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174: Support for Neurodivergent Parents with Dr. Rahimeh Andalibian & Sara Goodrich
18th December 2022 • Your Parenting Mojo - Respectful, research-based parenting ideas to help kids thrive • Jen Lumanlan
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Most of the resources related to parenting and neurodiversity are geared toward helping neurodivergent children, not neurodivergent parents, so this episode aims to help close that gap. Whether you (or your partner, if you have one) have a diagnosis or you see yourself (or them) struggling but can't quite figure out why, this episode may help. Autism and ADHD are diagnosed at wildly differing rates in girls and boys (in large part because boys' symptoms often turn outward while girls' symptoms turn inward), which means that girls are very often undiagnosed and unsupported well into adulthood. Dr. A. may help you to identify neurodivergence in yourself or your partner, and then connect you to resources to support you on your journey. Find more about Dr. A's practice at SpectrumServicesNYC.com I also very much appreciated Dr. A's memoir The Rose Hotel (affiliate link) about her experiences in Iran during the revolution, and later in the U.K. and the U.S.   Jump to highlights (00:03) Introduction to this episode. (03:07) What kind of patterns do you see in couples where one partner is known to be neurodivergent? (07:28) It’s often the female-identifying partner who is the one who identifies the issue. (11:46) What are some of the red flags for neurodivergent partners? (16:05) Men tend to flood four times as fast as their female partners when they are in an argument. (21:43) How do I support my partner in being a successful parent and also find more balance in terms of what they bring to the family? (25:38) What do we do with this knowledge that we have? (30:31) Dealing with conflict between the couple. (32:46) What do you think of the idea of trauma as a factor in ADHD? (36:12) Diagnosis of ADHD is multi-directional –. (41:56) Mental health is still stigmatized and getting a diagnosis could backfire on you. (42:31) What is a diagnosis and how does it help? (47:44) The different types of ADHD. (53:03) Social calendaring and extracurricular activities. (54:46) Time blocking is a better approach for ADHD. (01:01:45) Strengths of people with ADHD.   References Blair, R.J.R. (2005). Responding to the emotions of others: Dissociating forms of empathy through the study of typical and psychiatric populations. Consciousness and Cognition 14(4), 698-718.
Bostock-Ling, J.S. (2017, December). Life satisfaction of neurotypical women in intimate relationships with a partner who has Asperger’s Syndrome: An exploratory study. Unpublished Master’s thesis: The University of Sydney.
Chronis-Tuscano, A., & Stein, M.A. (2012). Pharmapsychotherapy for parents with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Impact on maternal ADHD and parenting. CNS Drugs 26(9), 725-732.
Chronis-Tuscano, A., O’Brien, K.A., Johnston, C., Jones, H.A., Clarke, T.L., Raggi, V.L., Rooney, M.E., Diaz, Y., Pian, J., & Seymour, K.E. (2011). The relation between maternal ADHD symptoms & improvement in child behavior following brief behavioral parent training is mediated by change in negative parenting. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 39, 1047-1057.
Conway, F., Oster, M., & Szymanski, K. (2011). ADHD and complex trauma: A descriptive study of hospitalized children in an urban psychiatric hospital. Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy 10, 60-72.
Dziobek, I., Rogers, K., Fleck, S., Bahnemann, M., Heekeren, H.R., Wolf, O.T., & Convit, A. (2007). Dissociation of cognitive and emotional empathy in adults with Asperger Syndrome using the mUltifaceted Empathy Test (MET). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 38, 464-473.
Ford, J.D., Thomas, J., Racusin, R., Daviss, W.B., Ellis, C.G., Rogers, K., Reiser, J., Schiffman, J., & Sengupta, A. (1999). Trauma exposure among children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Attention Deicit-Hyperactivity Disorder. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 67(5), 786-789.
Hull, L., Petrides, K.V., & Mandy, W. (2020). The female autism phenotype and camouflaging: A narrative review. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 7, 306-317.
Lilley, R., Lawson, W., Hall, G., Mahony, J., Clapham, H., Heyworth, M., Arnold, S., Trollor, J., Yudell, M., & Pellicano, E. (2022). “Peas in a pod”: Oral history reflections on autistic identity in family and community by late-diagnosed adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 1-16.
Mazursky-Horowitz, H., Thomas, S.R., Woods, K.E., Chrabaszcz, J.D., Deater-Deckard, K., & Chronis-Tuscano, A. (2018). Maternal executive functioning and scaffolding families of children with and without parent-reported ADHD. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 46(3), 463-475.
Mazursky-Horowitz, H., Felton, J.W., MacPherson, L., Ehrlich, K.B., Cassidy, J., Lejuez, C.W., & Chronis-Tuscano, A. (2014). Maternal emotion regulation mediates the association between adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms and parenting. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 43(1), 121-131.
McGough, J.J., Smalley, S.L., McCracken, J.T., Yang, M., Del’Homme, M., Lynn, D.E., & Loo, S. (2005). Psychiatric comorbidity in adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Findings from multiplex families. American Journal of Psychiatry 162, 1621-1627.
Moser, D.A., Aue, T., Suardi, F., Manini, A., Rossignol, A.S., Cordero, M.I., Merminod, G., Ansermet, F., Serpa, S.R., Fabez, N., & Schechter, D.S. (2015). The relation of general socio-emotional processing to parenting specific behavior: A study of mothers with and without posttraumatic stress disorder. Frontiers in Psychology 6:1575.
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Park, J.L., Hudec, K.L., Johnston, C. (2017). Parental ADHD symptoms and parenting behaviors: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review 56, 25-39.
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Transcripts

Jessica:

Do you get tired of hearing the same old intros to podcast episodes? Me too. Hi, I'm not Jen. I'm Jessica, and I'm in Burlesque Panama. Jen has just created a new way for listeners to record the introductions to podcast episodes, and I got to test it out. There's no other resource out there quite like Your Parenting Mojo, which doesn't just tell you about the latest scientific research on parenting and child development, but puts it in context for you as well, so you can decide whether and how to use this new information. If you'd like to get new episodes in your inbox, along with a free infographic on 13 reasons your child isn't listening to you and what to do about each one, sign up at yourparentingmojo.com/subscribe and come over to our free Facebook group to continue the conversation about this episode. You can also thank Jen for this episode by donating to keep the podcast ad free by going to the page for this or any other episode on yourparentingmojo.com. If you'd like to start a conversation with someone about this episode or know someone who would find it useful, please forward it to them. Overtime, you're going to get sick of hearing me read this intro as well, so come and record one yourself. You can read from a script she's provided, or have some real fun with it and write your own. Just go to yourparentingmojo.com and click read the intro. I can't wait to hear yours.

Jen Lumanlan:

Hello and welcome to the Your Parenting Mojo podcast. And today we are continuing our series on the intersection of parenting and neuro divergence. And instead of looking at children, where we and also the vast majority of other resources on neurodivergence and family-families focus, we're going to look at the parents’ experience, and how parents’ neurodivergence impacts family relationships. I'm here today with parent Sara who uses she and they pronouns and who is the neurodivergent parent of William age three and a half. Sara is currently studying a master's in social work program at California Polytechnic University Humboldt and their interest in trauma and its intersection with the clinical aspect of social work. And psychology is part of what drew them to this interview. Welcome, Sara. It's good to have you here.

Sara:

Thank you.

Jen Lumanlan:

And we're also looking forward to talking with Dr. Rahimeh Andalibian, who uses she/her pronouns about this topic. Dr. Andalibian goes by Dr. A. She was born in Mashad, Iran and moved with her family to California in 1986. Dr. A, was educated in Los Angeles and is a clinical psychologist specializing in trauma work, neurodiverse adult evaluations, and couples and family therapy. She holds certifications in family intervention, EMDR, sensorimotor, psychotherapy, and neurodiverse couples work. She is the owner of spectrum services NYC where her staff support neurodiverse adults with diagnoses, therapy, coaching, and more welcome Dr. A.

