Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
After spending my youth struggling in chaos, like a growing number of other adult females, I was late diagnosed with ADHD at 37 years old (I am 39 years old now). By this point I was already a coaching psychologist from Colchester who had set up the award-winning business ‘Find Your Spark’.This was initially to support at-risk young people but has since expanded to supporting children, parents and ADHD adults.
Getting the ADHD diagnosis led to everything making sense for me, it was as if a lightbulb had been switched on in my head. My late diagnosis was due to ADHD misinformation, mostly that ADHD is something only ‘naughty boys’ had and something you grew out of. As a result, generations of females like me have been missed and/or misdiagnosed, and the NHS has not set up to have the required level of support available to help adults with ADHD. This has had a massive negative impact on many people here in the UK and globally.
I now deliver ADHD Awareness Psychoeducation group sessions to adults and parents to raise awareness and understanding into this still misunderstood and stigmatised condition. I also deliver ADHD Coaching, and BRIEF Solution Focused therapy to adults and young people with or without an ADHD diagnosis.
Can you tell us a bit about ‘Find Your Spark’?
Find Your Spark helps parents who want to support and understand their ADHD neurodivergent children better and themselves. We help solve their problems with any anxiety, anger and ADHD related challenges. We also help ADHD adults. We solve this problem through ADHD Coaching, therapy and Psychoeducation and awareness sessions. They choose us because of my personal lived experience as well as our professional experience, and because we know the importance of making parents and children feel understood and supported, and their experiences listened to, acknowledged and validated.
How did you end up working with parents of ADHD people?
I began working with parents in 2016/17, as I began to realise that I would be able to help a greater number of young people if I worked with their parents as well – they were more likely to talk to others about the benefits, and I would not only reach more people but also have a larger, lasting impact on those that I did work with. I have now begun delivering ADHD Awareness sessions to parents who want to support their ADHD children better but do not know how.These take place in venues across Essex and we are looking at offering more specialised sessions in the future as well.
Could you tell us a little more about the work you do with ADHD children?
I support them with their challenges with emotional regulation, working memory, and executive function, so helping remind them of things and giving them tips on how to calm their heightened emotions down. It helps having ADHD when working with ADHD children as you understand their brains intuitively and why they find thing difficult.
What would you say are the main concerns of the parents of ADHD children?
Currently it seems to be anxiety, self-harm, emotional regulation and transition, as well as issues to do with behaviour, resilience, and coping skills. School-based anxiety is common, as are challenges with sensory processing.
What are the challenges of the work you do?
I would say the main challenge would be some people not fully understanding neurodivergence, and therefore dismissing or belittling it. However, it often spurs and motivates me on to raise awareness and train people, as I see the effects and the problems their dismissiveness causes, particularly in young people.
I’d imagine you come up against a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions in both parents and children. Any in particular?
The general stereotype and misconception of ADHD is that it’s something that only naughty boys have, who can’t sit still. It’s a stereotype which has led to generations of females being missed and/or misdiagnosed, as well as those who were more inattentive than hyperactive being overlooked.
Why is ADHD such a big ‘thing’ now?
Its only since 2008 that we’ve known ADHD was not something you just ‘grew out’ of, and is in fact a lifelong brain condition. With this new education comes greater awareness, and we’ve come to see the typical ADHD stereotype of it being something only ‘hyperactive, naughty boys’ had was inaccurate. There’s generations of people, in particular females, who are now adults who got missed and are not being assessed and diagnosed for it.
Any messages to send to the readers you’d like to share?
I’m hugely passionate about ADHD, and about trying to help raise awareness so people can get assessed and diagnosed. Their lives have been lived long enough without understanding – whether that’s from others or from themselves. The labels that come with an undiagnosed condition like this can be hugely damaging, causing ongoing mental health problems, and in the worst-case scenarios, threat to life, with ADHD people five times more likely to take their own lives.
The more ADHD awareness there is, the less we’re seen as mad, bad, lazy or crazy, and the more people come to understand, as I have done, that I’m not useless, its just I have a somewhat compromised prefrontal cortex, the area in the brain which processes executive function, emotional regulation, and working memory. Yes it might mean messy thinking, but messy thinking can also be creative thinking – one of ADHD’s strengths, seen in the right context.
I personally wouldn’t be without my ADHD now I’ve learned so much about it. The strengths of ADHD aren’t celebrated nearly enough, such as innovation, creativity, kindness, intuition and high energy, which is why I am delivering ADHD Awareness sessions across Essex, to do just that.
We hold events throughout the year – just check on the website for the next one, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ADHD Awareness Sessions
With Michelle Shavdia, ADHD Coach and Psychologist, and founder of ‘Find Your Spark’
Michelle has a BSc (Hons) Degree in Psychology from Warwick University and an MSc (Dist.) in Coaching Psychology from the University of East London as well as 12 years’ experience of coaching, mentoring and delivering inspiring talks to young people.
An informative session covering:
- The background of ADHD
- Overlapping neurodivergent conditions
- ADHD symptoms, challenges and strengths
- Neurodiversity in education, employment and social change
- Routes to diagnosis
- ADHD treatment, tips and tricks
- ADHD coaching offers
For more information or to book, email:
Location: Colchester, Essex
Includes complimentary refreshments and free parking.
Michelle Shavdia, Psychologist and founder of ‘Find Your Spark’, an organisation providing ADHD Coaching, Brief Solution Focused Therapy and anger and anxiety healing for parents, children and young people.