Today we’re talking with Annie Martineau, ADHD parent and CEO of NeuroSolutions Group. Some of the topics we’ll cover:
- what it was like to grow up as an ADHD girl in Canada
- how she single parented her very neurodivergent family and kept it fun
- how she started her business, and how her ADHD strengths play into her work
- Use Code “neuro” to get 50% off on an annual subscription to Kairos: Heroes of Time!
(I’m not affiliated and don’t get anything for sending you.)
Want to listen? This post is based off of Episode 60 of the Neurodiverging Podcast! Listen on Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Youtube
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Transcript of Episode 60: ADHD Creativity: How to Parent and Found a Business with Annie Martineau
Use Code “neuro” to get 50% off on an annual subscription to Kairos: Heroes of Time!
(I’m not affiliated and don’t get anything for sending you.)
Martineau speaks English with a slight French accent and her sentence structure and grammar sometimes diverts from English grammar norms. The transcription reflects these diversions as these are her words as spoken.)
[Due to funding challenges, this transcript is incomplete and poorly formatted. We will update it as soon as possible. If you’d like to be notified when a better transcript is available (or if you can volunteer time to work on it), please email us at email@example.com.
Welcome to Neurodiverging Annie! Thank you so much for being here!! I’m excited to talk to you today!
MARTINEAU: I’m excited too! Thank you for having me! It’s a great pleasure!
Was there ADHD in the 1970s?
SULLIVAN: [chuckles] Thank you so much for being with us! So I know we’re going to talk to you today –– You’re a parent with ADHD and you’re raising a child who’s neurodivergent… would you like to start off by telling us a little bit about your ADHD journey? You were… late identified, right?
MARTINEAU: [slightly overlapping] Absolutely! Uhm, actually I ––[laughs] It pretty much started at–– in elementary school, but back then, I was born in the 70s, so the Ritalin was not that much of uhm––
I don’t know–– it was… [verbal juggling] not the way it happened. You did–– It’s not the way we were getting diagnosed, the way we–– the first thing my parents got the first uh.. triggers that my parents had is that I was always in the principal’s office…
MARTINEAU: …so that’s how it all started because I was SO hyperactive. I do have the H, I’ve got a SUPER H [chuckles] ––
SULLIVAN: [overlapping laughs]
MARTINEAU: [overlapping] and uhm, do you feel? And uh yeah, so that’s how it all started! I had good grades, I was doing really good at school, but it was I’d say a little boring and… I didn’t have enough on my hands to keep me occupied so I was constantly talking and… so yeah basically in elementary school I was always trying to focus on my grades because they were really good and whenever I had a forecast of my grades I’d go to my parents and say ‘Hey I’ve got A’s everywhere!’ and my father would be like ‘Yeah, but you’ve got an E in behavior.’ and I was like ‘Yeah…but I’ve got A’s!!’ [cackles] in this French or mathematics!!
Let’s focus on that!! But didn’t work that way apparently [sarcastic tone]… so that’s how–– how it started and… my father was in the military, we were in Europe back then, so we didn’t have–– we didn’t have good access… to doctors and it was really difficult, really hard, so… so it yeah, you can say I was a late–– I had a late assessment, uhm, during high school obviously, uhm and…but they still I–– I did know uhm from the very… uh… very young age that I–– I needed to–– my brain was not working as everybody else’s was. I’ve always envisioned my brain as a computer…
MARTINEAU: …with lots of screens that are open and I can manage them… back in the 80s was files.
MARTINEAU: I had lots of files that were consis–– constantly open and I didn’t mind, but people weren’t–– I realized from a very young age that people weren’t working that way.
MARTINEAU: So that was my journey.
SULLIVAN: It sounds like you experienced a good amount of judgment around your… kind of behaviors when you were younger, right? With your dad and then being in the office a lot… what were some of the things that folks were noticing? Or what were you being picked out for? Was it just like running around? Fidgeting? Or was it other stuff? [chuckles]
MARTINEAU: Fidgeting a lot, talking, uhm… interacting with other kids when it wasn’t the proper time, what–– I mean–– fidgeting of course was a huge one, always moving…
MARTINEAU: I always had to move and I’m still… COVID was a huge, huge thing for me because of the fact that we weren’t even going from home to an office…
MARTINEAU: …which was the minimum moving around that that I needed. but anyways… That’s another topic!
MARTINEAU: But yeah so, yeah that’s–– that was–– because, uh, as I’ve mentioned I did have good grades so grades were not the issue…
MARTINEAU: …my understanding wasn’t the issue, it was… mainly my behavior. I think at some point it got to… not annoyed the other kids, but it certainly wasn’t helpful for them to have me… sitting right next to them. So…
MARTINEAU: Yeah, so… that were the main things…
SULLIVAN: Yeah… okay… It–– It’s hard to hear about uhm… kiddos when they’re younger feeling like, judged or feeling like they’re… being uhm pulled out because they don’t feel the same as
everybody else or they don’t act the same or they don’t behave the same, even when they’re good kids who are doing well in other ways and are just not getting the support…
MARTINEAU: [slightly overlapping] That’s… that’s one thing though that… I didn’t get like… bullied or for the–– [verbal juggling] like from the other kids. I was–– I had a great, I think it was great, I had a sense of humor.
