Activate Your ADHD Potential, with Brooke Schnittman MA, PCC, BCC | EDB 309



ADHD Coach & self-advocate Brooke Schnittman MA, PCC, BCC returns to discuss helping people overcome ADHD related challenges.

Brooke Schnittman MA, PCC, BCC is an esteemed expert in the field of ADHD management and support, renowned for her unwavering dedication to empowering individuals with ADHD to overcome challenges and achieve their full potential. Her new book is Activate Your ADHD Potential.

​Brooke’s personal journey, being diagnosed with ADHD later in life and marrying into a family of ADHDers, has provided her with profound insight and empathy for her clients. In 2002, she embarked on her mission to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities. She earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Penn State University and her Master’s Degree from New York University, specializing in Students With Disabilities.

With over two decades of experience, Brooke has worked closely with thousands of individuals with ADHD, utilizing her comprehensive knowledge and expertise to guide them toward success. In 2018, she founded Coaching With Brooke, a groundbreaking organization that has rapidly become a leading global authority in the field of ADHD coaching.

Beyond her coaching practice, Brooke actively contributes to the ADHD community through various initiatives. She is the mastermind behind ADHDEdCamp, a platform that fosters education and collaboration within the ADHD community. Additionally, Brooke co-hosts the popular ADHD PowerTools podcast and hosts the SuccessFULL with ADHD Podcast, where she shares valuable insights and strategies to help individuals overcome obstacles and achieve success.

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Note: the following transcription was automatically generated. Some imperfections may exist.       


DR HACKIE REITMAN (HR):  Hi, I’m Dr. Hackie Reitman. Welcome to another episode of Exploring Different Brains. And today we have our old friend Brooke Schnittman is here — and I might call her “Book Schnittman” because she’s got a brand new book she’s going to tell us all about introduce yourself to our audience.  

BS:  Well Hackie Thank you for having me back on Different Brains. I am no stranger here. But life has changed since the last time. We were here in person. I am Brooke Schnittman, I am an ADHD coach and expert with over 20 years of experience. I left the public school system six years ago, as a assistant director of special education and special education teacher to make a greater difference in the lives of individuals with ADHD. And then I started my ADHD coaching certification. And my company coaching with Brooke works nationally, eight to 80, with a team of coaches, and I’m happy to be here today.  

HR:  So tell us all about your new book.  

BS:  Yeah, well, thank you for bringing it up. I actually just got the proof. It doesn’t come out until this Saturday. But it was inspired by all of the years of compilation of tools and resources that I have learned for myself and for the 1000s that I’ve worked with to activate their ADHD potential. So it’s called “Activate Your ADHD Potential: a 12 step journey from chaos to confidence for adults with ADHD”. It’s a workbook and a book. And it talks about how to break through the overwhelm and underwhelm cycle of ADHD. So you can build momentum and maintain it for greater competence.  

HR:  Take us through a journey in getting an ADHD diagnosis.  

BS:  Okay, so everyone’s ADHD journey is different because ADHD is complex. So there’s many different ways of getting the ADHD diagnosis, you can go see your medical doctor, you can see a psychiatrist, neuro psychological evaluation through a psychologist. And so there’s different pathways. But many people exhibit similar symptoms with ADHD. And if they believe that ADHD is having an impact on their life, and they want to receive the diagnosis and potentially get medical treatment, they can go see their doctor. And as an adult, you take a bunch of different surveys, and people in your life who have known you from before the age of 12, we’ll also take those surveys about you. And if the symptoms match up, then they’ll give you an ADHD diagnosis. The neuropsychological evaluation is a little bit more comprehensive. Students usually take that so they can get a true picture of what it looks like for them educationally, what accommodations they need. And a psychiatric evaluation is usually about like a three hour or 90 minute session with a psychiatrist where she goes also through your symptoms and gives you a diagnosis or not. Also, sorry, there’s two other ways that you can get diagnosed with ADHD. There are a brain SPECT scan, which shows how your brain is firing, and a genetic test.  

HR:  So ADHD, which is getting more and more common, let’s back up a little say what is ADHD?  

BS:  Yeah, it is getting more and more common since 2020. Because people are really understanding how their brain works. They’re being with themselves, they see a lot more on social media. ADHD is a list essentially of symptoms. So as an adult, you have to have five out of nine symptoms. For a child, it’s six out of nine symptoms, you have to exhibit it in two or more areas of your life for at least six months. And it has to be exhibited before the age of 12. So common symptoms can’t sit still have a difficult time sustaining attention. So for a long period of time, shifting attention to so I’m focusing on this and then I want to go do my notes and then come back and have impulsive tendencies so they can blurt out something while someone’s talking. They can daydream. So there’s three different types of ADHD there’s hyperactive impulsive, and then there’s inattentive, and then there’s combined so the inattentive used to be called add before 1994. Some people still call it add today, but the the professional term is a DHD. That’s an umbrella term, the ADHD hyperactive impulsive used to be known as ADHD and now they have the combined type, which is a mixture of both which I have.  

