. That's a huge,

 

 It’s unbelievably distressing information. And when we divided it by gender again, what you started with as well, we need to think about women in particular, the women, 24%, one, almost one in four women with ADHD had attempted suicide. Now our previous research has shown almost 50% had thought about it, but luckily likely most people would think about it and never attempt.  So, this is a really very vulnerable population., among men, it was about 9% who had attempted, so we're very concerned. Um, you know, that's that, that's why we called it the dark side, but, um, I I, before we go on, I just want to say... flip that, remember that the vast majority of men, like 90% of that, of the men with ADHD never attempted suicide and 3/4 of women have never attempted, so it's not inevitable at all. I'm just coming at it as a social worker saying, what kind of interventions can we do to make these numbers go down dramatically? 

I mean, I mean, it is, you know, granted 75%, you know, of the, of the, of the population is not {indistinguishable}  There's just not looking at suicide, but it's, it's still, you know, a much higher number than, than those without ADHD, and I wonder as we move, you know, as you look backwards on that, is, is there, I mean, I know that that when I was a kid, I say this all the time, I wasn't diagnosed because it didn't exist, right?  I was diagnosed with sit down/you're disrupting the class disease and, um, you know, I remember some really difficult times for me in high school and I, it, it, never came to it... came close to it, but it never came to that.  And I wonder, are there, what can, what can parents, teachers, doctors do to be better on the lookout for this? And, and I mean, even to be aware of this, right? So say, oh your child might have ADHD. That should start a, a, a, a chain that says, let's look at these things. 

So, um, I think with both women and men, but perhaps even more with young girls, um, part of the problem with ADHD as it can make social relations difficult, right?  It's harder to fit in. There's more likely to be social rejection, and that is very tough, but particularly in your younger years, as people are trying to make their way in life., so the social rejections, so, um, you know, ADHD medication can help calm the symptoms down, but you, but there has to be a lot of guidance and training around social skills, opportunities to socialize and healthy socialization starting at a young age can make a difference.  Um, the other two factors that we found were pretty important, uh, with respect to risk for having had an a, um, an attempted suicide were addictions and depression. So as a parent, uh, uh, you know, as a parent of somebody with ADHD really cau… um, thoughtful and cautious approaches to minimize, um, substance abuse is really key because once people are involved in substance dependence or substance abuse, there is a cascade of negative, negative outcomes of social academic career, life, everything.  So, and then from that, uh, comes depression and suicide, so I think addictions, uh, or avoiding addictions, um, avoiding substance dependence is really key and parents doing whatever they can on that front to help, and as an adult, um, you know, not some people can drink or use substances in moderation and some people can't, and I'm guessing most people with ADHD are on the all or nothing kind of level about it.  

No question about it.

 

And the other piece is depression. So the rates of depression were very, very high  um, among women, um, just looking at my numbers, but I, you know, it was well over a third, had... almost 40%...  had major depressive disorder and lots of anxiety. So they're really good interventions for everybody, not just those with ADHD. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a calming talk therapy, but it's really designed to help you catch those dysfunctional thoughts.  You know, if you're, if you're giving yourself subliminal messages that I'm useless, I can't do this sort of really negative messages. Nothing that, uh, is going to change that until you start catching those thoughts and reprogramming your brain basically. So it's a very simple, straight forward, uh, intervention.  It can be given in a group setting and it is very effective basically, um, in the general population for every three or four people who take it., and it's eight to 12 weeks, not a big thing. One person moves from depression to, uh, to recovers from depression that wouldn't have otherwise. It is a solid investment of your time and energy.  So cognitive behavioral therapy is one particular type in general that short, and can work with depression and anxiety.  So obviously depression and anxiety are key risk factors for suicidality. The other piece, of course, is impulse control. So if you have a negative thought, which we all do or, uh, would in many people be a fleeting thought, uh, I just want to end it all kind of thing, you know, somebody with ADHD, they may not be able to put that aside, go on and see something better the next day, that.,,,,,,, that's where the impulse control issues come into play. 

No question about it. Um, I want to be, be mindful of your time. Um, doctor, how can people find more of your studies of your research? If, if they, if they're curious, I'm sure they're gonna want to read more. 

So I typically, uh, release sort of media releases on the information. So you can kind of get it all in one page, which works well for most people, including those with ADHD…  So if you just type in Fuller Thompson and ADHD, probably it'll all pop up. Um, we've covered a lot of the research I've done in this discussion with respect to early adversities, with respect to women in particular and suicide, and I have several more papers underway looking at anxiety disorders and also looking at resilience. So it turns out a lot of people with ADHD aren't just free of mental illness, they're actually happy and satisfied with their life. We're trying to figure out the flip of this who's doing well and why, and how can we help more people get there 

What a phenomenal way to end the conversation, because there's no question that we're going to have you back on to discuss that once that research is done.  So Dr. Fuller Thompson, thank you so much for taking the time today, I really appreciate it. 

My pleasure, thank you for having me. 

Guys, you’re listening to Faster Than Normal love that you're here. Tune in next week for a brand new episode. If you like what you heard, feel free to leave us a review on iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify, wherever you listen to your, your podcasts. We will see you next week with a brand new episode on ADHD and neuro-diversity as a whole.  Stay safe.

Credits: You've been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We're available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I'm your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you've heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were performed by Steven Byrom and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you next week. 

Feb 17, 2021

Shawn was diagnosed with Asperger's at 42 years old.  After he got that diagnosis, he realized what was up with him, and that allowed him to achieve success in his professional life above and beyond anything he could have imagined. After completely rebuilding several hospital systems as CIO, he became an entrepreneur focusing on entrepreneurial healthcare, technology, around analytics, revenue cycle and clinical informatics. He left corporate America behind hiring nearly 150 employees to create his own neurodiverse workplace culture. He’s been granted multiple patents, created dozens of healthcare analytics platforms, is a well respected speaker and author. In 2019 he sold his company to private equity and is spending the rest of his life, embracing neurodiversity, and the powers in the logic of leadership, personal security, and self-esteem in one's uniqueness. I love that. He's currently CIO of Potentia and CSO/Founder of the Neurodiversity Foundation and that’s what we’re talking about today! Enjoy!

 

A little more about Shawn:  

Shawn Fry became a successful executive and entrepreneur after being diagnosed with Asperger's at age 42. He found success in his professional career only after he was afforded the opportunity as the CIO of several hospital systems to exercise a great deal of autonomy

 in his role.  Shawn's propensity for detail, hard questions, and divergent solutions produced millions in both new revenue opportunities and cost savings for his employer. His innovative approach to the complexity of healthcare data laid the foundation for his entrepreneurial healthcare technology firms centered around analytics, revenue cycle, and clinical informatics. Through these ventures, he left corporate America behind, hired nearly 150 employees, and created his own "neurodiverse workplace culture. Shawn found that by cultivating

 an environment-dependent upon open, honest dialogue, clear communication, and vulnerability, the workplace culture was more supportive and accommodating to everyone's needs. People were happier, more productive, and turnover rates were 0% after nearly 15 years.

