Back to School with ADHD, with Brooke Schnittman MA, PCC, BCC | EDB 299


ADHD Coach & self-advocate Brooke Schnittman MA, PCC, BCC shares tips for neurodivergent students and their parents as a new school year begins.

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.

​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.

For more about Brooke: 

Check out ADHD Power Tools, co-hosted by Brooke:

And check out Brooke’s podcast “SuccessFULL with ADHD” here:




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

DR HACKIE REITMAN (HR): I’m Dr. Hackie Reitman and welcome to another episode of Exploring Different Brains. And today we have returning to us. My friend Brooke Schnittman, who’s one of the world’s authorities on ADHD, and herself a self advocate. She’s also the co host with Ali Idris have ADHD Powertools on Different Brains. And she does so much more. Brooke, welcome.

BROOKE SCHNITTMAN (BS):  Thank you for having me. It’s been a long time and it’s so good to see your face. I think it’s been like four years now.

HR:  Has it been that long? Wow.

BS:  It’s been a while.

HR:  Yeah, times flying time, and you’re not getting older and I am.

BS:  I don’t know about that. I appreciate that. Let’s see in person.

HR:  Brooke, first of all, why don’t you introduce yourself properly? Because I didn’t introduce you properly.

BS:  Hey, perception’s reality, right? So I am Brooke Shipman and I am an ADHD coach with 20 years experience in the ADHD world, I used to be a special education teacher and school administrator turned into ADHD coach in 2018. When I started, my company Coaching with Brooke. And I have the pleasure of knowing Hackie for over four years now. And we recorded our first podcast together at the studio at different brains, I think four years ago, and then because of you Hackie, I’m now the co host of ADHD Power Tools. And it’s still going strong with 101 episodes with Ally Idris and I just finished writing my book, “Activate Your ADHD Potential: a 12 Step Journey From Chaos to Confidence for Adults with ADHD” coming out October 1, so that I can say I’m an author, which is exciting. But it’s not about that our mission, it was to help over 1 million people with AD show. And we’ve done that. So now we’ve upped it to 10 million. So I’m really thrilled that that’s going to be able to spread the message even further.

HR:  Wow, those are some big, big numbers.

BS:  Go big or go home, right?

HR:  You’re doing it. So we happen to be doing this interview when young people are getting ready to go back to school and their parents are getting ready for them. And our students with ADHD, they’re a little bit afraid they’re a little bit scared going back to school? And what advice can you have for them in their parents?

BS:  Sure. So it’s funny that you ask because I actually just got off a call with a father of a five year old nervous about his son going to school. So we are all different, right. Even with ADHD, we have many different symptoms and variations of it. But one thing that I know can lessen anxiety for students with ADHD is to make sure that they have what they need before they go to school. So it’s going to be something that you’re going to need to help as a parent, especially if the child’s in elementary school or middle school, and make sure that they have all the materials that the teacher asks. Because if they can start off on the right foot, they’ll be less anxious with that transition of starting a new teacher with new kids in the class. So that’s one thing.

I would also recommend for the parents too, if your child has ADHD, or you know something else that he or she is struggling with to write a letter to the teacher ahead of time saying, Hi, my child is so and so. And he or she works well with XY and Z, but also struggles with XY and Z at home. I just wanted to give you a full picture of what we see in the house. And we look forward to working collaboratively so that teacher knows that you are there you’re working alongside of the teacher and it’s a team effort. Also get your kid organized by maybe having a color coded system for them. You know math let’s say is blue so their folder there, no bugs there. Everything is the same color because a lot of individuals with ADHD have difficulty with out of sight out of mind and remembering where things are. So the easier we can make things for ourselves and for our children, the easier and less anxiety they’re going to have at school. So color code the different subjects, perhaps have them. Make sure that they show you their agenda book. At the end of the day.

