Madison and the Big Scary Black Hole Desk

When a student excels in her studies, is sociable, and well-behaved in class, we typically determine that child doesn’t need any additional support. But Madison’s mother, Catherine, noticed her daughter struggled with basic organization, time management, following directions, and remembering things. Her familiarity with ADHD symptoms based on her former career as a school psychologist, put her on a path of getting a diagnosis and help for Madison.

Today, Madison is a pro ad advocating for herself and though she may keep a messy desk, she doesn’t feel ashamed. Listen as she shares what life is like for her in school and why she is proud of who she is.

Refocused, Together is a collection of 31 stories told throughout the 31 days of October, a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness Month. Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss a single story this month! 

EXPLORE: The Holderness Family

WATCH: ADHD – “Under The Sea” Parody by Holderness Family Music

WATCH: ADHD Needs A New Name – Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Parody by Holderness Family Music

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Madison (00:01):

It’s really frustrating when we’ll clean out our desks at school, and then I’m going to be like, today it’s going to be super organized. I’m going to be able to put all my pencils back into pencil case. I’ll be completely fine. And then that lasts about a week, and by the end it’s back to the black hole.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:21):

You are listening to Refocused, Together, and this is episode eight. Madison and the big scary black hole desk. Welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about ADHD. I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel. I can’t believe it, but we’re wrapping up our first week of Refocused, Together, our ADHD Awareness Month series in which we interview 31 people in 31 days. You just heard today’s guest, my dear friend and ADHD buddy Madison. Madison’s an elementary school student who excels in her studies, is sociable, and is well-behaved in class.


As she grew older, her mother Catherine noticed that Madison struggled with basic organization, time management, following directions, and remembering things. Catherine, a former school psychologist familiar with ADHD symptoms, and other family members diagnosed with it was confident that Madison also had this superpower. Madison didn’t show severe symptoms at school, but experienced them at home.


Things like racing thoughts, big emotions, disorganized behavior, absent-mindedness, and the good old hyper-focus on new activities like playing piano. Along with difficulty prioritizing tasks, managing time, and recognizing internal signals, Madison started to experience signs of anxiety. She would sometimes cry because she couldn’t turn her brain off to go to sleep. Her mother contacted her pediatrician and together they diagnosed Madison with ADHD. For over a year now, Madison’s been taking medication and working with new skills and her parents to manage daily life.


I met Madison as a running coach for Girls on the Run. What stood out to me about this incredible 11 year old was how she advocated for herself and asked for help when needed. After meeting her family, it was easy to see where she got it, from parents who supported their child and trusted their gut to seek help when they felt it was necessary, rather than waiting until the last moment or being on the brink of failure before reaching out for help. Let’s talk more now with Madison about how with proper diagnosis and treatment children with ADHD can thrive both academically and socially.


Before for Refocused, Together, we ask everyone the same questions to get started, and I’m curious to know when you were diagnosed and what you remember of that experience going through finding out you had ADHD.

Madison (03:22):

Okay. Well, I was in fourth grade and it was just something that my mom and dad were thinking about for a while. They were considering the thought of me having it because I had terrible organization. I could not finish my sentences, or my thoughts very all over the place.

Lindsay Guentzel (03:43):

What stood out to you about going through the process? Do you remember did you go to the doctor’s office? Did you talk to someone at school?

Madison (03:52):

Well, I had heard the name before because I had some friends who had it, but I never really knew what it was. And then my mom brought it up with my doctor, I believe.

Lindsay Guentzel (04:04):

It’s not been that long since you were diagnosed?

Madison (04:07):

No, not at all.

Lindsay Guentzel (04:08):

What have you learned about it since finding out you have it?

Madison (04:11):

Well, I mean, I know the name, which is a start, and then I know that, believe it or not, a lot more people have it than I thought. It’s not always bad either.

Lindsay Guentzel (04:21):

What stands out to you with what you know about ADHD and how you see it in yourself? You mentioned not being able to finish your sentences and being disorganized. Anything else?

