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There is hope at the end of the tunnel for kids with ADHD. ADHD Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini, shares his personal journey of his ADHD diagnosis to give you hope that kids with ADHD can be like other kids. When you’re dealing with difficult ADHD behavior, it can be hard to believe your child can be like others but success with ADHD is possible.

ADHD journey

Siope was diagnosed as a child in elementary school. Siope knew something was different when he couldn’t function like other in elementary school. Parent-teacher conferences were difficult for his parents as his teachers constantly harped on his inability to focus and function and labeled him defiant and lazy. Getting told these things from adults constantly made it hard for him to build self-esteem and enjoy the learning process in school. Based on what he was hearing he didn’t think he’d be successful and that was difficult.

Success with ADHD

In college he learned to view his ADHD as strengths and to harness those strengths to In college he learned very specific skills allowed him to manage his ADHD and set goals that he could accomplish. He has continued to find long-term success as he’s managed his ADHD.

While many see ADHD diagnosis as a bad thing, Siope saw it as a blessing as he found success with ADHD. Join Siope as he shares his experience with ADHD and gives you the hope that you can be successful in your ADHD parenting.

Episode Transcript

This is Episode 4. Let’s get started.

Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your parenting coach, Siope Kinikini.

I hope everybody has had a great day, a great morning, and that everything is working out for you. If you’re a normal parent, actually, you probably have run through a lot of difficulties in the morning with your children. That’s common. That’s not irregular in any way. So hopefully, everybody is having a great day. There is a lot of things that I wanted to begin sharing with you today about ADHD and specifically, my own journey through it. Now, I wanted to explain this largely to help parents understand that there is hope at the end of the tunnel when you’re dealing with a child with ADHD, specifically difficult ADHD. Now, I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was a child. What I want to do is kind of walk you through this process of what it looked like, what it sounded like for me growing up with this disability or this problem or this issue.

Everybody has a different name for it. For me, I think it was a blessing. But I’ll explain that … explain why in a bit. And then to tell you what it felt like. Okay? So I’m going to walk you through three different steps. What did it look like? What did it sound like for me, and what did it feel like? I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was a young child in elementary school. When I was in elementary school we didn’t have IEPs. There was no such thing as specialized, individualized education plans. In fact, if children struggled in a class, they were usually put into a separate class with other children with various issues and that’s where they stayed. They just went through the education system that way.

So nothing was specialized for me growing up. But I knew something was wrong, largely because I could not function well in school at all. Parent-teacher conferences were very difficult for my parents because my teachers would consistently tell them I needed to improve in this area and I would not pay attention and I could not focus. I have a daughter right now. She does not have ADHD. But I did communicate with her about what it was like for me growing up in school. I showed her my report card from junior high. She was floored to see the grades that I got in junior high, largely because I did not do well in school, elementary or junior high.

Now, what it looked like was I was a despondent, not caring, belligerent young man. That’s what it looked like. But to me, it’s I just could not focus. I could not keep and maintain my focus on what was being discussed in class. This whole idea of just sitting there and having the teacher talk at you didn’t work for me. It was very difficult to just sit there and absorb words. I needed to be doing things. So the classes that I excelled in were largely classes where I had to do things. Band, for example, was one that I excelled in because it required me to play an instrument, to move around the room, to collaboration and listen to other people. I mean, there was more going on in that classroom during that hour than there was in doing anything else in my other classes like English, for example, where we just sat and listened and read books.

This is what it looked like, that I wasn’t paying attention. But for me, it looked like I could not focus. I could not really grasp what the education was about because it didn’t connect. It didn’t make sense to me. Now, what it sounded like to me as I was growing up was I was irresponsible. I was lazy was probably the biggest word that I heard. I didn’t care. This was largely from those adults that were around me, from teachers, from teachers’ aides who were there, from the principal because I went to the principal’s office a few times for different things. So it made it a difficult process overall for me to build self-esteem and actually enjoy the learning process, what it was that I was learning.

Now, I was learning a lot of things on the side, peripherally. But where it mattered, at least where the adults told me it mattered, on my grades, it seemed like I was not doing anything productive or helpful. So it sounded like I was not going to be successful in life. That was a very difficult thing. Now, how did it feel for me? It felt lonely at times. It felt difficult. I didn’t feel like I could relate to very many people. It was a hard … It was a very difficult time for me as a young man growing up in this whole process of determining your self-esteem through what the school system and what the adults were saying you needed to do in order to become a successful adult.

Now, fast-forward to when I decided to go to college. Now, in college I continued to struggle with the same issues, this lack of focus and this lack of really being able to pay attention to teachers talking at me. It was there that I started to get help. I got some help in learning some very specific skills on how to focus, on how to address what it is that I am trying to accomplish and set some goals for myself. Another thing that I learned is to harness the advantages of what it meant to be someone who struggled with ADHD and implement that into my life. What I did was something highly irregular but I found that it was very helpful for me. I found that if I could take multiple classes at the same time, it was more beneficial for me.