What are the symptoms of ADHD in a child?
MARTINEAU: I did focus on that as a huge strength on my end, but it was mainly the adults that couldn’t keep up with me! Like maybe they didn’t want me to be moving all the time, but other kids didn’t really mind… and there was this teacher, I think it was in grade… second? Yeah… which I uh–– Clovis [French pronunciation, CL-UH-VEE-S] his name was Clovis. he had a huge impact in my development as a child because he… he focused on my strength. He decided to use me as a leader instead of–– a positive leader instead of a negative one. So he gave me full responsibilities in the class and… helping the other kids and… that had difficulties or helped me manage that superpower…
MARTINEAU: …that neurodiverse superpower, so that was really helpful. As I’ve mentioned back in the days Ritalin or medication was not that common so…
MARTINEAU: …we did have–– a very young age–– we did have to develop other strategies so… SULLIVAN: yeah…
MARTINEAU: You did have to manage your superpower. I always talk about my ADHD as a superpower. But! As any superpower! You have to learn to manage it…
SULLIVAN: Yes! Use it responsibly. [chuckles]
MARTINEAU: Absolutely, absolutely…
How does ADHD affect parenting?
SULLIVAN: Now that you’re a, you know, an adult and with a family of your own, how do you think you being ADHD–– what are some of the superpowers that you use day-to-day with your kiddos and your business and your family?
MARTINEAU: Multi–– multitasking…?
SULLIVAN: That’s a big one.
MARTINEAU: [slightly overlapping] That’s certainly one of them, only one of them, uhm, that’s a huge one, but I’d say the most helpful one is… helping my kids get through their own journey.
MARTINEAU: I was having this conversation with my son the other day and I was telling him how his challenges are not the ones he thinks are gonna happen as an adult.
MARTINEAU: We’re trying about somewhere, and that was a really fun conversation, but we were talking about him being in an apartment , living on his own, etcetera, and he was trying to–– Well not trying, but he was telling me, ‘You know I’m gonna be able to do it.’ and I was so… impressed by his statement, you know?
MARTINEAU: I’m–– ‘This is gonna happen Mom! I’m gonna––‘ and I was like wow! Of course it’s gonna happen if you want––
MARTINEAU: If you want it to! But his explanations are–– he was trying to convince me that he was… gonna be able to… clean the fridge…
MARTINEAU: Or… know when to… do the dishes, or things like that––
MARTINEAU: Which are really concrete. And I was telling him your challenge as an adult is not being able to… learn or to–– because this is gonna be the easy part. You’re gonna–– you’re gonna be able to learn how to do stuff––
MARTINEAU: ––which you already know or even if you own something or–– anyways…. But the–– the hardest part is going to know how to motivate yourself…
MARTINEAU: …to do so, even when you don’t want to do it.
Why does ADHD make you procrastinate?
MARTINEAU: So that’s the biggest challenge I’ve had as an adult is that procrastinated–– procrastination is like something that’s always in the corner of my mind, but once you–– you get to motivate yourself. it’s such–– some–– it’s such an accomplishment…
MARTINEAU: …to be able to do so, but that’s the hardest part. So, to get back to your question because I–– I got, you know, like went that way. [gestures off screen]
SULLIVAN: [overlapping] Oh no, you did beautifully!
MARTINEAU: So you questioned my––my–– my challenge, not my challenge has been… the uhm… the uh, strength I have or I use as an adult, uhm… multitasking is one, being an entrepreneur, uh, being able to… not only multitask, but… like… have different folders in my head that are open, being able to… talk to customers while managing HR’s or doing partnerships or not wanting er… being able to function… in–– in–– [juggles the word for a moment] being outside of my comfort zone…
MARTINEAU: … is where I do shine when I’m not in that bad zone. I do not like comfort zone–– SULLIVAN: Mhmm
MARTINEAU: ––and a lot of people do…
|[…]being out of my comfort zone is where I do shine, when I’m not in that zone. I do not like comfort zone, and a lot of people do but umm… so that’s one of the strengths I developed, and my humor, my humor has been there forever umm… I think its a huge part of who I am, of it’s a huge part of how I interact with people, umm… that’s a huge, that has a huge part of me dealing with emotions and, so, yeah, that’s how, these are the few strengths that I’ve managed and I’ve developed through my journey, umm… as an HDHD woman, but its certainly that’s in the active part two, uhh… being, I mean, I, I it’s something that I’ve learned, umm… being able to sit down and not do anything, but it can last for like ten minutes max cause otherwise my brain is going to start functioning like crazy but umm, yeah, so these are the few strengths that I’ve worked on and that have helped me in my adulthood for sure.
|[speak at the same time] umhm, yeah
|Yeah, how do you manage hyperactivity as an adult? Do you just keep yourself busy? and go from one folder to the next folder or…?
What communication skills do neurodivergent people have?