Madison (04:31):

Yeah. Especially when I’ll go to do something like multi-step instructions, I’ll go to do something and then get through the first step and completely forget about it.

Lindsay Guentzel (04:43):

How does that affect you in life?

Madison (04:46):

Well, my mom and dad, they have to tell me things 80 times in order for me to get the message. It’s fine in school because I really like school, so it’s easier for me to pay attention, but she’ll ask me to clean my room, put away my clothes, and clean the playroom, and I’ll get through clean my room and partially putting away my clothes before I see something and I’m like, “Ooh, shiny.”

Lindsay Guentzel (05:07):

We all have that shiny moment. I have lots of times during the day.

Madison (05:10):


Lindsay Guentzel (05:11):

Yes, yes, the squirrel. Absolutely. You mentioned you like school. How has ADHD shown up for you in school?

Madison (05:21):

It’s actually shown up for me positively. Because I like school, I’m able to really focus on it and learn a lot, I don’t know, kind of quicker almost. It helps when I’m not as distracted. I’m hyperfocused on I want to learn math, reading, science, language, arts. Yeah, all of the nine yards and it’s really helped me.

Lindsay Guentzel (05:42):

Do you talk about your ADHD at school?

Madison (05:45):

Not as much, no.

Lindsay Guentzel (05:47):

What do you think is your biggest struggle when it comes with ADHD?

Madison (05:53):

Finishing sentences, multi-step instructions, just organization, all that stuff.

Lindsay Guentzel (06:01):

I know you have a sister. She does not have ADHD. How do you see a difference between the two of you?

Madison (06:08):

I get really excited really easily, because everything is super cool and super interesting and I could be doing this instead of putting away my clothes. She is able to just slow down and tone everything out and get done, when every 30 seconds I’m like, “Ooh, was that there before? Fun,” instead of focusing on what I need to do to complete my chores.

Lindsay Guentzel (06:30):

What makes you frustrated about your ADHD? Because you mentioned a lot of these things, and I imagine that when you don’t do what you’re supposed to, there’s consequences. You have the benefit of knowing what you’re working with, which is that you have ADHD.

Madison (06:46):

One thing that can be very frustrating is when I know that I should have done something or that I know that I could have done something, but instead I was not focused, or when I get too excited and it’s too much and I just have to sit there and calm down instead of being able to go and do it. I don’t know how to explain this.

Lindsay Guentzel (07:06):

I think you’re doing a great job of explaining it.

Madison (07:08):

It’s really frustrating when… Well, for example, we’ll clean out our desks at school, and then I’m going to be like, today it’s going to be super organized. I’m going to be able to put all my pencils back in the pencil case. I’ll be completely fine. And then that lasts about a week, and by the end it’s back to the black hole.

Lindsay Guentzel (07:27):

Are you seeing patterns that you’re able to maybe change?

Madison (07:32):


Lindsay Guentzel (07:33):

But it’s hard, right?

Madison (07:34):

It’s really hard. Let’s say we had to work on a paragraph. We had to write a paragraph about why we like watermelon. Sorry, random, but I’ll get out my pencil, my paper, maybe a black marker to go over it. When it’s time to be done and we have to go on to specialist maybe, she’ll be like, “Okay, we’re going to put everything away and get out your stuff for PE,” instead of taking the time and putting it away, I will just throw it in there and move on to PE.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:06):

I’ll tell you, I’m 37 and I still have a problem with that. I have to tell myself, “No, go back. Put it where it belongs,” because I’m going to have to go back and fix it at some point anyway, right? Right. It’s frustrating though.

Madison (08:21):

Very frustrating.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:23):

Let’s go back to when you were diagnosed and your mom and dad had been talking about it for a while. I’m curious, and I’m just going to ask you this, have you ever felt bad about having ADHD?

Madison (08:36):


Lindsay Guentzel (08:37):


Madison (08:37):


Lindsay Guentzel (08:38):

I love that.

