Eps 479: Cindy Palmer helps us set our neurodivergent kids up for success

Episode 479

My guest today is my good, local friend – Cindy Palmer. 

Cindy’s here to talk about executive functioning in kids with neurodivergence, especially during the transition to college.  High School is a time that is typically incredibly structured, down to the minute, and the transition to college is tricky for all adolescents.  What do we do when it feels like our kids aren’t ready?  How can parents help scaffold that transition?  Especially for kids with neurodivergence?  Cindy shares lots of strategies and ideas around supporting our adolescents during this tricky time – getting curious & compassionate, not holding a certain view on what things “should” look like, and what kind of bumps slow down (or stop) our kiddos from getting their work done.  

I ask Cindy what we can be doing in the middle & high school years to help with the transition (spoiler: it’s lots of practice & baby steps) and we talk about how important grades actually are.  We get into what we can hand over to our kids right now (how about waking themselves up in the morning?) and why we want to practice these life skills in middle school, not the first week of college.  We wrap up touching on adjusting our expectations for how older kiddos contribute to the family (and how we can use these as opportunities to teach life skills).  

Guest Description: 

Cindy Palmer has been a high school biology teacher as well as a licensed mental health therapist for adolescents and young adults.  In 2014, she combined her love for both of these realms and founded STEM Tutoring.  In this role, she’s been training and mentoring her tutoring staff on the art of connection, research-based study skills, and the world of neurodivergence, especially ADHD.  With the explosion of executive function coaching for students, Cindy found that one area with the least support was in the transition to college.  This led to her most recent endeavor, the establishment of Threshold Coaches, right here in Bellingham, WA.  She and her team specialize in providing executive function support for college students with ADHD, as well as their parents, figuring out the hard work of letting go. 

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Takeaways from the show

  • What is common to see in neurodivergent teens during their transition to college?
  • How do we scaffold that support for them? 
  • The angst & anxiety on parents when sending their kids to college 
  • My child will not do something versus my child cannot do something (defiance versus biological motivation) 
  • When to keep trying a strategy versus finding a new strategy 
  • What can we do to help prepare for the college years during middle & high school? 
  • All students deserve dignity 
  • Where to start with executive functioning skills 
  • Expectations around contributions for older kids 
  • Holding our parent anxiety once our kids are out of the house

I know you ask everyone, and I’ve heard a lot of the responses given to this.  I think, I just experienced a little bit of joyful courage myself, in my relationship with my eldest.  Without divulging any of her details, I think in essence, I had a moment where I was courageous enough to receive her feedback on something that I have done in my interactions with her, and it’s around conflict and confrontation.  Sometimes when she’s tried to tell me hard things or bring about something that’s bugged her, I’ve gotten extremely defensive in the past.  She was in the midst of trying to figure out her own confrontation and her own situation that she’s in and wondering why in the world she was so afraid of it, and she said, “Mom, I think in part, it’s because of the way we’ve interacted in the past.”  Although that stings, I was able to sit in it with her, and there’s something very courageous about believing your child has something to give you that you need to receive from them.  I receive and continue to receive that from her, and it’s the beginning of a reflective journey.  I have my own, sweet little ADHD going on, which in part, has an intense response to critique.  I’m achy that that’s a piece of her journey, but also, I think from responding to that positively, the joy that comes into that is that we’re still in relationship and potentially the relationship is even deeper, because she saw me receive it.  I’m hoping there’s further conversations in the future where she catches me in a spot where I as a parent need to grow, and I hear her.

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Casey O'Roarty, Cindy Palmer

Casey O'Roarty 00:02
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and keep it together. While parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people and when we can focus on our own growth, and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent needed spreadable. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it real transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is an interview and I have no doubt that what you hear will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together we can make an even bigger impact on families all around the globe. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 01:23
I everybody welcome back to the podcast. I am so excited about my guest today because she's my real good friend here in Bellingham and is such a useful human being for the young people of the world. Cindy Palmer is my guest she has been a high school biology teacher as well as a licenced mental health therapist for adolescents and young adults and in 2014. She combined her love for both of these rounds and founded stem tutoring. In this role, she's been training and mentoring her tutoring staff on the art of connection, research based study skills and the world of neuro divergence, especially ADHD. With the explosion of executive function coaching for students, Cindy found that one area with the least support was in the transition to college. This led to her most recent endeavour, the establishment of threshold coaches, which is right here in Bellingham, with Western Washington University students and Whatcom Community College students and Bellingham Tech College students. And she and her team specialises in providing executive functioning support for college students with ADHD as well as their parents who are figuring out the hard work of letting go. Hi, Cindy, welcome to the podcast.