Dr. Andalibian:

Nice to have you. Or nice to be here and nice to talk to you.

Jen Lumanlan:

Good to have you here. All right. So, I know that you work a lot with couples who come to you with communication problems. And it turns out that when one more potentially, partners end up getting diagnosed, and I'm wondering if you can maybe kind of set the scene here by telling us what kind of patterns you see in couples where one partner is known to be neurodivergent? Or where there's an unknown acknowledged part of the relationship?

Dr. Andalibian:

Yeah, so I think twofold. One is that from my practice, we get a lot of folks who are not diagnosed, but suspect that they're diagnosed, you know, they're diagnoseable, or they've been having difficulty, they've researched the web and have gotten some, you know, screeners or people have told them multiple times that this might be going on, or they've had ongoing frustration when they come into couples work or individual work. And then we discover that, it's really a good idea to kind of take a look at the diagnostic piece. So, I think lots of the people that we have coming to us, and there's probably lots of families where there is neurodivergence within their individual or couplehood. And they're doing, you know, fine or fine enough, and things are evolving in the relationship and all as well. The people that come to us through, you know, our website, or through referral sources, or folks that are struggling, right. So, I always like to use the sort of the scale of let's say, if you've got a zero to 100, or zero 10 scale, and you've got all these different behaviors and different actions and different ways of you know, managing your intimacy, relationship, work, social components, whatnot, it's, you know, lots of people don't ever get diagnosed or don't need a diagnosis for that matter, because they're doing well enough. And then right in the middle of that scale is when people are starting to have difficulty in one area or multiple areas. And so that's when you they come to us. And that's when we end up seeing them and potentially diagnosing them, that will hopefully help make sense of the stuff that they're struggling with. And then, you know, give us a clear guideline as to how we're going to move forward and helping the individual but also helping them in their relationship and their intimacy. And then also in their parenting and work and social components and these other things.

Jen Lumanlan:

I guess I'm curious for a double click in terms of what kinds are the things are you seeing these couples presenting with like, what are they—what problems are they coming to you saying this is an issue and you're saying, Oh, have you ever thought of this?

Dr. Andalibian:

Yeah, most often when it comes to couples, non-individual folks that write to us and start to come out for services, but most of the couples who come to us are similar to the neurotypical world where the woman typically or the female partner is typically the one having lots of complaints and difficulty finding a lot of injustice and the way that things are divided up finding that they're overwhelmed, overworked, over under-appreciated, the intimacy of suffering, the sexual relationship’s suffering, the chilchild-rearing stuff is really, really feels like a burden to one partner. And so that's usually what brings them in as one partner is really advocating for we need to figure out what to do, we need to figure out what's going on, there's something not working here, and we tend to get a lot of partners where the female partner at least in a lot of the cases that we have are starting to feel like they're going crazy like they're like we you know, we've been through this, we went we've been to four or five couples therapists we've gone over or what this trigger was around this fight, for example, we've resolved it, it feels like things are getting better, I feel closer to this partner, and then my partner withdraws. Or they go through this sort of patterning again, and most couples have the same fight different content, it's similar patterning and their fights. So that's not unusual for neurodiverse couples. But what tends to be a little bit more unusual, in my experience, and my practice is that the transferability of learning seems to take much, much longer. So, if you have a similar circumstance, and you've learned, you know, certain aspects of what's going on what ticks off your partner, what ticks you off, how to regulate yourself, how to regulate your partner, how to communicate, etc. And then a slight variation to the fight or difficulty, that transferability of learning from one circumstance to another seems to be harder. And so, the partners, the neurotypical partners, or some of them, of course, are neurotypical, with some, you know, I call neurodivergent sort of sparkles, you know, we all have a little bit of neurodivergence in us, so, for the lack of better terms, I'm saying neurotypical partner, but that doesn't mean that they may not be neurodivergent, or have features of it. They're finding that that becomes, you know, so extremely challenging that they go into fight-flee mode right away. So that just, they are just ready to, you know, call it quits, or, you know, bail out of the relationship, because it's just becoming such a long-term pattern. And they feel pretty hopeless because they've gone to get services, lots of different places, they've had a lot of neurotypical interventions, that actually tend to exaggerate some of the difficulty that they've had.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, and I'm, I'm really glad that you brought up there, you sort of alluded to the idea that it's often the female-identifying partner who's identifying the issue. And who may think that there's something really wrong with me because I'm, we're not able to function in this relationship. And I think that was one thing that was clear to me and the research that I was doing in preparation for this episode, which was that it's often the female-identifying partner who says, Well, my, my husband is doing fine, right, because they're keeping it together at work, and they are clearly functioning. And it's completely ignoring all of the work that the stay-at-home parent is doing, or perhaps the parent who is working and doing a lot of parenting as well. And also, that female-identifying partner is managing the emotional climate of the family. And nobody realizes all of this until she gets so sick, or something happens that takes her out of the picture. And all of a sudden, everything falls apart. And so, to me, that really stuck out as an indicator of, oh, you know, if this kind of thing is happening, if if you're out of the picture, and everything's falling apart, then that's an indicator, everything is not okay, even when you're there..

Dr. Andalibian:

Yeah. And I think that leads to actually answering your question, maybe even another aspect of it, and I was really interested to hear that is that I think a lot of the, the partners that I have that come in complaining about the dynamics in the relationship, it feels like that we'll like that constant we've been doing this, we've been doing this, we've been doing this, and it's over and over and over and over. And not to say that if you had a neurotypical partner, or neurotypical couple that wouldn't be this similar complaint or symptomology. But I think with interventions, that's the key triggers for me of, we might be dealing with neurodivergence here, like if I have an individual part, you know, person in my office, or someone that I'm talking to or a friend, and they're talking about the couple’s therapists that they've seen, or the work that they've done. And they, they see that they're including intervention in their lives, they're finding that they're kind of in this hamster wheel of this constant dance. And they feel that they're carrying more of the burden of that, that tends to fly from me that there may be, you know, these folks may be talking a different language and us just saying, communicate more effectively is not actually assisting them. Because they're actually communicating very effectively, they're telling each other that shit ain't working like they're struggling, you know, it's that we're trying to get them you know, like making eye contact or holding hands or looking at each other while you're making out. Many of those interventions can actually be extremely flooding to a neurodivergent partner. And having an intervention where you do a couple's thing. And by the way, I'm guilty of doing all of these things, not only to people that I've treated but also for myself in treatment as well. So, I'm not only the President, I'm also the client. I always like to say that about my work just because I think it helps deshame the dynamic. The more we all talk about it the more people can get the help and support that they need. Like doing a two-hour intervention with a couple’s person can leave a neurotypical-ish partner and I would consider myself that, feeling really close and feeling really intimate and feeling like we realigned certain things and we dealt with a bunch of some traumatic stuff and attachment stuff. And then we're out to dinner. I'm expecting much more closeness and tightness and holding hands and he's walking 10 feet in front of me, clueless to where I'm at in space to him and we're sitting at this restaurant, we're having food, not making eye contact, not looking at me looking at the screen. He was probably, in hindsight, he was probably regulating himself and to me, it felt so hopeless because I thought if we just did this to our intervention thing, and we felt so close afterwards, and then within 30 minutes that feels like we're back to that I, you know, I'm on an island and you're on an island without having an understanding of the neurodivergence, you can then translate that into, he doesn't love me, this is not a priority, like all of these things that you tell yourself, that then could push me into fight flee freeze responses because I had trauma in my background, and that was my defense when I was in difficult situations where the intimacy felt challenged. So, I think that's the, you know, we get a lot of partners somewhere in that spectrum where they either haven't received any services or they've received services, and it's been really ineffective, and it's caused them to feel even more hopeless and more powerless. So, it's sort of a, you know, we've got a big, big variety that come through, but that those are some of the things we noticed.