Madison (08:38):

No, because it’s a part of me. I can’t change it. I do take a medicine, generic, Adderall, Extended Release five milligrams, and it just helps me control myself and just be more in the present. Because although ADHD has its pros and cons, it just helps me to get rid of the cons. But yeah, I do not feel ashamed at all. I’m very proud of that part of me.

Lindsay Guentzel (09:06):

I love it. Can I tell the story about how we connected?

Madison (09:10):

Of course.

Lindsay Guentzel (09:11):

I was a coach for Girls on the Run. Madison was on my team. I will tell you, I’m going to be honest, I had told my friends about this special girl on the team who I felt a connection to because you reminded me a little of me. You are so vivacious and bubbly, and you have the kindest heart. I have to tell you, the way you are with the other girls on the team, it was just so wonderful to see. But I loved that the running joke, not just with you but with everyone on the team was how messy your room is, how messy your desk is, how just you’re like this little tiny tornado.

Madison (09:53):

Thank you.

Lindsay Guentzel (09:55):

I had told people about this special girl. You and I were on a walk to go get water, and you had asked me so kindly how I was doing and I was very stressed out because I was in the midst of launching this podcast. I said to you, “I’m launching this podcast,” and you said, “Well, what’s it about?” I said, “Well, it’s about ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” You turn to me and you go, “I know what that is. I have that.” I said, “You know what? It’s so funny you say that I thought you might.”


I loved how open you were and how excited you were to share that with me. I’m so appreciative of that because for a lot of us who are being diagnosed later in life, we didn’t get the opportunity that you did. You are so comfortable and confident in who you are. I think that’s so special, and I want you to never lose that. But I’m curious when you think about day-to-day life living with ADHD and all the struggles that come with it, because here’s the thing is we could say it’d be really easy to clean up your desk, but some days it’s not. How do you get through those tough days?

Madison (11:02):

Some days are just way more chaotic than others. You said it pretty much perfectly. I had a lot of help from my teachers. In fifth grade this past year, my fifth grade teacher, whenever I would go to the lunchroom, I almost never got school lunch. I would oftentimes forget my lunchbox in my backpack because I was talking to my friends, doing other stuff in the hallway.


Without even having to ask, he would be like, “Did you forget your lunchbox?” I would say yes. Without even having to say a word, I was able to go back to my classroom. Instead of having to have the long conversation of, “Yeah, I forgot my lunchbox in my backpack. Can I please go back?” No, it was just go away. It was super helpful.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:41):

What are some things that you’ve added in maybe at home to help?

Madison (11:45):

My mom thought it would be very helpful if she put notes up everywhere. There’s a note on my back through mirror reminding me to take my ADHD pill. The hard part about that is I kind of need an ADHD pill to remind me to take my ADHD pill. That’s hard. She puts notes everywhere and makes lists what’s helpful for her, but it’s not helpful for me.


For me, the notes just blend into the wall. They’re part of the mirror. They’re part of the door. We went to camps this last week. She has lists for school, she has lists for camps, and you’re supposed to read them and make sure you have everything. Oh wow, it’s just another part of the door. My eyes go right over it.

Lindsay Guentzel (12:26):

What do you think would help you?

Madison (12:28):

A lot of reminders is good. That’s really helpful because my brain will catch the first two things and then zone out, and she gave me a list of three more things that I needed. Repeating that is always nice. Another thing that helps is sometimes setting reminders on your phone, which my mom does a lot. She’s very organized. That kind of stuff helps me. Other people who can think the same way I do is amazing.

Lindsay Guentzel (12:54):

What do you mean by thinks the same way that you do?

Madison (12:57):

Has the same, cough cough, organization process, knows what I mean, knows what I’m talking about when it’s like it blends into the wall, or I basically tune everybody out because focusing on something else, because then they can share what they do and that just really helps me find new things for myself.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:16):

Let’s go back to school for a second because you said you really like school. I’m curious what you like the most about school and maybe it’s a specific subject, maybe it’s getting to learn about all these different things.

