#065 Gifted Joy & Gifted Play; Why it’s Different w/ Kate Donohue

Featured Image #065 Gifted Joy & Gifted Play; Why it's Different w Kate Donohue

It’s Gifted, Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week; and we’re Bringing Joy & Equity in Focus with this year’s theme.

As a proud partner of The G Word, Our Gifted Kids is delighted to raise awareness once again with a whole week of podcasts. Actually, 6 episodes! Where we talk about #gifted joy!

Podcast Line Up

  • Marc Smolowitz introduces the week with – #064 Gifted Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week does #giftedjoy
  • Monday
    • #065 Gifted Joy & Gifted Play; Why it’s Different w/ Kate Donohue
  • Tuesday
    • #066 Why Gifted Folk Need Board Games! w/ Justin Ratcliff
  • Wednesday
    • #067 How to Express Your Gifted Self with Digital Music & Art w/ Johannes Dreyer
  • Thursday
    • #068 A Higher Skate of Mind for Gifted Kids w/ Josh Smith
  • Friday
    • #069 Why Dungeons & Dragons is Gifted Bliss w/ Sam Young


Enjoyed the podcasts? Our online community is currently open until midnight Thursday 3 November! Find out more here!

Or subscribe, join our online community or get freebies, say thanks at ourgiftedkids.com

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Our GTN Awareness Week Links



Kate Donohue

Kate has been working in the disability sector for more than 20 years. She has been a DIR therapist, kindergarten and school teacher, service leader, mentor, support worker and public speaker & presenter.

Kate was raised in rural SA and was a first-generation university attendee. She taught on Pitjantjatjara land, leading the special needs programs and co-facilitating the aboriginal inclusion programs with Aboriginal elders. Kate is grateful to be able to live and work on Kaurna land.

Her passion developed from her experiences of growing up ‘thinking, learning and experiencing my world differently’. She found ways to thrive in her own unique way in a world that is not designed for people who are different. This gives her valuable insights and a natural ability to relate.

Kate’s work experiences include researching disability inclusion in Norway, working with youth at risk in Canada and supporting children with severe and complex needs in the Cook Islands and rural Australia. Kate has facilitated many parent support groups and committees.

Kate’s learning journey really began when she became a parent to 2 neurodivergent girls and began to explore her own neurodivergence from a neurodivergent-affirming perspective.

Kate has supported hundreds of neurodivergent people and their families, educators, therapists & employers in the last 20 years. Kate has a deep understanding of neurodivergence which she uses to mentor, educate and support regardless of where people are on their journey.

Hit play and let’s get started!


[00:00:00] Sophia Elliott: Hello, and welcome to gifted, talented and your ID. Awareness week. As a proud partner of The G Word Film, we are super excited to be involved again this year. Thank you to mark and his team for being behind GTN awareness week. It is a lot of fun. And this week, the theme is around equity and joy. And at our gifted kids, we’ve decided to focus on the joy component because.

[00:00:27] Well, we all need a bit of joy and you know, it can be really taboo to talk about gifted joy and those things that the gifted community. Really loves and does well. And gets excited about and like let’s face it totally geeks out on. And I thought what a great opportunity for us to just spend a week talking about the things that really get us excited and bring joy into our life.

[00:00:53] So we kicking off the week with a. Podcast with Kate Donnie here. And. Kate is one of my favorite people. She has been working in the disability sector for more than 20 years. She’s been a DIR therapist, kindergarten and school teacher service leader, mental support worker and public speaker and

[00:01:15] Kate herself is neurodivergent and found ways to thrive in her own unique way in a world that is not designed for people who are different. This gives her valuable insights and a natural ability to relate. Who are working experience includes researching disability inclusion in no Working with youth at risking Canada and supporting children with severe and complex needs in the cook islands and rural Australia.

[00:01:41] Kate has facilitated many parent support groups and communities. But her learning journey really began when she became a parent to two neurodivergent girls. And began to explore her own neurodivergence from a neurodivergent affirming perspective. She supported hundreds of neurodivergent people and their families, educators.

[00:02:03] Therapist and employees in the last 20 years. She has a deep, deep, deep, deep understanding of neurodivergence, which she uses to mentor, educate and support, regardless of where people are on their journey. I often suggest that people get in touch with Kate when they have really complex. Kiddos and really complex families because.

[00:02:28] She just one of those people that really gets the complexity and how one thing. Impacts on another. So it was fabulous today to talk to Kate about play. And why play is really important. And why it’s different for us as neurodivergent folk. So it’s a re despite we’re both a little bit knackered and my brain was probably a bit slower than Kate. She did a great job.