Sara:

Well, I guess, I really liked hearing about the specific interventions that you found to be triggering for the neurodivergent partner. And I'm wondering if there are other ones that are kind of like a red flag that you wouldn't use for a neurodivergent person or a couple with a neurodivergent partner. And I was wondering if, when we're talking neurodivergent, if you're thinking of all of the kind of ways that we understand that, or for your specifically thinking of autism spectrum disorder. So yeah, that's those are my two follow-ups.

Dr. Andalibian:

I'm specifically when we're talking about the couples, I was, I was sort of referencing the couples that have one partner, who's autistic. And I'll use that as a term to describe folks that we in the past have called high-functioning Asperger's. But really, as the diagnostic manual, now everyone is under the same category of autism. And there's, the field is sort of shifted, and my opinion about that has shifted over time of what was useful and what wasn't. But I think the idea that when we say someone is really high-functioning, that even the mildest version of autism can have real huge impact, and that those folks will likely not get the help that they need. And so the importance of having that categorization, I think a lot of people are starting to talk about that a little bit more. So, I'm thinking of more autism partnered with another with a partner that's not on the autism spectrum, but could have attention deficit, or which actually is a very big combination I see clinically is that I see an attention deficit, super doer, we see lots of therapists, lots of nurses, lots of superduper doers Type A people that are bonded with and married to, or in relationship with autistic partners. And so, there's lots of ways that that works for a very long period of time. And then there's lots of ways of that kind of combusts and makes things very, very difficult. Kind of similar to what you were saying earlier, Jen, about when the when the partner stops doing the doing, you know, whether they've left the relationship or not, but you know, like, for example, lots of lots of couples, when they're going through a really big huge change in their physical body. So if they're going through postpartum, where they just don't have capacity for any of the other stuff that they were juggling for the entire family, for their partner, the things they were compensating for, and they were focusing only on an infant, they were trying to, you know, keep alive and themselves and, or we were talking about people that are premenopausal, or metabolic going through menopause, or some accident happens, or some major illness occurs or a loss of a parent or a loss of a job. Those are events that sort of trigger that shift in the dynamic that kind of has been okay. I mean, most of the time, the partners are somewhat clueless to what's going on, they'll say, well, the kids are doing okay, and things seem to be all right, you know, they don't necessarily have a deeper understanding of some of the difficulty unless the partner has really been badgering them. And they'll say, you know, yeah, you've been nag you know, you're nagging me, you're telling me the same thing. You know, I've heard this over and over, it's not nothing I do is good enough. I hear that a lot. Where they just feel completely, like they give up because they feel like they can't win no matter what. It's really, honestly pretty heartbreaking and challenging for both people. And so that's our hope for the kind of having the kind of awareness and understanding of okay, this is the dynamic that's going on here. This is adding to the regular old stuff that couples need to navigate the same challenges that all couples have. You also have this other piece that's preventing you from being sort of teammates. It becomes, by the time they come to us it becomes because it's you against me, you know, you're complaining about me, you're saying I'm not doing it right, you're saying you'd become and so they've lost that sort of team approach where it's us working with this neurodivergence or this difference in translating with one another. And I think that's the, the neurotypical interventions that don't tend to work are first, if they're not informed that we have a neurodivergent partner or partners, they won't be able to give the sort of communication, for example, is one where if you're talking about communication, I used to do a lot of sort of Imago style IFS, which is like talking about parts and also paying attention to what got triggered for me when something were to happen. You know, if my partner wasn't listening, then it was like telling them why it was important that that communication happened the way it did, and what it would trigger for me and what parts would come up for me where I would go, and why I would want to flee or fight or whatever it was. My partner, you know, people don't listen after like 30 seconds of that, because what happens? First of all, we know this research to be true with Dr. Gottman's work and women, men in general, where men tend to flood four times as fast as their female partners when in an argument. So, their perceived experience of being criticized can actually flood their nervous system. It changes their hormones, and their pee, it changes their blood pressure, it changes their, because they've been monitored, and what they call the Love Lab, when couple of starts to argue. And so, my two cents on that, and of course, I haven't done the research, and I don't think Dr. John Gottman has done it either, but maybe he will after he'll assess, is that they get my sense is that the flooding that happens in the nervous system of someone who is, you know, in the middle of a discussion or a talk so often neurotypical partner thinks they're having a conversation, or are beginning a discussion. And then your neurodiverse partner feels that it's a fight, they feel it in their body, it's like they're preparing for. So typically, you know, let's say I go in with this understanding that or there's hope that we're gonna get to resolve something and maybe work on something, even if we don't come to resolution, at least put it on a table and name it. And to my neurodiverse partner, it could feel like I'm attacking. And so, their defenses are immediately up. And so, what I see as a neurotypical partner is not the internal experience they had, what I see as a defensive partner who's refusing to listen, who is refusing to explain, you know, fill in the blanks. And then that triggers all kinds of stuff in me about the kind of relationship I'm in and the triggers that that does for me and my relationship with my you know, my father was like that, and I can't stand being in relationship with my, you know, the same person. And all of this happens. And it just becomes this sort of big, big blob of conflict. And then once you have enough of this conflict built in, it starts to erode the stuff you appreciate about each other the stuff that you are, you know, supposed to say it's like a four to one ratio. Again, Dr. Gottman’s work that if you want to keep status quo, you have to at least agree, make a statement of agreement or something positive about the person into middle intermixed into the negative share that you have, and it can't be in the form of a criticism or contempt. Well, all this stuff gets thrown out the window when you're in the middle of you know, and most of our families, of course, they're overworked, overtired, overscheduled, have a massive amount of stuff coming at them socially, politically, you know, with everything that we all deal with, in the course of our days. And so, to navigate all of that, and then to navigate their couplehood, and then to navigate child-rearing, and to be speaking different languages, and to not understand, and the interventions offered often are increased communication, creating time for yourselves with one another. But let's say you don't know each other's love language, for example, right? So, it's very similar, like neurotypical neurodiverse interventions, were going back to what I was saying earlier. If the idea is to have in the middle of something, or when something's happened, you're regulating yourself, and then you come to your partner and say, hey, when this happened the other night, when you interrupted me, when I was talking to a friend that felt very shaming and triggered this in my, and I'm going on and on, this is a very neurotypical intervention, my partner has already checked out, they're completely flooded. So very specific, and then also, you know, the part that, sometimes often, I should say, sometimes often people do is when they get super flooded, is that they sort of piled the kitchen sink, like all the dishes are on the kitchen sink, you did this the other day, and this continues to happen with the kids and, you know, you've never stood out from me with you know, and it's just the never and off you know, the things that we know not to say multiplied, and just magnified and so clear, consistent sort of very simple fact like, this is what happened. This is how I felt this is my request for the future. And by the way, these any technique that I go over and talk about is not in a vacuum going to be effective, right? It's requiring an understanding of, you know, sort of a manual between each person. Because every, every human being is very complex. And anyone that's, you know, on the autism spectrum, or they have ADHD or OCD or any of the other neuro divergences are very, very unique. And so that's why I think it's important to understand how do you process what do you notice what floods your system? What are your strengths? What are the ways that you contribute really well? And then what are the partners and then figuring out how to actually make sort of a manual for each other, so that you can have it as a reference point, and then applying those interventions to those individual people. Because a new even a neurotypical intervention may not work with every neurodivergent, you know, couples, obviously, or neurotypical intervention with their divergent. I know I said that mouth load there, so.

