After spending her career working in leadership development, Alex Gilbert decided to start a consulting and coaching business to help adults with learning disabilities and/or ADHD (like herself), who have been struggling in their careers and at home. Her business, Cape-Able Consulting LLC, was created to help us navigate our day-to-day workloads so that we feel supported and are able to reach our highest potential.
In today’s interview, we’re covering:
- Alex’s journey to becoming a life coach after a career in leadership development
- the importance of adaptive technology and other resources for adults with learning disabilities and ADHD, and how these resources can benefit everyone.
- how we can better understand our own needs in order to advocate for ourselves
- Alex’s experience as a new parent and how to avoid the comparison game
Want to listen? This post is based off of Episode 64 of the Neurodiverging Podcast! Listen on Apple Podcasts| Google Podcasts | Spotify | Youtube
Guest Biography: Alexandra Gilbert
Alexandra (Alex) Gilbert is the founder of Cape-Able Consulting. After spending her career working in leadership development, she decided to start a consulting and coaching business to help adults with learning disabilities and/or ADHD who have been struggling in their careers. Gilbert has dyslexia and ADHD, and writes about her own lived experience of struggling through school and work within systems not designed for her. She created her coaching business to help others with learning disabilities navigate day-to-day workloads and to support them to reach their highest potential.
On her website, she writes “My biggest goal in creating Cape-Able Consulting is to change the stigma surrounding learning disabilities/ ADHD by reminding people what they Cape-able of.” She currently offers 1:1 coaching, and courses for adults with learning disabilities, ADHD, and anyone who has trouble staying focused and productive in their daily lives. Outside of her consulting and coaching work, Gilbert is a mom and wife, New Yorker, yoga enthusiast, and Mets fan.
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- Donate to this podcast.
- Learn more about Alexandra Gilbert here: https://www.capeableconsulting.com/
- Follow Alex on social: @capeableconsultingLLC on Facebook and Linkedin, @iamcapeable on Instagram and TikTok
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Transcript of Episode 64: Our Strengths Are Superpowers with Alexandra Gilbert
DANIELLE: Welcome my friends to the Neurodiverging podcast. My name’s Danielle Sullivan and I’m your host. Today we have an amazing interview with Alexandra Gilbert, who is the founder of Cape-able Consulting.
Alex is a coach who works with ADHDers and folks with learning disabilities, and we get into some really nice conversation about what coaching can bring into people’s lives, how we both approach our adjacent but slightly different jobs, and just getting to know Alex and her work in case she sounds like a good fit for you.
Before we get into that I just want to shout out my patrons who support this podcast every single month with their donations through Patreon and get cool perks! If you’re interested in becoming a patron, a friend of the show, by donating a couple of bucks a month to make this podcast run, you can check us out at patreon.com/neurodiverging.
Before we dive into the interview, let me tell you a little bit about Alex! Alexandra Gilbert is the founder of Cape-able Consulting, spelled “capeable” with an e, like a superhero’s cape! After spending her career working in leadership development, she decided to start a consulting and coaching business to help adults with learning disabilities or ADHD, who have been struggling with their careers.
Alex, herself, has dyslexia and ADHD, and she writes about her own lived experience of struggling through school and work within systems not designed for her. I know we talk about that a lot on the podcast, I hope that hearing from somebody with a different neurodivergent profile than me will be helpful for all of you.
Alex created her coaching business to help others with learning disabilities navigate day-to-day workloads and to support them to reach their highest potential. I really encourage you to Google Cape-able Consulting, cape like a superhero’s cape, and check her out. We’ll also put links to all of her everything down below for you. And now without further ado, here’s my interview with Alex. Enjoy!
Welcome to the podcast, Alex! I’m so happy you’re here. Thanks for coming on.
ALEX: Thank you for having me as I have a fire truck going in the background, but here we are!
DANIELLE: I can’t hear it, it’s okay! Right before I got on with you there was, I guess, a tow truck or a moving truck in my small cul-de-sac with many kinds of beeping, and I was like, “That would happen right before a podcast episode,” so.
ALEX: Of course, of course. It’s still going and I’m glad you can’t hear it.
DANIELLE: I can’t hear it.
DANIELLE: That’s just the work-from-home life I think.
ALEX: There you go.
DANIELLE: Well, I’m really, really happy that we made this happen today.