[00:02:55] Uh, and despite that really great episode, On some really important things to keep in mind as parents and as people. When it comes to play and exploring our joy. So I hope that you enjoy it. Now as gifted, talented and your diversity awareness week, you can register at The G Word. And stay on top of all the free stuff that goes on this week.

[00:03:19] Uh, because there is a lot out there and some really cool things. So please check out those links.

[00:03:26] Also here at our gifted kids and we are putting a podcast on every single day. So it’s a big week for us. And I hope you enjoy those. You can subscribe at our gift to kids and not miss anything. We’ve also got our doors open to Al three new online communities. So you can check them out at our gifted kids, backslash hub.

[00:03:46] And see what the fuss is all about. There’s a couple of cool videos there that show you what our online portals look like and tell you a bit more about what we And this is the way, the whole point of all this is, how do we make the journey easier? The parents. For us as people for our kids and bringing together.

[00:04:06] All of the knowledge, the experts are professional, the parents, the lived experience so that we can feel seen. We can feel heard. We can feel less alone. We can stay quirky. So stay quirky, have fun. And I’ll talk to you again tomorrow. Enjoy.

[00:04:57] I’m here with Kate Donahue. One of my favorite people, uh, because it’s anyone listening, is like Monday a week. No it’s not. It’s Monday of day one of gifted talented and neurodiversity awareness week. And we’re here to talk to Kate about play because play is this massive part of joy, Joy play, right?

[00:05:21] And we’re honestly, our brains are both a little bit fried. So , it’s been interesting conversation. I’m. Trying to do effectively seven podcasts in a week and a half. So I’m a little bit fried. I, I always enjoy these things, but they they’re a challenge to get through. So I hope everyone’s loving, uh, these episodes and listening and sharing.

[00:05:51] So, Kate, welcome. You’ve been on a guest on the podcast before, and. You just for anyone who hasn’t come across Cape before, you can go back and listen to previous episodes. She’s just an awesome person and one of the few folk out there who just kind of gets that very deep complexity of neuro divergence and welcome.

[00:06:21] It’s a delight to have you here. Thank you.

[00:06:23] Kate Donohue: Thank you for having me. And I’m very excited to be talking about play because over 15 years ago, I started my first degree in early childhood development, which was all about the importance of play. And then I went out into the real world of teaching and parenting and realized that our society and our culture has a very different view on play than what the research says about the importance of play and the developing brain.

[00:06:49] And. So this is a topic that I love to talk about. So thank you for inviting me and

[00:06:55] Sophia Elliott: anyone who’s watching the video on our online portal. Uh, Kate’s brought along her bunny .

[00:07:02] Kate Donohue: You but yes. This is blue. Oh, blue shine blue.

[00:07:05] Sophia Elliott: He’s hiding. He’s snuggling. Uh, it’s so beautiful.

[00:07:09] Hello Blue. Welcome to the podcast as well. Yeah, play right. As a parent, I. Came across Montessori philosophy quite early in parenthood, and one of the things that I really love that’s always stuck with me was they say something along the lines of play is the work of children. It’s.

[00:07:33] It’s literally that important. It is their work and it should be respected and not interrupted. And we should allow that grace for them when they’re playing and getting into things because they’re doing real work for themselves.

[00:07:48] Kate Donohue: Well, absolutely it is what children are generally naturally drawn to.

[00:07:54] It’s the space where they are actively involved, their whole brain, their entire body. And when real problems arise, this is when they can actually access different parts of themselves. So it’s, when we are teaching children, they have a, a, it’s lot less effective because their engagement level varies their interest level, their capacity, where they’re at as an individual, but play.

[00:08:22] Come at it from where they are at that time. So it is always very relevant to them. And the thing that we miss, so in Scandinavian countries, they don’t introduce formal literacy and numeracy learning until about seven years of age. And their outcomes are much better than other places where we start at five.

[00:08:38] So we have this idea that repetition is best and really narrowing down into what learning can look. But children’s brains and bodies are much more dynamic than often what we think as adults. There are many things that are underlying development that we don’t know about. For example, if a child is struggling to write, the best option isn’t always to.

[00:09:01] Get them to practice with a pencil more and more. This doesn’t always produce very good outcomes because there are some underlying fine motor skills that need to be developed. So playing with Play-Doh, playing in the sand, building things with their fingers is actually what they need before they can start to write.