Jen Lumanlan:

So I'm really interested in these, these dynamics between couples that you're mentioning, and we actually had a question come in from a member of the Your Parenting Mojo community. And I'm just going to describe her situation a little bit. And I've sent you this information in advance. So, I know you're familiar with it, Dr. A. And she and her partner both have ADHD, and he was recently diagnosed with mild autism spectrum disorder. And they've been working with a couple of therapists to do what's called increasing their capacity, which is what the therapist said they were going to do. And a year later, they have a ton of insight, but not really any more capacity. And the partner has limited executive functioning capabilities. So, he gets really overwhelmed by their five and three-year-olds. And he also doesn't take on any of the planning, scheduling, coordinating, communicating, all the stuff that happens between families in the outside world gets overwhelmed by strong emotions. To his credit, he is tapping out when he needs some time to recharge. But that leaves the parent who reached out to me to sort of sue them manage the children. And she finds that she's sort of fitting into this classic mothering role of managing the entire mental and emotional load of the family. And so, she's wondering, you know, how do I support my partner in being a successful parent, and also find some more balance in terms of what they bring to the family? As parents? What do you think about that, that kind of situation? Because I'm guessing that sort of a synaptic key for a situation a lot of parents are finding themselves in?

Dr. Andalibian:

Yeah, I think it's, first of all, let me just say it's very, very hard. No matter what people say and do and no matter what, who the clinician, it's a very, very hard situation. It really, really is because you're dealing with multiple kids, you're dealing with individuals who are need to be functioning on a pretty high level to be able to manage the two children. I mean, I really, and frankly, I think we're all symptomatic, because we are in environments and societies where that kind of village is not there. You know, it's all on the parents. I mean, my parents had five kids and had, I remember lots of people helping my parents, and I had plenty of quality time with my mom, and she was I don't remember her ever being stressed. I don't know if my child will say that about me. And I'm, you know, and I've got one kid. And so, there were lots of resources, we had someone coming in delivering groceries, someone was there doing this, we had a person who drove you know, out of there are that my answer in in and out of our house, like a revolving door, there was a whole family of seven people that were constantly there to support my parents, but also the kids, right, and we had a ton of cousins, I cannot say that that's my experience raising a child now. And most of the people I know, feel that they're sort of community and village support is not there. So, first of all, I just want to say that as a whole, as a society, we're all struggling to keep up with all the demands that is at us without the resources that we all need, which is each other. Okay, so having said that, so I want to normalize some of the challenges that they have, because it's, you know, it's really, it's really hard. And then also, I think, redefining the expectations and relationships and redefining what a success would be. So, to me, when I look at her situation, we've got two people that have ADHD that have executive function, you know, challenges. We've got him recently diagnosed with autism. That is, he's in his late 30s, or mid to late 30s. So that has been a lifelong journey that has taught him lots of adaptations, lots of ways to cope, including probably avoidance of certain things and certain defenses that are not, no longer, they were very useful in the past for him, but they probably no longer are helpful in his relationship with his wife and his kids. But that's what he's probably learned, and there are lots of them that I'm sure she's learned. And so, I think figuring out a way, so one, this, I think there is success, in that they've gotten a diagnosis, which I think for most people forget, this takes people years, it takes two to four years for someone from the start of their journey to be like, hey, maybe, and then to finally getting a diagnosis and going through the process, and it takes them years to actually process what that means. What are their strengths? What are the areas that they really their pet, you know, they just pick huge pitfalls. And they don't want to do that again anymore, because it has huge consequences, and the relationships and their work and this and that. And often, I find, we have about maybe a 10%, maybe 20%, I’m gathering the data on this now, but about 10, 20% of the people that go through our diagnostic piece where they get a diagnosis, to roll right into treatment. So, they're doing couples work, individual work, or coaching work. And so that's still a pretty small percentage, if you think about it, like having, and that doesn't mean that by the way, I don't follow everyone. So, I don't know if they've gotten services outside of our program or not. But I think sometimes that that becomes really key. Because once you have a diagnosis, and you have an understanding, so now you've gotten to the doctor, you know, you're diabetic, or pre-diabetic or whatever, and they've given you this medication, well, now you've got to start to actually apply the dietary stuff, the lifelong, you know, the lifestyle changes and the medication if you need to take them. So, if that hasn't happened, and if that's also the big sort of challenge, that's next, which is now what do we do with this knowledge that we have and how do we apply it? Therapeutic work alone, like having a couples therapist, for the couple, often is not enough, you know, we might need executive function coaching work for one person. And by the way, one coach is not necessarily the right coach for that person. So, there's lots of different ways to sort of address that. And I think, frankly, the challenge that I feel I have, you know, that we're trying to do some, some coursework offerings, and some things that people can download for a much cheaper price to be able to because it's a privilege to have the money. And the insurance reimbursements, if you're lucky enough to have good outer cup, you know, out of network coverage, to be able to get these services. And so it adds another burden to a family that's already feeling pretty burdened if you're adding all of these services. But I have to tell you, I found that not doing it often can lead to a lot more, you know, like, going through lots of days, where you're not showing up to work and jeopardizes your work, having an intimate relationship that starts to slowly wither and die, and then leading to separation divorce, that also is very costly and costly on a variety of levels, financially, emotionally, children, you know, you name it. So, it does become a pretty big investment with a couple to really, really do this work and, and some survive, and some frankly, don't, or some buy some time until the kids are a little older, and then they don't stay together. It really depends on how who's putting in all their, who's putting in all the effort and how they're doing it, and also finding the right resources. And I have to say, our field has not been that great. I mean, we're a pretty new field in general psychology as a whole. But I don't think that we've been that great at offering the kind of resources and support that our neurodivergent people have needed. And so, there are groups and people and organizations that are doing that. And we're all working really hard to try to keep up and try to have a life while we're trying to meet the needs of the community. But also, there's a lot more reading to be doing. So I think one of the answers to that I have with regards to the, you know, capacity piece is that besides modifying and then being very concrete and clear. And really working on emotional regulation, I think that becomes a really, really big piece. You know, they're their relationships where they can have enough conflict, and they can have multiple conflicts and as long as they repair, like that's the research on couples is that as long as you repair more often than you fight the relationship tends to sustain. That's also I think, John Gottman’s work. I think it no divergent relationships. This is my very anecdotal and personal experience of doing this specializing as the last 10 years. So, it's definitely not, you know, I haven't done research on this. And there may be other people that feel that I'm not accurate. But my sense is that the sort of ratio of, only 25% of the time you need to be on the same page for a relationship to sustain. I find when you have neurodivergence that just shoots down to about 10%, if not less, just by the nature of the fact that people are speaking in totally different terms. People are processing completely differently. People's senses are triggered and their body is traumatized in a completely different way than a neurotypical relationship you know neurotypical partners are and so when you have such a small ratio of times where you feel like you're on the same page, or you really get each other and you're really in tune with one another, that requires a hell of a lot more work then, right, to be able to sort of capture that difference because that's the majority of the time you start to feel like that. So those the couples, that for a variety of reasons, and there are lots of factors that go into this. It's not just an or divergent piece, but lots of other factors. But the couples that emotionally have a hard time regulating themselves, and often it means what the, you know, the neurotypical partner or the neurodivergent partner often is also with a partner that's traumatized or a partner that has ADHD or has some other neurodivergence because then it makes it so much more difficult. That grounding that consistent regulating, you've got parents that are pretty burnt out and exhausted, and their, the amount of conflict sort of overtakes the relationship.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, that's hard.

