Hi! My name is Helen May Day,
I have ADHD myself and use dozens of strategies everyday.
To the world it looks like I've succeeded -
I have a family with 2 children, a mortgage,
a bachelor degree, 17 years with the same employer
and time to volunteer in the community.
I have worked hard to prevent my social anxiety and ADHD challenges from getting in the way of the life I want.
I can help you do the same.
With over 17 years of teaching experience,
I have taught in mainstream classes and
throughout special education settings.
Knowing how the school system works and
having had practise advocating for my own son,
I know what you are dealing with from experience.
You can count on me to 'get it'.
Being the mother of 2 boys with ADHD,
has given me a lot of 'on the ground training' in
deep listening, flexibility and working with reality.
There are always more challenges and more solutions to find.
I have the experience to help you meet each obstacle
and learn how to find a solution that works for you.
I have graduated as an ADHD life coach from the
iACTcenter (International ADHD Coach Training Center)
which has been accredited by the
ICF (the International Coaching Federation),
under the watchful eye of Laurie Dupar -
renowned ADHD expert and leader in ADHD coaching.
I have also undergone training as a PQ coach at
Positive Intelligence under the tutelage of Shirzad Chamine, chairman of CTI (Co-active Training Institute)
and lecturer at Stanford and Yale.
Living and Learning with ADHD
As ADHD is something you are born with, I have had it for a long time. Like many girls of my era, it wasn't noticed or diagnosed. I was just 'the weird kid'. I was teased and bullied. I didn't understand the contextual and social clues that were going on all around me, and I particularly didn't understand what made me different from the 'popular' kids. Both in Primary School and in High School, I found it much easier to collect together all the 'misfits' and make a friendship group.
Academically, I always knew I was a 'B' grade student. To me that meant that I worked really hard, and B was what I could expect and did expect of myself. I naturally used so many of the strategies to keep on top of everything that we hear about today. I colour coded and I matched subjects to CDs for studying, but if one of my strategies let me down, I sank. I spend to much energy in high school and college, holding together a mismatched group of friends and making sure that all my strategies were working, I wonder what I could have achieved if those two things hadn't been my priority.
Teaching kids with ADHD
and other diverse brains
As a teacher I struggled with how our education system doesn't quite work for neurodivergent students. Time and again I saw the needs of the few sacrificed to the needs of the many (or even just the convenience of the many). I worked with challenging students in mainstream classrooms as well as support units and special education schools, I worked alongside behaviour support teams and therapists trying to squeeze 'challenging' or 'special' children into an institution that has barely changed in 300 years.
The organisation of schools in the 18th and 19th centuries was very similar to that of today. Unlike their counterparts in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, the purpose of these schools was to raise the literacy of the "common people" to a level suitable for life as a factory worker. In twenty-first-century technological societies, little has changed in terms of educational methods.
In order to understand the challenges these students face, including the struggles of my own children, I became an ADHD coach. I went under extensive training to understand the ADHD brain in all its strengths and weaknesses, how to use self-awareness to build and develop a healthy mind, and how to use questions to empower people with ADHD to find their own solutions and flourish.
Now I am focusing on understanding the unique experiences and stories of people with ADHD, particularly children and teens within the education system, so that I can build in them the resilience and strategies to make their life whatever they would like it to be. I am hoping to develop a deep knowledge of the struggles that they face and how they choose to address these, because each story is different, just as each manifestation of ADHD is different.
The social model sees ‘disability’ is the result of the interaction between people living with impairments and an environment filled with physical, attitudinal, communication and social barriers. It therefore carries the implication that the physical, attitudinal, communication and social environment must change to enable people living with impairments to participate in society on an equal basis with others.
My long term goal is to revolutionise the education of students with ADHD, to remove the physical, attitudinal, communication and social impediments of the current school system so that they are able to participate in education on an equal basis as their peers. In the meantime, I hope to help students to recognise, meet and advocate for their own needs, so that they are free to enjoy their education.
Parenting kids with ADHD
In 2012 I became the very proud mother of a baby boy. He was an adorable curious and inquisitive child. When he was 1 he decided that there was power in words and he had 233 words by the time he was 18 months old. At 2 years old I realised that in order for him to have a successful day we needed to be out of the house before 9am, being physically active and stimulating his brain. In each section of childcare, he would have 6 months of terrible behaviour before he aged up into the next group because he was bored. In pre-school we started getting calls from the principal "your son spat in his teacher's face" and "your son was running over the chair stacks at the back of the hall and wouldn't come down" and "your son hurt one of his classmates". In kindergarten I worried about the way he bounced from one activity and group of friends to the next on the school playground. Then in year 1 he had a beginning teacher who didn't know how to differentiate for learning abilities or manage behaviour and things got serious. We did testing and got an ADHD diagnosis, and we even started exploring how medication could help him meet society's behavioural requirements.
Many of his stories feature in the blog, from his hyperactivity, impulsivity, emotional sensitivity to his time blindness, organisational blindness and social blindness. He is very much the stereotypical 'naughty boy' ADHD kid. He also has a heart of gold, amazing creativity, limitless passion and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Being his guide for the past decade has been incredibly tough, but has given me so many insights into how his brain works.