I had already learned to read when I was younger, which was a great asset because I did read as a young adult. I enjoyed reading. But I did find that I was reading probably about six books at the same time. What I would do is I would hop to different books. That was just kind of the way that I worked through books. I didn’t sit through and read one book all the way through. I had to have six different types of books on different subjects and then I could jump back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I found that if I applied that same principle into how I address college I’d probably do a lot better.

So what I did is I started to double up on my courses and I would take multiple courses at the same time. What that allowed me to do is because my brain kind of shifted is it helped me to focus and shift in different areas but in a way that was consistent and that was predictable for me. I remember walking into my counselor, my school counselor in college’s office and she was kind of a no-nonsense counselor. She did not like to do things that were outside of the norm. I asked her if I could double up during the summer semester, which means I would take 25 credit hours for college, which seems like a huge amount for some people. I didn’t work at the time so I’m like, “Yeah, can I just double up? I’ll take 25 credit hours during the summer.” She said no. She said, “Absolutely, no.”

I actually argued with her. I pushed my way through and said, “Look, if I can take 25 … If I fail any of these classes then you can kick me out of school.” She looked at me. She looked amused, and she agreed. So we signed up for the 25. I had to go get some permissions from different professors at the school. Again, I was adamant about trying to do this, and it was granted. What I learned from ADHD, at least for me, in my experiences, that I learned that I could do college if I did it on my own terms and in my own way and I could learn. During that semester, I actually had great grades. I ended up graduating my bachelor’s program with a 3.8 GPA, largely because I doubled up.

One thing a lot of people are surprised, at least from those who knew me when I was in elementary school and the troubles that I had during that time and in junior high, was that in college I actually finished … I got my associate’s degree in a year and then I got my bachelor’s degree in a year. So what normally takes people about four years to do I did in two. That largely came from just self-discovery and self-exploration and then finding ways that I could problem-solve around the issue of ADHD, or at least how ADHD manifested in me.

Now, this isn’t going to be the case with all your children or parents who have children with ADHD that they feel there’s no hope. The reality is, is that kids find a way, children find a way to make it work. They’re able to figure things out as time goes on. And as difficult and as hard as it may seem for parents with children with ADHD who are struggling at a young age, work with them. Trust them and move them along and they will find a way to make it work for them. I honestly believe that that is absolutely true.

I am extremely grateful for parents who didn’t understand ADHD. They didn’t understand it. They did as much as they could at the time but there wasn’t a lot that they could understand on how to work through it. They didn’t get a lot of help from the school at the time. So I’m really grateful for parents who were patient and were willing to let me explore and figure things out on my own. They remained extremely supportive through everything and especially during college as they tried to help me find my way and to become more successful.

The message that I want to give to parents who are listening and who struggling with young children who are feeling hopeless or helpless that their children may not become adults or even function in the world that seems so demanding, trust me when I tell you if you’re there and you’re supportive, your children will find a way to be successful. They will become resilient in the things that they have learned about themselves and the way they do things and they will make it. I thought it was important to share a little bit about my story with ADHD and why I’m so passionate about it, and why I’m so passionate about parents who are helping children. I feel right now, there is so much help out there, particularly in schools, who now understand that children don’t always learn by lecture.

Schools have now adjusted and teachers have changed ways that they interact with their children and students that help them learn in multiple ways. I feel like there is a lot more support and a lot more help out there for parents and for children to succeed. What I want to do is continue to help in that effort, bring more awareness to parents and to children about ADHD and what it really means and what it can mean and what it … There are no limitations for children with ADHD if they’re given enough space for them to figure things out and to work it out with the guidance and help of caring adults.

So that’s a little bit about my story. I just wanted to share that. I’d be interested to learning a little bit more about your story and the things that you learned and that you are learning about your children who are struggling with ADHD or if you as a parent are struggling with ADHD. Now, I still struggle with it. In fact, I have learned to manage it in different ways. I use various techniques in order to remain focused on what it is I want to accomplish and what I want to do. But that has come over time and it has come over experience. I continue to work through it every day. But it’s something that is just a part of who I am. I’m grateful for that part of me because it’s taught me some very specific lessons. It’s actually helped me in my career and in my overall work with families to improve and to help people. That’s it for me for today. But I would love to hear your story so feel free to reach out and let me know what it is, your experience with ADHD with your child or with yourself.

Siope Kinikini

ADHD parenting coach Siope Lee Kinikini, LCMHC, is a mental health professional who has worked with hundreds of ADHD families. As someone with ADHD, he knows what your child is going through and is able to help you understand what they need. He is married and has a wonderful teenage daughter.

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