Ep: 28 Raising a joyful family with ADHD
An interview with Sharon Collon, Founder of The Functional Family.
Raising a joyful family with ADHD
An interview with Sharon Collon, Founder of The Functional Family.
In this episode, Angela interviews Sharon Collon Founder of The Functional Family, an online program that provides life-changing strategies to support parents of children with ADHD or behavioural challenges. Knowing first-hand the overwhelm that comes with raising children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, she has three boys all of who has ADHD, and is married to a man who also has ADHD. Sharon shares the reality of living a life with four people with ADHD and the practices she has implemented to turn a chaotic home into one of joy. She also shares her insights into communicating with and working with teams of therapists and the importance of schools and teachers in setting kids with ADHD up for success.
adhd child parents kids family people boys big teachers bit support diagnosis school struggling sat joy formal diagnosis sharon mums home
Angela: Hey, welcome to A Kid's Life Podcast, you're joining me, Angela Lockwood. And today we have our guest who is the owner of The Functional Family. Now, The Functional Family is a platform that provides life changing strategies to parents of children with ADHD and anxiety. And the Creator, Founder Mother extraordinaire, gift out of so much breathing space for families who are fighting a challenge is Sharon Collon, and she joins us on the podcast today. Welcome, Sharon.
Sharon: Thank you, Angela. It's such a great honor to be here.
Angela: Look, I remember. Thank you, of course. And I remember hearing about The Functional Family and I loved the title. And obviously being an occupational therapist who works with children and works in schools and have done so for nearly 20 years. I was like, Oh, this sounds really interesting. And so of course, I did some stalking and some googling, as we all do on your many platforms. And I'll tell you what the work you are doing in supporting families of kids who have ADHD and anxiety my hat goes off to you, it is so needed, and we thank you for creating this space.
Sharon: Thank you. I mean, it was almost called The Dysfunctional Family, I've got to say, I wanted to, highlight the struggles that a lot of these families face day in day out and really, them how much more support we a society need to give them and I couldn't find a lot of support. And so that's where I wanted to create it and create it for my not only for my boys, but for other families as well.
Angela: And of course, you refer to your three beautiful boys, all who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which we simplify to ADHD. Could you share with us? How did that come about? Because I know for a lot of people, there is a real stigma attached to ADHD, which is the naughty kids or it's bad parenting or they just need a good kick up the bum, whatever, whatever people negatively put to ADHD and we know that that is not the case. So how did you come to find that your children were struggling with some issues?
Sharon: It's such it's an unfortunate stigma. And it's really one that isn't. It's really misunderstood this diagnosis. And so how am I a little bit about my story is I married an incredible man who still to this day, and I work with ADHD people every day is the most severe I've come across . He is so hyperactive, incredibly brilliant. But it only has two modes, which is full on doing everything or sleeping. And we went along to have three beautiful boys. And Xavier, our eldest, I started to recognize things with him, he was a very challenging baby. But as he got older, and we sort of identified things and compared him to my friends, kids and things like that there was definitely something going on underneath the surface. And I was very aware of ADHD, obviously, because his father has it. And they're two peas in a pod, they are very, very similar. And it got to the age where it was appropriate to get a diagnosis, obviously, you know, we've been flagged at kindy and schools and things like that, and I knew it was coming. And we sat in the pediatricians office and got a diagnosis of severe ADHD combined type. So that is inattentive and hyperactive. And there's three different types. There's the inattentive, or hyperactive or combined, which is the most common presentation. And I sat there waiting for a list of things that I should do, or, or places that I should reach out to, or things that I should take Xavior to to try and help my little boy who was clearly struggling in a lot of ways. And there just wasn't a great list presented, there was no list. We were sort of presented with medication. And obviously through our own trials, we found an incredible OT. But those things definitely helped. But there was a real lack of how I was to operate with this boy at home, you know how I was. I felt the weight of responsibility, how was I supposed to, you know, raise a functional adult, I couldn't even get him to put his shoes on, you know. And during all this time and all this researching and studying ADHD and working out how their brains work, and you know, trialing different therapists and really doing everything that we could to support Xavier I in that time I had two other little boys, and they both have ADHD as well.