HR:  So it started out as just attention deficit disorder. But it’s much more universal.  

BS:  Right. So there was attention deficit disorder and ADHD, there were a lot of different names actually, there was like a child / a boy, behavior disorder. So it progressed in its name. ADHD still isn’t the correct term, in my opinion, because it’s not an attention. You have an abundance of attention, if you’re interested in something.  

HR:  So what would you say to somebody who’s dealing with ADHD? What are some of the biggest tools you can use?  

BS:  With ADHD very often comes trauma, negativity bias, feelings of failure because of unmanaged ADHD. So the biggest and the first tool that I would say is find your people find people who know ADHD or who have ADHD, and get that support from them and know you’re not alone. So that’s like your physiological need of finding safety, finding people like you. I would also then check in with yourself and say, which most ADHDers Say, I’m not productive enough, I’m not doing enough. And so you know, I still need to climb the mountain. I’m only here, check in with yourself and say, Am I doing things for myself? You know, am I getting enough sleep, drinking water, eating every three to four hours? Am I taking care of myself, myself parenting myself like I would a baby. Because we are so hard on ourselves that we feel that we are not productive enough. And then once you get to start off building momentum, then you can add more tools like figuring out all the areas of your life that you want to focus on creating goals, figuring out your motivation towards doing things, figuring out your strengths, focusing on that, then come up with different productivity tools, because we can have time blindness, which means we don’t know how long something is taking us. And we can get lost in the spiral of time when we hyper focus. So figuring out how ADHD works for you, and coming up with tools for that.  

HR:  It’s very individualized.  

BS:  Extremely, there’s no one size fits all.  

HR:  Everybody’s brain is different.  

BS:  So they have different brains? I think I know someone.  

HR:  Talk to us a little bit about one, one particular aspect, which is confidence.  

BS:  With ADHD, we are growing up, especially in the school system, back in the day where people didn’t really understand it. And we have these expectations that are put on us to perform in a neurotypical way when we’re not neurotypical. So that can cause us to lack confidence for me. I would call out I would get bullied. I got bullied from age nine to age 35. Really? Yeah. Wow. Yeah. And that was because I didn’t understand how my ADHD worked. I didn’t know I had ADHD. So when I got coaching for a year, I then even at that point, still didn’t know I had ADHD, but at least I understood how my brain was working at that time. So once you with ADHD, understand who you are, and know that it’s not that you’re at a deficit, it’s your brain is wired differently, and you embrace it and you know, there’s other people around, then you could start building that momentum. But when you feel alone, you feel isolated, you feel there’s no way out, then people with ADHD can really get into a dark depression.  

HR:  What are some of the newer statistics on the incidence of ADHD?  

BS:  So the CDC still has data from 2019 So it’s about 11%. But I haven’t seen any new data since then. That has come out. I’m sure it’s more than that. In the UK. I know that the numbers have gone up for adult ADHD because they didn’t recognize it I think until since until 2011 for adult ADHD Wow. Yeah, yeah. it and some people aren’t officially diagnosed, but they believe that they have it. So the numbers are definitely climbing. I’m seeing it all over Instagram and all over social media, it’s definitely becoming trendy. And at the same time, a lot of people are understanding their brain.  

HR:  Tell us from your vantage point, the effect nowadays, of social media on this population?  

BS:  Well, I just heard about a study in general that for social media, if you are a young child, that it will ultimately lead to mental health issues in the in the future. But with that being said, I think that social media can be great for people who are trying to understand themselves and feel like they’re not alone. But it can also be a place that can create a lot of shaming for yourself and comparison. So you’re seeing what other people you think other people are doing or up to. And it’s not real, most of the time. So some people who also because this huge push of ADHD, think that they they themselves that ADHD, once they get that diagnosis is the answer. And I’ve gotten people who’ve reached out to me and said, I am so sad that I don’t have an ADHD diagnosis. I went to my doctor and they didn’t diagnose me with ADHD. And I’m like, first of all, that may or may not be true that you have ADHD make sure that you you know get an A second opinion but at the same time, even if it’s not ADHD got to treat the symptoms, right. Just because ADHD is a label doesn’t mean that your brain is going to work like my brain.  

HR:  So it’s getting like so many neurodiversities increasing. Tell us about some of the entities there’s overlap with such as…  

BS:  Anxiety, autism, OCD. So, okay, obsessive thoughts with anxiety and ADHD, also PTSD and ADHD, obsessive thinking. impulsivity, too, can come from past traumas, anxiety, depression, autism, 75% of people with autism also have ADHD, not the other way around. And so, autism and ADHD are very alike. It doesn’t mean that you’ll have both. But people with autism have black and white thinking. They can be rigid in their thinking, so Can people with ADHD people with autism can also be impulsive. Same thing with ADHD, sensory issues over stimulation, under stimulation, there’s so much of the same. But there’s a discrepancy at the same time on with what goes into what diagnosis in the DSM 5.  

HR:  What’s the biggest single thing you’d like our audience to know about ADHD? If you had to pick one aspect?  