ALEX: Yes, me too.
DANIELLE: I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a long time. So Alex is—you can tell us a little bit—you’re a coach and a consultant and you work with a lot of ADHD folks and folks with learning disabilities and we’re kind of in similar orbits I guess as coaches, but don’t serve exactly the same populations. But I have heard amazing things about—
ALEX: Thank you.
DANIELLE: …your group and just am really excited to talk to you. Would you mind telling us a little bit about what you do and who you are?
How do you accommodate neurodiversity?
ALEX: Sure, sure. So, I was really privileged to be diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD when I was 8 years old and had resources all the way through college, which most of my clients are newly diagnosed, and one of my podcasting friends called me a unicorn in the space because I was diagnosed so early. But, one of the things that I realized about having resources was how valuable that could be and how hard it is when it doesn’t exist.
So I had been working in program and leadership development for over a decade, and I was so anxious and burnt out in the workplace all the time, and I realized it was because once I had had all of those resources and no longer had them; it was like the rug was pulled out from under me. And everything you learn in school about your learning disability or ADHD, and all the resources that are available are apples and oranges.
How do I ask for more time on a test? What does it look like in the workplace? It was really frustrating to me, and I had always had this idea of supporting people with ADHD and learning disabilities all the way back to when I was 16 years old and applying to colleges because I had an SAT tutor tell me that because I was dyslexic and had ADHD that I would really amount to nothing and that what I was on paper was somebody who struggled in all of these things.
And I said, “That’s cool that that’s all you see because I’m also president of this club, I’m also on the leadership of that club, I started X, Y, and Z—that’s also on paper. Why don’t you see value in that?” And I really wanted to find ways to, not only for myself but empower other people, and I created a mentor retention program for students with disabilities in college, and I went to Indiana University, so not the nothing that she thought I was going to be, but I was able to really support other people who really struggled in a lot of different ways.
And so all of these things just kind of blended into itself. After COVID happened, and I was laid off from my job, my husband and I were looking at each other, and he was like, “You’re not going back into a regular job anymore, are you?” And I’m like, “Absolutely not,” (laughs). I’m like now is the time to really do what I want, give people the support that need it, help them feel empowered, and really know that they have skill sets that are valued and that they should value themselves, too.
DANIELLE: Thank you so much. So much of what you said spoke to me on a lot of different levels.
ALEX: (laughs) I’m glad.
DANIELLE: Obviously, I’m late-diagnosed and autistic, so different brains.
DANIELLE: Also, just the apples to oranges, like you said, of being in the school system and—again, I didn’t have the framing or the verbiage for what I was experiencing because I wasn’t diagnosed yet, but knowing that certain things supported me, certain things were helpful, but then getting into the workplace and just not knowing how to apply this one—switch contexts, right?
DANIELLE: Move this support from over here to over there in a way that worked for me, and I struggled a lot in the workplace until I really managed to figure out how to make it work from my home with all my supports in place.
ALEX: For sure.
DANIELLE: So I know so many folks who handle similarly, so that’s really interesting.
DANIELLE: I always think it’s fun, too, to look back and see the passions of your life that started very young, right—
ALEX: Oh, yeah.
DANIELLE: …but it took time to really develop into what you do now.
ALEX: You know what, I always say it wasn’t necessarily the path that I expected to take and I remember thinking, “This is something that I’ve always wanted to do.” I talked about being a life coach at 16. I remember telling this to people, and they were like, “What the hell is a life coach?” Like, this was like 30—not 30, I’m in my thirties. This was like 20 years ago, though, that I was talking about this and people said, “What? What?”
But I kept thinking everything that I was doing up until this point was taking me further away from my goal, and I realized it actually was exactly the right stepping stones I needed in order to do the job that I’m doing now, and in the places that I was in, I needed to be in those places so that I had that understanding and grasp and could relate to my clients on a number of different levels to give them that added support. So, yeah, it’s funny how that works.
ALEX: It’s always been there, but it’s showed up in a lot of different ways.
What are the best resources for ADHD adults?