And it really hit home to me how hard it is for the parents of these kids. There's some beautiful therapists around you know, like OT’s like yourself, child psychology and things that can help the child but the mums in particular or whoever is the primary caregiver are taking big hits, time and time again, because everyone's got, you know, they just faced with negative feedback and all the time, you know, and it can be quite an isolating journey, you know, your children a little bit different to their friends, you get labeled as a bad parent, you have the naughty kid, the one that can't, you know, we don't know if we should invite them to the party, because, you know, we don't know if they can control them. And, you know, it is quite a sad journey for a lot of parents. And that is echoed throughout my community as well that they feel isolated and alone. And I just decided that it wasn't good enough.
There's no other, there's no other disability or neurological difference that we would, we would tolerate being spoken to like how ADHD is, you know, people feel very confident to say really yucky things. You know, we've had an incident where someone is sitting in a classroom setting, I'll sit down, you're behaving like you've got ADHD? Oh, you know, and so, so, to the kid who actually has ADHD, that's just purely a negative, isn't it? Like with it, so I wanted to change the conversation. So my motivation behind everything with The Functional Family is really improving the world, not just for my little boys, but for all people that have ADHD and changing this, this talk that we have about it and, and letting people know that there are beautiful positive things that they can do and, and then it's kind of my biggest motivation is making it a little bit easier for these people at home. Because if we've got some joy at home, and some time at home, then the mums, the moms and the dads that are there in the front line can have time to do all you know, the exercises and, and really help the child when they're not just surviving each day.
Angela: Yeah, well, I can remember, when I had private practice as an occupational therapist, many years ago, and before I had children, and I couldn't remember the recommendations that I would give to parents. And thinking sure, like that, of course, they're going to have time every morning before the child goes out the door to go jump on the trampoline, and to do this and do that. And I knew that I had children of my own, and reality hit me. But actually, family life, when you are a parent with children is busy, it is chaotic, it is you know, you got to just get them out the door on time. And that in itself isn't a joy five achievements, let alone when you have children who have difficulty getting themselves organized in the morning, or even just getting out of bed or if they get up out of bed really early, they just fall on from the minute they get up. That's exhausting. And I, I know, when I had children, on my own, for myself, my whole recommendations of what I would do with families changed because there was that level of understanding that life is busy and chaotic in all families. And then you know, families like yourself have an added layer of complexity to that. And so there is such a need and that's why I love the work you do Sharon that there is such a need for support for families because I know as a therapist we are child focused, you know, yes, it's about the environment in the family, we take that into consideration. But my gosh, the parents, what you guys really need to do is step up and look after your children as you do but there's also that element of looking after yourself. So how do you navigate your day of making sure that you have the energy to support your husband and your three boys and you know, run a business and make sure that you stay socially connected? What do you do to help you stay of sane and in control?
Sharon: Well, I guess it's not something that I've always done well, and in the start I sort of ran myself ragged you know, we were doing everything and we were doing you know we would trying so hard we'd say the two to make everything fit and and Anthony you know works long hours and things which things were just chaos and out and to be honest, our home life just sucked like it was I didn't I used to I used to actually before I walked in the door after going somewhere I have to do these deep breathe breathing before I walked in and like psychologically prepare myself for the onslaught that was coming for me. And it wasn't a very pleasant environment, everyone was stressed and as a result of that, I ended up getting a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease. And it wasn't until I got that diagnosis that was quite a, you know, a quite a big hit that I thought, Okay, I have to make this work. Because if I don't lower our stress levels and bring some joy back into our family, and you know, make this manageable for us. Because it was just out of control. I don't know if I'm going to be around to, to help these boys and without me, they lost. You know, like, I know that sounds selfish to say it, but I needed to be there to advocate for them and to make sure that they were okay. And so I started getting to work and reviewing, you know, the bits in my house that suck the most like which bits caused me the most amount of distress? And what were they sharing? What were the sucky bits? Tell me though, getting the kids dressed that sucked, and getting the kids in the car to any transitions, you know, car time was just awful. And I think that's amplified by the fact that the three and the three of them and they sit next to each other. But all the transitions, like it was a day that I worked out, it wasn't the big things that were you know, I was prepared for the big things, but it was all the little things that slowly grind you down. So your kids in Ah, sorry, how come? I've got a 12 year old and eight year old and a six year old.