Ahh, that’s a good question, I don’t know. I honestly, I, I don’t know I manage it but I do. I think it umm, not time-consuming but it takes a lot of energy to do so, at the end of certain, i, i mean, for example in a day I can go through like, super great umm news, and that they will overwhelm me but but i have to manage, manage this feeling cause otherwise everyone is going to think I’m crazy and I do manage it. As I’m talking to you right now there is so many stuff that id like to say that wants to come out of my head, but I do manage what’s coming out of my mouth and the words that I choose, but it is something that I’ve learned to do and I, to be quite honest i don’t know how I do it but I certainly do, that I’m good at it. Because otherwise, people would not be able to follow me.
|Yeah, its hard when there is multiple tracks sort of going in your brain and they could all, they could all spill out at once, you know?[12:00 speak at same time] tring to limit it to one track.
|Yea and its something that I notice in ADHD people ah more than ASD but ah people with autism, but for ADHD its, it is impulsivity and like talking a lot is something that is more common and I do see it in friends of mine or people I know that they are not conscious of the, not the feedback but the impact that it has on their relationship because you have to be able to, you have to be able to realize that its, this is exhausting like if you’re talking all the time and if you’re talking really quick and you’ve got up and downs while you’re talking it is exhausting for the person that is listening to you, so hopefully when I listen to that podcast, I won’t feel that way about myself,
|I don’t think you will, cause I can say as an autistic person umm.. I am often trying to listen to a lot of words coming into my brain and figure out, okay what are these that I have to act on?, which of these are just information?, which of these are just like interesting things a person wants to say but I don’t really need to like keep it in my memory, [13:27 speaks at the same time]
|[speak at the same time] remember
|And its a lot of processing for me umm and so its sort of interesting that we are on different sides and i know that I have that impulsive chatty streaks sometimes where I’m just like, but it is really important to, like you’re saying, think about the other persons
|[speaks at the same time] perspective
|[speaks at the same time] umm piece of the conversation too, like what is the goal of the conversation, yeah that’s really interesting thanks.
|Absolutely and its, I think its, it’s a hard path to be able to get there but its certainly worth it, because we are always asking, well not always but more and more often asking well a neuro typical person to um.. kind of accommodate or I don’t know but its a, relationships imply two persons right?
|So both of them have to be able to know what the other person is like or get, you know, so it a learning experience that everybody has got to do and that’s one thing that I, I hope I’ve thought my children but pay attention to the person you’re talking to, and be able to not only hear but see, feel. And that’s, i think that’s the best way of communicating because speaking then comes in a lot of different ways.
|Yeah, yeah, i think your point is really strong about, it takes two people to form a relationship, at least two people to form a relationship and you need to be able to to work together to really collaborate, to umm support each other at a basic level is its really important.
|Absolutely and yea so and but still for some people it’s harder umm and it but it I certainly think its a skill that can be developed over time and but yea you’ve got a certain point of your life you just choose certain battles and you realize which ones you want and you choose the one that motivates you and that so they become challenges and they become victories or challenges yea.
|Yeah, yeah, no that’s a great way to put it, there are so many skills that you could learn over the course of your life that nobody is ever going to ever be able to learn all of them, so you might as well focus on the ones that are going to be the most helpful for you and yea.
|Yea or the most motivates you because if it doesn’t motivate you, you’re not going to put the effort [speaks at the same time] exactly
|You’re not going to work. Exactly.
|It’s not going to work. That’s, not the right battle.
|So you, have you apple this to like your, your kiddos are of different neuro types, right? you have like multi neuro types in your family, umm how do you use to sort of that strength-based philosophy to help them overcome their challenges?
What is a neurodivergent family?
Well first thing, it’s never been an issue being not neurodiverse, it’s always been a “you’re different, so what, me too”. So what are your strengths and let’s focus on them, and you will, that’s the one thing I’ve always umm said, that we all have weaknesses so it’s your job as you grow old to make people see your your strengths, not your weaknesses because otherwise, everybody’s gonna point out what you don’t do or what you can do but but bottom line we all have things that we can do and won’t do so it’s just harder umm, it’s harder and they need help and they need support. They need people and I was talking to the teacher the other day it’s like teachers don’t realize the impact they have on, on children, with neurodevelopment disorders, it can change the whole situation between having a good self-esteem bad self-esteem, and being a leader, positive leader, or a negative leader, but I am yeah so Neurodiversity for me I have mentioned it before it’s a superpower, so how are you going to use it? I can teach you I can show you how I managed it, but it you have to find your own path. My children have to find their own solutions in order and their own strategies in order to make their strengths shine. Cause organization or for, how you may have an example here, as a parent why do you want to? Why do you want your kids to do their beds in the morning? is it because it makes them a better child if you do does it? or…
|I don’t have my children make their beds because i don’t think it’s a worthwhile use of our time, but that’s my own.