DANIELLE: One of the things you said was the—oh sorry, I guess we weren’t recording at that time. But before we got on the call, we were talking about that one of the gaps we kind of both saw that I think maybe applied to both of us entering this space was that there weren’t a lot of resources for adults, right? That there are resources for children and families and parenting— sometimes, and sometimes they’re terrible resources. Sometimes they’re okay (laughs) but that for—one of the reasons I started Neurodiverging is because I was a newly diagnosed autistic parent with autistic ADHD kiddos, and I could not find anything about parenting as an autistic person or homemaking as an autistic person or housekeeping as an autistic person, right?
As opposed to how I should be “training” my children as autistic people—
ALEX: Oh my God, oh no (speech overlaps).
DANIELLE: So I thought it was really interesting (laughs) that you said that because it’s like we both maybe saw this gap and came in and were like, “Well, let’s try to do something, here.” So what resources do you think, either that you’ve created or that you’ve seen in other places, do you have any like favorite for the adult ADHDers and other learning-disabled people that you work with day-to-day?
ALEX: Yeah. It was so—I was thinking as you were saying this and it was taking me back to even why I wanted to start this, and I always put myself in the dyslexic first, ADHD second category—
ALEX: …because I used to think ADHD didn’t affect me the same way because everybody at the time would say ADHD, they think of the hyperactive boy disrupting class, and I would think to myself, “That’s not me, I’m more dyslexic,” and then I just happened to have ADHD.
So when I was coming up with different resources, I had that in the back of my head, and a lot of that has shifted as I was learning more about myself in that process.And I would say this was more in college, too, that I was learning more as I was working with other students who had ADHD about what was needed and how I could figure out what that looks like in the workplace.
So adaptive technology being number one. I think that is one of the most useful resources and tools that everyone can use who has some kind of a learning disability or ADHD, and two of my favorite programs are Grammarly and Speechify, which I’m sure other people have talked about many, many times, but I really love these programs, and I used similar ones in college.
Having something read to me is like listening to a podcast. I am so much more alert and aware, and that is how I process information because as a dyslexic I’m visualizing it in my own way, and when I have to read it and try to figure out how to decode it and try and visualize it at the same time I’m lost. It’s like in ear—
DANIELLE: A lot of extra work.
ALEX: Yeah, it’s in one ear and out the other, whereas if I’m listening my mind is going exactly where I need to go, and I’m like, “Cool!” I’m there, I can connect to it, there’s that. The ADHD part of me is like I’m really too impulsive to think through my to-do list and if I see something that I can do, check the box, send off an email I’ll do it and realize there’s no attachments, I totally didn’t make any sense when I sent this sentence, I sent it to the wrong person.
Here’s (laughs) all the things that could have helped me do my job better, and they were free resources, I mean they have paid versions, but I think that those are huge. And I talked to a lot of companies specifically on how they can make their companies more inclusive, and that’s on the bare minimum level of providing those services—whether they do the free or paid version as they’re handing out the laptops to their employees.
That, if that is available to every one of their employees, the person who has a learning disability or ADHD or on the spectrum doesn’t feel like they have to ask, and a lot of the times people are really ashamed to ask for resources because they don’t want people to think that they’re stupid or less than or incapable of their job when, really, it’s just they’re looking for ways to do their job better. And they’re none of those things. They are not stupid, they are not incapable of that job. They are just viewing the world in a different way.
How can employers support employees with ADHD?
DANIELLE: Yeah. And when we talk about the apples-to-oranges transitioning from maybe the school environment or the educational environment to the work environment, one thing that I, at least in the clients that I see—so I work mostly with late-identified autistic folks but various other folks as well, a lot of folks don’t know what to ask for.
They know that they’re not meeting the company’s goals, and they know—they’re highly motivated to succeed, they’re anxious to succeed, they ask for feedback, they implement so many overly complex systems to try to do the best they can, but when we talk about, “Well what accommodations would support you better?” They have no idea.
And sometimes that’s the late diagnosis, right? That they’re still reframing their sensory profiles of their ways of thinking or their emotional intelligence in this new context of autism or ADHD or whatever the diagnosis is, but sometimes it’s just that whatever—if they even got support in school, which many of them didn’t, if they even did they don’t know how to say, “Well actually having the thing read to me would be really helpful.” Or, “Having someone note-take for me in meetings would be really helpful.” Or, “Could I wear sunglasses inside? Would be really helpful.” Like, it’s just not even something they can generate, yet.