Cindy Palmer 02:48
Thank you so much. It's great to be here.

Casey O'Roarty 02:51
So we just saw each other a couple days ago. And I had already read your bio, of course, and then rereading it again. And then hanging out with you on Tuesday, you and the Bellingham high school PTA, I am so glad that you saw this space of need, and that you have just dove in headfirst, you're working with college kids, what have you been learning about kids with neurodivergent who are transitioning into college?

Cindy Palmer 03:21
Yes, it has been a fast track of learning, I think I get 100% better with every quarter we have just with the number of students and the variety of needs they have. But there's definitely some commonality that has risen to the surface with every student we work with. I'd say the very first overarching deal is that the LEAP is so incredibly large for them. And there's a number of reasons for that most of the time, I think it has to do with the parents who are used to providing a lot of advocacy and support for their neurodiverse teen. And most of the time, rightfully so, but then there's not a scaffolding of that support going down so that the scaffolding of skills can go up on their own so that they're ready to launch. So that probably one of the biggest things I'm noting. The other piece really is the structure is not present in any way shape or form at college. So high school is, I think, the most structured time in a person's life from zero to 100. I can't think of any other years or times when your time every single minute of it is structured either by the setting of school by the parents who control it or by all the events that happen there directly after school so kids seem to be very scheduled. There's bells, that ring there's parents that ride their cases if they're not doing that thing. There's tutors in place, multiple tutors in place. And so when they hit college, and their time is completely unstructured and they only have maybe 12 Have to 16 hours of structured time in class. And then they have 128 hours total in a week. I think that's right. I'm doubting my numbers right now. But it's close to that. And so when they begin to look at how much time they have free, they have no idea what to do with that. And you throw ADHD in the pot with that, and it is a very big mess very quickly. So and

Casey O'Roarty 05:26
that's so interesting, because even like, when I have a day in my week, my work week that I don't have any calls, I'm like, okay, great. I have all this time, I can get caught up on so many different things. And you know what, I don't do much of anything.

Cindy Palmer 05:42
Right. Yeah, thing. And I am

Casey O'Roarty 05:45
a 50 year old who does not have ADHD? Yeah. So it makes sense when you break it down like that. And it's funny, my college kid, she recently said, Mom, I have to go to school, and go to work, and keep my apartment clean and feed myself. Do you understand how hard it is to do all of those things?

Cindy Palmer 06:06
For duper hard, it's so much harder than we like have compassion to hold because we just live and breathe every day. Yeah, and also, our brains are slightly more developed than a 20,000. And throw ADHD on top of it. And then we subtract three years on average from whatever brain space they're supposed to be in. And then a college student is like already, oh, gosh, they're coming into college. And they're 15 developmentally. Right. And so that creates a lot of dilemmas. And they're surrounded by sparkly items, lots of sparkle everywhere. And that is way more fun than that Gu R, which is in general undergrad requirement course that they don't want to take, but they have to, right. So sparkly objects, a lot of time, no structure and no accountability, because nobody's asking why they didn't go to class that day.

Casey O'Roarty 07:03
Yeah. So what are you noticed? Like what happens for a parent? Who is because in my experience, and I've mentioned this on the pod, you know, with Ian, who's getting ready to go away to college, like I've been really explicit with him. This is, you know, I'm parenting a year ahead here. So we are practising, you know, you're not doing well in that class, how you going to work it out? How are you going to pull it off, because it's great practice for next year when you have to take a Gen Ed requirement. And you're not that into it, and you still got to pull it off? Right? So we talk a lot about practice, I'm sure there's areas that I can continue to practice with him and do better. But what are you seeing with the parent? I mean, you work with the kids, but I'm sure you hear from the parents. So what are some themes that are coming up with the parents of the kids that you're working with? Yeah, correct and frazzled,