 Shawn is a holder of multiple technology patents, which he utilized to create dozens of healthcare analytics platforms. He remains a well-respected speaker and author on critical healthcare issues. Shawn sold his company to private equity in 2019 and has dedicated the rest of his life to embracing neurodiversity and the powers it unlocks through thought leadership, personal security, and self-esteem in one's uniqueness. As CIO of Potentia and The Neurodiversity Foundation founder, Shawn continues to build pathways for others on the spectrum to recognize their ability. He is a firm believer in "Strengths First."  During COVID-19, Shawn created the Potentia Health Registry (PHR), an information management and communications tool used to mitigate risk and provide early detection of COVID-19. He is now bringing this highly customizable solution to school systems and communities looking to reopen successfully. 

***CORONA VIRUS EDITION***

 

In this episode Peter & Shawn discuss:

 :40-  Intro and welcome Shawn Fry 

2:26-  So what were you doing up until your diagnosis at 42, and were you happy?

5:13-  On the others’ perception of Neurodiversity 

6:36-  Failure by assimilation. Neurodiverse “common sense” versus “we’ve never done anything that way before, are you crazy?” The highway is littered with great ideas that have been run over because managers didn’t bother to act on them for fear of what other people would think.

9:07-  On educating others on how neurodiverse brains work, leveraging strengths and breaking down stereotypes.

11:11-  The need to create an audience/creating the space & grace to allow us to DO what we do.

12:45-  Regardless of market research money is going to move the needle; if you understand how to work that system, everyone benefits.

13:30-  On using “reduction” to help neurotypical people comprehend. Ref: Cataloging research at The Neurodiverse Foundation

14:30-  On growing up neuroatypical 

15:11-  On out-gauging IQ tests / the “show your work” mentality of testing

16:27-  You have answers that people probably need to know about! But here’s the thing..

17:00- On Data Science

18:35- Tell us how people can find you?  Via LinkedIn email: Shawn.fry@potentialworkforce.com  www.NeurodiversityFoundation.org potentiaworkforce.org  and @shawncfry on Twitter  INSTA

21:30-  We’ve gotta have you back. This has been phenomenal. It's so nice to hear what you're doing and I love the fact that you're doing it for all the right reasons.  You guys are listening to Shawn Fry, thanks again, we're going to have you back in the new year. I appreciate you taking the time. 

21:44-  Alright guys, Faster Than Normal...as always, we want to hear what you hear. Leave us a review, let us know what's up. Talk to us about what's happening on the street, you name it.   You can always reach me via peter@shankman.com or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials. Drop us a review at any of the sites that you listen to podcasts on and let us know if you have any good guests.  Shawn is phenomenal one, if you have any as good as Shawn, we'd love to hear about them. Have a great week. ADHD and all forms of our diversity is a gift, not a curse.  We will see you next week. Stay healthy, stay safe, wear the mask, talk to you soon.

22:08-  Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits!

As always, leave us a comment below and please drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! Do you know of anyone you think should be on the FTN podcast? Shoot us a note, we’d love to hear!

 

TRANSCRIPT: 

Hey guys, Peter Shankman, this is Faster Than Normal, where ADHD is a gift and not a curse, and we love that you're here. It's been a week since our last podcast.  So it's always nice to see you guys back. We're recording a whole bunch of them the last week of the year, and so,  this is another one. It has been non-stop all day, we've been talking to so many brilliant people and our guest today is no exception. We're talking to Shawn Fry, we're going to entrepreneurship today.  So Shawn was diagnosed with Asperger's at 42 years old.  After he realized that, after he got that diagnosis, he realized what was up with him, and that allowed him to achieve success in his professional life above and beyond anything he could have imagined. The CIO of several hospitals systems... completely rebuilt them, redid them, then he became an entrepreneur, focusing on entrepreneurial healthcare, technology, around analytics, revenue cycle, clinical informatics. He left corporate America behind, hired nearly 150 employees, created his own neuro diverse workplace culture. He got multiple patents under your belt, you've created dozens of healthcare, analytic platforms.  You're a well respected speaker and author on tons of different healthcare issues. You sold your company in 2019 to private equity. Spending the rest of his life, embracing neurodiversity, and the powers in the logics of leadership, personal security, and self-esteem in one's uniqueness. I love that. He's currently CEO of Potentia and the Neurodiversity Foundation.  Let's talk about that, Shawn, welcome to Faster Than Normal man.

Thanks Peter, thanks for having me.

And now it's great to have you. So what were you doing up until 42. And were you happy?

That was a mixed bag, I wasn’t you know, I grew up...I grew up in Philly, you know, and there was no diagnosis back then, right, I was just a kid….very disruptive, uh, didn’t know how to socially integrate, uh, you know, I either had hyper-focus, or no interest whatsoever. I was voted the laziest person in my high school, which is so comical now to look back at it, you know, people have a tendency to cast dispersions on us when they don't understand, and, uh, what's interesting about my diagnosis with Asperger's,I was a CIO of a hospital system. I was meeting the Chief Medical Officer, he was a close personal friend who knew me. We worked together pretty regularly, even though I'm not really good with people, I'm really good with data so I was able to, there's a long story behind the pathway, of how I got there, uh, another person with Asperger's interceded and got me into the hospital where I could, where I could work and shine and show the skills that we have. Uh, but I, I asked him, I said, Hey, John, can I, should I take some medicine for my ADHD? And he goes, he looks at me.. we were sitting over,  lunch together, and goes, “you don't have ADHD.”  I was like, what do you mean? I said, I'm so hyper, I never slow down. He goes, Nope, you're an Aspbe.  I was like, what's that? He goes, you have Asperger's syndrome. I'm like, what's that? I was like, you know any, he said, Sean, you have autism. I'd never heard it before. And I was 42 years old, gone through the school system, gone through college with, and really struggled in life.  He didn't really know that because he only ever saw me more professionally where I could mask, like I think we all do, you know, we're always told to sit down, hold our hands together. not move around too much

Of course, we’re wearing different masks for different locations. 

Different masks for different locations, right. So I went home and I looked it up. I looked it up on Wikipedia and I tell you what, if you die, if you type into Google right now, what is autism? You will not find one positive thing. 

Right? 

I was pissed. sorry if that’s… you know. I was upset. I was mad at him. I didn't talk to him for two weeks until I started reading more about it. I, I, what my threshold to accept this about myself was, and then it just all started making sense.

Right? 

I was like, I refuse to let the standard definition, the clinical definition, the DSM definition of either ADHD or autism define me. I knew I was a good person. I had something to contribute. I had some success at that point, but I was so afraid to put myself out there, because I knew that if people saw me for what I really was, they would diminish you.  And now it was really the changing point in my life. 

Well, the second you... the second you, when you, I mean, of course, if all you're reading about is how it's a negative, right. of course, the second that, you know, you publicize it, (indistinguishable) The whole world will think that you're a negative because that's what you’re seeing.  

Right?  There's something wrong with me. I have, I have a learning disability, which is, which is, if you look at my history, it's the opposite. I think all of you, if you find one of our hyper fixations, or when (indistinguishable) u know, these are, we are the ones that change the world. I mean, I did it. I started working on problems, my patents were on mathematical formulas and telecommunications. Nobody paid me to do that, nope. I just decided, you know what, this is a problem we're solving. 

Right. 