Angela: Yeah, so that's a juggle, just to get them organized anyway.
Sharon: And I do love a bit of fighting my boys like they are all boys very active. And they do have an unofficial Fight Club going on. So put them next to each other. And it is survival of the fittest, like it's brutal. So, you know, I'd wake up in the morning, and it would just be straight into this, like a chaotic fighting environment. And, it burnt me out. And I quickly realized that if I was going to survive it, and if we were going to, if we were all going to have, like, you know, as a semi nice family that we had to number one, I had to take better care of myself. I couldn't just look after the boys, I had to look after myself first. And put myself first, which is something I hadn't done for, you know, since they were born, because we're always just going from one doctor to the next and one, you know, dealing with one fire to the next fire. And so stop being a bit more proactive about my day start, you know, looking after looking after me making sure I got timeout, oh my gosh, I'm such a nicer mother when I have some time out. Like I love my kids. But I need a break too. And, you know, my husband's always been good at it because he taught that he loves motocross. So he goes on these motocross adventures, but I just didn't have anything that I like, obviously got gorgeous friends and things like that, but I didn't have anything that I could do that was for me, it was all about the voice. So you know, having my own dreams and passion and, my own things that, you know, that lit me up, not just, you know, not just the not just the children and the day to day drudgery of it. And I think that when I started to put myself first or see myself and my time as a priority, my, how I was able to cope was a lot better.
Angela: If you don't mind me asking, you know, not to pry, but I think for a lot of listeners, at the moment, who are obviously listening to this, they probably got a really deep connection to what you're talking about. What does a joyless family look like?
Sharon: You know, I can, I can see it now. You know, I watch mums that I work with, and when, because our kids are often sensory seekers, right. So the kids often crawl on them and touch them all the time and try to get their attention, whether it's through negative or positive behavior. I watch what the mom does with her eyes. And it's the same thing that I used to do, they often turn away when the kid is trying to engage them. And they are recognized because I did it as well, they often roll their eyes when the child's doing a behavior, that's, that's not pleasant. And they, they turn away, and they turn their whole body away, usually. And that, to me, is exactly what I was, that's an exhausted mum. Because she's saying, I'm at my limit here, what you're doing is too much for me, I need my space. And you know, that they're just subtle things. But I can see it, I can see that. But also, you know, just her body language, you know, when she's interacting with the kids, you know, with, often with flash, because we're waiting for the next thing that they're going to do wrong or hurt somebody or, you know, the next bit of feedback that we're going to get all the look that we're going to get from this person who walks past in the shopping center that looks like control your child, you know.
Angela: I know whenever I mean, if I call a parent, and I wanted to have a chat with them about their child and sometimes it's like, I want to share with you this really cool thing that happened today. Oh my goodness. I always have to lead with the conversation where you know, they'll see the school's number pop up, and I always go Hi, it's Angela from insert school. Don't worry, everything is great.
Sharon: That's really important to know that you can ring a parent for something good to, you know, like, that's what we all forget to do, like we forget to tell, you know, parents how amazing their child is, and then things that they're doing right, we often just, you know, it's easier to remember the things that they've done wrong, but often the kids are making lots of progress. And that's like someone like you is, is great for doing that too. Because it just makes the parent feel like they've got, you know, it's not all bad. Like, there are beautiful things, too.
Angela: So what have you learned from your beautiful boys, all four of them, not just the three little ones, the four boys? What have you learned about life in the way that, you know, people who are either neurologically different, energetically different, you know, I, you know, you know, what, I feel that we're all different, you know, we've all got our own needs. We've got our own sensory needs, I have energy needs, you know, we've all got our own needs. It's just hard, as your name suggests, how dysfunctional that becomes. But what have you, there's so many things we learn from our special people in our lives, from your four boys, what have you learned?