Dr. Andalibian:

Yeah, it is, it is a hard one. It’s a hard one. But I think, a lot of, I don't want to also just be talking about some of the negative negativity of it, but emotional regulation, working on impulse control, so that you're not also like in moments of conflict, if you're dealing, you know, if you're in a relationship where you're dealing with a conflict, in that moment, that's often the worst time to say, or do anything with a partner or to make a request or to, to, you know, bring up the list of things or to do it to do where. And I think often, at least in this situation, I am, I wonder, and I talked about this on another podcast about the need for the, the non-autistic partner to really take more and go inward and do more of that work inward. And that often I find does not happen because the partner is burnt out, or busy and exhausted from all the managing and all the, you know, all the plates, they're spinning. But it becomes really huge because it really takes one person to regulate, and it has a ripple effect into the family. So, if you're regulating really well, if you got one person, one of the partners really regulating well, it tends to decrease the conflict, because there's just no ball to kind of bounce back and forth, and the conflict when that person has not triggered themselves. And so I often say, instead of putting more energy into, I'm going to empower you to increase the capacity of my partner, I'm going to get them to do X, Y, and Z. Really, that needs to go much more inward. And then you can kind of sit down and go, Okay, what are the logistical things that we need to do, what's a time block that we can put aside, and these are the things that, you know, let's say the mornings or evenings are horrible, because they're so executive function oriented, you know, get the teeth brushed, put the you know, cream on, put the sunblock on, don't forget to do the hair, and then get the food in and then do this and the brush, like the executive functioning of what it takes in the morning. I got a three year old, I get it, it's a lot like I literally need a list on the mirror for myself, and I'm pretty good at that stuff. So that to do that for multiple kids, there's just a lot of stuff to manage, while you're being time management, you're managing your time blindness, you know, all of these things. So, I think, not those excluding those circumstances, my partner does really, really well with play with my kid, or they can sit down and watch a cartoon, anything, giggle and laugh at them. And that's fantastic, okay, get those two hours, or an hour and a half, or whatever it might be, where he can manage that. And he can prepare the meal or having certain blocks where I think once there's an acceptance of these are the ways that we're very different. This is going to be a continuous problem. I always say to couples, delegate as much as you can, so if you have the ability to hire someone to food prep for you, to grocery shop for you, to come clean the house to whatever parts that are causing difficulty between you as much as you can delegate outside of the household. So the conflict over those circumstances becomes less again, I know it's a privilege, but often, and most of us, you know, have the ability to invest in that if we can, and then really reevaluate what are the things I'm really good at what are the things he's really good at, or she's really good at. And then let's divide and conquer. The core of it is that when people once people are diagnosed, my hope is and this is what we see happen often is that they start to feel like they're slowly going back to being on the same team, as opposed to one against the other. And that, that transition can be months for some couples and it can take years for some couples.

Sara:

I have heard Dr. Gabor Maté say that ADHD can form in response to childhood trauma. And this doesn't have to be really big trauma. It can be as simple as a child's needs not being seen and met by the parent. ADHD symptoms are indicative of a person's tendency to disconnect, which is an adaptive strategy if you're exposed to childhood trauma, from which you disconnect to survive. What do you think of this?

Dr. Andalibian:

Well, I—I love I mean, I'm a trauma therapist. So that's sort of where I, I think I found my wings and found my, my whole history and life explained in a way that really was empowering and extraordinary. So, I agree with everything regarding trauma that I've read so far, and I haven't read everything that Gabor has contributed, but, Vessel and Pat Ogden, and many others, most of all of their work I follow. I think when it comes to ADHD, and it being trauma-based, or the sort of the co-occurrence of that I, and I'm evolving, and I, you know, wanted to say this actually, in the beginning, so I'll take the chance to take the time to say now, you know, I'm evolving as a clinician, I'm evolving as a person or of the field of psychology, like I said, is pretty young, it's evolving. Research is evolving. Our ability to, you know, our active MRIs and ability to just study the brain and understanding the physiology of that, or the, you know, genetic research is evolving. So, it's all evolving. I don't know what the answer will be 10 years from now, I've been humbled enough, in my career in my life to be like, you know, what I find helpful is to, to do the end approach. You know, I think that the biomarkers of genes and that I think we need to pay attention to, there are lots of people that I treat, and I have beautiful colleague, who's one of our, one of my evaluators, who has had no socio-political trauma, and no intergenerational trauma and all five, her and her siblings and five members of her family are all diagnosed with ADHD with really similar symptomology. So, and then you have lots of people like me, who had lots of childhood trauma. And right from third grade, after some significant traumas happened, I started to have a lot of difficulty with working memory and multiplication table, when I was like a straight A student in Iran, and so dyslexia, dyscalculia, those are the, you know, so the in combination with those things, I mean, I can't say that I'm not keeping my eye very closely on my daughter, even though she's growing up very differently, and a wonderful, you know, having a wonderful life with protected from almost all the trauma that I ever were exposed to, and having a wonderful, you know, joyful, playful life, that I may not see some of that ADHD symptomology. So, I would, you know, I'm keeping an eye through that process, I'm watching some of the impulsivity and watching some of the difficulty regulating, she's also three and a toddler. So, it's developmentally in that box, right. But at the same time, I'm also very aware of the intergenerational piece of that, like, I'm sorry, the multiple members of my family that, you know, cousin, who grew up here, you know, had no exposure to the things that me and my brothers and my cousins were exposed to in Iran during the revolution and post revolution and whatnot, has struggled with ADHD was diagnosed very, you know, very early. So, there was a there's an end approach thing, a combination piece. I don't doubt, and I don't and I love hearing trauma, and the ADHD symptomology explained with a lens of trauma. I think it's really helpful for our society. I think when things get, things are sort of, I think, can have the ability to not are there. Sorry, let me restate that. I’m thinking of challenging when it becomes even bi-directional, like it's either, you know, I think it's multi-directional. Like there's so many different factors that contribute to a diagnosis of ADHD or neurodivergence and other neurodivergences, and I think that it's helpful and some of the stuff I saw as of late and again, these are social media pieces and little blurbs that people say or write about, you know, Maté’ talking about his work and may not be representative of all of his work or contribution. I think if people take it as okay, this is only a trauma response and they deny the other component, I think it can be harmful because some people really do and are relieved to know, okay, so this runs in my family or this has been you know, I have a predisposition for it. I had biomarker for it, just like I might have a biomarker for diabetes doesn't mean I'm diabetic. But all these other components like knowing I have a biomarker for it is helpful because it relieves them of some of the shame, to be able to get some of the help that they need. And so I always say to people, when I'm doing this with them, if it helps to understand it from more of a genetic loading component, because that helps you be able to get the resources that you need, and be able to talk about this more openly to the people that you love and address the, the different the difficulties you're having, then then go with that. If it helps to say, look, I feel like if I talk about this as more, you know, genetically loaded that it would limit me from or limit my child, because then it's sort of fixed, and they can't do anything about it. Well, you know, we don't do that. And I think it's a comes kind of, I always find that it's, we human beings like to, you know, put things in this or that kind of box as a way to help understand and be able to move forward. And the reality is with human behavior, it's extremely complex, like a neurotypical or neurodiverse intervention, may totally bomb with a particular couple. Why? Because they're very complex human beings with a lot of different factors. There's cultural stuff, there's socio-political stuff, there's trauma stuff, there's other mental health dynamics, there's economic stuff, there's all these other factors that contribute. So, something that may work with someone may not work with someone else, which is why you tend to go to a specialist within the subspecialty to do the work because they need to be tailoring bringing the skill to the table, but really tailoring all of that to the individual person.

Sara:

Remembering that these diagnoses are, there are labels, right, that can be helpful in having us navigate towards solutions. However, they're not absolute. And they're not something that like, it doesn't define you, right, but it can help you to give you a tool to find a pathway.