And I started working on these uh, calculations and because of my, you know, my neurodiversity, I locked myself in a room for nine months and I would only leave on Wednesdays.  Nine months later, I walked out of there. Uh, had solved some of these groundbreaking telecommunications issues, then submitted those for patents. When they got to the patent office, nobody in the patent office knew how to do the math, because nobody's ever worked on the math this way before. and I was just starting to realize, well, because to me it was common sense, right?  How do we structure things? But I didn't do it because somebody paid me. I did it because it was a problem to solve, and... that's what we do. 

I think you struck on something there I'd like to touch on. You know, the premise of, to me, it was common sense, right? You know, I have everything I've ever done in my life, to me, it was common sense, right? But…. but I can't tell you how many times I've suggested something that sounds perfectly normal, and everyone's looked at me like I told them I was a spotted owl, right?  You know, it's that… well, it makes perfect sense, why wouldn't we do it this way? And you know, you get everything from, well, we never do it this way, that's never the way we've done it, we've never done it that way. You know, what's wrong with you? What do they think of us, whatever. But in our heads we're sitting there going, but it works 

Right, you are correct. 

And I think that that's, that's difficult because that's sort of, sort of like it's failure by assimilation, right.  And the respect that if you're sitting there and you're saying, okay, I know this works, but everyone's going to call me an idiot. I don't want to have to deal with that. I'm just not going to bring it up. The highway is littered with, with, great ideas that have been run over because people didn't bother to act on them because they were afraid of what people would say.

Uh-huh That was it, exactly, and again, one of the advantages I have of not being, and I want to talk about how neuro people.. who are neuro-diverse are treated now and to no longer take that stigma. One of the advantages I had of growing up in Philly is you kind of get that little edge to you, right? The people in Philly are tough, the people in New York are tough.  You kind of, you kind of let this stuff bounce off of you, so empowered with that and realizing that I was, you know, these ideas work. After I was diagnosed and realized that I think differently, and recognizing that had value, I started speaking up in meetings. I was afraid to do that before, because you know, first of all, a lot of people thought I was weird.  I don't go to lunches. I don't go to happy hours. I don't do things other people  like to do, but I'm super interested in my work. So I started speaking up about some of the issues both the administration was making in the hospital, and particularly…. what just drove people crazy, I started challenging the doctors… on their,  on the ways they were diagnosing patients, the way the care, the care plans, saying, listen either, there's one of three things, happened here with this patient. You either misdiagnosed them cause they weren't getting better, you provided the medication that can't metabolize, or they're not taking the medication.  Who’s going to follow up with this patient and figure out why this patient’s still sick?  Doctors don't have time for that. As I started analyzing the data, I realized this is a prolific issue. These are things that are still issues in healthcare today, and if you've ever gone to the doctor and he's put you on medication, you're still six, six months later, or things get better.  A lot of times people were put on medications that don't really work. They just get better naturally, these are, these are prolific issues that there's not a field of science  because it is a neuro divergent thought process, that neuro typically, simply don't synthesize. These are the kinds of ways that people like you and I, as you just like you, you're challenging the way people are thinking about, So many, so many issues, and there has to be a form to bring that to the market. And you're doing that and we need to create a louder voice. Our voices, our brains are not compromised. They do, they just run faster and they take more variables into consideration. It's the calculus that we're doing. Everything I do in my world. Everything is a math equation from the total number of times I brush my teeth, and in the weird pattern, which I do it, to how I organize my cereal and my closet, to how I organize my day. We're not just random people, but other people looking at us think we look crazy, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's actually, I, I, I, I'm a strengths first, everything from my foundation to the workforce, we're creating now is about listening. How do we leverage these strengths to people about their deficits? I talk about their strengths. And as they start to believe that, psychologically you start to see effective change.  

I think there's also a, um, a premise in there…. that… I remember everything I've ever started, every company I’ve ever built, and you know, people that, Oh my God, it just seems like I didn't even hear about it yesterday and now it's all over the place…. you might, you know, you got so lucky. Well, yeah, it was also 20 years of acting the way I act and doing the things I do and dealing with it on the says, you're ridiculous for doing this, that brought me to this very moment. Right? And so the things that we do, you know, you wake up, every step you take, every cereal you eat... all that stuff, that's who we are. And the benefit is there. But again, a lot of us are, are, are bogged down by the look of it. Oh, what are people going to think, right. But the fact of matter is, not that we're changing anything, it simply works and we embrace it. (indistinguishable)

One thing I think you're exactly right, but here's the thing. We have to figure out a way to create an audience for it.  have two children on the spectrum, so at least when they grew up, I had an idea of what kind of, what was going on and that began to manifest itself. So you start to develop and create a more creating space and grace for these people who have it, to see how they flourish.  Uh, the greatest experiment that I had, that I'd never realized it was the thing after I left, after I started speaking up in the hospital, I started realizing these, these data problems that were demonstrating how hospitals didn't click the document effectively didn't do follow up correctly. Sometimes they had poor treatment plans, everything that carried over into the revenue cycle, which is where I really made money.  When I started showing them, nobody listened to me until I showed them that these core client poor care plans cost us money. And I took the data and I showed them exactly how much money. And then all of a sudden people started to listen. It's sad that it got down to that, that being right and being truthful was not actually got me, uh, you know, constigated, a lot of pejoratives, but but showing him where the money was is what eventually, while people to listen.

Well, actually it makes a lot of sense because, I mean, I remember even when I was working in the .com boom, right, and then the social media boom, right? We, you know, these, these, these CEOs, they hire these 20 something year old kids to handle their social media, and they convince by how many likes you have, and how many followers have you got?  Okay, great, how does it translate to revenue, and they can’t answer, right, and they’re out on their ass.  It doesn't matter what industry it is. Money's going to move the needle. And so the smart people are figuring out ways to connect the dots. I did some, some work in neuro diversity for a huge, um, uh, uh, uh, fast food restaurant. fast food chain And, you know, they realized that people were coming in and looking at the menu and leaving and they couldn't figure out why. And I spent several days with them going to multiple restaurants. Guys, you have 200 items on the menu. it's,, it's digital display and ads are overlaying it, and I wanted to blow my brains out 30 seconds here. Right? Let's go to this other place down the street. oh look, hamburger, cheeseburger, fries, shake done, you know, and all of a sudden there's a problem that makes sense. There's revenue, right? So the second you apply anything to money. and look, Is that right or wrong? I don't know. But at the end of the day, if you understand how to work that system, everyone benefits.

Right. So in that process and the gap between the time I was 42, I'm currently 56, I had to come up with mental processes, mathematical formulas. And one of those is called reduction. I had to take the thoughts that we think in naturally, and you and I have zero problems thinking up, I track everything you're saying, I track what you're thinking behind what you're saying, you know? So... but when we talk to a neurotypical, it's overwhelming.  They, they, they, they, they, it's just so fast and so furious that they can't follow. And a lot of times they don't want to follow it’s too overwhelming. So reduction means taking these complex thoughts and reducing them down to something…. somebody, something somebody can make a decision on. It's typically one, two or three points, that's it.  So reducing that menu down, is a perfect example of, uh, you know, allowing people to make a decision because you have to take, we have to think in the complex ways and everybody listening to this podcast does that, to translate back down to neurotypicals that you almost need a Rosetta Stone uh, breaking it back down to something they can assimilate and synthesize.