Put something by the front door like a catch all They were at the, when they finish their homework, they put everything by the door in their backpack, so they have it for the next day, so they don’t lose it. Generally speaking, when we get an ADHD or when we don’t have something, it’s not because we didn’t do it, it’s because we forgot to turn it in. So the more organized and more systems you can have, and more routine, the easier it’s going to be on everyone, including the family. And because of that, I actually created a program called master your stress. So you can do your best on the test with a psychologist to help with anxiety for your child who has ADHD and executive dysfunction, and also help them perform on the task because sometimes your child will know everything for the task, but they’ll bomb it. And why is that? So we get into that too, as well.

HR:  Especially I guess, when SAT college boards come along? That’s a very stressful time for the ADHD individual.

BS:  Oh, yeah. So we talk about how to prepare, of course, how to study for it. But also, what do you do the day before the test? So how do you know where you need to go? How do you know you have the right materials? How are you going to make sure that you get to the test with less stress? What do you do on the test? How do you use the test to take the test with the SATs? A lot of the questions or at least when I took the SATs, which was centuries ago? Just kidding. A lot of the test had the answers to the previous question. So how do we use that to take the test? And what kind of fidgets and what kind of things do we need to stay focused? So it’s not just about knowing what you actually consume? It’s how do you take the test,

HR:  And talk a little bit more about the importance of parents support on all fronts for the student with ADHD?

BS:  Yeah, so with the students with ADHD, very often, they might have issues with communicating exactly what they need and being a self advocate. So the parents don’t necessarily need to act as their executive function, but they need to work with the team, and the support staff to help the student become an advocate. So in the beginning, while transitions are typically difficult for individuals with ADHD and neuro diverse students, you need to act as their executive function to pave the way for them. So and then obviously, you work as a team to give the student the tools and have them thrive with their unique learning styles and strengths.

HR:  Very good. Now, what about from the teacher perspective? If I’m a teacher, and I have a student with ADHD, from the teachers perspective, as opposed to the parents perspective, how do I make them thrive?

BS:  Well, you have to see what that child needs. So no two people are alike whether they have ADHD anxiety, depression, OCD, autism, what have you. So what if the parents is sending to the teacher what the student needs accommodations wise, or if they have an IEP or 504, the teacher should have seen it already. But it’s important to resend it to the teacher, so it’s in front of them. So let’s say they have an accommodation plan or an individualized education plan, the teacher should be following that. So if the child needs refocusing, or extended time on their test, the teacher needs to accommodate the student. If the child needs differentiation in the classroom as far as seating, preferential seating, that could be in the front of the classroom, back of the classroom by the window by the front door, so you have to just make sure that you’ve read in between the lines and make sure that you’re looking at everything properly.

For the teacher, what I used to do, before I saw my students is I would make a spreadsheet because I had sometimes 16 Kids in different classes, who had an individualized education plan. So in order to know in which classroom who I needed to accommodate and how I would put the modifications and accommodations on the spreadsheet in like a specific category. So preferential seating, extended time, refocusing, differentiated homework, small groups, whatever, and then I’ll put the name and then put a checkbox so this way it was Easy for me to refer to while I’m getting to know the student. It’s also important in the beginning to learn how the the student learns. So do learning style questionnaire, do a multiple intelligent question or do an executive function questionnaire, find out what their interests are, we’re not just our ability, or our diagnosis. So sometimes we do better in a classroom and the teacher understands us and understands what we’re interested in and how we learn.

HR:  Talk to us a bit about the overlap with executive function issues along with ADHD issues.

BS:  So we all have executive functions, it’s in the prefrontal cortex of our brain. It’s the CEO of our brain, every single person has it. Now with ADHD–

HR:  Tell us briefly your definition of executive function.

BS:  Executive function is essentially the management system of your brain. It helps us organize it helps us start things, it helps us control our emotions and modulate that it helps us with our working memory. It helps us with sustained attention, it helps us with going back and forth from task to task. It helps us with sustained effort. So there’s many different psychologists and psychiatrists that have different models of executive function. I go by Dr. Thomas Brown, and he has six clusters. And those are the ones that I shared. Now, people with ADHD have ADHD syndrome, also called executive dysfunction. And that means that they have an impairment in every single executive function cluster.