[00:09:19] So doing more of the same thing won’t necessarily get better results Doing a. Range of activities like what play can offer one, it is actually what they need for the developing bodies, and two, it is very engaging. So they’re invested in this. We are as neuro divergent people when we are in that flow state, when we are engaged in what we’re doing, our brains are 400 times more effective at learning than a neurotypical brain.

[00:09:49] So as gifted in neuro dive, People, particularly as kids, the ability to. Throw our whole selves into our passions is our learning style. It is how we learn best. So if we are stopping our children, and this is the way schools designed to from that deep dive, cause we go really, really deep, we go really, really broad.

[00:10:11] We, we want to know all the connections and all the pieces and know. About our passion at that time, but we can’t do that in small blocks. That is really difficult because transitions are often really difficult. Switching tasks are really difficult and sometimes starting a task even if we want to. So there’s executive function differences in a neuro divergent brain, including gifted children and adults that mean.

[00:10:35] Some of the structures we have in society don’t allow us to get the best out of our brains to really be able to develop the skills, to know how to follow our passions and interests. Cause sometimes when we watch our kids, we kind of sometimes are like, I wish they would. Put as much energy and effort into, you know, getting ready for school or going to school or reading or science when that’s not their passion.

[00:10:57] But we have to trust that they’re learning a lot of skills in the play and the engagement that they’re, that they’re doing. We just don’t always know where they’re going, so we can’t control what they’re learning, how they’re learning what they’re doing. Particularly a lot of our gifted kids, they charge full ahead and we are just struggling to keep up and run behind them to try and.

[00:11:17] Them to, or, well, we need to understand where they’re at so we can support them. But we, and the analogy we were talking about before this podcast is sometimes we mistaken ourselves for being the engineer of our children. And this isn’t the case. We’re actually more like a shepherd, so that we’re providing the environment, we’re supporting them, we’re scaffolding them, and we’re encouraging them to be themselves and learning ways that work for them and plays the perfect medium to be able to do.

[00:11:45] video2016907852: So

[00:11:45] Sophia Elliott: a few things you’ve said there, I mean, there’s a bunch of things you said there, but a few really relevant that jump out for gifted Neurodiverse kids is like, repetition is not as great as it sounds, uh, and doing more of the same. So it’s that typical kind of thing of, oh, they’re gifted, give them more worksheets.

[00:12:10] And it’s kind of like actually, That’s the number one way to lose engagement, uh, and, and make for a very unhappy, gifted child, uh, is just more worksheets. Uh, but what we could be doing instead is respecting that depth, that deep dive, and actually creating that space for them to get fully engaged in what they’re really engaged about, which I think is.

[00:12:37] Important to know and get as a parent because we wanna help, we wanna support, uh, you know, we wanna see them improve in those areas where they might be struggling and they’re racing off ahead of us and we’re trying to keep up and provide opportunities. It can get really kind of overwhelming and it can be hard to know, you know, are we doing the right thing?

[00:13:02] Is it too much? Is it not enough? But some of what you’ve said there is take a breath and play because within that play and that special interest, you are actually going to get the focus and the skill development on those things that they need without kind of feeling like we’ve gotta force the issue all the time.

[00:13:31] Because I, you know, I know myself. Having to have learnt that lesson, especially in the early days of kind of trusting in the journey and trusting in your kids. Yeah. And, and understanding how important it is to support those special interests, even though they might seem a bit odd , or they might be, Okay, we are memorizing all of the Pokemon, or, you know, we’re memoriz.

[00:14:03] all of the train time tables or I don’t know, whatever quirky kind of thing, uh, it might be. But what I found is one thing will lead to another. Hmm. And you never know where you, you will end up that Pokemon obsession and learning them all may end up with some creative writing stop motion animation. Uh, do you know?

[00:14:26] And it’s kind of like, where can we take that special interest? How can we expand on that a bit and explore because they’re so engaged in that particular play. So, and, and I think this is one of the things I wanted to talk with you about today is, Is the special interest and how important that is to the gifted neuro divergent brain and how much we need to kind of honor and respect that space because it’s a space that really does provide intense joy and satisfaction regardless of how quirky it is.

[00:15:04] Kate Donohue: And it’s deeper than that as well. It’s also how we identify often for many neuro divergent people, we relate to our special interests, just like a child relates to significant family members. So spending time with that. Interest builds a sense of wellbeing and a sense of self. Joining a child in their special interests also builds a strong bond because you are bonding in a safe place for them, a place that makes sense for them, a part of who they are and a part of their identity, and you are choosing to join in with that.