That's actually a phenomenal, a phenomenal way to put it, exactly.

Part of my work at the Neurodiversity Foundation, is cataloging how people think, Uh, I have been a guinea pig since the time I was a child, because as a child, even though I had a really high IQ, I really struggled in school, uh, and they, you know, what's wrong with your kid?  Why isn't he trying? And it got to ...so it  wasn't a problem. I was the first person in my grade...in my school to be able to read. And then, you know, when I was reading, you know, I was reading tech manuals, military tech manuals, and they're run, you know, I'm like, Hey, listen, let me know if you find something interesting.

I love it.

So, we want, there are people think differently and it's never been cataloged. These IQ tests they gave me, eventually, as they did, as they started giving me these tests, I started realizing as we got to the higher range of the score, I was, I was starting to realize in these patterns how they were trying to gauge my intellect.  And I was like, look, I can break it down for you that way, but I can break it down for you. these seven other ways are equally as valid, but you're trying to compartmentalize my thoughts and…

Exactly. I call that... I call that the show your work mentality. 

Oh my gosh.  it’s (indistinguishable) You know, I, I don't look at things like their grades or even their IQ. I mean, you have to look at the types of thought they're capable of. IQ tests are not even designed to measure divergent thought. They're designed to measure conversion/linear thought, like everybody else they're automatically prejudiced against us.  Even though we do exceptionally well, we still score higher, but it still doesn't capture our top end. Most of the great revolutions taken on were by neuro divergent individuals for,,, whether there's Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. These people of course are all they're all just like us. A perfect example was the, you know, the study on valedictorians,  Valedictorians are generalists. They know a little bit about everything and they know a lot about everything, but they don't really have a hyper fixation like we do. So if you're sitting out there and you're listening to this and you said, you know, whole lot about something, I don't care if it's logistics or supply chain or anything, you probably have answers that people need to know about., and that's why entrepreneurship is something that I try to lead people on because... we are the great entrepreneurs, but we need help if I didn't have, if I, you have to learn to surround yourself with people that can make a difference for you. And one thing that I didn't realize was I (indistinguishable) Uh, and we went on and we just, you know, I never took them.  I never borrowed $1. I took zero seed capital. I just started doing the math once the math was right. I knew I didn't need money. I just wanted to start doing the math for other people. I funded the entire company, which went on to be very successful, you know, making $20 million a year, things like that. Uh, literally on, on something I wrote up in a notebook one day and just started applying it into our data  When I presented it to the CEO, he literally cussed at me and threw me out of his office and told me I was crazy, and don't meddle in that department. The chairs that originally hired me overrode it and said, Sean, go do it anyway. I'll deal with you. You can't be fired. I'll go deal with it. After, when they originally filed those claims, we collected $126,000 when they filed my restructured claims, based on the math, we collected that we kept the $126,000. and got $500,000 additional revenue, and I never worked in that department, but the math led me to the truth. Right... data, data changes everything. but there are people out there, they have these degrees in data science, and then you get these certificates and things. There was no data science when we started doing it, why would I need a degree in data science?  This is a field that we created the neuro divergence out there, you know, just like cloud computing, all these buzzwords. We’re  usually doing it 10 years, 15 years before people ever even try, but we don't get credit for our work simply because it's not… categorized and cataloged by.... we are so far ahead of the curve, typically... we are entrepreneurs naturally. So, how do we parlay that into more success for individuals? And I'd love to answer any questions anybody has on how to go down that road. 

I love that. I love that. Tell us how people can find you.

Uh, the easiest way to find me. I'm on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/shawnfry/  on the Linkedin…. um, my email address, if you want to reach me for work, is Shawn, Shawn.fry@potentialworkforce.com  Uh, where we're leading a program that takes all neuro divergence, whether your autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and things like that. We're creating, we have contracts in place, our first client was Chevron, our second client was (indistinguishable)  so we, when we started telling people that neuro-divergence, this is not a nonprofit.  I do have a non-profit foundation, where we do all the research, but this is a for profit, you know why? Because we make money for people. We don't want sympathy. And there are people out there that were labeled us as abelists,  and things like that. I hate that, I reject that label. I know there are, there are people out there and listen... I work with people all across the spectrum, nonverbal, nonambulatory, I love them, they're all special people. I love them just as much, but we have, we have a resource that's there to harness, and we become exceptional employees.  Real quick… the first program we started... was my company, I had 150 employees, and when I went on to sell the company to private equity, these Wall Street, private equity firms, they look at everything. And one thing they asked me, he's like, Hey Shawn, where's your files? You know, the lawyers come in, where's your files on turnover. I was like, what do you mean? He's like, where are all the people that quit and you fired, and I was like, well, after 15 years, nobody ever quit. They're like what? I've never heard of that, I didn't even know it was a thing.  So what I did though, was I created a company that worked around my proclivities and inclinations and things like that. I built a company that was designed around me... around my neuro-diversity and my sensory issues. In fact, I don't like to be overwhelmed in meetings and I don't want meetings to last more than 30 minutes unless they absolutely have to.  And it turns out that that actually was conducive, not just for the neuro-diverse employees. And I include people in there with, uh, PTSD. There are other things that make you neuro-diverse people, even people with personality disorders, that don't have integrated brains,  still qualify under neurodiversity the way I define it.  I’m creating an environment that's safe for them, psychological safety being the first thing.  And the first thing I tell people, I invert every equation mathematically, and I reward people for telling me what's wrong for complaining or, you know, the faster you told me that you made a mistake, the more praise you get. And people started having psychological safety. What I recognized, is that their productivity multiplied.  Having that ability, because most of us have been told, slow down, shut up, sit still, you know, Shawn, this is a listen-meeting, not a talk meeting.

Oh, yeah. I've heard that one too. I heard that one too. Awesome, we gotta have you back. This has been phenomenal. It's so nice to,... to hear what you're doing and I love the fact that you're doing it for all the right reasons.  You guys are listening to Shawn Fry, Shawn. really, thanks again, man. We're going to have you back in the new year. I appreciate you taking the time. 

Thanks for having me Peter.

All right guys, Faster Than Normal...as always, we want to hear what you hear. Leave us a review, let us know what's up. Talk to us about what's happening on the street, you name it.  Peter Shankman (@petershankman) |Drop us a review at any of the sites that you listen to podcasts on and let us know if you have any good guests.  Sean is a phenomenal one, if you have any as good as Sean, we'd love to hear about them. Have a great week. ADHD and all forms of our diversity is a gift, not a curse.  We will see you next week. Stay healthy, stay safe, wear the mask, talk to you soon.

Credits: You've been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We're available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I'm your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you've heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were performed by Steven Byrom and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you next week. 