And so the idea of this just being a basic level of accommodations we make for everybody. I’m sure there are neurotypical people who would very much value having a thing read to them or being able to check their grammar for them—
DANIELLE: …that accessibility helps everyone.
ALEX: Totally. I used to describe this as, you know, you have a ramp to your front door but the ramp is accessible to a person in a wheelchair or a person with a walker or a parent with a stroller, and it’s for the able-bodied person who has no problem walking in the door. It is now easily accessible by anyone who wants to come in, and that’s what I say to companies.
That if you really want to attract a diverse community within your company and really get the wide ranges of skills that people who are on the autism spectrum or neurodivergent and have ADHD or learning disability, we have so many skills that could benefit their companies and organizations, but if we feel unwelcomed and we feel like we are not in a place to succeed, you’re never going to get the best out of us. And all of those resources that I mentioned and then some are going to benefit everybody.
And a lot of my clients, I was—personally, I was always the person who felt comfortable disclosing that I had dyslexia and ADHD. That was—and I’ve said that on every single interview I’ve ever had. And I don’t want to sit here and toot my own horn, but there was not a single job interview that I didn’t get asked back for the next round.
And it had nothing to do with the fact that I was saying that I was disabled and now all of a sudden they were like, “Well maybe we have to bring her back.” It was the skills that I was presenting that were actually best suited for those jobs.
And a lot of my clients don’t feel comfortable disclosing, and I think that that’s also okay, but there’s a number of different ways to advocate for your needs, but I want to go back to the fact that you said people don’t know what their needs are, and that is exactly why I do this because you don’t necessarily know what your needs are.
Here I am, someone who has had a diagnosis since I was 8 years old, and I told you that in the workplace I didn’t know what that looked like. I would also say that in every job that you’re in, you don’t necessarily know what that looks like. You might understand some things that you need, you might need a quieter space or flexible work hours, sure. On the lowest level, you understand that about yourself.
But you might be going into a totally different career path and you don’t know what the expectations are there, and you have to understand that it’s not a stopping point to advocate for yourself as you’re interviewing. It is going to be an ongoing process of learning how to communicate your needs, whether you disclose or not, about how you can do your job to the best of your ability. And it’s—understand that everyone has to advocate for themselves in some way, whether they have a disability or they don’t.
DANIELLE: I think a lot of folks are struggling in the (stammers) workplace, excuse me, with figuring out not only what they need but how to ask for what they need, because so many of us are trained not to ask—
ALEX: Not to.
DANIELLE: …especially if you’re woman-presenting or if you’re non-white, right? That asking can be seen as being aggressive or—
DANIELLE: …being—you know? So there’s a lot going into that.
ALEX: You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know where it starts. So if you don’t know what your needs are, the rest doesn’t matter. I can fill you up with lots of tools and resources. I mean people—the conversations that people have about, “Well I’m put on an ADHD medication, I’m cured.” Like, wipe your hands free—
ALEX: …like that’s not how (stammers) this works.
How do you help someone who has learning disabilities?
ALEX: So those tools are here, but they don’t work (laughs) unless you know how to make them work for you. If you know what your needs are, you know what to advocate for, and often people tell me they don’t know. And I think that is one of the worst phrases people with ADHD or learning disabilities can say because it is not true! Because when I start to ask you, “What do you know?” You have endless lists of things that you know about yourself.
And I also need to reframe that in that when you tell—let’s say your boss or someone—you need help, and they say, “What do you need?” And you say, “I don’t know,” your boss or your manager, or your team, or even your loved one or family member or friend, when they hear you say, “I don’t know,” they’re thinking, “We’ve been talking about this all this time, what do you mean you don’t know? You haven’t known what you were doing?”
And now that’s where they start to have that doubt about you and your abilities to complete all these things. What you need to change this phrase to be is, “This is what I know and understand, can you help me fill in the gaps?”
ALEX: And by expressing what you do know, the person who you are talking to says, “Oh!” They might be able to tell you some of the resources that make the most sense based on what you understand and where do they see your gaps are. You might be able to have a conversation and say, “This is what I understand. Is this or that resource available to help me accomplish this goal better?”
So I’ll apply this one to the workplace, so we are in a three-hour meeting, let’s just call it what it is: the worst thing ever.
DANIELLE: The worst thing ever.