[00:15:37] So it’s a lot. Particularly if, if for neurotypical people to understand our relationship to our special interests should be seen as a significant relationship that we would have with someone important in our life. That’s why it’s really important not to take away interests as punishments or to interfere with that because it would be similar to taking a parent away from a child because they threw something like, We’ve gotta really be mindful that special interests are relationships that need to be protect.

[00:16:06] That need to be invested in and. From that place, it’s not just about the content of what they’re learning. If they’re learning geography, you might be like, Great. If they’re learning about Pokemons, you might be like, Oh, that’s not valuable, but it is because underneath that are dispositions for learning and that’s what’s important and what sets us up for success later on is how do I problem solve?

[00:16:30] Like it’s all the things that are going on in their brain, all the neurons that are developing through the activity, even if we don’t value the activity within itself. So we can often think, Oh, but they’ve spent so much time doing this thing that I don’t think is actually very educational or valuable.

[00:16:45] But there’s a lot of things going on underneath. And the thing is, yes, it might be better if they were doing other things, but that’s not real. That’s not who they’re, that’s not where they’re at at that time. Often I find parents say things like, Oh, but they won’t join me in other things. I try and play with them.

[00:17:03] I try and engage them in other things that other kids their age are engaging in. We always must join our children first, so when we bond with our children and we engage with them, and that relationship is really enjoyable for them and mutually respectful. We’ve got a lot more scope to say, Hey, I found this really exciting thing I’d love to share with you, and they’re more likely to be able to join in with us.

[00:17:26] And that’s also developing reciprocity and social skills, but it’s done from a place of joy rather than a place of. We should be doing this. So when we come from that really authentic place, this is very therapeutic for our kids who struggle with other relationships because we’re role modeling, how to follow le follow their lead, and then maybe inviting them to follow our lead.

[00:17:47] So there’s a lot we can do by joining our children very naturally and by seeing where they’re at in that space and, and if we decide we want to be able to introduce them to other things, we can just trial that out and it’s OK if they. At that moment, they might not be ready. But if we do it with a lot of safety and we do it with a lot of care and consideration, there’s more scope to be able to do those things in the future.

[00:18:12] Sophia Elliott: I really like that. Just the simplicity of what is my child into, right? Shall we spend an hour doing that? And I mean, to be sure as a parent, it can get a bit exhausting listening to the special interests because they will tell you for a long time, many times, uh, in great depth and detail. And so I wanna validate and acknowledge , how exhausting that can be.

[00:18:41] But at the same time, I’ve certainly seen and experience that connection. Just taking the time and kind of going, Oh, tell me what you’ve learned in that thing, or what’s, what’s your newest kind of fact of the day? Or, Yeah, just even a small amount of connection on that point can be really beautiful and I, I think, yeah, you know, I think the kids feel really seen by that as well, which is really.

[00:19:10] Kate Donohue: I’d like to extend on what you’re saying about the challenges of the reality of doing this, because a lot of what I do is about reality and how complex it can be. So it’s okay to say things like, I can see this is really important for you right now, but I have a bit of a traffic jam going in my brain.

[00:19:26] I’m gonna go grab a cup of tea, take a couple of breaths. When we’re role modeling regulation, we’re also putting some boundaries around. Not all kids can cope with boundaries, but if your child can, it’s okay to say this. I can see this is really, really important to you and I wanna be able to be in a position to listen or to join.

[00:19:43] You gonna grab my snacks or gonna grab my cup of tea? And then we can, we can go from there. And then that gives you a moment to prepare. Cause sometimes it’s a lot, like sometimes my brain hurts. Like I literally, I’m like, I don’t think I can like hear anymore words. They’re just, even if I wanted to, I’m having sensory.

[00:20:02] So it’s okay to talk to our kids and they go, This is really important. My brain’s not really working right now. Let me go and do something about that. And then we can come back and connect or you know, the logistics of like, I am in the middle of dinner right now and I’m really struggling to do two things at once.

[00:20:18] Can we put a timer on? Can we make a special time? Can we make a date to do that? So it’s about working it in and there’s. Perfection in any of this. We are so hard on ourselves and so many different ideas about what’s important. Like I’m very clear in what I teach about what’s important, and it’s always based in regulation and relationship.