Feb 10, 2021

Mim Ochsenbein [Ox-in-byn] has been a practicing pediatric occupational therapist specializing in sensory processing for over 20 years. Her practice has focused on supporting children and families from birth through adolescence, in variety of settings including private practice, early intervention, schools, clinics, and mental health settings. She received a BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California. In 2012 Mim received her master’s degree in social welfare (MSW) from UCLA, providing new insights into how she can better support those she works with both at the individual and societal levels. She has advanced training in sensory integration and processing, feeding therapy and a variety of other treatment techniques. Mim has always been fascinated by the brain-body connection and the role sensory processing has on our development, ability to thrive, and the potential to derail it all. As the Director of Education for the non-profit STAR Institute for Sensory Processing, she has been gifted the opportunity to impact lives all over the world by providing education to other clinicians, educators, mental health providers, families and individuals who are addressing disordered sensory processing every day and thriving. Mim strives to always learn more and teach better. This is a fascinating episode, enjoy!

 

***CORONA VIRUS EDITION***

 

In this episode Peter & Mim discuss:

1:10-  Intro and welcome Mim Ochsenbein

2:25-  So explain sensory processing? 

3:35-  So sensory processing does not “just work behind the scenes” for everyone?

4:04-  So, is sensory processing disorder a specific area of the senses that is not processing correctly? Or is it anything having to do with the senses that’s not working correctly?  

4:35-  So 16% is not a low number. Talk about the people you’ve mentioned that get affected by it

5:42-  That obviously makes it even worse in the respect that sometimes it's not just ADHD, you also have the rest of everything else to look at (?)

6:30-  What should parents be looking for? 

8:00-  On identifying sensory processing issues or ADHD within yourself

9:30-  What can people look for, and look inside themselves to realize “Hey, you know, this might be this… it’s not just me being a screw up.” 

10:54-  Is that from a chemical perspective? What is that? Is that Dopamine or adrenaline? 

12:10-  On praxis/developmental coordination disorder 

13:00-  Where can people find out more about your work and more about sensory processing? https://www.spdstar.org  

14:13-  Thank you Mim! And thank YOU for subscribing, reviewing and listening. Your reviews are working! Even if you’ve reviewed us before, would you please write even a short one for this episode? Each review that you post helps to ensure that word will continue to spread, and that we will all be able to reach & help more people! You can always reach me via peter@shankman.com or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials.

14:59-  Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits

STAY HEALTHY - STAY SAFE - PLEASE WEAR YOUR MASK.. until next time!

As always, leave us a comment below and please drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! Do you know of anyone you think should be on the FTN podcast? Shoot us a note, we’d love to hear!

 

TRANSCRIPT: 

Hey guys, Peter, Shankman Welcome to Faster Than Normal, I am happy you're here. It is almost the last day of the year. Well, last day of December, we are waiting once the clock turns over to.. ah, next month, I'm assuming it's just gonna be the 13th month of 2020 that we're not actually going to be out of 2020 just yet.  There’s always people saying, Oh, well, you know, it's 2021, it’s gonna be much better. And I'm like, yeah, this is, viruses don't really know how to use a calendar, but that's okay. Anyway, I am going to screw up this person's name, Mim Ochsenbein. How was that? 

Close. It’s Ochsenbein.

Ochsenbein, Okay. I was close enough. We got a practicing pediatric occupational therapist, especially in specializing in sensory…. sensory processing.  Say that 10 times fast. I double dog dare you. Her practice has been focused on supporting children and families from birth through adolescents in a variety of settings, including private practice, early intervention, schools, clinics, and mental health settings. All right. She received a BSC in occupational therapy from University of Southern California at USC.  In 2012, she received her master's degree in social work welfare from UCLA. She's trained in sensory integration and processing feeling, feeding therapy, the variety of other treatment techniques. We're going to be talking about the brain body connection here on Faster Than Normal, which is kind of interesting because everything we do in our bodies when you're ADHD, is doubly centered on the brain.  Why'd you do that? What's wrong with you? I don't know. It was my ADHD. How many times have you said that? Okay, so we're going to talk about that. She's the director of education for the nonprofits star Institute for sensory processing. She's impacted lives all over the world, by providing education to other clinicians, educators, mental health providers, families, and individuals who are addressing disordered sensory processing every day of thriving.  Start off with this Nim. (1:51)  Thank you so much for being here. It is great to have you, explain sensory processing.   (in 20 words or less, hurry up)

Thank you for having me,,, yeah, 20 words or less, super easy. So sensory processing is really like, we all have sensory processing, we all do it. And it's just the process of our body and brain taking in sensory information.  Uh, sending it to the brain, the brain interprets it. tells us what's safe, not safe, important, not important and then we use that information, to have, you know, outputs to do things in the world to create memories, to create action, to be goal oriented. That is what sensory processing is. And it just like many other things in the brain and the body, it can go horribly wrong.

(2:36)  So this is everything from, Hey, that cup is hot, let it go…. to, that truck is barreling down the street and it's going to go through that red light, we shouldn't ah, cross  (everything in between)

Right. Exactly. And it's also like picking up the cup, like how much force to use to pick up that cup, and then, um, you know, how much energy to put into your muscles and which muscles to run across the street, so you don't get smacked by the truck. 

It's fascinating because we don't think about that. We just assume much like everything else. That's something that just happens, but it's not, it's not perfect for everyone. 

No, no, it's, it's not. And, uh, there's a lot of, um, people who experienced sensory processing challenges.  There's like 16% of kids who have sensory…. who have sensory processing disorder, and then there is a big overlap for people who have ADHD. 

(3:29)  Sensory processing disorder is, is a specific area of the senses that is not processing correctly? Or is it anything having to do with the senses that’s not working correctly?  

Yeah, there’s different subtypes of it. So you can have issues with, um, being sensitive...over-sensitive, under sensitive, really wanting more input or how you interpret input or how your body…. how you use your body to, with that input, so there's a lot of different places…. things can go wrong, I guess, yeah.  (3:58)  And so 16% is not a low number. Talk about, you mentioned that it, that it affects, uh, people that used to get affected by it more?? 

Well, I don't know about if they get affected by it more, but okay. So about 16% of the population of kids, has likely…. has sensory processing disorder and about 5% of kids have ADHD. And about 2.5% of adults have ADHD or something like that. If you look, like globally, but in terms of like how many people with ADHD also have sensory processing disorder.  It's really super interesting because what we know is that something around 40% of people with ADHD also have sensory processing disorder. And even those that wouldn't qualify for like sensory processing disorder, um, just because of the unique and amazing neuro divergent aspects of the ADHD brain, they just process sensory information differently than people who wouldn't qualify for a neuro divergency, um, condition.

(5:07)  So that obviously makes it even worse in the respect that, that it, sometimes it's not just ADHD. You have the rest of everything else to look at. 

Oh yeah. It can be, and it can be really tricky for, you know, from a child perspective, the way kids present is different than the way adults with ADHD could present, but it makes it super tricky for families, um, who are trying to figure out what is, you know, that was always a big question, what is ADHD? What sensory. Um, and usually the answer is yes to both like there's stuff going on that, um, gets in this kiddo's way for both, and then for adults too. Being told your whole life, you know, stop it, you know, knock it off when it's something that's happening at a very physiological neurological level that he can’t just turn off.

(5:55)  That brings an interesting question, what should parents be looking for? Because you know, a lot of times it is, will you just chill out or will you just calm down or stop it? That's not real or whatever the case is. 