Cindy Palmer 07:58
they're very panicked and frazzled. And they often come to us, you know, we're often that last straw to their process. And it's either between us and a therapist, and they don't know which one and so they're going to get help one way or the other. And they're too far away. And they're very out of control, because their kids will never text them back. And they're not in the same house as them anymore. So they have no idea what is happening with their kid, except for the parents who are tracking them on their phones, which for a college student, I think I would say if you feel the need to track your student, and that there's a lot of anxiety in place there. And that maybe the students that ready to head to college yet if you feel like their safety is absolutely on the line, unless you track them all over the place and see if they're in class at 9am. And instead you see them instead in their dorm, or you watch that they've never left their dorm for the last three days. And then we get a phone call that says my student has not left their dorm in three days. And so that level of tracking only causes more and more anxiety, remember minds in that they actually have no control, even though the tracking supposedly hopefully they will they think it's going to be some semblance of control. Right. And so, you know, we've had parents that have contacted this is a real number 27 times they tried to reach out to their student in one weekend, who didn't respond to any one of those 27 reach outs. And so, you know, the level of angst can get really high for a parent and then you throw the cost of college in there. And then there's expectations from the parents. Of course, they are making a very big bet, or investment whatever we're choice feels like the better fit on whether or not this process is going to fly for their kid. And yeah, I think with that comes some expectations of look, we're spending 3040 bucks 50 6070 $80,000 this year on you to go to this school. And so with that comes a real high expectation that you are going to class. Yeah. at bare minimum, right? Yeah. So, you know, we meet with the parents at the beginning of our process with our students, and we have a good 45 minute conversation with them. That's just checking in on the history. And you know, what their hopes are for their kids. And we literally say, if you had to boil this entire conversation down to one hope you have for your child, what would it be. And normally, what happens is they start off with some minutia. Like I just want them to have a planner and keep track of their stuff. And then when you push a little more, they say, then they get softer. And then they say things like, I just want my student to feel that they belong in the place where they are, and that they have the skill set they need. Yeah. And so sense of belonging or sense of just how gifted and talented and lovely they are. And that that can translate to a college setting. Like that's what they really want. But the first that pushing front is all these control mechanisms that they are like, I want him to play, and I want them to know how to study. I want them to go to class, I want them to have friends. I want them to watch that one makes good sense. But the little things are the little things. Yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 11:25
So yeah. But it's funny listening, I want them to know how to study is what I find with parents of high schoolers is not I want them to know how to study but I want them to study a certain way. Right? It's always so interesting to me when I have a client who's like, oh, they are masters of pulling it off at the last minute. I'm like, so great. Yeah, they're pulling it off at the last minute. And this is the battle, you want to keep having that you don't like that. That's their style. Right? Anyway, yeah, we talk a lot in positive discipline, which I know that you're familiar with positive discipline, we talk about beliefs behind behaviour and behaviour making sense, right? With the kids that come to you. And this might not there might not be general themes, but I'm guessing there might be what are some of the beliefs that kids and when I say kids, you know, you work with kids with ADHD kids with some neurodivergent kids who've been really kind of tightly managed up until college? How has that system that they've lived inside of what are the beliefs that they've formed about themselves as students, because of that structuring? Would you say

Cindy Palmer 12:37
this one's really heavy and hard actually, in speaking with the family member actually, who's a psychiatrist that works a lot with ADHD kids, he had talked about the trauma, lowercase t trauma that ADHD students live every single day. And the trauma they live is someone constantly believing that they're not putting forth the effort necessary to do the thing they know they should be doing. So they carry a lot of shame. They carry a lot of labels, lazy being probably top one, two or three on the list. unmotivated, not focused, if only you would put some effort in, because, you know, the parents can see that the ADHD is not tied to intelligence, they can see that their kid is brilliant. And then they don't understand the bridge at a brilliance into functionality in a college setting is not exactly as one thinks it should be. And so the brilliance has a really hard time showing there because there's a lot of unmotivated things are asked to do, or unmotivated baiting ways to do the things they're asked to do. So I think the well not is they won't do it. And I've defiance, their defiance, they won't do it, but they could. And you know, and then the cannot is the beginning of curiosity, right? It's like the Hmm, what's in the way that's preventing you from being able to do this? What is it and can we build structures around it? Can we get softer and wondering about it instead of finger pointing and getting frustrated and angry? Can there be a sense of compassion to say I know that you know, this is due tomorrow, and just digging underneath the finger point of get it done? What's wrong with you? Rah, rah, rah, just on up, right and so there is a lot of that there's heart wrenching stories of students. I'm thinking of one student in particular who had just had one solid day literally like 24 hours of feeling his feet get under him. He'd set forth on his first I'm gonna do it and he did it whatever the it was, there was a gonna do and then he did do and that is hard to do with ADHD. There's a lot of I'm gonna dues, but then I did do it after is a more rare event. And so he had felt that rush of like, I think I can do this. Then swoops in loving parent misdirected that says, Did you do rar rar rar. And then he literally crashes and burns, and I kid you not there was not recovery after that. And that was a part of a bigger story. But at one significant piece of the way the parent interaction was combative with the student, that was consistent enough. And that was a poorly timed moment. That was the beginning of him dropping out. And so, you know, the shame is so thick, and I think that sometimes parents don't believe that their student wants desperately to succeed. Like they actually want to succeed, maybe even more than the parent wants them to succeed, which is hard for a parent to fathom, but it is their life. And they do want success. And so, yeah, anyhow, yeah, I think that's a big one, I guess is the parents assuming that there's this willful defiance versus a total lack of biological motivation in the form of dopamine to do the thing that they know they need to do that they want to do that they absolutely cannot, they just cannot get over the hurdles to get going on the hard thing.