ALEX: It is killing your productivity. Can you say to your boss, “This meeting is three hours, you and I discussed working on this project, and now I am sitting in a three-hour meeting. Can we find a better use of my time? Is there a specific section of this meeting that you would like me to participate in? Can you tell me when to join?”
“Can we have the meeting recorded so that if I need to refer back to this meeting then I can go back to it? Is there a note-taker so that if I do miss something or I am in that meeting because you think that is most productive for me, that I have something to refer back to when I am doing this project?”
None of those are going to set off any red flags that you are not good at your job. All of them are finding different ways to do your job better, and that is what your boss or your manager is hearing.
So I always try and find ways to have conversations by explaining what you know and understand because that is your strength.
DANIELLE: Yeah. And I think it’s also important in how you phrase that, that you’re looking for this very narrow specific place that you want resources, which shows that you’re motivated and that you’ve already put a good amount of analysis behind a problem.
Danielle: It also gives—as someone who works with a lot of autistic people—a lot of what I do day-to-day is actually help people script things out. So they have this problem with, say, the three-hour meeting and they’re worried that if they—like, similar, I think, background that if they ask their boss to “skip” the meeting, quote, unquote, that they feel like it will be seen as “I’m trying to get out of work” as opposed to refocus on a project that they think is higher priority.
And working on thinking about what does your boss want to see from you, right? Your boss wants to see that you are motivated, that you are prioritizing appropriately and roughly in line with what the boss thinks is important or the company thinks is important, and you asking for help to do a better job is not going to be seen as, like you said, a bad employee, right? But the way that you—
DANIELLE: …communicate that as you just put it was beautiful, because—and that’s what that scripting is, right? It’s like how do you reframe the situation to be showing “willing” as opposed to “trying to get out of something”, right? So when you say, “I don’t know,” it just feels like—
I’m thinking as a parent when my kiddos, when they’re stuck or anxious or stressed, and we’re like, “Well what kind of help do you need?” And they say, “I don’t know.” They can get out of it because they’re seven, but it still as a parent is like the worst thing. It’s like, “Okay, well how do I help you if I don’t know, if you don’t know,” you know?
DANIELLE: So as a boss to an employee it’s even, I think, worse because you’re not a child, you do know what you need. You just need to give us something to work with to help you.
ALEX: And here’s an example even with your seven-year-olds and they say, “I don’t know,” if you are in a place where you feel stuck and you really feel like the answer is I don’t know, can you name a menu of three things that would help you, that would do even remotely more helpful than where you are? So if you don’t know what you need, okay. Would it be helpful if you were in a physical different space? That might be helpful.
At least you can identify two or three things that would be helpful. And then that might spiral your mind to say, “Actually now that I’m thinking about it, X, Y, and Z would be even more helpful.” But—
ALEX: …even just finding a way to identify something is better than not.
Danielle: Yeah, completely. And a lot of times when I’m working with folks, and again in the autistic profile which is a little different, right, than—
ALEX: Mhm, definitely.
DANIELLE: …some other profiles, but we’re looking at, okay, well is there anything sensory going on that we can adjust? Right? Light, sound, touch? Is there something environmental going on that’s not sensory, but that’s like heat, cold, air movement, lack of air movement, sunshine, right?
What we often do is kind of segment it into these pieces of okay, are there sensory things? Are there temporal things? Are you eating, drinking, going to the bathroom (laughs) during the day? Are you taking breaks? Those kind of things.
And that can also help break it down a little bit to be like well, where are you— let’s just look at this one area. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and you don’t know anything that can help you, we’ll just think about this one piece and try from there to work out—
Danielle: …some interventions that might support.
ALEX: You’re also making a point that I talk about this all the time, that people with ADHD and learning disabilities, a lot of the time—and even autism as well, that you can see the big picture and the little details all at once, which is incredible, which is why we’re so innovative and creative, but it also is what makes our stumbling blocks so difficult.
Danielle: It’s very big! Yeah (laughs).
ALEX: It’s very big, because all of a sudden we see this very big picture, and the reason we say, “I don’t know,” is because we’re like, “Oh my God, I have to do all those little details, and I’m the only one to do them, and that’s so many executive functioning tasks that I just have no interest in.” So we just don’t do them. So blessing and a curse in that way, for sure (laughs).
