This episode is the first of a special two-part series that I’ve been working on for some time. About two years ago, I did an episode of the podcast with Dr. Melissa Neff, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment of ADHD, depression, anxiety, trauma, nonverbal learning disorder, and autism spectrum disorders, about the diagnostic process. Since then, we’ve stayed in touch, and last year we got to talking about something she was increasingly seeing in her practice—parents bringing their kids in for assessments who are also in the midst of discovering their own neurodivergence, often because of what’s going on with their children.
As I’ve been hearing more and more from adults in their thirties, forties, and even fifties, who are identified as having ADHD or being on the spectrum, I wanted to explore this through the podcast, because I know that in our community, our kids often do not fall far from the tree, and being a differently wired parent, especially one who is still processing their own neurodivergence, while raising a differently wired child, can be complicated.
In this week’s episode, I’m interviewing Melissa, and we talk about the unique challenges of going through this discovery process as an adult, as well as considerations regarding diagnoses, therapy, and the parent/child relationship. In Part 2 of the series, I talk with four differently wired adults—Copper, Bill, Emma, and Nathan—all raising differently wired children, and all still very much in the thick of reconciling their own life experiences and neurodifferences and figuring out how to best move forward in a way that supports them and their families.
About Melissa: Melissa Neff, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Missoula, MT. She conducts psychological evaluations for children and adults. She specializes in the assessment of giftedness, ADHD, depression, anxiety, trauma, nonverbal learning disorder, and typical and atypical autism spectrum disorders.
Dr. Neff received her BA with honors from The University Professors Program at Boston University. She received her MA and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from The University of Montana and completed her pre-doctoral internship at Spokane Mental Health Center in Spokane, WA. She is the head psychologist at Shodair Hospital in Helena, MT, and a faculty affiliate at University of Montana, where she has taught graduate-level courses on assessment and therapy for the Clinical and School Psychology Ph.D.programs. She has consulted for a range of community agencies in Montana, including the Child Development Center, Full Circle Counseling/Consumer Direct Services, and the FIRST STEP Counseling Center at St. Patrick Hospital. She has recently participated in grant research aimed at equipping schools to treat children with trauma, and in the creation of a video game to help survivors of domestic violence learn coping skills and gain the strength to leave their abusers.
THINGS YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:
- How differently wired parents’ childhood experiences differ from that of their children, and how this affects the parent / child dynamic
- What the journey of processing a new diagnosis as an adult typically looks like
- Melissa’s thoughts on the question of whether or not there is value in securing a formal diagnosis as an adult
- How unresolved emotions regarding being misunderstood as children can continue to play a role in a parent’s life
- Melissa’s suggestions for next steps if a parent suspects he or she is differently wired and wants to learn more
- Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin
- Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
- I Think I Might Be Autistic: A Guide to Autistism Spectrum Disorder and Self-Discovery for Adults by Cynthia Kim
- Pretending to Be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome by Liane Holliday Willey
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