HR:  Wow. Now this is making sense. And this brings up an interesting point to those in our audience, and such as our own wonderful neurodivergent interns, and other people who might be seeking a career in psychology and in doing good things for those of us with ADHD. What is the pathway? If we could talk about that for a minute, starting with your own pathway to where you are today educationally? Which I know is very rich, and how people might get there. If they want to be just like you. I want to be like Brooke Schnittman.

BS:  I’d say good luck. Are you sure you want to be like Brooke Schnittman? Just kidding. Ah, okay. Well, first of all, I have ADHD and I have anxiety. Okay, so let’s just put that out there. I didn’t know I had it until I was 35, which was four years ago. So right around the time I met you. And now I would ask, do you want to be an ADHD coach, consultant, a special education teacher, an advocate, a, you know, a school administrator, what, what is your path that you want, and we might not know, when we graduate high school, and that’s okay. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. When I grow up grew up until five years ago, I thought it was being a special education teacher. And I loved that. But unbeknownst to me at the time, is that I had undiagnosed ADHD. So in order to become a special education teacher, you need to go to school. And in New York, you need to go to school and go for your special education degree or master’s. Okay.

And I went to undergrad in elementary education, because I thought I wanted to be a general education teacher, which is just, you know, the teachers that you are probably used to, right, just the standard, traditional teacher. But then, I took a class on special education at Penn State and realize there’s so much I don’t know, I don’t know. So I decided to go right into my masters at NYU and took a year, concentrated masters of students with disabilities. And from there, then I got my first teaching job as a special education teacher. So you don’t need to get your Masters in New York right away. You have to do it within the first five years. Now, once I started teaching, I was teaching special education in a collaborative classroom for that means there’s two teachers in the class, a general education teacher and a special education teacher.

I was teaching that for seven years. And again, ADHDers seek novelty, and I didn’t know I had ADHD. So I was always striving to be the best. I measured myself on success because I didn’t have true self esteem at the time. And I was tapped on the shoulder by an administrator and they said, Hey, You should go into administration. Okay, well, if you believe it, then I should, right. So then I became a quasi administrator, I was a IEP coordinator, I didn’t need to get my administrative degree for that. But in other districts, they are administrators. Then I got my administrative degree really fast from Long Island University in two years, I was an overachiever got my test early. And I became an assistant director of special education. And I did that for two years. Fast forward, I became, I left that job. And the reason why I left that job was because there was too much red tape. No one goes into teaching with the hopes of being an administrator. Now, administration, is necessary. And there’s some really amazing administrators out there. And if you can make a difference in the children’s lives, that’s amazing. That’s the goal, right?

But in my job, there was so much executive function, so much paper that I had to push. So many rules and regulations that I said, I am not seeing the kids, I don’t enjoy this anymore. I don’t see the direct correlation and and how I’m helping them. So that’s when I decided to leave public education and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And then at 35. Now 34, I became an ADHD coach. And in order to become an ADHD coach, most people go through certification and training. Now anyone can call themselves a coach at any time. So if you are looking for an ADHD coach, be careful because hacky, you can say you’re an ADHD coach, and I’m sure you’d be a wonderful ADHD coach. But there are people out there, it’s a growing profession that just call themselves coaches and start making money. But what you should look for in a coach, if you’re trying to be a coach, or you’re looking to hire a coach is someone who has experience, someone who’s gone through a reputable program, and someone that you get along with. So, if you don’t get along with a coach, then you’re not going to perform for them. And you’re not going to respect them.

HR:  I personally am a big fan of self advocates who go into that field to help others with the same condition, if you will.