Sharon: Oh, it's just the way that they look at problem solving fascinates me, like, sometimes they come out with things that are so outside of the box, that things that I could never have thought of that makes so much sense. And this is why, you know, a lot of people with ADHD are gifted, you know, and, and a lot of people that are on the spectrum have got this incredible ability to see things that we can't see. Now I'm quite in love. I'm motivated by anything that saves time, and organization and routine and everything like that, which is fabulous. But sometimes, I have a tendency to just get stuck in one pattern of thinking, and then you know, it saves, you'll just say something to me. And I'm like, Oh my goodness, like that is brilliant. Like, if we listen to what they have to say that it's revolutionary, the ideas, they're able to see things from a completely different angle, which I find fascinating. Also, I love from my boys in particular how they can instinctually do things like say, for example, Anthony, he has never read a book, I don't think he's read a full book in his life, right. But he could go out the backyard and build a, like rebuild a truck, just on instinct, you know, if it's something that he wants to do, he's incredibly brilliant at it. And, and if he's just able to focus on it, and do the things that he wants to do, which I think is amazing. If someone asked me to do any of any of those things that he does, I'd be like, Oh, no, I'm not qualified. But you know, if they're motivated to do something, that their, their ability to, to make those, you know, to do those big things, it's really, really quite inspirational.
Angela: So what has been being married to a man with ADHD and having grown up in the house, I would imagine it's come with its own challenges, but it's probably also come with some really beautiful enriching conversations, too. What's it been like, being married to a man with ADHD?
Sharon: He thinks he's wild. I, still just look at him every day and just kind of watch like, he's, he's, harder for me than my children, because I don't want to parent him, right? I'm not going to he's my partner. I'm not I'm not teaching him strategies. And so the kids, I can really focus on giving them the skills. And that's what I'm all about. But the but for my partner, I just, I just sort of stand back and just kind of watch the tornado that is Anthony, as he swells in, and then swells out again. And he, you know, being married to him has had its challenges, for sure. But it also has a lot of laughs and he brings to our relationship, the silliness, you know, like the silliness with the kids, the play, the spontaneousness, like, he brings all that high energy stuff, which I don't sort of come naturally to me. And so the kids love that. And, I mean, he, I'll give you a little story. Like once I was like, very, uh, just had a baby and was very tired. I said to him, can you go and get the dinner off the stove and just start serving it up for us? And he's like, yep, yep. And so somewhere in that he has put the hot patch on the benchtop and burnt it on our white benchtop. What a big circle. So we knew it was bad, right? He knew this was going to be bad. And so instead of going, Hey, he got a permanent marker out and made that circle, a big smiley face. And committed to the damage. Just went. He just and so when I came in, he's like this happened. But now it's like, it's smiling. I'm happy about it. And I was like, oh my god. How can you not be happy with how you're angry and laughing at the same time, which is a perfect summary for our relationship actually. But lots, lots, lots of moments like that where you just like But it's actually hilarious. What keeps you on your toes.
Angela: So divorce particularly with couples that have children with a disability, but you have a husband and three children? What have you done to keep the relationship together and not become one of the divorces statistics that we hear so often?
Sharon: I think that I mean, we don't always do it well. I'm not going to stand up here and pretend that we're amazing, but, you know, I think the one thing that has been a key thing is to learn a lot about ADHD I, I now, and to also like, I've, I've actually done a blog on this about our relationship, so to learn, so you know, to recognize things as not, you know, so you can see him doing a behavior or something like that knew, like, okay, that's that, like, you know, you can actually identify what's causing that behavior, and to also separate myself from his reactions. So Anthony, is, it's quite funny, like, he'll have a big reaction over something that you just won't expect. And then sometimes you like it, it'll be a big deal. I can say, crash the car, and he's like, oh, okay, like no reaction. And then like, you can't find the kitchen sponge full on meltdown. And so you like, there's no proportion, like, he's he struggles with, like, emotional regulation, you know. So if I separate myself from that reaction, and think, Well, you know, because often he has a reaction, and then it's done for him, and he is fine, you know, so to not get caught up in his reaction of things, he comes good anyway. And he is, you know, he's able to regulate after, after those moments. But for me not to get stressed out or caught up in those reactions, because I know, we both end up in the same place. And to always remember to laugh at each other, we're very good at it. We laugh at each other with the kids, like our kids come on, say some of the most ridiculous things to us, which we find very hilarious. And so the other day, Ashton just walked in, he goes, I hate rainbows. There is no, there's no gold at the end. It's fake. And he was just outraged. I just sat there laughing about it for about half an hour, because that is absolutely true. It's a scam. And, you know, just bring it together with laughter and, and a lot of patients as well, I mean, I'm an inherently impatient person, but when I'm motivated, because I love my family. And, you know, it pays to have a little bit of patience.