Yeah, I think like there's aspects to ADHD that certainly stand out. But as it turns out, um, a lot of kids who have ADHD, um, they have a lot of sensory sensitivities or what we call sensory over responsivity to things and those sensitivities, those over, over responsivities  to movement, to touch in particular to sound a lot of the time, uh, for kids with ADHD, those sensitivities show up,, before the ah, the ADHD symptomology  does.  so if, as a parent, if you're thinking back on your child, and you're wondering if there's ADHD or you're wondering if they're sensory for that matter, like if you think back, was the baby particularly sensitive to certain um fabrics, was the baby particularly foods was the baby particularly sensitive to sounds, um, cause what they're, what research is showing is that those modulation issues or over responsivity issues are showing up before a lot of the ADHD signs. And so you can start, to help address those for our child, so they're more comfortable in the world.  That's not going to make ADHD appear or not appear, but it certainly might reduce some of the anxiety, which is another really common condition for those with ADHD, adult, and child. 

So I think it comes down to it always just comes down to a question, listening. 

Yeah. I'm paying attention. Yeah, right?  And that behavior isn't like looking at behavior as a form of communication, not as “I'm trying to piss you off.”

Right. Right. And that's important because a lot of times, especially even in relationships as adults, you know, the, the way that some people act versus the way that other people act is, is very difficult. I think that, you know, we've seen that in a lot of the people we've had on the podcast, people in relationships and, you know, married people and even, even, even people in the workforce, they talk about the things that they do.  Um, you know, oh, it just drove me crazy and I didn't know why it always affected me. And I always thought well you know, I think you also have to find the difference between “it drove me crazy” because, you know, you're, there's something sincerely wrong and it drove me crazy because, you know, the guys just being an asshole.

It's totally right. Totally. Cause you know, there's definitely that aspect of people you can't always put off that you're not a great human on like something else. Sometimes people just aren't great humans, but, but I think for like, a lot of. people with ADHD or, you know, and, or sensory processing issues. like if you don't know that about yourself, but there's this aspect to your brain/body connection that you really can't control, there is no controlling it. Like how much of what you experienced and the things you feel bad about. Like when, you know, when it comes to like the way you see yourself could, could be so different.

(8:56) What can people look for? You know, a lot of times I get emails all the time. People say, oh, I was listening to, um, you know, Faster Than Normal, and for the first time I, I saw myself and I realized that I'm not so weird and not such a screw up. What can people look for, and, and, and look inside themselves and see and say, Hey, you know, this might be this.It's not just me being a screw up. 

Yeah, no, that's such a good question because it's really hard. Like if you've been this way, your whole life, you know, how do you know that it's not, you just, you look around and you think everybody else is probably experiencing the same thing. They just are handling it better. Right?  But I think like if there's lots of different, um, things you can look at, there's actually, um, You know, like they're all over the place, but you can look up free, um, checklists and, and red flag lists and kind of go through them. There's some for adults and there's some for kids and you can just kind of like, um, online, you can pull them up and you can see like, how many of these things did I circle? Like, Oh, maybe, maybe this is me, or if you find like, especially for the over sensitivity stuff, like, um, how often did I experience that, and really felt like I had to flee, right? Like I had a fight or flight response. Like I couldn't stand it. It was not just a thought. It was a feeling in my body, like get the hell out.

And is that from a chemical perspective? What is that? Is that, is that Dopamine, is that adrenaline? 

No, it's not. Well, I mean, you, you have an adrenaline response. It's not dopamine or adrenaline, what it actually is is that literally your neurology when you are, when you have some sensory over responsivity, we know from physiological testing that the brain, actually, these people feel sensation either more intensely than other people do.  We actually have graphs that show, that how the brain is interpreting. They either feel it more intensely. They feel it for longer, right? or it builds over time. So literally their neurology is functioning differently, and this is coming in to the brain at the bottom, you know, like at your emotional and fear centers at no subcortical levels.  And is, is there before the frontal lobe, that judgment place, um, can actually make sense of anything you are already like your brain is, it's called the amygdala hijacking.  Like your brain is already gone. So it doesn't matter once your thinking brain makes sense of it, your body's already in full blown response.

Wow. Yeah, that's kind of fascinating. I mean, I, you know, you don't think that it, that it, I guess, yeah, everything starts immediately. 

Yeah, and it's, it's interesting because also a lot of kids, at least I don't think, um, I don't think there's been research on adults, but kids who have ADHD also have a lot of problems with what we call, um, Praxis or motor planning. It's also called developmental coordination disorder, and it's this connection between like your thinking brain. Like, I want to get this done and your body of how to, you know, sequencing things and planning and all those things that we always think is like this cognitive um, issue with kids with ADHD, there's a body component to it, that's coming from like… this ability to process tactile information and movement information, and body information. And so, they don't have those foundations to rest their cognitive thinking on, so they have great thoughts maybe, but because that brain body connection is so weak, they can't carry them out.

Very interesting. Where can….. people find more about you because this is, this is first of all, we're gonna have you back on, no question about…. after the new year, but where can people find out more about you? This is fascinating. 

About me or about what I do??..

About you, about the work that you're doing, not you specifically, your favorite colors, ...games.  [laughter]

I was gonna say hopefully not alot of people.. I'm doing my life right. But, um, about sensory processing. So Star Institute, I would go to STAR Institute and that's where we have those checklists for people to look at, there's information there. What is sensory processing? Um, 

all sorts of information on research, um, on education, on treatments, on, we have a blog, like there's lots of information out there in the world. There's tons, if you put in sensory processing or sensory integration is another term that's used, and you stick that in Google, there's all sorts of things. There's lots out there on ADHD with sensory processing. 

I have a feeling, a lot of parents are looking at their kids right now and going, hummm.  that's interesting. So I think you,,, I think you might have changed a bunch of lives there. might have a bunch of lives…..awesome.  Mim, ah, Ochshen….let me get this right, Ochsenbein? 

You’re close….

Ochsenbein?  

You’ve got it. 

Alright, Mim, Ochsenbein,  thank you so much for taking the time, I do appreciate it. Uh, this is a phenomenal episode. We will, like I said, we'll definitely have you back.  Guys, check out the starting super sensory processing, you can learn a lot more there. We will be back next week with another episode, as always feel free to send this to people you think we should interview. We would love to hear about them. That's how we found you and, um, reach out, have yourselves a wonderful day, stay safe, wear a mask, and we will talk to you soon. Thanks so much for listening. ADHD is a gift, not a curse. 

Credits: You've been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We're available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I'm your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you've heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were performed by Steven Byrom and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you next week. 

Feb 3, 2021

Eric Clark is not your typical educator, and his career trajectory is about as ADHD as it can get. After marrying his college sweetheart in 2006, Eric started teaching middle school math at Central Middle School, located on Boston's South Shore. While earning his stripes in the classroom, Eric was bit by the entrepreneurship bug and launched a small tutoring company called Quincy Tutoring. Two years after starting this venture, Eric transitioned into higher education where he would become the Assistant/Director of the Center for Academic success at Eastern Nazarene College. One aspect of this role was to serve as an advocate for students with learning differences. It didn't take long for Eric to realize that he had more in common with his students than he thought. At the age of 27, Eric officially received an ADHD diagnosis.