Casey O'Roarty 16:26
Do you feel like parents hold? I mean, is there an assumption that because I know I mean, I definitely catch myself inside of this with my kids and my husband, which is this should look a certain way. Like there's just certain way to do things. And but the assumption there is you this is the best way, and that there are no other ways. Do you hear that? Do you feel that from parents like, and when you work with kids around like executive functioning and organisation and things? Is it helping them to find a system that works for them? Or is it teaching them a system? That's like already established? No,

Cindy Palmer 17:08
no, no, it's definitely helping them find a system that works for them. And it definitely often will not look like what their parents want it to look like. Right? So the planner slash Google Calendar demands is the most tangible one right there. Like they have to have a planner. And, you know, what the students do do is they rely on the system that's provided to the university, which in our case is called Canvas. And so it has a calendar, and it has all the things and it has the daily to do's in there. Unfortunately, all the professors don't use it. And unfortunately, when a professor changes something, they don't put it in there. And so there's some glitches and little things that get dropped. And they can't see the big picture of their life. In that three or four days they can see on their at bat phone on campus. So that's where it backfires is they don't realise they have a test that's going to take a week or a project, that's the bigger one, that'll take at least a week to get started on, that's off the screen of their phone. So those kinds of things are the planning and the scheduling. But I would say the parents don't know often the details of how the kids are functioning in college, because they're not communicating it with them. So it's never me, I'm the one who sees and have expectations on my students as to what I think they should be doing to get better at the thing they're doing. And the joy of this work, is having them push back on that stuff and respecting their push back. And then okay, if that's not gonna work, what about it doesn't work? And what could work if we tweaked it, right? So, for instance, I had a student that, you know, she had a bunch of homeworks that were piling up piling up, you know, we've set this whole beautiful calendar up, if we're gonna get this many, we're going to count how many there are, we're going to count how many days are out, we're going to divide those numbers. So you have this many this day. It was all set and ready. And I had sent reminders, how's it gone with journals one through three? And so come back the next week, and I say how you doing? And she said I didn't do a single one. I was like, well, wow, okay. And instead of being like, well, what, you know, the shame base, what is going on? It was more. Okay, so there is no guilt, no shame in this but something broke. So what can we play with to where the next time we have a pile up that there's a better system in place for you being able to crank it. And we had to backpedal all the way to high school when she realised that she's never done homework alone, ever in our whole life. So she would stay after high school and do it with friends and teachers who were there and she'd come home and she didn't do anything at home. Now she lives alone and an efficiency apartment. And she's trying to do homework alone in her quiet little space with no one around her and she cannot. So just determining that in fact If we conclude that you cannot do homework in your apartment, then what do we do? Then it's a whole new system are building. So now we're talking about study buddies and body doubling. And we're like, literally, I'm like, Okay, who can we text right now during session, that you're like, hey, I need somebody to do some homework with Are you free this week on this night or this night so that she can begin developing consistent patterns of being with people she loves and doing the work she hates? Right. So that's back in the bus all the way. Yeah. And can you conclude that the way they're doing something, actually, for their brain absolutely doesn't work and needs a work around? Because that kind of flexibility is constantly required? Because there there is some motivational roadblocks that they have to learn how to take down. And it might not be just try again. Try the same thing again. Right?

Casey O'Roarty 20:57
Yeah. Hey, it's

Cindy Palmer 20:58
so well,

Casey O'Roarty 20:59
and I'm thinking about people that are listening to this podcast. Some of them have kids in college. Most of them have kids in middle school or high school, many of them have kids with some sort of neuro divergence. And when you think about, you know, the runway, so they're not your students yet. Right? And what are some big pieces for parents? Right now? I'm actually going to combine this with the next question, because I think part of the reason that parents are over involved is because it is so deeply uncomfortable for the balls to be dropped. Right? It's so uncomfortable to watch our kids flail. So we're holding everything together, because at least we can get them to college. But now what I'm hearing you say is like, well, great, you get them to college. But if they don't know how to keep it all together, they're going to be in trouble. Right? It's going to be just more of the same. So going back to parents of even like middle schoolers, what are some things that you wish you want parents to be doing in that on ramp to whatever higher education situation or even just launching into the world? Because it doesn't have to be college? Right can be grocery shopping and paying your rent?