Angela: I think listening and taking that time to listen to kids, It just brings me so much joy. I know, I had a little period of time where I had a little break from working with kids. And I thought, No, I'm going to go and be very mature in the world, and we're very, you know, nice clothes. And, you know, try to try Oh, my gosh, I can't even make sense of it. Because it's hilarious. I just missed so deeply the joy of kids I missed so deeply the look in their eyes, when they know that they've got something they've achieved something and, you know, whether it be kids with ADHD, anxiety, kids on the autism spectrum, what whatever it is, even just kids who are struggling to write handwrite, or, you know, make social connections, whatever it is, I just there is nothing that brings me more joy than saying that little glint in a child's eye, when they know that they just did something they didn't think they could do. Or even that sort of sense when they look at you for what should I do now, you know, without the word and that's the stuff. I always get really emotional when I talk about this stuff, because we have so much to learn from kids in general. But kids who really each day can be a bit of a struggle for them. They're the kids we really need to look to and go tell me about life. Tell me about let's work this out together. Because it's a complicated, messy life for all of us. And these little guys and girls need our support. And that's, you know, my driver. So long gone are the heels and the suits. You know, these little guys are so joyful. But, you know, let's, I'm really interested in hearing about your experience with the kids at school. Obviously, I run my programs, The Inclusive Classroom, and I support teachers and always have in building inclusive practices in classrooms. So I've seen the gamut of what hasn't been done well, and also some really shining lights and go Yes, but you nailed that just said, what's your experience been like with the kids?
Sharon: Look mostly positive. That it seems to be in my community that there's two different presentations that happen at school, they that the children hold it in all day, and they're like, very compliant at school and then they get home and they explode and they're really like, really intense for their parents, but they're quite good at school, or they are just pretty well out of school and you know, have bit of trouble at school regulating and sitting still and all that sort of stuff, I've got sort of a bit of one of each of those in with my older boys, and the school, like the biggest tips that I could say for parents that are facing that is to really keep those lines of communication open with the school, I see a lot of parents not wanting to tell the school that their child has ADHD, I mean, they're gonna find out anyway, like, why are we not talking about it, you know, it's not negative, and it's only negative when we let it be negative, you know, like, we've got to, it's our responsibility as adults to really advocate for these kids. And to make sure that they're getting the support, make sure they're getting movement breaks, you know, I've got lots of strategies, which I can share with you via our tools for teachers, our blog that we've done, which actually surveyed our community and came up with strategies that teachers have been using with their kids that had been successful. I know a lot of the time ADHD kids don't like to be singled out, and they don't like to have all, you know, kids on the spectrum don't like to be, you know, they don't like to be and don't like to be obvious. So we've got some really cool strategies like turning a ruler over. So it's red on one side, and things like that when they need help. So it's not, it's not that you always have to put your hand up and do lots of lots of really cool little things, my son loves an important job, he likes to be important. So get these guys to hand out the notes and you know, take or if or if the behavior is getting a little bit too much, and you need them to have a little outside break, get them to run a fake note to the office, that's I think my son's teacher does that all the time, he's just very important running up notes to the office, just to give him a little movement break. I'm sure the notes just say keep this child busy for a couple of minutes. And so he goes to the office and has a chat with the office ladies, and they love him, sometimes they give him a biscuit or something and then but those little, those little movement breaks can be great without having to single out like, you know, you know, not drawing attention to the diagnosis as much as making it something a bit special. You know, things like putting them up first and not making them wait forever for their turn, you know, by the time it gets to the end of the line, like the child that has, you know, a diagnosis has already can already forgotten what's going on and forgotten the instructions and then has to face, you know, is nervous about whether they can remember these things. And so there's so many great tools that we've got in there and those tools for each of us which you're welcome to share.
Angela: That's great. I will make a link underneath the podcast. Thank you so much for your generosity there because I know, yes, we will circulate that. I would love to know how important getting a diagnosis for you as a parent for your kids? Was that it? Was it a turning point? Or was it just a step along the process?
