Latest In The Blog

Navigating Neurodiversity: A Strengths Based Future of ADHD

adhd podcast classroom 5.0 Feb 22, 2024
Picture of Mariane Power beside Grace Koelma, founder of FutureADHD, next to description of podcast episode for Classroom 5.0 discussing why ADHD women struggle with self-care, shame and productivity, and how we can build more inclusive schools and workplaces


In a world quick to label and slow to understand, the journey of neurodivergent individuals often takes a path filled with challenges and misconceptions. 


But what if we could shift the narrative from purely focusing on difficulties to simultaneously celebrating and developing strengths? 


In episode 28 of our podcast, Classroom 5.0, we explore a future of ADHD that does just that.


But first, a bit about our guest, Grace Koelma: The founder of Future ADHD, Education Specialist and Certified Breathwork & Meditation Teacher who was diagnosed with ADHD at 33.

After her late diagnosis of ADHD, Grace ventured down the rabbit hold of neurodiversity research (as so many of us do!) uncovering insights from both behavioural and neurosciences to better understand what the real struggles that people with ADHD face.

She discovered the all too common themes of challenges with productivity, planning, and emotional regulation - the hallmark features of ADHD that impact motivation and action in women, and contribute to cycling shame and self-doubt.

Grace, with her background in both education and journalism noticed a sticking point for her own ADHD struggles was her inability to find a planner that worked for her divergent brain.

"My experience was that I would start off with a planner in January or February, all starry-eyed, every year. And then I'd be consistently using it for a few days, maybe even a week, and then I'd drop off the bandwagon.

And I guess that conditioning from society, the way that we were raised, the teaching environments we were in, the classrooms. I guess that the narrative I came out of that with was that I was a failure, I was broken, I couldn't keep a system going.

And that meant that I wasn't going to be successful. And so that feeling is a yucky feeling. And who wants to go back into using a planner that has that feeling attached - that shame feeling? 

So when I created my planner, the biggest thing I wanted to create was a system that supported ADHD brains and meant that they weren't feeling shame, they weren't feeling guilt, they were feeling honoured, they were feeling respected, they were feeling like their strengths were focused on and the things that they needed help with.

There was a bit of humour in there, there was a bit of coaching in there, and that flavour, I guess, is what I brought to it." 

Beyond Diagnosis - Grace's Entrepreneurial Success

Since Grace and her husband launched FutureADHD just over two years ago, they've sold over 50,000 copies of their globally recognised Digital ADHD Planner. (I'm a proud one of those numbers, and can honestly say I'm OBSESSED - check the planner out for yourself here )

Grace joined me as guest for the first episode of our Inclusive Impact series, and shared her own transformative journey from being diagnosed with adult ADHD to becoming an entrepreneur, educator and parent who champions the neurodivergent community. 

Inside the Episode.

Grace's story is both one of personal triumph, and a beacon of light for others navigating similar paths. Women with ADHD will find a kindred spirit in Grace, as she shares both the joys and struggles that have coloured her lived experience of both entrepreneurship and parenting as a neurodivergent woman. 

From the importance of emotional regulation, motivation, and overcoming shame cycles for women with ADHD, to re-thinking productivity and transforming education and workplace cultures, I’m confident you’ll be inspired to imagine and design alive a future that recognises, nurtures and benefits from the potential and impact of neurodivergent minds. 

Shy away from the hard stuff? No way. While the conversation offers a roadmap to embracing and leveraging ADHD for success, we also discuss:

  • Why ADHD entrepreneurs struggle with productivity, and how you can use Grace’s innovative planning tips for clarity and creativity
  • How to escape the ADHD shame cycles, and embrace self-care practices that nourish your nervous system
  • The science behind breathwork and self-compassion, and how it helps both neurodivergent and neurotypical folk to experience more inner peace and calm
  • Challenges people face when accessing assessment and diagnosis of ADHD and the limitations of a medical-model that prioritises negative symptoms over neurodivergent strengths
  • Mindsets and communication strategies that parents, educators, workplace leaders and healthcare specialists can use to help ADHD children to recognize, develop, and celebrate their unique strengths

In addition to gaining insight into what it’s like to navigate ADHDin adulthood, this conversation offers practical ways you and your families and colleagues can create inclusive and strength-focused approaches to leveraging the collective strengths of different neurotypes in your homes, schools and workplaces.

“With the creativity, the momentum, the hyper-focus, the passion; you get these almost equal lows, these dark nights of the soul. And I actually don't think that we can get away from that. That's really where I've landed is that this is actually a part of what makes us so remarkable.” ~ Grace Koelma



Keen to nourish your own nervous system?

Try one (or all!) of Grace's favourite ADHD friendly self-care practices :

~ Sensory cocooning

~ Eye masks 

~ Headphones 

~ Binaural beats 

~ Tibetan singing bowls

~ Brown noise 

~ Breathwork (Did I mention Grace is also a Certified Breathwork & Meditation teacher?)

Grace’s Take-Away Message : Foster Your Self-Compassion. 

“If you're a parent and you have a little person in your life, whether they're neurodivergent or anywhere on the spectrum, if you think about what you hope for them and how you want their brain to be honored and to have a world where they can self-trust and self-love and self-understand, show themselves compassion when they fail, I'd encourage you to think of yourself like that too. Because we all were kids once and we all have these unmet needs.

And so to really think about it, inside you, you have this inner child too that just wants to be understood, that just wants someone to see its potential and to say, ‘yeah, your unique way of seeing the world is really great. Thanks for being here, thanks for contributing’. And if you can give the same compassion you'd give to your little one, your nephew, your niece - if you can give that to yourself, you're gonna help heal the world. Just with that sort of compassion.” ~ Grace Koelma


REMEMBER to please rate, review and follow on Apple Podcasts here. Your support and feedback helps us to create more episodes with quality guests, and reach more listeners just like you!

Got an AHA moment you'd love to share? I'd love to hear it! Email your feedback to [email protected]. I personally read and respond to every email, with gratitude for your time and thoughts! 

Thanks for tuning into another episode of Classroom 5.0, and helping to imagine alive the future of learning, work and leadership.  


Want Latest Insight on Meaningful Living?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive my favourite science backed, soul-filled strategies for meaningful living! 

You're safe with me. I'll never spam you or sell your contact info.