Madison (13:28):

It’s basically everything that I like to do in one place. I get to go out to recess. I get to hang out with my friends. Learning is super fun because I would like to have a future. I get to learn math. I get to learn reading, science. My favorite subject is definitely science. Math is in second place. Sadly, reading takes third. But all of our teachers are super nice. They make it super fun to learn with them, all of that.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:54):

Do you know of any other kids in school who have ADHD?

Madison (13:58):

As far as I know, I know five different people who have ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (14:03):

Can I ask you a question about those five people that you know?

Madison (14:05):


Lindsay Guentzel (14:07):

Are you all kind of the same, but at the same time very different?

Madison (14:10):

Yes. In my opinion, ADHD is different for everybody. I have a friend who she’s super organized, but she’s late. She forgets to do the basic things, but she’s super organized and always knows. She knows when stuff is, she just doesn’t get there.

Lindsay Guentzel (14:32):

Can I tell you something from when I was a kid? When I was your age, and this is long before I was diagnosed with ADHD, ADHD, the people who had it when I was in school were always boys. They were always misbehaving. I’ll be frank, they weren’t very good at school. Now I know it was probably because it was very hard for them to concentrate. It had nothing to do with how smart they were.


But as a kid, you don’t know that. I hate admitting this, but we would always kind of think like, oh, those were the kids who were not very smart and they just were not going to do well in school. Here you are, someone who is so bright and who loves school, when I tell you that stereotype about ADHD, what do you think about that?

Madison (15:13):

I definitely see how you could easily come to that conclusion because it wasn’t really a thing that everybody knew about at your age.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:23):

All those years ago when I was your age? No, I’m just teasing.

Madison (15:26):

Not like that.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:26):

No, I’m just teasing you.

Madison (15:29):

I can easily see how it can be very distracting and harder to learn when you have ADHD. I recently learned that some people when they take tests, they get added on time if you can prove that you do have ADHD in college, in high school, I mean, even elementary school too. Yeah, I could easily see how that could be a lot harder to learn, and it is harder to learn. You just got to make a commitment.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:54):

I think that’s a great way to put it. I think what’s hard is sometimes we forget that school can feel one size fits all and that’s not the case obviously. Can you think of areas in school where it’s a subject you love, but it can be hard for you to get into it and really commit yourself?

Madison (16:11):

The first one that pops in my head, social studies. It’s super fun. History is super cool. The activities are okay, but it’s just really hard for me to get into it and really get passionate about it if it’s something that I don’t 100% care about. If it’s something I 100% care about, if we’re learning about a war that changed history or something like that, I’m all in. I cannot think about anything else, but that’s something where it’s give or take.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:43):

We talked a little bit about some of the areas that you’re struggling and things that you could work on. I’m curious where you see yourself thriving.

Madison (16:52):

Academics. My parents have definitely helped me in that area for as long as I can remember. My mom read to me when I was little. My dad did math with me, but definitely academics. I’ve been lucky enough to score high enough on my test that I’m able to get into an enriched program, which is helping me learn better. It’s super amazing and we’re very lucky to have it. But yes, and just commitment in general.

Lindsay Guentzel (17:21):

I love that. I love that. I will say, having worked with you, you are committed. Every time we would show up, it didn’t matter what we were doing, you were engaged 110%. Does your energy level ever wane?

Madison (17:35):


Lindsay Guentzel (17:35):

Really? Let’s hear about that.

Madison (17:38):

Yeah, if it’s something that I don’t truly care about or it’s something-

Lindsay Guentzel (17:42):

There it is again.

Madison (17:43):

-that I’m not having 100%, like I love this so much, it’s a little harder for me to get into it. But I will say, it’s easier when we can make a compromise. Compromises for me are really great because a little bit of what I want to do and a little bit of what other people want to do. When I’m playing with my friends and playing with Barbies, or when I’m playing with little kids and they want to play with Barbies, that’s really hard for me because I thought it was cool to take a magnifying glass and burn off their faces in the sun, not play with them and dress them up.