Sharon: I very much support getting a formal diagnosis. Because I think you've got to know when you're looking at ways of making it easier for yourself for the school or for the family, it really helps to know what you're working with. And so as you would know, ADHD is almost never just ADHD, it's coupled with, can be coupled with autism, Tourette's, being gifted, you know, it's not often to kids just have one thing going on, like kids unique, and they have different things happening underneath the surface. So it's really good to know what you're working with. Also, it qualifies them for movement breaks and, and things like that, which I think you've got much more chance of being able to go into the school and talk to them and be and collaboratively problem solving some of the troubles that you might be having, if you can say, you know, this is this is something that you know, my child has, I mean, in the big scheme of things, it's not going to change very much in terms of how you treat a child, but it is good to know what you're working with things like you know, having a sleep study done and getting IQ testing done, you know, all those sorts of things to know, at least, you know, what things does your child what areas is your child struggling with? And what areas can we help them you know, a diagnosis really gives you know, going through that diagnostic process can really help with that with giving you all that information, which I think is important.
Angela: So for parents who are feeling really overwhelmed, I know I get a lot of parents to go, the school has sort of said to me, something's going on with my child. You know, something's wrong. That's, you know, the language sometimes is horrifying. But it is, you know what it is, people are sort of flagging issues with parents and parents often say, oh, my goodness, like, I don't even know where to start. What's your suggestion to parents who might have had that conversation with the teacher? Or, you know, even I know, I'm sure you've had this too, even prior to school, you know, daycares and preschools and things are flagging with parents that there could be something happening for a child. What's your suggestion to the parents if those conversations are brought up with them?
Sharon: The great things to educate yourself on what that you think could be going on. This is really where The Functional Family shines. This is everything that I wish I'd been told 12 years ago, when Xavier had first been born, just to have all that information. So you're presented with what is available to you, you don't have to go on this big discovery mission of, trying to work out what's going to, what's going to work, just letting you know, all the options that are available. So we know, one of the great things is early intervention, you know, with an OT with speechy, with, you know, psych child psychologists, you know, those sorts of things, you know, a great places to get started for assistance, and really to guide your family as well. But the, the main thing is to be number one, look at it, it doesn't it's not all negative, you know, like, to not see it as necessarily a negative. Every child, if there's anything I've learned through having functional families, every child's got something going on, like everyone's dealing with something, this is just their thing. And so it's up to us now to work out the ways to make this work for them. And what make this work for us as a family and and the more you know about it, and the more support you have, obviously, the easier that's going to be
Angela: Early Intervention is just so crucial, isn't it? And I think, do you find a lot of parents don't take action? Because they're trying to come to terms with what they've been told, even if they haven't got a formal diagnosis? People are sort of suggesting, do you find that parents sort of sit for a little while just to let it settle? And to come to sort of terms about going “What does this mean for me”?
Sharon: Yeah, I mean, it can go a couple of ways. You know, when I got the diagnosis for Xavi, I was relieved, I was like, Oh, I knew this was coming, you know. And now that I know for sure, you know, like, now I've got a piece of paper to back it up, now I'm going to go in and start moving things around, you know, but, but, um, you know, for other parents, it can be quite a sad process, and they, they realize that their child is going to be struggling with some things and, and that can be quite confronting, and it's okay for them to have a moment of sadness about it. But the most important thing is that they get back up, and they start advocating for their child, and they start looking and experimenting and seeing what's going to work for them and their family. And, there's some incredible thing like some of the parents in our community, they just do, I've got to give it to them, hey, like, they get up day after day. And they do the best for their family. And sometimes it's very, very hard, like, you know, and they might want to run away. And we, you know, sometimes it's, it's very confronting, and very sad. And the world seems like there's a lot of doors shutting in your face. And they're, they're backing it up day after day, and I my hat goes off to them, because what they're dealing with, most people's home is a safe haven, right. And if your home is in chaos, it can feel very confronting, you know, so that's one of the bits that gives me the most amount of joy is to help restore these households, and to help them feel joy, and to help them feel like their home is joyful and safe. And, and you know, that they can take positive steps, that it's not hopeless, no one's family is hopeless, and that we can do things to help them.
Angela: S I love that you use the word joy. So for people who are listening, parents at the moment who are listening, and they're going, Oh, my gosh, a joyful household that just feels so far away. We talked about what I guess a joyless family looked like earlier. What does a joyful family look like when you've got four people in your home with ADHD?