Cindy Palmer 22:20
Yeah, yeah, totally. So I think the interesting thing is watching parents take care of their kids in the tutoring context. So now I'm a part of two worlds, which is stem tutoring and threshold coaches. So stem tutoring, I get the middle in high school parents that call in or like, I need a tutor for my child, they're failing precalc, or whatever it is. And so that was we call it ever the student, I would say ever 150. And that's pretty good. I mean, maybe not even that maybe it's one and 100, we have had a few students reach out. But most of the time, they're juniors or seniors, right? Certainly not any earlier than that. And so with that then comes, you know, when they're in college, and they now need tutoring, well, you're already paying 50 grand, you're probably not going to be super willing to just jump on the phone and get a tutor. Plus, they're harder to find for college kids. So how do you get your kids to hit a point of struggle and know how to ask for help without you finding it for him. And so that can look like, you know, if there's an email that needs to go to the teacher, the parent should not be writing it. And so if the students like actually, that teacher, they're the worst teacher in the world, they hate me, they're so mean, and so terrible, then you can scaffold that in a number of ways. One is okay, I'm going to sit down with you, I will help you with wording but this needs to come from you. Right? Not me, there'll be mad if it comes from me and respect you, if it comes from you. Like that's what's about to unfold, potentially, right. And so can a student wrap their sweet little word, and all the bravery they can muster around advocating for themselves, because they're gonna have to do it their whole darn life. And so baby steps in doing that during the emails to the teachers, so that when they get to college, I can't tell you the number of kids who have frozen at the subject line of an email to their professor, and they just sit completely red faced and kind of uncomfortable saying, Well, I don't know what the subject should be. Or I don't know what, like they won't write the email because they don't know whether to say Dear professor, or high whatever the professor's first name is, like, get hung up on all these details that you could scaffold out in the high school or middle school setting, right? Just those kind of nitty gritties, especially with ADHD, any hurdle that gets in front of the task is a bigger hurdle than were a normal because motivation to do the hard thing is already hard. And so any of those small skills, the communication with teachers and Do they go to their own IEP and 504 meetings and talk about themselves in those meetings? If they're not set up that way? They should be. And it should be student voice over parent voice in those meetings. I think the other pieces have they ever called a doctor or therapists in their life. They ever had to do that. Because likely, if there's neuro divergence in place, or mental health issues, that practice absolutely needs to be in place because no one will talk to you when your kid turns 18 They will not allow you to speak for your child unless the kiddo signs off. Right? So that comes really early Washington State it's 13 Would ya crazy?

Casey O'Roarty 25:47
Yeah, it is it as well. And even I'm thinking even like calling and setting up a haircut, appointment. Any, any appointment. I remember and I shared this on Tuesday night, I think I remember encouraging Rohan to make appointments and letting her know like, right what you're gonna say down, including, like, Hi, my name is Rohan, I'm looking for blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Roan will never roleplay I'm like you want to practice? She says, No. But Ian's like, man. Okay. And I call it high reps, right? Those high reps that practice it stops being so scary. It starts becoming normal, they start to have a tolerance to the awkwardness. Yes, yes. Yes. I'm wondering too, because you mentioned that gap. You didn't call it a gap. But I imagine like seeing how brilliant like the whole potential thing, I think really kicks parents in the ass because we see this, you know, potential in our kids, and then they're not living up to their potential and then that, like, you just need to try a little bit harder. Right? It feels to me, like we spend so much time thinking we know what our kids should want, and not actually checking in with our kids about what they want. Because college, everybody can go to college guys, everyone, community colleges a lot cheaper, by the way. And you know, not everybody needs to go to these, like really intense high level schools, there is college for everyone. And it's so painful to witness and for me to hear parents who are so they have B's and C's, but it would be so easy for them to have A's it would only require a little more effort or a little more follow through and just like you said at the top, like they were more motivated. And it does so much damage to the connection and the relationship and the beliefs our kids have about themselves. What would you say about that? Like, can we just all relax on the grades? Everyone? Yeah, please. Okay, that's what I can say. You agree? So do you agree? Yes, please.