It’s really easy for me to get bored to not have 100% creativity going at it. But if we can make compromises like maybe making it a Barbie movie horror story, then I could totally do that and get into that because I’m doing what I want to do and what somebody else wants to do.

Lindsay Guentzel (18:29):

You have notes in front of you and there’s something on the note that I want to make sure we get to. You’ve mentioned a bit about what your desk looks like. What happened this last year?

Madison (18:42):

My desk was nicknamed the Black Hole by my classmates. Because when you looked inside it, I could not find my scissors, my notebooks. Pencils were everywhere. Some of them were broken. I found a sock, a spoon, and a mask. When we had teacher conferences and my mom, we looked through desks, we went over tests and stuff like that. We found a sock, a spoon, and a mask.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:08):

But I have a question, did you find the other half of the sock at home?

Madison (19:12):

Yeah, somewhere. I don’t know how it got in there, but in fourth grade my teacher had me stay inside for recess to clean my desk.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:23):

I may have had that happen a few times too.

Madison (19:26):

She would say, “Okay, Madison, today you’re going to stay inside for recess with me. It was not an option.” Honestly, I’m very thankful for that because it really helped. It really helped.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:35):

Do you ever feel like people meet you or they see your grades and then they may be catch a glimpse of the black hole and they’re surprised that the person they see or the person who is accomplishing all of these amazing wonderful things also is somebody who is so chaotic and can’t keep their desk cleared?

Madison (19:54):

Around where I live, not necessarily. The reason why is because we have amazing people who help with that and a lot of kids can run into the same thing. It’s not that it’s not new, but it’s nothing that they haven’t seen before. My teachers and my friends and all that, they can help me thrive in my academics. They can help me get better at organizing. That’s not something that you would necessarily never see.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:20):

I love it. When you think about your future and you mentioned that you want to have one, which is why you’re so committed to your academics.

Madison (20:29):

It’s fun.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:30):

Yeah. What is giving you hope? What is exciting for you? What pushes you forward?

Madison (20:36):

I think it would be really cool to be an engineer, and I want to get there. I want to accomplish that, and I want to be a really good engineer and be good at my job, which means I have to put 100% in if I want to get there. We all have days where we slip up and do something that wasn’t great, but we’ll get there. We’ll get there eventually. I know I don’t need to be worrying about that yet, just going into sixth grade, and I’m not. It’s not my thing I think about every single day, all day long. But yeah, just everybody has something that they’re working through and this is mine.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:14):

We’ve talked a lot about school, but I would love to hear about life outside of school. Activities. We met through Girls on the Run. Do you find it hard to nail down one or two things you’re really passionate about because you want to do so many things or have you been able to find things to hyperfocus on?

Madison (21:35):

I have a lot of things that I absolutely love because why not? Dance, super easy for me to hyperfocus on. It’s one of my favorite sports. Also soccer. Soccer is super fun. I enjoy it, everything about it. I just took a camp a week ago about learning how to play the ukulele. We built our own ukuleles. Within the first week, we’ve been able to play like 10 plus songs just by learning chords.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:02):

I want to ask you something about all of that because I think it’s fascinating, and I love that you went to camp and learned how to build a ukulele. I struggled at your age with practicing, and practicing does take some commitment in organization because you have to actually keep doing it. I found that I really struggled if I liked something and I did it the first time. If I wasn’t great at it, I didn’t understand that I could get better by practicing. That’s something with dance especially, practice and rehearsal is so important. How do you manage that?

Madison (22:38):

One of my favorite things to do is get better at something. I know that sounds weird.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:43):


Madison (22:43):

But I think it’s really fun. When I was in second grade, I had to learn how to do… I can only do a left cartwheel and I had to learn how to do a right cartwheel for this certain part. I didn’t want to learn how to do a right cartwheel, but I thought, you know what? If I really, really, really, really, really want this, I have to learn to do a right cartwheel. My mom helped me, my dad helped me, and now I can do a right cartwheel, which was super fun. Just in general, I find practicing it can be tricky and it can be really fun at sometimes or at some points.