Sharon: Well, it's never going to be a quiet house, right? Like, it's not going to be a quiet house. But, you know, sometimes quiet, it's boring. So what I decide, Joy is in my household is for us all to have a little bit of extra time. I very, very quickly identified that we need systems and procedures and things in place, because it's very hard to feel joy when you're rushing from one thing to the other, and your kids don't transition well. And you know, you're always chasing your tail, and every day is Groundhog Day. So getting back time is very, very important. Having systems and things with very clear visuals, you know, procedures and things for ADHD, kids or kids on the spectrum and routine so they can start doing things independently. And then coming together as a family for things like family meetings and asking your children to be involved in family decisions and letting them feel that connection that we all we're all in this together. We might not be perfect. But we are, you know, we're a team. We're all doing something together. And having that sense of having the time and the energy for having play and silliness and You know, being able to experience those things together. So we haven't just got exhausted parents just going No, no, please get away from me. But we've got parents that are like, Come on, let's give that a go like, yes, let's build a swing off that cliff in the backyard. Let's try it. Okay, because we've got enough energy, and we've got enough time to do that, let's see how that goes for everyone like, but when you've got when you've got the time and you've got things in order. And you've got those systems in place, you do find that you have more energy to do, to do the more fun things, which is important.
Angela: Sharon, I have to admit, while you were speaking, then I was going may take I like systems, I like routine, I might have to have another conversation offline.
Sharon: I'm so for it. Because if you can do things that I'm, I quickly identified that if we want these families to have a nicer life, and that's ultimately what my goal is, we have to make things easier for them, like things have to be easier. And part of that is you know, having very clear things in place, whether the primary caregiver isn't getting lumped with everything, you know that we can have routines and things such that he or she gets a bit of help, as well. Because often we end up doing things because it's just too hard to ask
Angela: How important is that community around you to have to learn to hear and so in the family it can be feeling a bit chaotic. How important is that next step out of the family? So you're friends and support networks for families who are feeling that chaos right now?
Sharon: Look, I think it's something that is checked, that is changing, right? Like their perception of, you know, our special needs kids, people are becoming more aware that getting support from outside of that immediate family unit is sort of, it's more acceptable. Now, one thing I do want to encourage every parent to do is if someone offers to help you say yes, like, don't, don't say, Oh, no, no, I can do it myself. Like if someone's offering like to say yes, and if no one's offering, tell them how they can help you to be really clear about it. Because what we're dealing with is a lot. And, it does take a village to raise a kid. And sometimes our village is somewhere in all of this, our villages have kind of just fallen by the wayside. And everyone's got to do everything themselves.
Angela: And, and so you know, if we're all clear about ways we can help, because often people want to help, they just don't know how to they don't want to offend you by asking, you know, they don't want to say it looks like your family's chaotic, or you look like you have no control of your family. Put it like that. That's a big I think for a lot of women and moms is that asking for help and having, you know, wanting to look like we have everything and in control. But having conversations like what we're having now really dispels those myths that hey, we actually don't all have it under control. You know, we are all trying this and we're all supporting and I can, I can see what the true value of the functional family is for families. And I also just wanted to ask you, we have a lot of teachers that listen to a kid's life. And obviously, because of the work they're doing schools with the inclusive classroom, as a parent, what would you love to be able to have the conversation or be able to just advise teachers on, you know, ways that they can better work with kids with ADHD? Or even from a belief system? I'm not sure. Like, I guess my question is, what do you want to say to teachers about how they can support kids with ADHD?
Sharon: I guess my biggest point would be to show the child that you like them. So often, so often, this comes up again and again, that the child actually gets the perception just through all the well meaning corrections and, and things that the teacher doesn't like them. And it's very hard for their self esteem. And so the teacher is trying their best. Teachers have a tough job, like, I'm homeschooling right now, because of the lockdown. And I tell you what, I just take my hat's off to teachers. And there's like, you know, statistically two kids in every classroom have ADHD, and every kid's struggling with something and you've got to think about all of this stuff. And you know, try and cater for everyone, it is tough.