|But if it’s important if it’s important for you as a parent, then then you show them
|Yes, then you prioritize it
|Or show them, It’s not it’s not you’re doing it you’re doing your bed because it’s nice to make some so make people happy. I’ll do, you do something for me that makes me happy. I’ll do something for you that makes that will make you happy. It’s like it’s like sharing but bottom line. Yeah, I did meet a mother once who umm told me about how she was having a difficult routine in the morning with her daughter and she she said, how do you make your son do his bed in the morning and I said exactly the same things you and I dont, I do not I that’s not a battle that I choose but I said if you want to choose that battle well, then just show him another way because that way you’ve been trying to do too to teach her is not working obviously so yeah but um
|I have to be really flexible and really at least in our house I always like to be like like you said string space but also value spaced, so like why are we doing the bed? Is it really like core to who we are as a family or is it just a random thing that I think I’m supposed to do because I don’t like to teach my kids to just do what they think they’re supposed to do. I like them to have a reason to do it, umm which maybe overcomplicate our lives but also really helps us narrow down like exactly where our motivation is it and you know?
|Yea, yea, It brings if it does bring other challenges to be in it to to go that down that road and and sometimes I do choose not to understand why because it’s just it’s just I don’t. I am not the type of person that needs to understand everything in order to be completely satisfied but I um yeah I mean,for for my husband, certain things are really important for him and they’re not important for me at all, but I know how much they are important for him so I make the effort in order for him to rec… I mean for him to be able to say thank you I appreciate it and I appreciate doing that for him so and I appreciate you doing that for him, so so yeah, so these are values of being a nice person is sharing and not doing things because you’re asked to do and I don’t think neurodivergent people are made to be that obedient you know? to follow these type of rules because obviously down the line, we all gonna say I’m not doing it.
|We have to make our own rules , we have to know why, well at least I can speak for myself that as an autistic person I like to know why I’m doing the thing, like if you ask me to do the thing I’ll do it if it pleases you but I also wanna know like, what’s like why do we do the thing? you know?, and if you can’t answer me that then I might choose not to do it, you know?
|I mean with that that’s a nicer conversation umm if I say, I mean like the example of a I don’t know what they did, making the bed in the morning if I am telling you, this is really important for me would that be enough for an explanation for you? Or no ?
|Yea, so you have an explanation
|Yea it just needs to be because I am I would be in this in this theoretical space motivated by trying to be your friend right? or trying to be in in community with you and so my motivation and that’s all the answer I need because my motivation is my value of you as my friend right? Umm if it’s a random person on the street who says make your bed or else then no, I’m not going to do it cause there is no internal motivation to like make that person happy right? so yeah yeah
|I hear you, that’s really interesting.
|Yeah I like to think about that stuff [spoke at the same time]
|So no if you if you so basically, people who are listening if your child does not make his bed or her bed in the morning that doesn’t mean it’s she’s or he’s not a good kid not at all.
|Yea no not even a little bit, there could be so many reasons not to make your bed like I can come up with ten off the top my head as an autistic person to not make my bed in the morning so. Do you think that you have adjusted your parenting strategies like for your different children because of their neuro types being different or do you think it’s more because like their personalities are there their general approaches to life?
How can I make my home more neurodivergent friendly?
I don’t I don’t think so and I can tell you one particular conversation I had with my daughter umm last summer umm that was really that like kind of real and made me realize how good of a job I think I’ve made about my children not noticing what differences are there, anyways so and yeah she did volunteering with autistic adults and she basically realized that some of the their social skills or the way they were speaking or the way they were looking at her or not looking at her was a lot like her brothers and she she just came to me. I’ve always thought that this was just William, her brother you know like, and then I realize these these are like these are kind of difficulties or like differences that autistic people have but it’s still, it was William, you know? Its William, we all have our peculiarities. I don’t think I’ve adopted my my parenting style. I did have an impact though on my husband’s style that I can tell. He was more of a quiet person and didn’t like any noises I had kids I decided to have kids because I’m a kid myself and I wanted to have an excuse to continue being a kid for the rest of my life.so with that being said..
|I felt that very much
|Why why would we have to grow?I mean it doesn’t make any sense,
|Always keep playing.
|Yeah, yeah , why would I want to stop playing, anyways, so yea I did bring that, So yeah, I did bring that into my husbands life. I did divorce when my kids were little so, my husband now is it’s not the father of my children but he’s been involved with them since my daughter was one so basically the same thing, umm but it was so, I’m the opposite I mean and he was so really strict and didn’t like noises and then I was like that’s life and I had them and it was a work in progress that I think that the adaptation that I did or we have done as a family is that at the beginning? We’re all respecting his quiet zone or but then at a certain point we may compromise to like let go of some things that he didn’t like so that we could you know, feel more and it’s still I mean it’s still a work in progress we still as a family learns how to how to compromise and and Yeah so that’s one thing that we did as a team because I always say we’re a team. I’d say the noise was a huge part of our journey as parents and as a family as much as William that has ASD didn’t like noise or sound or like loud noises.
|I feel that
|It can be really loud like a really really loud but umm yeah, so and for my hyperactivity and yeah I’m in our style, I think you evolve with our different skills and our differences. I don’t know why I say that but different needs and so the the the they’ve evolved so whenever we are in the car and well if they’re teenagers now, but that they’re quieter, more often on the phones, but we don’t mind the noise as much and we we we play outside and we have found a really good balance in trying to get everybody to fit in the team, that’s what a team does.
|that cooperation, I can say that as an autistic adult, I am still plenty loud when I’m stimming or when I’m excited, but I also don’t like surprise noises at all like I’m that kind of person where people constantly laugh at me me because I startled because they come up behind me and haven’t heard them. Umm, my son who is also autistic is also like very loud and and also does not like surprising noises, so the noise piece is something that we really all had to collaborate on and make specific rules around and make like help each other sort of assess end and set boundaries around what’s the best way to handle that because we should be allowed to stem we should not be allowed to like to yell in peoples ears.