Danielle: I think I’m now in a space where it’s for sure a blessing, but that overwhelm is real, and the executive function piece, as you say, is something that our profiles have in common for sure, so.
How does neurodiversity affect people?
Danielle: Yeah. We talked a little bit about the workplace piece, which I think is a large part of every adult’s, most adults’, lives. What other kinds of things do clients tend to want to work with you on? Are there patterns that you see that folks are having particular trouble with?
ALEX: Most people who come to me talk to me about work, but here’s what I will say: ADHD, learning disabilities, all of those things is not a light switch that you turn up and off. So we might start talking about work, but then we start talking about trouble with finances, we might start talking about the fact that they have history with disordered eating, we might start talking about that they struggle with organization, they’re a parent, and now they’re trying to function—they’re trying to find a way to function for themselves and then take care of a child, and they don’t know what systems they should be putting in place for both.
Everything bleeds into different parts of our lives, and I would say that there’s not a specific that people are coming to me for, but I would say there are themes. That these are disabilities that challenge you in a number of different ways in a lot of different categories, and you might think, “Oh I’m fine here but I struggle with this,” and it’s like okay, well, that might be the case.
I personally have never really struggled with organization because that was something that I learned at a very early age with those resources, how to organize for myself. But when it comes to this or that, I struggle with something different than one of my clients.
I don’t have a specific, and I think that that’s okay. I think us as a community is different, and our personalities are different, and what we want to hyperfocus on is different, and so the challenges we face outside of the workplace are different.
DANIELLE: Yeah, yeah. That’s really interesting and it’s been some of my experience, too, that as you said everything bleeds, and so I guess most folks come to me not so much with workplace issues, though they might come up, right? But with, “I’m having—”
We have a lot of emotional intelligence issues in the autism community because, well for various reasons only partly having to do with autism itself or the profile itself, but that kind of thing affects how you parent, how you talk to your boss, how you talk to your partner, your romantic partner if you have one. But also just how well you know yourself and how well you can assess what’s working for you and what’s not.
And so it’s really interesting, like, the stuff—I always love looking back at when a client is sort of graduating when they are kind of done with this period of coaching in their lives, and you look back at where they came in and you’re like, “Oh, okay!” They came in to talk about how to script a thing for their boss to ask for a different office space, right? And then you end up way over here with we have reorganized how you cook meals, and we’ve talked about parenting styles, and we’ve talked about organization, we’ve talked about, like, all the stuff—
ALEX: Exactly, exactly.
DANIELLE: …because it just sort of all feeds. Yeah, yeah.
ALEX: It does, it does. And it’s what leads you to feel really burnt out if you don’t address all of those aspects of your life. One of my clients has probably been with me the longest at this point came to me. She was late-diagnosed with ADHD, and she was really trying to grapple with understanding how she thinks to now not only understanding how she thinks, but really going into a field of advocating not only for herself, but for others, and she’s like taking people under her wing, helping them explain how to advocate for their needs and what their needs are and helping them navigate that.
And I’m sitting there and thinking, “Alright cool I’m not going to cry or anything,” during our session—
ALEX: …but, like, this is why I do what I do. I love that. I love watching that journey, and it hasn’t even been that long in the scheme of things when you think, this is this woman’s entire lifetime of not understanding this aspect of herself and overcompensating, to not only feeling empowered but really helping other people.
And it’s not to say that every day is great, it’s (stammers)—
DANIELLE: It’s a job (laughs).
ALEX: …a struggle! And it is a job, and some days are better than others, but I would say without a disability some days are better than others for other reasons, and I personally think of this as my strength and my superpower, and I think it’s okay to see the glass half full and not—I don’t see it as like a toxic positivity to say I have strengths.
Danielle: Yeah, yeah.
ALEX: And this is what they are.
What is strength based approach to neurodiversity?
DANIELLE: I think there’s a huge difference between toxic positivity and that sort of almost the positive psychology solution-focused, like how do we make steps forward? Like you are who you are, you can change yourself a little bit in one direction or the other, right?
DANIELLE: But also we’re all humans, we’re all here, we all have value. How can we add to the community? Because, I don’t know, that’s my baseline, and I don’t know that every client I have is of that same philosophical bent, but my baseline is if we’re all in the community together, the larger human community, how can we each do our little tiny piece to try to leave the world better than it was when we came in?