Cindy Palmer 27:57
I agree wholeheartedly. Again, it's an interesting juxtaposition of the two sort of jobs that I carry, right? Because the tutoring world is all about getting better grades in the coaching world. Although Yes, the parents would like to have the kids get better grades, they just want them to survive college and not flunk out, like it kind of have that vibe to it. And that's why we actually began focusing more on neurodivergent students because I was tired of helping the a minus kid get an A plus, so they can get into Stanford. That is not my jam is not my game, it's fine. For some, it's just not what my life's work is going to be. And so that was the pivot into that work. Because I love the notion of giving a student their dignity backs, and to watch it happen is one of the most beautiful processes, because often they don't hate the subject. They're not good at they hate the failure they're experiencing. Right? And therefore the shame. So to see a pivot from hating the subject to the subjects not to bed, to like, oh my gosh, I'm going to take the AP version of that subject. There's so much dignity that was like, shoulders back. I got this. I can talk to the professor, the teacher, I can ask questions I know enough to be uncertain and get my uncertainties taken care of. Versus I'm so dumb, so bad. Everybody else knows. I should know. But I don't and I shut down. Yeah. Right. So that lifting them into a space where inquiry is possible, both through the tutoring setting and the coaching setting. is so fun, and it's not about the grades. The thing that is so hard is that in the transition from high school to college for the students, high school, they can rock it. Sweet ADHD. kiddos can absolutely rock it in high school or just hold it together B's and C's but they're doing pretty fine. They make it to college which is The big feet, depending on the college, and it's a super feat, yeah. But then when that structure drops, that's what was required for them to pull off the things they could pull off. And once that's gone, and they have no idea how to rebuild it on their own, and it's really, really hard. And then they start to assume things. Like their intelligence is all gone. And like everybody here smarter than me. Yeah, when that's very, very, very far away from true, yeah.

Casey O'Roarty 30:34
So, what are some other things, you know, thinking about the people that are listening today? If you had a magic wand, and parents got it, and they were like, Okay, I'm gonna pull back and granite listeners, pulling back with an eighth grader looks different than how you pull back with your 11th or 12th grader, like, we're just going to understand that right? What are some small steps that parents can take to give their growing kids some practice, in being with ever less structure like I'm thinking about, you know, the scaffolding in place, slowly falling apart as our kids move through middle and high school? So what are some kind of Low risk, low hanging fruit places that you would love parents to start practising

Cindy Palmer 31:23
your kid wake themselves up in the morning, today? And what if they don't? And they're late to school? Will you let that happen? Will you make them write the email to the teacher as to either late? Yeah, or the attendance office? Or are you going to go get them up? Because they're going to be late, and they can't be late to school because they have a test first period. Right. So dropping the ball now is way less expensive, literally, than when they'll drop it in college. So the wakeup thing is huge. Yeah, it's low hanging fruit with incredible impact in the college setting, that they haven't had to find ways to wake themselves up for the nets. That's a really low hanger. That is probably top three difficulties for sure what everyone is

Casey O'Roarty 32:16
doing? Yeah. Well, it's so funny. You bring that one up, because I can't think of a couple people right now who are like, but my kids simply can't get up. And I say, That's bullshit. You don't have to, because you do it for them. Yes,

Cindy Palmer 32:32

Casey O'Roarty 32:33
Collaborate, let's get creative. Let's get hands off. Let's do whatever you need to do to get out of their room and trust that they can figure this out. Right? It's not just leaving them like good luck with that. It's talking and practising and like you said, with the one student that you worked with, you know, she discovered all the way back in high school. Oh, there's a reason why it's hard for me to study in my apartment. Okay, so we get to do the same kind of backpedalling with our kids. Why is this so hard? What's getting in the way? What is the actual problem that we're solving? Right?

Cindy Palmer 33:10
And it might be unpredictable? Yeah, the problem that you're solving could be that they drink caffeine every night at 7pm. Therefore, they don't get enough sleep. Therefore, it's really hard to wake up, but they're drinking it so they can stay awake till 11 and study because they're exhausted because they've been scheduled from 6am till 8pm. They work longer workdays than you do, by far. And so they're exhausted. So what did that's the problem? Right? And you have to trace all like, that's the backup the bus farther, I'm thinking need to back it. Yeah. Yeah. So

Casey O'Roarty 33:45
what are some other places?