BS:  Yeah, it’s a journey. And there’s help and everyone struggles. So because you’re not over the mountain doesn’t mean that you have accomplished so much. So please check in with yourself. Even ask for feedback. There’s nothing wrong with finding out how you’re doing. And reflect because our brain is, is in this like constant fight or flight and feelings like this negative place, we have to flip it on its head and be intentional about thinking positive. So know that the human brain is not generally thinking in a positive way. So you’re not alone in thinking that way. But you have to get help.  

HR:  And when you coach, these individuals and the families and everything. Do you include the teacher in the circle?  

BS:  100%. It’s a team effort. So when we’re working with students, the students are just as good as the parents are so especially young students, so the parents need to know what’s going on with the goals and the actions and the teachers need to understand what you’re working on at home. And you have to have that open dialog with what’s going on at school too, because sometimes, you know, we might recommend something for the school and we have to see how they’re doing, how they’re doing off their medication or on their medication or if they’re having to difficulties with organization or if there’s a test coming up, there’s so much communication and with ADHD, it’s a village. So sometimes you have the psychologist, a psychiatrist, the teacher, the speech pathologist, the special education teacher, the general education teacher, the parents, so there’s very often an army, and it’s important that everyone is on the same page.  

HR:  Even though this isn’t the final, final copy, let’s hold up your book until the audience.  

BS:  This is the proof. But it’s called “Activate Your ADHD Potential”. This actually is what the book is, it just has a line in it, but it will be out for you to purchase on all platforms, including Amazon. But oh, wait, I see hacky Hackie endorsed the book. So I really appreciate that. But it’s a workbook and a book. And there’s lots of diagrams that you can write into. And it just takes you through those 12 steps. It also gives you access to our community of other ADHDers and coaches where you can get accountability and body double, because we don’t want you to do this alone. So we start there, we give you resources for other ADHD professionals, but really take you through all the way until you get to that confidence stage. So it’s all packed in here.  

HR:  And aside from the book, how can they learn more about you?  

BS:  Coaching with Brooke with a knee? So on Instagram, on our website.  

HR:  And the website is Coaching with Brooke?  

BS:  With an E, dot com?  

HR:  What do you hope that people take away from reading your book?  

BS:  Great question that ADHD is a brain based disorder. It’s not everyone has ADHD, it’s not a choice. And not everyone has it. And with the right tools, we can really thrive with the way our ADHD brain works our own mind and go from a place of chaos to competence with this packed book of tools and know again, that you’re not alone and join a community of like minded people.  

HR:  Where did you come up with all of these tools?  

BS:  So through my own ADHD journey and coaching individuals with ADHD one on one, I realized that there was so much more power in the power of a group. So one of my clients said, Hey, can we create a group one on one coaching is great, but can we create a group to for with like minded individuals, so I did. And every week, there were a bunch of themes that everyone was going through. So we did it for six lessons, I created lessons each week. And they loved it so much, we did another six lessons. And those were 12 lessons. And over the past five years, I’ve adapted and changed it over time with you know, the new information on ADHD. But this really is getting to understand the chaos of your ADHD brain so you can slow it down, become more controlled, more consistent in your routines and actions and then become more confident. So I put all of those 12 strategies in here. And I’ve taught this to 1000s of individuals with ADHD worldwide. So I’m hoping that this can land in the laps of people who a might not be able to afford ADHD coaching, or are starting out and they want information.  

HR:  Anything that we have not covered, you’d like to cover?  

BS:  That it can be any age, it could be 16 be 15, it could be 20. It’s never too late to learn about yourself. And when can learn about yourself, you’re going to still learn about yourself. The Onion layer continues to peel back even today. Like I think I have the tools to manage my ADHD. But then I go back and I’m like, wait, all these traumas are existing, and they’re creating these reactions. So now let me go to EMDR doesn’t mean you’re broken. It means you’re on a healing path and you’re constantly learning about yourself.  

HR:  And we’ll give one final word of advice that you can give someone who just got an ADHD diagnosis with their child got an ADHD diagnosis, and they don’t know where to start and finding their way forward. What’s one final piece of advice?  

BS:  Find a community of people with ADHD or experts with ADHD and then from there, you’ll gain some awareness of where you want to go with that. So first, find a community. It could be on social media, it could be a free support group. So we have some support groups that coaching with Brooke but there’s there’s there’s free Summit. So we have our ADHD Ed camp on October 7, which is a free day of professional. So just find your people and learn what you don’t know. And then figure out which direction you want to go. Do you want coaching? Do you want medication? Do you want to make sure both do you need therapy?  

HR:  And they can go to your website and there’ll be a lot of information.  

BS:  A lot of free resources. And you can always have a complimentary conversation by filling out a form on our website for a discovery call.  

HR:  Well, Brooke, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for spending time in this Brooks Schnittman, ADHD superduper expert. And we hope you’ll come back here at Different Brains and keep up your great work.  

BS:  Thank you. It’s amazing being with wonderful people like you