[00:20:41] So there are many wonderful things we can do as parents. We can provide all sorts of things being that shepherd in that pasture. But everything comes back down to if our child is not regulated and our relationship. And if our relationship is fractured, none of those things are gonna matter. So there are oftentimes when I’ve wanted to pursue my children’s special interest with them, say, going to a science fair, but I’m pretty sure that the drive home is not gonna go well.

[00:21:08] And you know, particularly when I had two young children and I was on my own, I’d be like, I don’t think I can co-regulate them after a full day of sensory overloaded science fair. So I’ve had to make a decision that investing in their special interests in that way isn’t in the best interest of our relationship and regulation.

[00:21:27] So we’ve done other things so we don’t have to do everything and be everything. If we can’t manage it, it’s okay to make other choices and make sure it’s sustainable and. The underlying message is we love you or I love you. What you love is important to me and I’m going to show up for you in that way where I can.

[00:21:50] But we don’t have to be able to do that at all times. And if we can’t, that’s okay. They might not always like that. But we can try and work towards regulating and supporting them around that as well.

[00:22:04] Sophia Elliott: And like you say, that’s great modeling of. By being just honest with our kids of where we’re at, what we can manage, what we can get through is really great modeling for them.

[00:22:15] If we’re, you know, talking that out loud with them which is really great.

[00:22:20] My brain’s gone a bit blank. It’s

[00:22:25] Kate Donohue: okay. I think we’ve done quite well since West, I think so as well. I’m like,

[00:22:30] Sophia Elliott: that’s a pretty good podcast. So in modeling to our kids that we’re trying to take care of our own regulation as well, it’s obviously really important for us as parents to model that in a positive way, which can be tricky in the moment. So have you got any thoughts on that for us, Kate?

[00:22:51] Kate Donohue: Absolutely. So neuro divergent people are wired very different from neurotypical people. So we do have a tendency to do things that what are often referred to as monologing or sharing from our perspective, which isn’t always two way and reciprocal.

[00:23:06] And this is just the way that our brains are wired. So it’s really important that we communicate that we care about their interests and who they’re cause that is linked to identity, as we mentioned before. We get a lot of shame. Well, we get, we get told that what we’re doing is not okay because the world doesn’t quite understand the neuro divergent brain and gifted kids are intense.

[00:23:29] The, our curiosities as an adult gifted kid you know, the, I’ve had to suppress so much of who I am, my identity, my. Intensities to not overwhelm or get criticism from others. And that actually taps into mental health and wellbeing when we do this too much. So we really wanna prevent any of those messages where we’re saying that it’s a character flaw or you are too much, or you are too intent, or you are too dramatic.

[00:23:56] You’re not compliant enough or cooperative enough or any of those things because those messages get internalized. And of course sometimes we make mistakes, but we can always come back and say, Oh, I’m really sorry that I said this. It came out cause I was stressed. What I meant to say is that the noise was just so overwhelming for me that I needed a break, but I didn’t take it early enough.

[00:24:16] So I think next time I’m. Take that break a bit earlier because it’s not on you like, you know, your curiosity, you know, is an amazing quality within you. So we are framing the challenges around needs. So I need some more quiet space. I was overwhelmed because I was doing three things at once. I would like.

[00:24:39] Meet your needs of connection through your interest, but I need to make sure it’s working for my needs as well, which is a tricky conversation to have if we’re not used to speaking in terms of needs. We’re often used to going to your too much or stop that or be quiet, or, I’ve already told you three times that you know to go and do your shoes and not talk about rocks.

[00:25:00] So we’re really. This time and space where there is more information about neuro divergent brains and we’re having to relearn how to parent. So we need to also be compassionate with ourselves when we say these things, but also aware that we need to own those mistakes as well, so that we’re framing that we care.

[00:25:21] We love them. We find them as they are lovable. They don’t need to change to be someone else. But meeting needs in the family system is really important. So talking about. Our need for being able to get dinner done. I need to be able to concentrate on dinner right now. And then rather than saying You’re too loud.

[00:25:41] So it’s a shift in language that sometimes isn’t instinctual, but that’s the journey of growth, right? That’s what we’re, That’s why we’re listening to this podcast. That’s why we’re reading books. That’s why we’re on groups around neuro university. W our way of being has never been validated. It’s almost like our way of being in the world didn’t exist.

[00:26:03] We had to either mask or get excluded because of our differences. And that’s starting to change now. But we all have this internalized ableism, even us who have these disabilities, we have to unpack the messages that it’s not okay to be this way or it’s too much. So unpacking. Unfortunately, it’s a hard thing to face in ourselves.