Cindy Palmer 33:47
We've touched on one already, but the whole figuring out how to communicate with instructors, in their own words for their own reason? That's a big one. Well,

Casey O'Roarty 33:57
one of the things that you brought up on Tuesday was because a lot of kids are taking meds. Mm hmm. And I was even talking to somebody today who mentioned and we give him his meds at a certain time. And I thought about you and knowing I was going to be interviewing you and like, is that a low risk? Low hanging fruit place? Yeah,

Cindy Palmer 34:20
that's super tricky. Yeah. Right. I think it's a place where scaffolding can be taken off very carefully. Right? Because if they miss meds, depending on the med that it is, of course, like it can have pretty severe consequences. ADHD meds, they're not as drastic to be missed for one day as an antidepressant would be for instance. Sure. Yeah, that's a tricky spot. That's a really tricky spot. But I will say before you send your sweet thing that college you've got to have that figured out. Yeah, so you know, the summer before when schools not flying high and just having constant conversations about that along the way and getting crazy As with it, you know, how can they pair habits where, you know, maybe a kid would never leave the house without brushing their teeth? Well, then their pill is literally on top of their toothbrush bristles. Right? Right, as it sits on the sink. So pairing things together to where the habit becomes easier. And then I think the only other thing is, is there a way for them for you to not have to ask, verbally ask them? Is there some sort of like, you know, on the fridge, is there a yes and no thing where they flip it to? Yes. If they took them in? It's no if they didn't, there's something that's very frustrating to a kid and rightly so. Because they want to remember and the act of you asking is maddening. Right? So is there any way you can communicate back and forth without the verbal back and forth like, even if it was text takes a little tiny? I don't know. Like, if you can remove yourself from that direct confrontation about the thing where they're gonna yell at you? Or they say, oh,

Casey O'Roarty 36:00
right, right. And I know God, I'm doing it. I was just about to Yeah, yeah. And what I'm hearing you say is like, you don't have to guess like, you can go to your kid and say, I know it makes you crazy when I asked you if you've taken your meds. And so I want to stop asking, and it'll help me to stop asking if we had a different kind of system, where I know that you're taking care of it, and what could that look like and create it together? I love that. I love that. Yeah,

Cindy Palmer 36:30
I love that too.

Casey O'Roarty 36:31
I'm hearing you and want to reiterate like, the meds thing is slippery. It's tricky, and it has got to be practised before they're just out in the world. Are there any surprising things? Was it you that said you want to do a masterclass on grocery shopping the other night? Or was that Wendy?

Cindy Palmer 36:49
It wasn't but I do agree. I do agree. So there is pieces of life that may not hit freshmen and sophomore year because maybe their dining hall it up, but there will soon there after if they move into apartments, there'll be a point where if they've never fed themselves, it's gonna get exciting quick. There's so much tediousness to food prep and grocery shopping and getting healthy things and planning and list making and not impulsively shopping. Because impulsively shopping as an ADHD are can be real expensive, real quick. It is very much more calm and the overwhelming nature of a grocery store so many sparkly things to buy, like so many. Yeah. And so how do you build some real solid structures around that experience to where there's not overwhelmed, there's not too much choice, you have better control over the scenario and you get stuff that's going to actually support your body. Yeah. Growth and Development. Yeah. And

Casey O'Roarty 37:51
this reminds me of you know, how many parents I work with who are like, they won't ever empty the dishwasher and the conversations that I've had around, like, maybe it's time to change up your expectations on the way that your kids contribute. Because once they're driving, you can give them the grocery list, or you can go together, it is appropriate to pick a night for your kids to prep a meal. You know, Ian's you know, a weightlifter guy, you know, he's telling me all the things he's going to need to eat here coming up soon. And I was like, Great, let's food prep together. You know? And he was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, let's do that. We haven't yet done it. But we talk a big game about it. Yeah, you know, and there are plenty of meals. And I do this partially on purpose. But also, I'm just my schedule doesn't always align with what Ian's got going on. There are lots of mornings where he's on his own for breakfast. Yes, it's a matter of going to the refrigerator and figuring it out. But it's not being prepared for him. And sometimes I feel a little bit of mom guilt about that. But then I remember like, No way, man, he's got to figure this out. He has to be able to feed himself. He eats a lot that kid he's a big boy. And those gaps in the week where he's got to, you know, figure out what to eat. And I see him you know, making ground turkey in our house, ground turkey and rice and you know, it's an easy, healthy, filling meal and it makes me feel really good that he is getting some practice. Yeah, so that was a big one. We you know, one of the kids that my daughter went to high school with and she came up here to Bellingham super bright, like very resourceful kiddo. And as always had to be just because of family structure. And I asked her, I said, What's the most surprising thing about being in college and she said, how hard it is to feed myself. And I was like, Oh, really? That's the thing. She's like, Yeah. And she's, you know, taking all these hard classes. These are just like, No, it's not the studying. It's how hard it is to feed myself. So yeah,

Cindy Palmer 39:53
yeah, it is very, I mean, not just the shopping but the making

Casey O'Roarty 39:56
the making of the things and all the things all right Yes, and the cleanup of God. Yeah. And above the things. I mean, we know that we don't love that. So good. Cindy, I'm so glad that you came to play with me and that you're out in the world doing your work, you have supported my kids. So thank you. Is there anything else you want to leave listeners with before we wrap it up?