BS:  Totally, I think it’s helpful to have the same condition. Now, I didn’t know I had ADHD when I went into it. So you could say, Well, okay, she doesn’t have ADHD, and she’s coaching people with ADHD, what does she know? I ended up having ADHD. So I definitely empathize and related to people, but there is something special about having the condition, like you said, and helping people with the condition because they can look at you and say, Okay, there’s hope, right? I think when people come for coaching, they lose hope, or they’ve lost hope, or there’s transitions that, you know, they’re struggling with, or they don’t have true self esteem. But then they see people who have ADHD and have gone through those journeys and paths with them. And they can perform and trust that they’re going to get to where they need to go faster.

HR:  What do you say now to the adult, you know, who might have ADHD, by, by that might mean someone might look at this interview and say, “Well, you know, I’m trying to do a million different things at once, instead of just focusing on one thing hasn’t held me back on functioning, all right. But maybe I should get this checked out.” What do you what do you tell people like that, who wants to do a million different things, in fact, are doing a million different things and have different careers and everything else?

BS:  It’s wonderful to do, like, go for your passion, right? This is I don’t call this work, I call it passion. So there’s nothing wrong with doing a million different things. At the same time, there isn’t. But if you set an intention, and you’re not nurturing that intention, because you’re doing 1000 Other things, then you’re not giving it the attention that it needs. So with ADHD, we’re very often entrepreneurs as an adult. And we’d like to get involved in many different things. You can get involved in different things, but you need to know the right way of getting involved.

So whether it be delegating, or setting your schedule to know how much time you actually have to say yes to something before you commit to it. We’re very impulsive. We like to have a jump, we like to jump into different careers. All of those are fine, but maybe sit on your idea for a little bit before you jump or say yes or maybe say I’ll get back to you before saying yes because we can also be people pleasers and just say yes, because again, I said yes administration, because like you said I I should be an administrator. But think about what’s good for you. And think about what you have going on right now. And do you have the time for it?

HR:  Well, you just took the heat off myself and a lot of our viewers and listeners here, because I’ve always tried to do a million different things. And I usually get them done, but I’ve been criticized for it.

BS:  You probably have a lot of pressure that you create for yourselves while doing those things. And we thrive under pressure and time constraints, if we don’t see a time constraint in front of us, then very often will procrastinate on that thing. So if you have a lot of different things that need to be done and have deadlines, then you can thrive sometimes.

HR:  Tell us more about your upcoming book, which I had the privilege of just reading an excellent draft of it before it’s ready for a go. But why don’t you tell us about it, and have you named it yet even though it’s not available yet.

BS:  I have.

HR:  Well what’s the name of it?

BS:  So it’s “Activate Your ADHD Potential: a 12 Step Journey From Chaos to Confidence for Adults with ADHD”. It’s a blend of a workbook and a book. So it’s for adults with ADHD. Now the tools you can use with your children. However, it really is meant for people who’ve gone through life to some extent, and are stuck and are looking to build momentum, and are looking to understand their brains a little bit more, and are looking to maintain that momentum to and reach their goals. So that’s what my book is really meant for. It does go into the disruptions of ADHD. So I came up with 10 Different disruptors. And we talked about that it’s everything between underwhelmed and overwhelming what happens with your brain when you go through each disrupter. So you can know a little bit about the neuroscience behind why things happen. Why overwhelm happens, why procrastination happens, and so on.

HR:  You know,, it’s one of the reasons we started our internship at 18. Because there’s so much attention appropriately that we give to all the kids and children. But then it seems like you turn 18 and become an adult, and it’s like, Hey, you’re on your own. So it’s, it’s refreshing to see your approach to this to adults with ADHD.

BS:  Yeah, we have a lot of tools outside of my book for students with ADHD. However, like you said, no one teaches you how to adult. No, you don’t learn life skills, unfortunately, in school unless you have an IEP, and you get that as part of your curriculum. So, you know, no one teaches us these things. And we have to learn as we go. And with ADHD, we have all these negative messages all the time that we think that we’re not good enough, and how come I don’t know this? And how come I haven’t learned this. So it breaks it down into bite sized steps in order to reach that area of competence in a very, very small step approach.

