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My Journey with ADHD

My name is Michael and I am an ADHD coach with a lifetime of experience navigating the complexities of the ADHD mind. Diagnosed at a young age, I have learned from my own personal experiences and struggles which, over time, have allowed me to develop effective methods and strategies to manage the difficulties intrinsic to impaired executive functioning in order to achieve success academically, professionally and socially. While my biography on my website is informative, it doesn’t tell my whole story. I wanted to use this post to give prospective clients a better insight into who I am.

Early diagnosis of ADHD allowed me to identify and explore available resources. At the time, these were exclusively focused on addressing academic performance and were systemically insufficient, most prominently in the lack of accessibility and versatility. It wasn’t until late in my academic career, after moving often from one school to another and at various grade levels, that I discovered my true passion for learning and, in the right academic environment, enjoyment in pursuing my education. My academic success in a highly structured high school unfortunately did not prepare me for the college environment. I chose to attend Franklin & Marshall College, an academically rigorous and prestigious college. I chose this college for all the wrong reasons, most of which were to prove to everyone that I was smart and successful. Everything fell apart in the first semester after I got a severe case of mononucleosis. It wasn’t until the second semester that I started working with Casey Dixon, an ADHD coach. Casey supported me in many ways but most notably she helped me to gain the courage and confidence to make the decision to leave Franklin & Marshall College. I would later realize that the type of impact Casey made on me is the type of impact I want to make on others. This major life choice allowed me to explore my interest in piloting as well as biology. I took community college classes for a year and then applied for, and was recruited to play lacrosse at, Guilford College. This school had the type of support I needed. Even in this environment, I still had many academic skills to catch up on. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I put it all together. My years of trial and error in academics, and my experiences of pushing through what felt like a multitude of failures, provided me with a unique understanding of the importance of creating a multimodal learning environment that offers education in a manner that is inclusive of all learning types.

In pursuit of this, I started teaching science for high school students, first at Blue Ridge School in Charlottesville, VA and then at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, TN (relocating with my wife for her medical training at Vanderbilt University). In my time teaching, I also took the opportunity to be involved in the school community outside of the classroom; specifically, in the one area I have always been confident in and that has given me a true record of accomplishment, the lacrosse field. Sports have always been a passion and an outlet for me. I played any and every sport that was introduced to me. Starting in 3rd grade, I picked up a lacrosse stick and became obsessed with the sport and continued to play through high school at Blue Ridge School in St. George, Virginia. I was a starting attackman for the school all three years I attended. In my senior season, I truly became a confident and dominant player and was made a team captain. I continued my lacrosse career at Guilford College. Using my athletic skills and love for the game, I successfully transitioned from a player to a coach.

I went into teaching with the intention of making a positive impact on students who were struggling just like me. While teaching, I did make a significant positive impact on my students but it was a very small portion of my job. I altered my approach to teaching those students who were not able to focus, I coached those students with ADHD that were struggling to get work done at home and balance their busy schedules, and most of all I shared my personal journey to help them feel normal about struggling with these executive functioning skills. The biggest impact I made was working as a summer school teacher. The students in my summer school class had been blamed for being lazy and unmotivated. I recognized right away that ADHD was most likely in the picture. I helped their parents get connected to the proper resources to help their sons get the help they needed. Those boys thrived in the following school years and have been able to accomplish what most of the other teachers thought they weren’t capable of. While the part of my job that I described was very rewarding most of my job was dedicated to creating lesson plans, teaching, grading, and coaching sports. While those parts of the job are necessary to be a good teacher I recognized the part of the job I love the most is actually an occupation. When I realized this, I decided I would leave teaching to become an ADHD coach. I chose ADHD coaching because it was the most successful and helpful intervention that I ever had. In college I worked with Casey Dixon, an ADHD coach, who supported me in making decisions for myself and gaining executive functioning skills. Working with her allowed me to gain the skills that were necessary for me to graduate college. When I realized that ADHD coaching would allow me to make the impact I wanted to make in teaching, I knew I had to pursue it. This decision has been incredibly rewarding.

I have many interests and hobbies that allow me to connect with nearly every person I meet. One of my most notable and unique hobbies is repairing and restoring vintage vacuum tube amplifiers, turntables, and consoles. I became interested in restoring stereos because I wanted to be able to listen to the vinyl records in the way they were originally listened to. I am interested in a wide range of music and have nearly 400 albums on vinyl. In my constant drive to create and repair things, I have started to learn woodworking skills. I use my free time hiking and foraging for wild gourmet mushrooms which I learned as a result of my background in biology. My wife and I have two dogs, Moss (a mutt) and Jenny (a Boston terrier). Lauren and I named our dogs after characters on the show “The IT Crowd”, a British comedy that we both love.

If you are a prospective client and you just read this article, I look forward to meeting you. If you are a current or former client I hope you enjoyed reading this article.

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