When I first started piano, practicing was… I practiced all day long every day. My mom and dad could not get me off the piano, and now I practice at a normal rate. But when I first start something, it’s like, oh my gosh, this is so much fun. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Dance, we have like five two minute 30 second-ish routines. You just got to practice them over and over until you get it right, and then you can take a break, then you can go read your book. But just making that your number one priority.

Lindsay Guentzel (23:49):

You have a bunch of notes in front of you. Before I get to my last question, I just want to ask you if there’s anything that you had written down or talked through before we came here that you wanted to share?

Madison (23:59):

Well, another example of being all over the place and chaotic and really just trying in general when, for example, if I want to rent a boat at a boat club. Let’s say one day I really, really, really want to be helpful and I want to show my parents that I can be organized, I can do all of that. You know what? I’m going to grab my sunscreen, my hat, my sunglasses. Ooh, a book would be fun too. I get in the car and I have my sunglasses and I have my book. My mom tells me, “Hey, where’s your sunscreen and your hat?”


I have to run back inside feeling, wait, nope, nope. I did not accomplish that goal. That’s definitely one of the big things. I’ll read a book walking down the steps and trip and fall over. Just getting so into something that you cannot live without it, or I’ll go outside without my winter coat, or I’ll run to the bus without my backpack, or I’ll do my homework and forget to put it in my book bag. To try to help me with that, my mom tells me that I should put it inside my homework folder. I see my homework folder and it’s in my planner and it’s in my backpack.


Why unzip my backpack, take out my planner and take out my homework folder to put in my homework, et cetera, and put it all back? I could just stuff it in there and be fine tomorrow. Option A or option B? Pretty sure you guys know what I went with. Yeah, just things like that.

Lindsay Guentzel (25:27):

You’re working through that?

Madison (25:28):

Mm-hmm. Another thing we did in school was writing in our planners at the end of the day and our teacher would say, “Okay, now it’s time to write in your planner.” But I would still be packing up from the day because I’d be distracted by a bunch of things. Maybe I’d accidentally throw in my school iPad, my headphones that are supposed to stay in my desk, things like that. And then I would get home and I wouldn’t know what homework page to do, and I wouldn’t know what field trip we had the next day, things like that.


And then I also used to fly through my tests at school. I’d get super close, but I would make a couple silly mistakes that if I had checked over it, I would’ve been completely fine. This year I wanted to fix that. Now whenever I finish my test, I go through and I look over every question and I do the math again. Once I feel really good about it, I put a little tiny star next to the question. I cannot turn in my paper until I have starred every question and I feel good about all of them to turn it in. So far it’s worked like a charm.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:28):

That’s an awesome workaround. I like that. How do you remember to do it every time?

Madison (26:34):

When I take tests, I have to focus on the test. When I go through, a little voice in my head goes, “Where are the stars?” Just remembering to do it is definitely a challenge, but once you do it enough, it just becomes a habit.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:49):

Every day is an opportunity to learn and get better. Correct?

Madison (26:52):


Lindsay Guentzel (26:53):

I like that. I’m going to wrap this up. I want to ask you, what is something you wish people knew or understood better about ADHD?

Madison (27:02):

That it has pros and cons, and the pros sometimes can outweigh the cons, and sometimes it can be like the cons are just way too much. But everything has its challenges and I can hyperfocus on something and then obviously have the black hole. Just trying to weigh that out can be really tricky. But if I could get rid of ADHD, I would not. I think it’s just a part of me and you have to embrace that to an extent. There’s a lot of people out there who have videos on this and explain more about it. There’s somebody that I would like to mention if that’s okay.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:41):


Madison (27:42):

If you’ve ever heard of the Holderness Family, the dad of that family, Penn Holderness, has a bunch of videos on it. He has ADHD to the extreme. They make parodies of a bunch of different songs, and they’re super, super funny. He’s very creative because he found a way to use his ADHD as his superpower. He can now use it to focus in and just get everything done super quickly. That’s his job. He’s great at his job. He has one video on ADHD tips, cargo pants, they have pockets, all that stuff. The whole nine yards. Totally check that out because that’s super cool too.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:21):

In the biz we say we’ll link that in the show notes. You can add that. Okay?