Angela: What I just found Sharon recently is they've actually said that teachers aren't essential workers. Oh, I saw it on a list and it baffled me, how can I teach and not be an essential worker, but that's a whole other conversation as well. But I'm totally with you that teachers have a huge job all the time, every day,
Sharon: And a huge power as well. So it only takes one teacher to believe in a child for that child to remember them for the rest of their lives. So I'll give you an example, when Anthony was at school, he was way too hyperactive to be in the classroom. So he was banned from the classroom. He used to get in trouble when he wasn't even in the classroom. But he used to get him to do odd jobs around the school. Now this is back in the day when ADHD wasn't understood as much as it is now. So they used to get into our jobs. So you walk around the school and he goes cemented in that little box planted those trees put up, that's that bench there, they said. And as he was walking around doing these odd jobs for the school, can you imagine this in practice his primary school, by the way, you can imagine this little kid walking around doing all these odd jobs and paying the cementum things that the principals saw something in Anthony, and used to follow him around doing these odd jobs as he was doing things with his hands and just go through, talk to him about what they were learning in the classroom. But as Anthony was doing things, and he still talks about that, to this day, that one principal that believed in him, and could see what he needed, he knew that he didn't, because he, he couldn't sit still in the classroom, but knew that he couldn't sit still. So give him a task to do that he was interested in which was building and doing all that stuff. And talk to him for some of the day about what they were doing, that I'm sure that that principal had such an impact with because he was able to recognize that Anthony had something of value, and you know, they had had contributions to make but wasn't built for sitting there and being quiet.
Angela: That is very powerful. Just show them that you actually like them?
Sharon: Yes, show them that you actually like them. And that's happened again, and again, as my boys have gone through school. They polarize people, right. So they either love them, they get these teachers that absolutely love their energy, and they love their enthusiasm, and they absolutely thrive, you know, or they just cannot stand it. And it's too much and they are disruptive, and they're like, and so all you have to do is show the child that you believe in them, that they are capable, that you value what they have to say. And I think you'll get, you know, it just starts to start it off in a beautiful journey. And, it's something that's easy to do, too.
Angela: I think that is the most beautiful place to finish our conversation. But The Functional Family where can people find out more around? And obviously it's focused on supporting parents of children who have ADHD or anxiety? And where can they find out more about you? And just what's a couple of things that you will cover in the program?
Sharon: Yes, sure. So the website is www. thefunctionalfamily.com. And all the socials. But our program basically steps you through. So we start off by giving you some information about ADHD and behavioral challenges and things. And we've got amazing experts on board to, you know, share their knowledge as well. But then we systematically go through all those friction points at home, you know, all the bits that I said in our house that suck. So we have got systems and strategies and everything for those points. So we just look at each different friction point around the home, and then make that area easier with systems and, and, and all that strategies for those areas. So what happens at the end is that it sort of builds over six weeks and little by little, all these little changes happen. And at the end of six weeks, there's just this big fat family transformation. Because we've just been addressing a little bit each day, and changing things up and kind of like renovating little bits of friction in the home, to make it more joyful and give you back more time.
Angela: Oh my goodness, we will link to all of that. I feel it really is life changing. I know from the testimonials that I've seen of people or families who have been a part of your past programs, it really has changed people's lives. And, you know, my driving factor for everything that I do is around believing that kids, every child deserves the best start in life, no matter what challenges they face. And you are doing a huge part to make that reality for me, because I believe that, kids need us, don't they, they need us to be the shining light. They need us to be supportive. But we also need to slow down long enough and learn from them as well. So thank you for the work you're doing and sharing. We will link to everything and please keep sharing the work that you do through all your socials. I watch it and I hope every parent and teacher that's listening to kids' lives also does the same. So thanks for joining us.
Sharon: All. Thank you so much. It's been so wonderful to have a chat with you today. And it's been incredible.
Angela: Thanks, Sharon. Thank you. Thanks, everybody for joining A Kid's Life. I'm Angela Lockwood. And as I said, we've been joined by Sharon Collon, who is the founder and owner of The Functional Family. We will link to everything that Sharon does underneath. And obviously you are never ever alone. No matter what journey your family is going through. There is always support. There are always people who are in your corner and always reach out. They're there waiting for you to help and everything. If you want to learn anything more about A Kid's Life, we try to focus on kids' issues so that us adults can understand them a little bit better. Thanks for joining me. Until next time, enjoy.