HR:  Tell us how you evolved into a very efficient, I found that efficient when I looked at the drift style of book that’s a combination textbook and workbook, if you will. It doesn’t seem like a textbook because it’s very readable.

BS:  Yeah, yeah, thank you. So um, honestly, I have a signature process. It’s called three C activation. And those are the 12. Almost all 12 steps in the book are from my signature process, I took one out and I put dopamine in because that’s really important to talk about for ADHDers. And so I use that foundation. But I also wanted to talk about why we are getting disrupted. So it took me a while I was brainstorming, I was writing. And then I just kept writing and writing and writing and writing. And it just came together. And I use what I know to be true. And then I added some things to it. You know, when I wasn’t as stressed I had to take a break at some point because I had writer’s block. But when I wasn’t as stressed and consumed with the book, ideas started flowing again. And then I started writing again.

HR:  Tell us again how our audience can learn more about you and access you and

BS:  yeah, so everything is Coaching with Brooke, with an E, so I’m pretty big on Instagram, you can find me at Coaching with Brooke. And we have a waitlist for master your stress so you can ace the test. So if you want to learn about that, just go on the website, you’ll see where you can find that. And yeah, go to ADHD Power Tools. I have a podcast called Successfull with two L’s with ADHD as well. So two podcasts going on at the same time.

HR:  You’re busy, busy, busy.

BS:  Like, like I said, you know, we thrive under pressure and staying busy, we just have to know how to manage it.

HR:  And so glad you find time for those of us in our audience and our neurodivergent interns here at Thank you.

BS:  Thank you for including me and helping me be a part of your community to help others.

HR:  And tell us about your practice.

BS:  Sure. So Coaching with Brooke is an ADHD and executive function coaching practice. And I have eight coaches, we work worldwide, we’ve been in over 20 countries. And we work with all ages, we start with the student as young as eight, and we go all the way up to 80. But we also work with the parents if you have a child who’s younger than eight, so don’t worry. And we work in one on one capacity, and also in small groups. And we have some things coming out that you can buy if you’re not ready to do coaching, or you don’t want to do coaching, some courses, some books. So it’s very exciting, that lots going on,

HR:  Tell us some of the courses and books and how to access them.

BS:  So I have a course called “master your stress so you can ace your test”. And I do it collaboratively. It’s recorded collaboratively with psychologists from Apple psychological, and you could get on the waitlist, but just go onto my website coaching with And you’ll see all of the resources there. You could always email me at to if you have any questions. So that’s coming out for students and for parents of students because we know students have a lot and very often they don’t want to do more right with with school and sports and homework. So this teaches you as a parent the strategies especially if you have a younger child who doesn’t want to and won’t actually engage in the product, to teach them the skills to lessen their anxiety and prepare for the test. So that’s one thing. I have a book coming out called activate your ADHD potential 12 Step journey from chaos to confidence for adults with ADHD that’s coming out October 1. And I have a waitlist on my website I have different small size ebooks as a pay as you want. So pay whatever you want for them. So productivity ebooks, emotional regulation ebooks, I have group coaching on emotional regulation. It’s called Healing ADHD emotions for adults. I have my signature process three C activation. I have lots of different things one on one coaching. So yeah, just come to our website and you’ll see it all it really just depends on what you’re looking for and what you need. If anything.

HR:  Sounds like you’re not busy enough Brooke.

BS:  I’m not can you help me get busy?

HR:  Well, Brooke Schnittman, ADHD specialist, author, teacher, you do it all. Thank you so very much for spending time with us here at different brains and keep up the good work and good luck with your new book. And we hope to see you again soon. Brooke Schnittman, Thank you.

BS:  Thank you, Dr. Reitman.