And if that’s partnering with people and their individual journeys to better self-knowledge and more happiness in their lives and more happiness with their kids and happiness at work, like, I’m thrilled to just do that. Like that is enough (laughs) you know?
ALEX: I totally agree, but I’m also as you were saying thinking of how much people are holding themselves back in those scenarios because they’re trying to fit into someone else’s box—
Danielle: Oh, yeah!
ALEX: …that doesn’t exist for them. And so when you are trying to continuously compare yourself to people who don’t have these disabilities and seeing “look how much they can do” and “why is this a struggle for me?” it also bleeds into that frustration. And I feel like, if you lean into your strengths, and know that everyone has weaknesses and understand how you can support yourself through those weaknesses, I think it also just makes for a better life experience—
DANIELLE: Yes! Absolutely.
ALEX: …to really embrace what’s happening around you.
Danielle: No, I completely agree. And I think that a lot of the—I mean we’ve talked before on other episodes about how insidious ableism is, the same as all the other structural stuff that just gets built up in us as children and young adults, and that we’re constantly sort of renegotiating as we age and become more aware of it. And that that comparison piece of looking at the people next door or the other parents in your kid’s classroom or whatever, it just drives you further away from knowing yourself.
You’re paying so much external attention to those folks instead of looking at what you are bringing, and yeah, I completely agree with you, that can be so damaging. It’s really important to reframe and look at what you’re doing yourself.
ALEX: Yeah. My daughter is seven months old, and I have made it very clear of how I was going to speak to her and speak to myself about this whole journey of being a new parent and watching the comparison game that happens so early. I mean, it happened—
DANIELLE: Oh my gosh, yes.
ALEX: …you know during pregnancy and watching people who were like, “Oh well this one’s having this symptom and I’m not, does that mean something’s wrong?” I don’t know, you could literally go down a rabbit hole with that, and then watching friends of ours whose kids are roughly the same age, and they’re doing this, and they’re doing that and I’m thinking, “My daughter’s going to do what she’s going to do—
ALEX: …at the point she’s going to do it, and I’m here for that journey and supporting her and making those things happen.” Like my kid never rolled over and I remember saying to the pediatrician, “Is that a problem?” And she looked at her who’s sitting up and she’s like, “She’s fine.” And I was like, “Okay, cool!” Right? I didn’t know!
DANIELLE: (laughs) Yeah!
ALEX: But I’m watching other people and thinking, if I didn’t know any different then I would start to drive myself crazy, and I think that that’s part of the frustration. When you don’t know any different, and you didn’t know that this was going to be different for you, and you put yourself in that comparison game because you didn’t know (laughs). Now that you do, let’s acknowledge that things are different for you and what success looks like for you is different, and how you can be different, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy those things.
And you can’t enjoy and embrace who you are and what your strengths are, and how that applies to everything else in your life.
DANIELLE: Yeah. Beautifully said.
ALEX: Thank you (laughs).
DANIELLE: Thank you (laughs). Would you be willing to tell folks where they can find out more about you and Cape-able and all the things you do?
ALEX: Sure. So you can find my website—I spell cape-able my own way because, again, I’m dyslexic, I spell everything wrong. I also wanted people to see their strength as their superpower so I have c-a-p-e and it’s Cape-able Consulting—it’s actually how I thought things were spelled.
So it’s Cape-able Consulting, c-a-p-e, dot com, and then you can find me on Instagram and Tik Tok @iamcapeable, c-a-p-e, Capeable, and LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s Cape-able Consulting LLC, again, c-a-p-e.
ALEX: So I offer one on one coaching, I offer courses, I am launching a community for people who have learning disabilities or ADHD that will have workshops and co-working spaces and resources there as well, so come find me.
DANIELLE: Sounds great. Thanks so much, Alex! I really appreciate your time today.
ALEX: Thank you for having me.
DANIELLE: Thank you so much for listening today! We hope you come back for the next one in about two weeks. Thanks to Alex for her time in this interview and thank you again to my patrons for supporting this podcast and allowing me to make these resources for you. It is the privilege of my life.
Please check us out at neurodoverging.com, please check out Alex’s link down below, and please check out the Patreon, patreon.com/neurodiverging. We hope to see you in the next podcast and please remember, we are all in this together.