Dr. Andalibian:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And really the, you know, there's lots of I mean, I used to, I used to be in the camp where I didn't really like diagnosis at all, and I didn't like testing. And, you know, even though I was trained to do testing in grad school, and I really shifted, and I've shifted, mainly because in the no division population, I saw such an extraordinary amount of suffering, because people just didn't know that, you know, not only by the, but I mean neurodivergent population. And I don't mean just my work, I'm talking about my personal life and lots of friends and lots of people within my family where they were misdiagnosed, mislabeled, if they even got treatment, and most of them didn't get treatment and the suffering that they personally experienced the amount of shame they internalized the amount of, you know, stuff they told themselves about who they were about their, the, the areas that they were struggling meant that they were stupid, they were this, they were that, they were never going to have, you know, it just it was so heartbreaking. And so, I've sort of made it my mission to help. Sorry, my mind just went to a conversation I had with my brother, which maybe we'll get to, which I think sort of demonstrates this point, but so yeah, I made it my mission to really provide the value, the psychological component. And we do diagnose, and I've got staff who are very reluctant to diagnose. And I've explained, and we're having a meeting about this actually, tomorrow, again, where it's really critical when someone comes to in adulthood and says, hey, I've been told that I might be on the spectrum, or I've been told I might have ADHD, and I've taken these, these things, but I also have a ton of trauma. And I talk about attachment stuff, which by the way, which human being in the world doesn't like we all have some level of trauma, some of some of these experiences. I don't want the trauma, or the, the socio-political stuff, or the intergenerational trauma piece, or the race component, or the cultural stuff to mask, the neurodivergence that's been there all their life, and no one saw it, everyone else saw the trauma, including myself, by the way. I, you know, was in therapy for 20 years of my life and never got the neurodivergent piece that the ADHD piece looked at, because I compensated so beautifully for it. And it sort of made it my superpower. It does not mean that it didn't limit me in many ways and cause lots of stress and lots of difficulty. And when you see that, that's kind of a common story with a lot of women with ADHD and a lot of women that are on the spectrum as well. And so, I think of diagnoses now as sort of a you know, like, if I apply the medical model, then it makes sense to me, there's some people that really had to avoid diagnosis because of the ramifications of what that would look like within with either within their family culture or systemically. So there are lots of people that were avoiding psychology and avoiding diagnoses because it was a protection against shame against oppression against this that, I get that. We're and there are countries by the way, and many people within families even in this country, who still have that experience, you know, like I don't know, five years ago, if you told me, you know, if my cousin should go get diagnosed in Iran, as you know, 10 years ago, I should say, as schizophrenic, I would say no, because he would be shunned by it would be horrific, you know? And of course, he did. And it was really important because he needed some medications and blah, blah, blah. But my point is, there are certain places on the planet where mental health is still very, very stigmatized, and getting a diagnosis could actually backfire on you educationally, you know, and familiarly, etc. We're talking mostly to the, to the American eyes to the American audience, where we have moved that needle, I feel a lot, we're talking about these things much more openly, there's lots of people out there making some really huge contributions, even on social media, where they're offering so much to the population and making it more commonplace to talk about these things. And mental health is not as stigmatized, which is fantastic to experience. So, I think of diagnoses as like, you know, do I want to know if I have a predisposition for something so I can be more mindful? Do I want to know if I you know, I've been feeling kind of off and I feel like I'm, you know, my whatever, let's say my mood is this or that? Don't want to know if I've got any deficiency is my own, so okay, is my vitamin D okay? Am I getting enough B2 B12? What are the things that are contributing? Would I want to have a good, thorough checkup? And my answer to that always, from me is yes. Now there are other people who say, no, I'm doing fine. I don't want to do it. Okay, well, those are people that won't come to me, and I probably won't see them. And potentially, like, I'm not here to argue that that's a better or worse way to live. That's just a different way to live. I obviously deal with and encourage the people in my life. And anytime I get a chance to talk about this openly is to say, the more you know, the more awareness you have, the more skillful you can be, and then figuring out how to navigate and move forward. Now, having said that, it's not an easy process, there are people that are married to people that are on, you know, that are autistic right now there could be listening, that are really scared of what that means to understand more, to look at things more, you have to also face things within yourself and within your family, potentially within your children. And that's not an easy emotional process. That requires a lot of holding a lot of space. And sometimes people don't have that space, or even have the emotional support, or even the emotional regulation skills within themselves to navigate that without the support. So, I get that it's not a you know, like, let's just all go do it kind of, you know, dynamic, but I do like to encourage more and more people to do that. And at least in my business, part of what we're trying to do is to provide some of the screeners available online for free, some of the, you know, ability to get diagnosed to be done in an hour or two for some people where they don't need a full comprehensive, we're trying to do things within an eight to 10 hour period, as opposed to a, you know, 3500 to $5,000 investment making it much shorter, much less helping people figure out how to get their insurances to reimburse them for the most of the time the services that they have, or the coverage that they have, that they may not know that they have. So, navigating, helping, and then we'll be you know, hopefully, be doing some stuff online, where you can download things and be able to get these resources available too. We’ll get better. There's lots of people on social media that also be doing a great job, and we're going to be posting more about them and offering those resources. So hopefully, you know, people are suffering less and less in silence. And in silos. That's the, that's the hope of, you know, the work. So, diagnoses are, to me, a deepening of understanding. And not everyone has experienced that myself included in the field. But I think we tried to explain that thoroughly to our, our client base so that they understand I specifically have gone through and made sure there's a strength-based component, where we talk about strength, we look, look, every single neurodivergent person I know, is full of bloody grit, like they are resilient and have a lot of grit, because by the time they get to us, they have navigated a lot, right? Similar with people that have gone through trauma, that people are just as a whole, people are so full of self-healing, even if they don't feel it in the moment, I see them there. They've always been working towards now sometimes they've been working towards that in a way that's constantly sort of, they've hit a dead end. And that's where we come in, and we can help redirect sort of that energy and support a different approach that would give them a lot more success. But so yeah, keeping in mind that diagnoses are also a window into that person at that time, given what we are understanding and hearing and that and based on the field, you know, understanding and that's evolving, like something we used to diagnose 10 years ago, we don't diagnose anymore as a, you know, mental health condition. So, the world is you know, society developing to.

Sara:

So, I have ADHD, and I find some aspects of parenting hard. It was nice to hear that you, too, struggle with I think you said ADHD. What is it about ADHD that makes it so hard? What do you think I can do to parent more effectively and with a greater sense of ease, maybe it's, I also have a three and a half year old so.

Dr. Andalibian:

And they're marvelous. And I adore these little ones. And, you know, it's just it's a lot, you know, it's a lot to navigate. And so, I think I don't have the, let's see. So, obviously, similar to the other things we've talked about, you know, one ADHD person, or like, you tap on one autistic person, they're extremely different than another autistic person, right? The, you know, there's a famous quote about if you meet one autistic person, you've met one autistic person. And the same applies to ADHD, you are someone that with trauma, right? People really understand it, when I say it this way. If I say to you that Jane, I'm making that name up, Jane is suffering from depression. And if I had a survey of a, you know, 100 people in the room, I would get 100 different answers, right? I would get clusters that are similar, like the girl, she can't get out of bed, or she hasn't eaten in three days, or she's having a hard time sleeping, or then there'll be people to get oh, she's been functioning really well. And she's a CEO of a company, and she feels like she has no motivation, no interest, you know, everything is just so you get a variety of different, you know, depression, ADHD, whatnot. Everyone is very, very different. So, I think that is a general whole. First of all, you have an inattentive type, ADHD, and you have a predominantly hyperactive or impulsive type. And then you have a combined type, which is a little bit harder to sort of tease out for a lot of people. And so, if you have an inattentive type, someone that has a difficulty with working memory, someone that has a hard time initiating tasks, or completing tasks, someone that requires a deadline in order for their brain to go, oh, my God, let's get rid of that time blindness, like we need to, like apply ourselves because you know, Thanksgiving is literally next week, or it's tomorrow for that matter, or the deadline is tonight, and I haven't done anything to prepare. So, and then you have folks that have the combined, a combined version if you couldn't tell already, where I don't have you know, and I have a lot of compensatory skills that I've built over the course of my life. I'm very organized and like task-oriented, I've got everything on Google Drive, and I've gotten lists, and all of the, you know, like the iPhone is my best working memory helper, the best, you know, notepad, but before that, I had notepads everywhere and sticky notes. And as a kid, I used to write on my hands, for example, because I would forget things. I still mess up on names constantly, I still mess up on anything that's the same letter of dyslexia and dyscalculia. So those things continue on to be times where I catch myself, and I've just speak about them now and openly, sort of rework them. But I think the executive function requirement for a parent is a tremendous amount. And so, in general, with for any human being, to have to raise a child, again, when you don't have a village of people coming in, right? And so, if you have the inattentive part of ADHD, or you have the impulsive type, which is tends to be the part of my life, where I get in trouble is that I'm a little bit more impulsive. By the way, it's also my superpower. So I want to make sure all of the stuff we talk about, is also people's amazing stuff like I've been able to manage things in my career that I know very few other commissions, my, you know, in my realm have, you know, so I've been able to, I'm an entrepreneur in a variety of different ways, lots of ways that that kind of need for variety and sort of dopamine increases have also fed, you know, fed my world and fed the people in my life and whatnot. But it also gets you, you know, there are also downsides. So that's, you know, different sides of the same coin. So, I think, as a whole, the executive function requirements, and also the emotional regulation, so I find, and again, this is for lots of ADHD people, but not for all, but that emotional regulation for ADHD folks, is harder, and I think for women, and one thing that I don't see as much and I've been bringing it up to the attention of a lot of people, psychiatric nurse practitioners, ADHD psychiatrist, clinicians that I feel are very sort of top in the field that I'm connecting with and collaborating. There's very little that I hear in common language, there's been some studies done on it, but on, for example, menstrual cycle, the luteal phase of the period, and also what that, what that does to the ADHD symptomology for a lot of women, and then you tack on the child-rearing component when you're dealing with that yourself and trying to regulate yourself and managing work and running a business and, and whatever else you're doing. You know, it's hard. It's like Insanity, you know. So, I think, keeping in mind and by the way, we're not even talking about the stuff happening politically, and you particular state that you might be living in that has a direct impact on you and raising your child. We're not talking about the stuff in America like gun violence and these things that are as parents like really hit home and really cause us to grieve, the stuff happening internationally that are constantly like, was telling Jen before the call, for the last eight weeks, I feel like my brain has been outside of my body because my heart is bleeding for what's happening in Iran with my family there and with the women there and the people there. So, we're not even talking about these outside factors that have such an, such as sort of personal impact. So, to regulate yourself, the executive function components to deal with the dopamine changes that happen that have been studied in, you know, in folks with ADHD to deal with the task initiation task completion on top of, you know, you're managing a lot, and kids require all of those things, you know, especially toddlers, right? They are the I mean, all kids, I think, but in particular, a toddler whose frontal lobe and amygdalas are like, so in the development phase, and they need you to be their co-regulator, you know, it becomes and sometimes it's like, the, the red cup is perfectly great until it's not, and it happens in an instant, you know, and then it's a complete meltdown because you had the wrong cup, which doesn't make sense to a parent for that potentially in that moment, then requires so much more attentiveness, and groundedness, and regulating, and if you've left work, you've had an eight-hour day, you've managed all of this stuff that's required your own executive function stuff, it's a cocktail for meltdowns for both people like the parent and the child, or both parents on the job. So, I think the executive function piece is one of the hardest and then the emotional regulation piece is also I think, more challenging because when you have a child, they demand that from you and a different kind of way than when you're in a relationship or when you're living, you know, on your own or you're living amongst adults, you know, the pool for that. There's probably more answers that I would want to give to you later that I'll probably think of, but that's the top two that comes to mind.

Sara:

Yeah, I feel like we could probably talk for another five hours or so.

Dr. Andalibian:

Yeah. Yeah. Oh, this is one thing too, though. This social calendaring, you know, the even like, I get emails from my kid’s school, and I think they do a really great job. But it's like the amount of fundraising they haven't. And like, I literally have an assistant where I send those to and say, please put it in my calendar. And then I'll go through and just check. I don't want you to even read the emails, because it's so flooding to my system. When I've got 73 emails in my inbox. I've got a client load, I'm dropping my kid off, I'm picking my kid off, I'm figuring out what to do in the afternoon, we're doing piano, we know that that's a lot to manage. So that's also the social calendaring. I think, again, it's an executive function piece, but the extracurricular stuff for all children, especially as they get older, I hear it gets worse. So, I don't know how I'm gonna manage. But I'm going to call Jen, when she's gone.

Sara:

You said, Yes.

Dr. Andalibian:

Jen’s got a nine-year-old, so I’ll go to her for help.

Sara:

I'm just wondering if you can maybe give us one particular intervention, you would provide a parent with ADHD regarding the executive functioning.

Dr. Andalibian:

Executive functioning? Yeah. So, there's lots of there's a couple of tools, and we're gonna have some of them, I'm just adding two more to our website. So, if you go to the website, spectrumservicesnyc.com, and you go to the resources page, we're going to try to have a lot of these available, so that you can just click on it and, you know, go to them, there are a couple of I mean, there's also like, there's these apps that people can use, right, that's helpful if you have a calendar, and there's ways that you can time block, so you have a block of time, not more of a to do list, which I tend to sort of do as a as a way to kind of get through and then I realized that also kind of adds a little bit of stress to my, you know, like you feel the stress hormones sort of in my body, my chest getting tight sometimes because that list continues to grow, obviously, no matter how much you know, I try to knock things off. And so sometimes time blocking is actually a better approach for ADHD folks where they block a certain amount of time and they don't give themselves a to do list, but they give themselves a space to explore, let's say if I'm doing something creative, or if I'm working on whatever it might be. There's an app for that as well. And there's some resources available that it will have on the website, hopefully I think by tomorrow so definitely by the time the podcast comes out, I think that'll be there. I'm a big like, you know, I'm a big proponent of if you can get a virtual assistant, someone that you, you know, gets or anyone that's willing to do assistantship work because now they can do it from you know, they can do it from anywhere, delegate whatever parts you can like if planning and execution is difficult, if you know that it's you're always running to something, by the way, like another technique is like if you're running late to something because you find or you're often running late to something are finding that it's hard for you to get your work done because you tend to lose track of time when you're on social media on your phone, well, then you take social media off your phone, you have to actually go to the browser, click on it, make it make it a tad bit more uncomfortable, to then just kind of go on Instagram, or go on Facebook, or whatever it is, that's the impulsive sort of response, response piece, make it only available for yourself on, on your computer. Make sure you have times in your day when you turn the phone on airplane mode, and it's a way so that you're able to just stay present and work on that. I say, you know, for most people, because you can learn all this self-help stuff with following to good people on Instagram that do ADHD stuff. So, if you're following good people with good resources, and you're able to apply it and it feels great, then fantastic. It's kind of like a diet book. Like if you get a diet book, or get some advice on keto diet, or whatever it is, and you do it and it works, then great. But if you find yourself struggling with weight loss, right, if you find yourself struggling with ADHD symptomology, then get yourself a coach, get someone that's going to work with you on specifically tailoring something to you and then helping you follow through and hold you accountable because that often tends to be it's not a lack of insight, it's a lack of action, it's like a follow through that tends to be difficult. And it takes I always say good, you know, really a new habit is built, you know, and consistent. And like in therapy, we always say like give it nine months, we want nine months for a new behavior in the family to become sort of the norm. So, but sooner than that, like 30 days, or 45 days, within doing something pretty consistently, you can see a significant change within yourself. So small, small sort of wins are wins nonetheless, to having someone reinforced those is important. So, time management, so there's all kinds of tools and techniques, and I could go over probably, you know 10s and 10s of them. But I think what's really what my top two would be, if you find yourself needing the if you can get the support, get the support. And delegate the parts that you really dislike, like I personally really dislike going to the grocery store, I enjoy cooking, I really dislike going to like to the point where it's like nails on a chalkboard. So, for me, I have an nanny that comes in and once a week her job is to go through the list, which I update as I, as I've like I finished the peanut butter, I leave it on the counter until it goes on the list, I don't throw it away, because I'll forget. And then I'll recycle the bottle. So, I'm out a foil finish the foil, I'll leave it on the counter, when I'm with my phone and passing the cassia foil, add it to the list or I say hey Siri, add foil to groceries list, then I throw away the foil box. So, she has an updated list on a regular basis. She goes every Wednesday, she picks up the groceries, she puts it away. That allows me to then cook for my kid without the part that I dread, right the part that I don't think someone to come clean your house, if you hate doing that, if you find that you're fighting with your partner over who's doing the vacuuming who's doing the cleaning. So as much as I can I say if you can delegate even a little bit, it helps even if you can't, like people say well, we can't, we can't, we need a maid every day. And I'm like, well get them to do the laundry once a month. Even that helps a ton, it takes a little bit off of you. And that adds a lot of room in your emotional regulation, which for me is always been the king, the more people emotionally regulate, the better than they can have figured out what their strategy is and how they're moving forward. When people are on the edge of their windows of tolerance where they can't tolerate any, you know, a small little pin could just push them over the edge. You can't live on the edge for that long. It's just not sustainable. So, you got to expand that window of tolerance. And the way we do that is by getting the support resources we need, whether you delegate out or whether you utilize some apps and other resources that are available within and then tag teaming of course, if you have other people, like my mom loves to go to the Trader Joe's and she always goes to Trader Joe’s for me and she knows exactly what to buy there every single time every two weeks on delivery, she brings it up. That's my village. And that helps a lot. That's one less thing that I have to do as a single mom with a three-year-old with a company, right? Where I can be spending that two hours having a social drink with a friend and filling up my tank a little bit. So that it's sort of my time. So, I don't know if I gave you any strategies that are useful for you. But there are lots of them. And there's lots of research on like, what strategies are helpful. There are people to follow. So, if you follow me on Instagram, I don't post things, but I can send you stuff. Or you go to our website, we'll have these folks also listed there. There are some really great tools being shared on Instagram, short little bits you watch and you're like, oh my god that's so useful. And you kind of and it's free.