Rights? What’s the balance thought?
|That’s valid, and yeah, that’s one thing I didn’t think about but year, rules. really help us manage our different needs because we are five people in the family. And each one of, I mean, not because one is diagnosed that you are more important than the other one
|Anybody got needs, so what are the things you really don’t like and yes, do, because otherwise you cannot think that someone understands your needs if you haven’t mentioned them
|You cannot think, oh you should know by now, no you never told me so. So there is no you should have told me by now.I mean, um, and that, that helps. That’s a type of rule are, I wouldn’t, I won’t say contract, but understandings. Like, okay, that’s how we do things, and explaining this, we do so because this person here, doesn’t like that.
|And we like that, we love that person, so we don’t want her to be in that kind of situation.
|That’s a good, that’s a good point you mentioned, that is certainly something that has helped.
|Yeah, and really having that conversation about what is a need versus a preference versus ah…would like but not a big deal, you know like all those little variations…at least on our house make a big difference.
|Because somethings are painful to me and somethings i just do not like. So I’m willing to be collaborative, on the just don’t like but if I’m in pain, I’m gonna have to put a hard blind on that, right? So, and that’s the same for every member of my family, not just special in that, so yeah.
|Yeah, that makes sense, absolutely but I mean, you are the best person to know yourself.
|So you are the best person to tell them what are your zones, um like…I’m I’m you know like really angry or I’m feeling bad, or i’m feeling sad or. I mean, we are the best ones to tell other people around how we feel. And I mean, year, and it’s a good thing to teach our kids how to do that. Absolutely.
|I think so, yeah
|And we are more of the stage that we hope we done a good job
|Yeah, exactly. I mean, it certainly sounds like you have.
|Yeah yeah yeah, they are great kids, they are all great kids to me but umm.
|Oh I know, I mean..
|It really impressive, it’s really impressive have an, I mean…we are in 2022 there are some consciousness about, being neurodivergent, and people are more open about neurodivergent.
How do you calm down hyperactivity with ADHD?
But um, as I mentioned, when I was young, it was um, hyperactivity, she is a kid, she needs to move around. So I’m really, umm, now we are more aware of challenges and difficulties and its really something to see your child, whatever child, but your child going from an elementary student with a lot of issues, a lot of difficulties, emotions, situations, interactions, having difficulties with interaction and seen your child that it’s become such an amazing person, that was my emotional moment.
|That’s very sweet, do you think that um, that or, do you have a sense of what what was different for you in that transition to independence, like way back when, not way back, sorry that was rude? [laugh] The transition to independence when, I was thinking more like, you know, it was a couple of dedicated ago, and the knowledge of neurodivergence and ADHD in women was not like really there yet, versus now your kiddo um, kinda moving towards independence as an adult with autism. Are there more supports in place? Less? Like, what do you notice most?
|Oh, situations are so different, I lost my mother when I was twelve, so I had a big brother and a father, but they were, basically I stepped up as a mother role at 12 years old. So um, ah, by 16, I decided that I had enough and I wanted a life of my own so I moved out, So, it’s a completely different situation, I think I’m the one who has to manage the transition because I was, I don’t know if you feel the same with your children but I feel like I have to much to give, too much to share, that I didn’t want him, her to go through, I mean, good or bad, it’s just that, I don’t know, I don’t want to sound dramatic, but what I’m gonna do when he grows old or she grows old and they don’t need me anymore.
|Mhm, yeah, you obviously do.
|Yeah I know, I’m being dramatic but it just, that, that fine line happens so quickly, I mean, don’t know what the trigger was but at some point two of my children had intervention guidance and plans at school and they needed really strong um help from special educations and something happened down the road that slowly but surely made them have, um I don’t consider them having handicap or difference, I mean it’s so amazing how they become champions of their person, um, I will say it that way. Yeah so um, sorry I forgot the question, totally forgot the question.
|That’s okay, sounds like they are a lot like you. With that championship kind of mentality that I’m gonna do it how I’m gonna be and that’s fantastic.
|Yeah, um, I remembered the question, I was um, how do you manage that transition, like, I mean, yeah, the issue is in my hands not on their hands.They are like..
|They are ready…
|Oh yeah, they are ready
|When they were younger, do you remember, did you think that they will get here or did you have concerns that they wouldn’t get to be here independently?
How does ADHD affect a child later in life?