Madison (28:26):

Okay. Well, we’ll link that in the show notes.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:30):

Madison, it is such a joy to get to share this podcast with you and to get to have you here. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story. I think it is so important to hear from everyone, all different ages, and I’m really grateful to you. Thank you.


I just have so much love for this girl. I’m guessing after hearing her share her story, many of you do too. On that lovely spring day when Madison chose to confide in me about her ADHD, I felt so honored to be in that little circle for her, to be someone she felt like she could trust. That feeling hasn’t gone away even after all this time has passed. It is so wonderful to see someone like Madison and to know that her future can be as bright as she wants it to be because she knows about her ADHD.


I’m so grateful to Madison for joining us for Refocused, Together and to her family for opening up their lives to me.Madison’s story is unique. Yes. Her mother’s experience as a school psychologist was instrumental in getting Madison the help she needs and deserves. According to the CDC, girls are diagnosed with ADHD at half the rate of boys, and we know that a lot of the reason for this discrepancy is how ADHD has been viewed over the years. ADHD symptoms can look very different in girls and it’s often missed.


Thanks to diagnostic gatekeeping, entire generations of people have been held back who didn’t neatly check all the little boxes for a hyperactive boy. What should we be looking for when it comes to identifying and diagnosing ADHD in girls? Well, you know from listening to Madison’s story that it was her struggle with executive function items like organization skills and remembering things, but it was also her big emotions, her inability to turn off her brain, and also her struggle with one of ADHD’s most common comorbidities, anxiety, that pushed Madison’s parents to seek out a diagnosis.


There’s a long list of other things we should all be on the lookout for when it comes to the girls in our lives, things like appearing withdrawn or not listening, daydreaming, losing track of time, and having difficulty maintaining focus or shifting focus during transitions. Shyness could be a symptom and so can being talkative. Being overwhelmed when completing tasks can be assigned, as well as taking extra time to process information, or being sensitive to surroundings like noise and fabrics.


I know I need quiet at certain times, and I definitely have my go-to clothes for comfort on stressful days. It’s estimated that children with ADHD receive 20,000 more corrective or negative messages by the age of 10, and we would be naive to think that that doesn’t have an effect on a person. One of the many things I love about Madison is the compassion she shows to herself. Her self-love is beyond admirable. She’s aware of all of the things that the world has told her aren’t perfect, aren’t what they’re supposed to be, and yet she marches through life unwilling to let any of it hold her back.


It’s something I hope for all of us, myself included. We’re so honored to be able to share stories like Madison’s, and we’re excited to keep the conversations going throughout all of ADHD Awareness Month with another story coming up for you tomorrow. Until then, be kind to yourself.


Support for Refocused comes from our partner, ADHD Online, a telemedicine mental healthcare company that provides affordable and accessible ADHD assessments and treatment plans. To learn how they can help you on your journey, head to ADHDOnline.com and remember to use the promo code Refocused20 to receive $20 off your ADHD Online assessment right now. The biggest thanks go out to our team at ADHD Online, Keith Boswell, Susanne Spruit, Melanie Mile, Claudia Gotti, and Trisha Merchandani, for their constant support in helping make Refocused, Together happen.


These 31 episodes were produced thanks to our managing editor Sarah Platanitis, our production coordinator Phil Rodemann, social media specialist and editor Al Chaplin, and me, the host and executive producer of Refocused, Lindsay Guentzel. To connect with the show on social media, you can find us online @refocusedpod, and you can email the show directly, [email protected]. That’s [email protected].

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