 

After 7 years in higher education, Eric decided to go back to his roots and accepted a role at the Woodward School, an independent high school for girls. This transition would then set off a domino effect where Eric would eventually find himself accepting a teaching role at the Delaware Valley Friends Schools and moving his wife and four daughters to Pennsylvania in the midst of a pandemic. DVFS is an independent Quaker school that is dedicated to serving students with a learning difference and a school with a mission that Eric could stand behind 100%.

 

Even through Eric's career was humming along nicely, things were bubbling under the surface and would eventually overpower him and disrupt life as he knew it. From the death of a father, to unexpected DNA results, the emotional baggage that comes with these experiences were compounded exponentially when the underlying ADHD and anxiety went unmitigated. This interview is Eric's coming out story, he has never shared publicly before. Enjoy!

***CORONA VIRUS EDITION***

In this episode Peter & Eric discuss:

 :40-  Intro and welcome Eric Clark!

2:14-  So being a teacher w/ ADHD, your students must think you’re the coolest teacher in the world!

2:52-  Would you agree that people who have ADHD who have had it since birth and either haven't been diagnosed early, or were diagnosed later in life, realize that when they think about it, that they are kind, compassionate and caring even more-so than the neurotypical, because they know what it's like to be outcasts/different and don't want to wish that on other people(?) 

4:15-  Since you got diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, tell me what it was like for you as a kid. Ref: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

6:53-  You’re now a teacher at Delaware Valley Friends School, that’s a school that's dedicated to students with learning differences, right? 

8:44-  What are you telling the kids who are neuroatypical when they come to you thinking they are “broken”, “a waste”, you know, all the things we thought as a kid?  

9:59-  As you see these kids growing up, getting older and going into more advanced classes, what are you learning from that? You mentioned that you’re learning alot from them, what kind of stuff are you seeing in them?  

11:05-  How has it been teaching in this pandemic?  

12:25-  How can people find you?  Website: www.EricAlainClark.com and @EA_Clark on INSTA  Twitter  & @eac.socialmedia on Facebook

12:42-  Thank you Eric! And thank YOU for subscribing, reviewing and listening. Your reviews are working! Even if you’ve reviewed us before, would you please write even a short one for this episode? Each review that you post helps to ensure that word will continue to spread, and that we will all be able to reach & help more people! You can always reach me via peter@shankman.com or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials.

13:00  -  Guys, you’re listening to Faster Than Normal,  I want to wish you a happy day.  If you know anyone who you think might want to be on the podcast, let us know. We're still looking. I’ve been doing interview after interview, so we are definitely going to be booked up for the first few months, but let us know who you know, and we'd love to interview them. Have them reach out to me at https://www.shankman.com/  As always… ADHD is a gift, not a curse. We will see you in a week, keep smiling even under the mask, we'll talk soon.

13:26-  Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits

STAY HEALTHY - STAY SAFE - PLEASE WEAR YOUR MASK.. until next time!

As always, leave us a comment below and please drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! Do you know of anyone you think should be on the FTN podcast? Shoot us a note, we’d love to hear!

 

TRANSCRIPT: 

Hey guys, welcome to Faster Than Normal. 

Hi you guys, Peter, Shankman welcome to Faster Than Normal background noise edition.  [producer squints eyes & boots up iZotope’s RX7].  I am recording this a couple of days before the end of the year. And we’ve got, let's see, we’ve got my daughter in one room playing with the new dog. We’ve got the lovely cleaning woman in, in this room, cleaning everything. We have a gorgeous day outside.  Um, everyone is, is, is, is betting that 2021 is going to be better. I'm sitting here remembering that viruses don't know how to read calendars. So it's going to be an interesting time, either way. Welcome to Faster Than Normal, my name is Peter Shankman. I am thrilled that you are here. We have Eric Clark on the podcast today, who is Eric Clark?  Well, Eric Clark is not your typical educator, although he is an educator. After marrying his college sweetheart in 2006, Eric started teaching middle school Math at Central Middle School in Boston’s South Shore.  While earning his stripes in the classroom, he was bit by the entrepreneurship bug and launched a tutoring company called Quincy Tutoring out of Quincy! I know Quincy well.  I went to Boston University and as a photographer or a Photo major, I got to photograph all these, all these projects at different schools and like Dorchester and Roxbury and all that. 

 I love it. 

I take that, take that, uh, that, uh, accent and bring it anywhere I want.  One of the interesting things about Eric though is after he started this venture, he transferred to higher education where he became the assistant director of the center for academic success at Eastern Nazarene college.  Okay. And he served as an advocate for students with learning differences, and that's when he realized that he had more in common with the students than he did with the other teachers.  At the age of 27, he received an official diagnosis of ADHD. (@2:14)  So being a teacher with ADHD, you must've thought ….the kids must have thought you were the coolest teacher in the world.

Yeah, I think so. Um, I think that's just a lot of my personality too. There's a lot of, a lot of love and caring and compassion that goes into, into the work that I do in the classroom. A lot of that was sort of established early on in my life... um, really having a positive outlook and, um, I think the students probably enjoy the, the ADHD mind, but, um, definitely needed to learn how to, how to hone it in, so  we can achieve the outcomes that we're looking to, to achieve. 

(@2:52)  I would argue that people who have ADHD who have had it from since birth, you know, and, and either haven't gotten diagnosed early or gotten diagnosed later in life, like.. realize that when they think about it, that they are kind and compassionate and caring more so than normal people, because they know what it's like to be outcasts.  They know what it's like to be.. um, uh, you know, the different one and they don't want to wish that on other people. Would you agree with that? 

Absolutely. And I think my experience as being called the lazy kid, um, feeling like I could never accomplish a task that I set out to do.  If I go back and I think of my, some of my childhood experiences where I set out to do these lofty projects, like painting a barn that was located on my property. I started it, but I never finished it. 

Painting a barn on your property? 

Um, my parents ended up paying for somebody to paint it- so it all worked out. Um, but I never was, when I think back, I never was lazy. I started working at 14, 15 on the farm. Um, did Masonry work and stuff like that, but I wasn't lazy. I just, I needed some help to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Um, so that executive functioning that, that inner space of, you know, the beginning and, you know, the end, um, really trying to figure out how to get there was the problem for me. 

Understood. I think a lot of it has to come down with the fact that, you know, when, again, the things we love doing, we do them really well.  The things we don't like doing, we sort of start and then we never sort of half-assed them and never actually finished. (@4:15) Tell me… so you got diagnosed as an adult. So, what was it like as a kid? 

Growing up, It was, it was interesting. I think, uh, I've read the book Spark, probably just the ADHD sections. Um, but there's a lot to be said about, uh, cardiovascular and the ability to focus.  So I played two, two seasons of athletics, both Fall and Winter. Um, in those seasons, I was, I was pretty spot on, I was, I was doing B work…. A work in some, some classes, but then come the spring when I wasn't in athletics, um, things sort of tanked. Um, so growing up where, where I grew up in Vermont, we didn't have a whole lot of access to, um, sort of specialized care.  And to be frank, I don't know if my family had the bandwidth, um, to process that ‘cause at nine years old, um, my, well, let me back... back it up a little bit. So when I was 18 months old, my biological father passed away, um, from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and then my mom remarried about a year later. Um, but then when I was nine years old, big Tim, my Dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  So a lot of our bandwidth and whatnot was focused on, on him and making sure he was taken care of. And we did well, we did what we did, what we needed to do. There was, um, I had three siblings, uh, I had two brothers and a sister…. have.. two brothers and a sister, so we did all that we could do to survive. Um, and we made it work.  Um, but I think fast forward to 27 and you see sort of the, the impact of all of the decisions that have been made... you have made throughout the course of your life, because you understand a little bit more how a diagnosis can be helpful, um, in establishing structures and systems that can help you to, to optimize and maximize your ability to be successful.