Oh my, my daughter for sure, I mean she is strong-willed, and resilient, as for my son, like um, the system didn’t help, because he had his diagnosis after trying to commit suicide, the autistic diagnosis and if I would have listened to the doctors and the psychiatrist, and the psychologist who was trying to help him, helping us… I don’t think it would have been a good idea to just listen to them because he wasn’t supposed to self-regulate, he wasn’t supposed to be without medication, he was an anxious person, he was supposed to not be able to drive functions at school, to go to college, so these are all, uh, sometimes, something I remind my daughter of because we do talk about the expectations I have, not the expectations but how I envision their future. And that’s how I think a huge problem is that don’t listen, let them show you what they are capable of, because bottom line, the only person that will determine what we want to do and what we can achieve. And, who is a doctor to tell you that your son or daughter is not gonna be able to do that kind of stuff or have difficulty for the rest of their lives? I think that was huge.. Not a problem because I didn’t listen but I think that can have a huge impact, yeah, it can have a huge impact because as a parent, if you believe something, if you believe that your child is not gonna be able to achieve that step, he is never going to be able to do so, because you don’t believe in them. and that..uh.. I think, um…it can, it does have a huge impact on the rise, um the development of a child. So I didn’t listen.
|[laugh] I really appreciate you being so transparent about that because I mean, I work as a parent, a parent coach and many of them have very young children who have just been diagnosed, and um, parents can be very, um I mean, its understandable, parents are very concerned about their chidldren potential well being as an adult, like what if they can’t do things? It’s like, it’s hard to have to say you know you need to trust your child, you need to give your child credit, that they might need support and that they might need all these interventions or whatever but mostly just need a parent behind them that, you know that can give them that, not push them but that leverage, or that grounding,
|Leverage is a good word, we have all been kids, we have all done through tough stuff, I mean we all gone through the good stuff, so its life, so that’s what makes it so beautiful, that’s what makes it so diverse. So please don’t try to go save them from living because that’s part of the whole experience.
|yeah, yeah, o very much agree. Thank you,
|I know it’s hard, it’s really hard as a parent to be able to let go, and say omg he doesn’t realize how dangerous this is, but hey trust them, it’s hard but it’s worth it. I do believe it’s worth it but it’s hard.
|Yeah, you have to let them slip out, and take some risks. Or you know, I’m always like, do you want an adult who has never taken a risk, or do you want the child to take the risk for you there? To help them out, you know?
|That’s a really good argument [laugh]
|That’s just my, that’s just my opinion, um, but um, yeah, I, I um, I am a big, big fan of letting kids, not like take unreasonable risks but stretch, stretch, right, um we don’t want them to be stressed past capacity but we do want them to test their boundaries just a little bit at a time, you know so that they can feel confident and you know to handle the world because you know, they can.They can handle the world. They just need the same resources. Well, I’m gonna turn us a little but because I want to make sure we have time to talk about your business and um what you do. Um, you are, well you should tell me, you are in technology for neurodivergent folks and families, so um would you mind sharing a little bit um, kind of about your journey and um what prompted you to get into this space, um as an entrepreneur?
|Well, I mentioned it, at the beginning of our discussion how, um ADHD is helping me with my entrepreneurial journey, um not having a routine, being able to do all kinds of class and meeting people with all kinds of, for me I got kind of, well I wasn’t always an entrepreneur because I was, at a certain level in my life I was a single mom, and I needed to focus on my children and uh, the assessments and the apointment, and we had, and so entrepreneur ship was not in the planning back then but at certain point of my like, we uh, was very interested in Mario Bros. and um, I, I, always liked videogames, uh, from like , i had, i was playing the first nintendo console when i was in elementary school and i always thought it was a great communication tool, which is different from what is happening now with the video game industry but I always has so much fun playing videogames with my family, with friends, so i decided to go into the videogame industry and see what was all, uh, what was it about videogame that was so fun, because, it is fun, and im not talking about Call of Duty or that type of game, but Mario Bros, Mario Party, I mean like all this real fun
|Like mindcraft, uh, super mindcrafters, [laugh] Minecraft and Fall Guys are their current favorites.They are really cute, so yeah,
|Yeah, yeah, my son is back into Mindcraft at 18 years old, so its really, but I was really interested in understanding why it was so much fun, so I went into the video game industry and we met a lot of people, and that’s when my son got hospitalized and got his diagnoses. So I started, I wanted to know, I wanted to learn, I wanted to be able to help him. I have always been a solu-, a solution-oriented person, so, okay, what can we do now? Okay, you know, here are the diagnoses, okay, what can I do? Like, the ADHD side of me, like, what can I do? How can I be helpful? So, I walked to researchers, and I started reading, and I wanted to understand, and I started meeting with families, and so it started as a personal project and I realized I was becoming like a police officer at home, and as I told you before, I had kids because I wanted to be able to stay a kid and have fun, and I was not having fun in my journey, and I saw my son was not having fun in his childhood, and it was a trigger because he was an inspiration to this journey, and I see my son was down and he was expecting me to be mad and I was about to tell him that I was proud of him. Sorry, but then that’s exactly the trigger that I realized I needed to tell him how much attention he is because everybody keeps saying, you are not doing that, you are not doing that, you should do this like that, you forgot that, and I, I, I, saw myself as a kid and I remembers how that didn’t help and how positive reinforcement was fuel for me, and I decided to sit down with him and tell him how I felt and I told him exactly what I am telling you right now, I do not have fun, I do not want that to continue that way and I asked, how do you feel? And he said, well you are like a back vocal. And I said, Okay!
