Get to know Dynamic Parenting owner Kate Donohue

dynamic parenting neurodivergent Jun 02, 2022

Growing up I experienced the world differently to those around me. Even though the only diagnosis I had as a child was dyslexia, I was very aware I was different, even though I actively tried to fit in.  

One piece of advice that influenced my life was from the psychologist who diagnosed me with dyslexia. She told me that I could still do what I wanted to do in my life, to follow my dreams and passions, but to also understand that literacy was always going to be harder for me!  

When anyone teased me for not being able to spell, I would stop what I was doing, face them and say, “I am dyslexic, is that a problem for you?” I was fortunate that I believed in my academic abilities even though I struggled with literacy. I understood this part of my brain and knew my challenges didn’t define me or my potential. I grew up believing in myself and kept striving to meet my dreams and passions. I worked hard in a world that was not designed for people who think and learn like me.  

At university I told a lecturer that I wanted to do honours and she said, “that is unlikely, you’re dyslexic”. I didn’t do honours but that was because I gave birth to my daughter instead and sleep was not something that came easy to her. That was 15 years ago and we are currently homeschooling because school is a tough place for neurodivergent kids and both my kids need more coregulation and environmental modification then the education system currently provides. I will go back to university and contribute to neurodivergent affirmative research when life allows.  

I grew up as a confident dyslexic person because I knew I was dyslexic but working hard for my dreams and passions had great consequence for my overall wellbeing because just working harder can easily lead to burn out. It was not until my late 30’s that I received a diagnosis of autism and ADHD and applying the “just work hard” approach throughout my life did lead to burnout.  

I grieve not knowing about these parts of myself earlier as I had to develop strategies to navigate being autistic and ADHD in a world that does not understand, accommodate or affirm neurodivergence without knowing I was autistic or ADHD. My main strategy of “I just need to work harder” is no longer possible as I approach my 40’s. This strategy meant I pushed myself too hard for too long which has led to complex health issues. I am so sad that due to not understanding my disabilities at a young age it has created more disabilities that could have been prevented.  

The psychologist believed in my academic abilities and so did I, she taught me how I learnt differently, and this helped me to reach my academic goals and as a result I still want to get back to university if I can. I wish I had a neurodivergent mentor to help me understand the other parts of my neurodivergent brain and my individual needs. I am so excited that the world is changing and neurodivergent mentors, educator and therapists are beginning to develop neurodivergent affirmative spaces.  

For the last 6 years I have been able to be that mentor to parents and children in my local area but as my health is complex, I am finding online parenting sessions and developing parenting course is fulfilling my passion to continue to educate and support neurodivergent families.  

Our world has a long way to go before our neurodivergent children are fully supported but change is here and our neurodivergent affirmative communities are growing. However, as parents we must know more, be more resilient and build our own skillset to help our neurodivergent children to navigate. If you would like to learn more about our parenting community where we learn and grow together please click the link below. 


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