Cindy Palmer 40:21
I mean, I think just knowing that in particular ADHD, I think sometimes when a word and an experience becomes supposedly common, the difficulty of it is not remembered. And so like, for instance, having a child, anything that a lot of people do, there's this, it shouldn't be that hard thing going on. And I just want to say to parents of students with ADHD, especially in the college setting, that it is hard, and they will need strategies, and they will need your love and support, they will need you not to judge and shame them for any and failed class that they have, is going to be okay, it's going to be okay. Even if they had straight A's in high school, and they failed their first college class, it will be okay. And if you can hold your own anks to go quickly into curiosity and wondering what they can do to make things different than next time around. That's a much better spot than freakout mode. So I think being able to hold your own anxiety as a parent, when your sweet baby is no longer under your roof is a skill set that you must develop, or you will harm your child, and you'll definitely harm your relationship. So get a therapist, get a good set of friends, and get your anxiety out of the middle of your relationship with your kids. They already have enough. I mean, if you haven't heard the stats on anxiety, and college kids, it's scary. So they don't need to be bearing yours as well. Yes.

Casey O'Roarty 41:58
Thank you for that. Thank you for taking a stand for these young people. Cindy, thank you for that. You're sure. You're amazing. I'm so glad you came on. My final question is What does joyful courage mean to you?

Cindy Palmer 42:14
I did think about this in advance because I know you ask everyone. And so I've heard a lot of the answers that have been given in response to this. But I think I just experienced a little bit of joyful courage myself and my relationship with my eldest and trying to not divulge any details that would make her be likeable, or, but I think in essence, I had a moment where I was courageous enough to receive her feedback on something that I have done in my interactions with her and it's around conflict, and confrontation. And sometimes when she's tried to tell me hard things, or bring about something that really bugged her, I've gotten extremely defensive in the past. And she was in the midst of trying to figure out her own confrontation in her own situation that she's in and wondering why in the world, she was so afraid of it. And she said, Mom, I think it's in part because of the way that we've interacted in the past. And although that stings, I was able to sit in it with her. And there's something very courageous about believing your child has something to give you that you need to receive from them. And I receive and continue to receive that from her. And it's been a journey that I've reflected on my own little sweet ADHD going on which in part, it has a intense response to critique as a part of it. And so a key that that is a piece of her journey. But also, I think, in responding to that positively, the joy that comes into that is that we are still in relationship, and potentially the relationship is even deeper, because she saw me receive it. Yeah. And I'm hoping that there's further conversations in the future where she catches me in a spot where I as a parent need to grow. And I hear her.

Casey O'Roarty 44:03
Thank you for sharing that. I think that that says a lot. You know, when we have a relationship with our kids, and our kids are able to connect those dots. I mean, our kids are so much more reflective and emotionally evolved at their age. Well, that minor than I was at their age, right. And so for her to connect those dots, and then for you to have a relationship where she was willing to bring it to you and she must have had a certain amount of trust that you could receive it and hold it I think that says a lot. So thank you for sharing. Yeah, for sure. Where can people find you and follow the fun things you're doing?

Cindy Palmer 44:42
Yeah, so we have two websites. One of them is tutoring stem.com That's for the tutoring and things in the high school setting. I mean, obviously based on the title that's math and science support specifically though for students with a neuro diverse needs. So in particular, a ADHD and dyscalculia, which is the struggle with numbers and math. The other spot for the coaching end is threshold coaches.com. And that's for supporting college students with their ADHD journey.

Casey O'Roarty 45:13
Yeah, and I know that you work locally. Yes. Are you open? If parents that maybe aren't local, but want to pick your brain about finding out how to figure this out with their kid? Are you open to people reaching out with questions?

Cindy Palmer 45:29
Absolutely. And we're expanding. So take over the world. I know him take over the ADHD college world. It's gonna be great, amazing,

Casey O'Roarty 45:37
amazing. Awesome. I'll make sure those links are in the show notes listeners, and you're amazing. Thank you, Cindy. Thanks for hanging out with me. Thank you

Casey O'Roarty 45:52
thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners, as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at beast braudel.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace

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