|Very, very straightforward, good quality to have.
|I just leaned forward and said, Okay and it just kept repeating stuff and I basically don’t hear you. Oh, well I don’t wanna, that’s not the role I wanted in your life. So he asked me at the very beginning, okay I have a solution mom, please allow video games whenever I want and I will solve every problem, so I said, no. Nice try! No! Um, but that’s how it started so I started, I said okay, you got a point, you wanna be able to have fun, during a critical and boring time, I agree with that because everyone needs to be winning that situation. So we started with the Mario Bros. idea because he wanted to play videogame because we need to create a Mario bros where parents and children can have interventions where they can both learn about themselves, so we developed Kairos, where um, is an app that provides parental guidance and um, pulling triggers when um, it says hey! You need to tell your child right now that he is a champion. Or, do you realize he has done this kind of stuff today and um it’s his first time? Please celebrate, that’s, that’s a type of ques we wanted to bring, and for the children we used avatars that would motivate them to do boring stuff, so like brushing their teeth or like, um, cleaning, um, cleaning their room. But we did bring avatars for both parents and children because we both need to work on, certain aspects of our role, whether it is the children’s role in the family or parents’ role. So, yeah, that’s been, like, a great journey, we did, developed the app with healthcare professionals, and co-educators to be able to help children with ADHD as well, so I created neuro solutions like five years ago, so we just celebrated our five years
|Yeah, it was. We were really happy about the five years thing, like, we, we, like, we, it was just a challenge but we, we won!
|Yeah! That’s a big deal
|Yeah, so, me and my son like, and even my daughter, they have been involved in the progress of the, not only the product but the company. They supported the families during clinical studies, um, they done testing of the app, QA of the app, of course, they had an impact in the development of the game, the avatars, so um, it been a nice journey, um, helping a lot of families, getting to speak with a lot of families, and that’s my favorite part, um, I sit down and I think how far we have been as a family, its been simply amazing and I don’t do that as much as I should but being able to realize I am a great mom and I got great kids. They have, I mean, ti-am very proud of what they become, but yeah, this is my favorite moment, I get to rewind a little bit and say hey it’s been taught it’s been really really tough but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
|Yeah I love that so much about that story, thank you Annie for sharing it. I love that you saw that it wasn’t working for you and you went in and you said, okay what can we radically change? So that we can both have fun, I also loved the like, getting your kids involved, so you have a project together, but also that collaborative communication that we were talking in a different context a moment before, like, you did all that in this project, that’s amazing!
|Its been so, I mean, the first clinical study we did was with families, and we were, we decided that to kinda do like a role-playing game and we dressed up like agents and we told the kids that we were part of a clinical study and that they have been recruited as special agents in a special mission, and um, we still do focus groups with kits and um, it’s amazing, the impact we can have just by asking someone what do you think about this? I want your opinion, you are going to help me.And having that with children, it’s amazing because they do want to participate, they do want us to ask them how are you? What do you think matters to me, I want to do something for you, and that, oh yeah, that always works. Always, yeah.
|I think kids, thinking about much earlier when you were talking about that teacher that you had when you were young, who gave you jobs, right? I think kids always want to support, they always want to collaborate with you, they just need a way to do it, they need an in, you know? You need to be very welcoming of that, and then it works, right? You know, they know how to support like, it’s beautiful what can happen and how much confidence they can get from that
|Absolutely, and we are all parents and we all have our issues, and we are stressed and it can be hard to uh, not be welcoming for that help because they want to help but it won’t go as fast as you want it to go or they won’t address it as fast as you want it to go. It’s worth it, yeah, um, absolutely.
|That’s so great
|It the same, my, my parental journey has a lot to do with my entrepreneurial journey, I mean, we do collaborate with families, I never wanted to develop an app on my basement and say, hey I know what to do! I never worked that way, I always wanted to collaborate with families, children, psychiatrists, and doctors. Doctors are not more important than children, actually doctors right now, that’s another topic, are managing, and assessing treatment plans without even knowing what is happening at home or how the kid is feeling. They got fifty minutes each month to go, mmmm… how are you? Here is a prescription. That’s hard to see, but that’s, anyways, is another subject. [laugh]
|No, I don’t think you are wrong. But, uh, I think the point uh, you are making is that it might be a piece of the whole, you know, puzzle. But they are definitely now, you know, the people with the most information or the most authority about what individuals on the ground need or families on the ground need.
|You don’t know that information, all they have as I mentioned, is fifty minutes, so if we want to collaborate, we all need to share the information and we all need to question the person. Whether is the parent, the child, etcetera, so yeah.