Sara:

Thank you so much.

Dr. Andalibian:

You're welcome.

Sara:

Yeah, that'll be great for a lot of listeners. And I recognize some of the tools for my tool toolbox too.

Dr. Andalibian:

Okay, good, good.

Jen Lumanlan:

So just as we wrap up here, then I would I want to leave us where there's sort of a sense. And you've been alluding to this at throughout our conversation, but just to really tie this together for people, the idea that these diagnoses are not all bad, right? It's not all doom and gloom, we have this terrible thing, we have to figure out how to live with it, there is a huge amount of, of resourcefulness that with that some of these diagnoses bring to us and I started doing some brainstorming based on the research, based on things I've heard from families, I was starting to think about how autism, right, it's a real gift in terms of planning and routines, which when you have a young child around the house, it can be really, really helpful. I work with a parent who has ADHD, and she's contributing a story for my book. And she actually talked to her therapist and asked her therapist, you know, what am I really good at as a parent and, and the therapist said, you're so flexible, right? Your child brings this challenge to you, and you don't get stuck in this one way, we have to navigate it this way. You just respond flexibly and pivot. I'm guessing that parents with any type of neurodivergence brings a great deal of empathy to their child's own struggles, right, whether or not they're struggling with the same thing, although I understand it could probably be triggering in some ways, too. I'm just wondering if you see specific ways that that strengths really come up that parents might be able to look at this differently and think, oh, yeah, that really is helpful to me. And I can see this in a different way.

Dr. Andalibian:

Yeah, I'll speak to that and the general whole of neurodivergent, and there's lots of young people that are talking about this. What I find that people that are neurodivergent also bring sort of, at least this is my way of thinking about it and what they bring to the world is a huge amount of expansion of compassion, and understanding. They kind of force us all to pay attention to that, you know, there's differences and we need to understand each other's differences and how to work with one another and love one another. So, I think whether they intend to or not, that tends to be a piece that is added to the world at any diversity, right, brings that to the table, if we do a good job as a humanity, I agree with you completely, that sort of ADHD folks really bring a lot of creativity, lots of flexibility. Also lots of fun, like, you know, I have a mom that, who's a friend of mine who does not sit still, she's either on a bike or on a volleyball team, or they're like, she's always doing something active, and it's sort of reminds me of like that, you know, listen, like I said, everything is sort of the opposite side of the coin, that can also be problematic, if you can't be still enough to like, enjoy time, and kids, all of that stuff. But we're talking about the strengths here. And I think that it brings a lot of expansion to the family, it can bring a lot of expansion to the person, lots of CEOs of companies are ADHD, you know that that's like, you know, that they are the idea that, hey, wait a minute, I don't like that box, we're going to create this other thing, we're gonna fold this into this other eight legged, you know, process, you know, and to push for change and to push and be flexible. I think that's a beautiful thing is lots of creativity, lots of expansiveness, lots of leadership skills. I think you pointed this out really beautifully. I think one of the things I've noticed in relationships, especially when you have ADHD mom, and a, you know, autistic male Dad, is that it actually offsets the like the, the need for routine and slow down and transition between things, helps the kids because if it was lifted the ADHD mom, you know, they'd be running all the time. And that's to say, that's bad. But we know that the brain development of kids really requires that sense of structure and routine. And they do really blossom, and they get enough brain development when they need enough sleep, and they have that routine. So, there's lots of ways that once I think, especially if you have the mix of that in couplehood, that it can really complement one another, but sometimes takes really long time to get there. There's one more thing I was thinking about with autism that I thought was a really big strength, I think maybe, I think it was maybe the compassion piece and the understanding piece that it really requires people to begin to think about what, you know, what, what can I do differently? And how can I co-create a different dynamic with someone which also turns us more inward, right? As opposed to turning, you know, that saying, you know, you have eyes to look out, and so most of us tend to look outward as opposed to inward. And so, I think when you're dealing with neurodivergence and autism, in particular to that, you sort of have to turn inward and say, okay, how am I, how can I be doing this differently? What is it about my co-creating this dynamic that I can shift and change? And I think we talked about this before, the grit and the resilience, there's a ton of grit and resilience, and a ton of incredible ways. Like the you know, I have a dad I have an app where it leads to stuff for you, you know, I forget what it's called now, but that's probably bad because he probably would like to plug. But he was dyslexic, and that's how he developed his ADHD just like he did he learned how to develop that for people who were struggling with reading, right. So, like all this innovation comes also from these incredible minds, right? Not to say that everyone on the spectrum is, you know, super. So we have the gamut of people that are really struggling with functioning and the people that are doing really, really well. I don't want to also paint the brush that everyone has like, is genius, because that's also a pitfall to pull them, but lots of grit, lots of resilience, irrespective of where people are on that, on that color wheel of spectrum, as I call it.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah. Awesome. All right. Well, thank you, both of you, I guess. Firstly, thank you to Sara for jumping in and helping me to shape the questions and, and being with us today. Thanks, Sara.

Sara:

Thank you for having me.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, and Dr. A, I just want to make sure that listeners know where they can find information on you. You mentioned your website, spectrumservicesnyc.com, and that you're adding a whole bunch of screeners and resources and that kind of thing to it. So, so listeners should have had their if they are looking for more information on these topics.

Dr. Andalibian:

Yes, that's the website and you can email me directly there. And you know, any questions or thoughts that they have, and I have a wonderful business manager, Lauren, who's also very easy to connect with. And also, we have lots of other resources and books and things like that, that if people want, we have everything that we've sort of tried and true to us we've put up there, including everyone all that everyone on our team that loves the resources.

Jen Lumanlan:

Yeah, super well, we'll put a link to that website. Also, on our references page at yourparentingmojo.com/parentsneurodivergence.

Jess:

Hi, this is Jess from Burlesque, Panama. I'm a Your Parenting Mojo fan and I hope you enjoy this show as much as I do. If you found this episode especially enlightening or useful, you can also donate to help Jen produce more content like this and also save us from those interminable mattress ads. Then you can do that and also subscribe in the link that Jen just mentioned. And don't forget to head to YourParentingMojo.com to record your own message for the show.

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