(@6:02)  No question. I mean, if you don't put those things together, it can ruin you. And I think that, um, I mean, from what I'm hearing, you kind of, didn't  have a choice, right? You sort of had to come out and have, have that immediately. 

Absolutely. And it was sort of, we did what we didn't even really acknowledge the trauma that we, when you go through with a sick parent, I think I started really processing that maybe four or five years ago.  Um, and a lot of that is credit to my wife. She's a saint, she's a, she's a, um, Boston University graduate with her Master's in social work. So she has a skill set to deal with my,  with my nonsense. I wouldn't, I wouldn't wish it upon her, but I'm very grateful to have, to have her in my life. 

It is great to have someone who can help you.  (@6:42)  Tell me about, um, so as you, as a teacher now, um, because you're at, I totally just lost the name of the school where are you … you’re at….

Delaware Valley Friends school. 

Delaware Valley Friends right!  (6:53) So, tell us, it’s a school that's dedicated to students with learning differences, right? 

Absolutely. So, um, my family and I decided to move in the midst of a pandemic from the Boston area to the Philadelphia area. 

Of course, as you do! (laughter) 

Absolutely, and I was, I didn't think it was going to happen. I didn't, I didn't, the job prospects were, were nil, um, because of the pandemic and it didn't seem like anybody was hiring, but I was presented with two offers within 48 hours of, of, of each other, which was, which was pretty crazy.  Um, so from what I gather, um, I'm very new to this sort of Quakerism, um, which I, wish I would've learned about a long time ago, cause it sort of aligns with their core values aligned with my own. Um, but with that being said, there's a lot of Quaker schools in the Philadelphia area, um, and about 30 years ago, they came together at one of their yearly meetings and said, look, um, we do it, we're doing all this great work, but we really don't have a school that focuses on this particular type of student and we want to make sure that we're serving the entire student and making sure that we're serving these students well., um, so about 30 years ago, Delaware Valley Friends school was established, and, um, I can tell you from being there just for a handful of months, it's a very, very special place. Um, they, they, they look at the students as, as an entire person.  They, one of the Quaker values is finding the, the inner lights. Um, so I think every person has an inner light, um, that is God within us. Um, and we try to seek that out and everybody, um, and it's. We, we're getting tangential here because, um, that's what we do. Uh, Quakers typically from what I experienced, they're not, um, evangelical, um, and it's more of a set of core values that can be assigned to humanists, to Buddhists, to, to whatever.  There's a lot of, there's a lot of alignment there and a lot of inclusivity, which is something that I, that I've really come to love and respect. 

(@8:44) What are you telling the kids who have those different brains that just like we do? How are you, you know, and they, they come in and they think my God I'm broken.  I'm, I'm, I'm a waste. You know, all the things that we thought as a kid. 

And, and I thought I was going to encounter a lot of that, but I'm finding that students that have been at DV for a while, they're really empowered to be self advocates. Um, and they know who they are as students and as people far better than what I do as a 36 year old.  And I'm, I'm inspired and they teach me something every day. But I think what I try to tell them is that you are capable of more than what you think you're capable of, and I want you to acknowledge the fear that you may be experiencing. Um, and with it,  I experienced a lot of fear in my, in my classes because I teach math whether or not you have a diagnosis or not just because that's the nature of the subject matter for a lot of students.  Um, so regardless of the fear that you're facing, um, I acknowledge it for what it, what it is, and then build systems to help you overcome that fear because fear is, is not forever. And if you can find a way to overcome it and work through it, you're going to be, you're going to be better off for it. You're going to be able to, to be the rockstar that we that know you can be. 

(@9:59)  I love that…..  that fear is not forever.  That's a really, really smart answer. It makes a lot of sense. When you think about it… how about, um, as you see the kids growing and, and, and, and sort of moving into, they're getting older, and they're going to more advanced classes, um, what are, what are you learning from that? You mentioned that you're learning a lot from them.  What kind of stuff are you seeing them do? 

I have ...I got, I'm thinking of one student in particular, he's coming at me with all of these crazy stories of historical references of, of these mathematicians, um, from, from back in the 1600’s / 1700’s.  and so on. Um, I'm finding that these students have a depth of knowledge and a depth of interests far outside of the scope of, of my content area.  And I need to find ways to tap into that. Um, to get them excited about the work that we're doing in house. Um, and also one thing that my students are showing me is that they're passionate for, for justice. Um, so in equity and, and, and things of that nature. So I want to find ways to incorporate those themes into the, into the curriculum that I present to them on a, on a daily basis.

(@11:05) How’s it been teaching in the pandemic?  

Um, I've learned a lot. I think I would, obviously I prefer to be in the classroom, but if I focused on all of the negative aspects of it, it would become overwhelming and I wouldn't be able to do anything with it. Um, so recognizing this as just a moment in time, and we need to do our best to weather the storm because we will get through this, um, one major thing is, is really taking away the technology that we use in the virtual classroom and finding ways to incorporate that into, um, the, the face-to-face learning environment.  And I mean, just really ramping up my empathy and my caring and my compassion. I felt like I was pretty empathetic before, um, but really giving students the benefit of the doubt when they come to me saying that they don't understand it, or if they just don't hand in an assignment. The, the immediate reaction for me is going to be okay.  Let's figure out why this is. And not assume that the student is slacking off intentionally because there's a lot going on. Um, and we really need to focus on sort of the whole student and not get caught up in our own ego that the students aren't getting the coursework done. Let's figure out why they're getting the, not getting the coursework done and come alongside them and help them overcome these tangential obstacles that, that could be impeding their success. 

(@12:25)  Wish I’d had more teachers like you when I was a kid..  How can people find you? I think, I think that you’re probably gonna get some questions throughout answer and definitely some of the kids, Eric.

So, on Twitter and Instagram, Eric Clark (@ea_clark) | Um, my website is being revamped. It's http://ericalainclark.com/, but that's with the French spelling, alainclark, but find me on the Twitters or on Instagram, and we can, we can connect on, on other, on other  platforms. 

Awesome. Eric Clark, one of the best teachers I’ve ever had on the podcast. Thank you so much for taking the time, I truly appreciate it. 

Peter, thank you so much. It's truly an honor. Thank you so much. 

Guys, you’re listening to Faster Than Normal,  I want to wish you a happy day.  If you know anyone who you think might want to be on the podcast, let us know. We're still looking. I’ve been doing interview after interview, so we are definitely going to be booked up for the first few months, but let us know who you know, and we'd love to interview them. Have them reach out to me at Petershankman.com.  As always… ADHD is a gift, not a curse. We will see you in a week, keep smiling even under the mask, we'll talk soon.

 

Credits: You've been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We're available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I'm your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you've heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were performed by Steven Byrom and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you next week. 

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