How can I help my family with ADHD?
Yeah, with Kairos, and with the games that you have made, specific? You talked about the getting parents and kids onboard piece, are there specific habits that you are trying to help families build together? Or how is it? Tell me more about it [laugh] How is it targeted?
|Well, actually uuh, first thing, the app needs to be downloaded to each one of the stores, the parent has to make an account and configure a specific routine that is reflecting his needs as a parent and caregiver. He can do it with the child, it’s better but then he chooses what he wants to address. Whenever there is um, when we can’t find these tasks or these actions during a specific period of time, so let’s say for a morning routine, and whenever that routine comes along, then the child gets notified and he can get interaction with his avatar, to realize the actions that uh, that are needed and uh, that actually that’s the only way to gain a progression in the video game, so its related to super powers, and the kid and the avatar team up in the video game to do missions in real life and missions in the videogame. So, if they don’t do one, we do not encourage, one thing that is important, the algorithm requires 75% of success because we do not want to encourage perfection but progress, so um, yeah, so whenever that’s accomplished, he will get the superpower needed for his avatars like a superpower to climb on walls or super strength, so yeah, kids get to personalized or customize their avatars, their HQ to create that kind of comfort zone to uh, either looks like them or not at all, and they can have a dinosaur or a boy or a girl or a unicorn, so they decide what they want with their avatar, so.
|That’s awesome, and what age is it sorta more targeted for?
|It’s mainly for six to twelve um, years of age, depends on, um, it does depend on the videogame interest of the child because um, because if a child is playing call of duty, he won’t have any interest in Kairos. So the most impact is mostly between kids aged six and nine, that’s our target range, but we used it on our clinical-stage, up to children 12 years of age, so it depends, its one of the tools that are available, it’s not a science fits all, but it does work.
|That’s really helpful, thank you. and if um, one other question I have, I speak to a lot of parents about screen use, um, our family is pretty versatile about screen use, we are homeschoolers so I think that technology is a great part of, this is my personal opinion, that technology is part of our existence day to day and its important for our kids to kinda learn how to engage on them in a way that’s reasonable for them and, uh, but I do talk a lot to parents of autistic youth and more ADHD but I’m sure it happens that they are concern that their kids are stuck on the screen or having trouble motivating them to do something else other than the screen or that kind of thing and I wonder as someone who has work in this space since for a long time with your kids being a little older, do you have some kind of feedback about how to moderate that or get over the concern or how to go around that?
|In Kairos we do have in our parental guide we do have a section regarding screen management and solutions and techniques but um, i have the same, my position is same as your, its in our lives, and we need as parents be able to manage that tool in our lives and yes, i don’t think its going anywhere, so we better teach them how to manage it, so we did include um, a few factor triggers in Kairos, that will teach and tell them, hey this is for a 10 minute period, we use time management, we use a time machine that needs to recharge every day, they need a time machine to recharge, and the interactions with the avatar helps them understand that, so thats very important to us, and we always say that we need to pray by the example, um, we do not have phones at the table, we do not bring cellphones on the bedroom, as parents we do have a responsibility to teach our kids how to use technology, so we did wanted to integrate some mechanics for chaos, but for a prent that does not allow technology in the house, we are not gonna try to convince them that Kairos. is gonna work because obviously is not gonna work. So when I talked about choosing your battles, that’s not a battle that I choose. No, no, nope.
|Oh yeah and if the parents are stressed out about it, then it doesn’t matter how good the game is, is not gonna support the family, right? But, like, if a parent is sorta open to it but like, concerned about screen use it also sounds like there is built-in kinda limits where the game is supporting but it’s not stuck.
|No, it’s about one level per day that a child can play and its about a ten minutes session, he gets to customize and interact with his avatar but it’s one level per day, and there is no way he can redo the same level, there is no way he can do another level. These are really strict mechanics that we included in Kairos. because we didn’t want to create another drama, for sure.
|Yeah,[laugh] thank you so much. Can you tell the audience who might be interested where to learn more about Kairos? and you and your company and all?
|Absolutely, so our website is www.kairosgame.com, so it a greek god Kairos and you will find all the information about neuro solutions groups and as well, the company behind the app, and yeah, if you have any comments or any concerns about the clinical studies we have realized, I would be more than happy to answer your concerns, and you can reach us by using the email on our website.
|Thank you so much Annie, and folks, all those websites will be down on the show notes so please check them out, they will be on the website and also on your app, wherever you are listening to this and the show notes will be there. Annie, do you have anything else you would like to kinda leave us off to today?
|Well, I was, I had a great time as I mentioned, its been a real pleasure talking to you, its always a pleasure sharing, so all the families who do want, if you are listening to Danielle’s podcast, um, and you want to try Kairos, feel free to reach out to us. We will give you a promo code so that you can use it for three months for free, um, and make sure that it’s a fit for your family and that it can help you as it did for our family as well, so.
|Thank you so much Annie, and you also be you know, supporting a company that is women-owned and run so which you know, it’s important, so beautiful, okay thank you so much!