[00:26:27] But unpacking internalized ableism or externalized ableism is a part of this parenting journey that we’re really called to be on so that we can provide emotionally safe relationships and spaces for our kids so they do get a better sense of belonging than those of us who grew up in the decades before because, We want them to grow up to be healthy and well.

[00:26:47] That’s what we all want and a primary need for all of us is to feel like we belong and if we’re getting lots of small messages or large messages that what we are doing. Excludes us or isn’t. Okay, then we, we don’t develop that sense of belonging and, and that’s a foundational need. And when needs aren’t met, there are often secondary health issues and mental health issues.

[00:27:09] So by working on how we frame and how we think it actually comes from the thinking as well, or catching our thinking and changing our thinking, when we do this work, we can actually change the course of our, our children and the impact that we have on them.

[00:27:26] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, so the messages that we are getting from the world within our families, you know, unintentionally can be really important to have a look at and be conscious about.

[00:27:40] And so a couple of things I was thinking of there is, you know, that moment in the afternoon where it’s all a bit loud and instead of going, ah, you’re all too noisy, uh, reframing and going. My brain is feeling completely overwhelmed with sound. Can you use your inside voices? Can you go play outside for me?

[00:28:02] Which would really help me. I’m also gonna go put my ear things in. Mm-hmm. , because I’m gonna look after myself in that way and I’m gonna turn the music off and kind of talking about it in terms of what we need to open up those conversations about needs and expressing those, which I think is really. And can be a shift in terms of that parenting language.

[00:28:25] I certainly have gotten in the habit of having a very similar conversation to what I just described, because I do get really overwhelmed with noise and sometimes I’ll, We have music on a lot, which I usually like, and sometimes I’ll just be like, I’m sorry, I just can’t deal with the sound. That sound. Is it okay if we turn the music off and just.

[00:28:47] Communicate where I’m at with members of my family, which I think is really helpful. . So we introduced this gifted, talented Neurodiversity Awareness Week last week with an episode with Mark Smolowitz from the The, G Word. And. One of the things he was talking about was the reason why the theme for this week is about joy, or part of the theme is joy, is because as a community, a neuro divergent community, there has been a real taboo around celebrating those things, which bring us joy.

[00:29:24] You know, celebrating those areas where we. Succeeds, especially in the gifted realm, sometimes wildly succeed because it brings us joy and it’s very much a part of who we are and what comes naturally to us. And there’s a real taboo about that, which just kind of sucks. And so this is an opportunity for a week to kind of go, This is actually, this is what brings me joy and I wanna share it and I wanna talk about it.

[00:29:52] And. And hopefully get a little bit of validation to go deep dive into that thing as a parent and encouraging your kids because as you’ve said, you know, during this podcast, it’s a really important part of the way our brain works, our identity, our key relationships, uh, those things that we deeply love and bring us joy.

[00:30:17] You know, this week is a real opportunity to have a little look around at yourself and your family members. And maybe just take a moment to kind of think, well, what is it that brings them joy? What is it that brings me joy? And how can we get involved in that or support that or reframe that? Uh, now that we understand what an important thing these deep, special interests are and the different things they can bring us.

[00:30:46] And if anyone wants to, you know, share that thing that brings them joy, like tag our gifted kids and, and share it online, or, you know, we would love to highlight those, uh, things that bring people joy because this is one of the things that I love the most about our neuro divergent and gifted community.

[00:31:07] The very wide ranging random things that people get into, and it’s just, I love listening to people talk about their stuff because it’s this very deep, expert level knowledge of stuff and it’s fabulous. I think

[00:31:24] Kate Donohue: one of the really. Important things that have stuck with me is when somebody said that a lot of neuro virgin people have an internal curriculum.

[00:31:33] It doesn’t line up with the school curriculum or the expectations that society has of people at certain ages, but. We need to trust that our neuro divergent people are going to learn and grow. It may not look like how everybody else does it, but it’s a very valuable and important thing that we give them the space to do that because this is being neuro divergent affirming.

[00:31:59] This is allowing our child to be and grow. As they need to. So, and then amazing things happen. Like I have had a 20 year special interest in development, attachment, relationships, autism, neurodiversity, and now I get to do every single day what I love. I can have a really bad sleep, I can have a really bad day, and then I jump online and I do consulting sessions and every single one, even the challenging ones, I’m like, I have the best job.

[00:32:30] I always feel better about my life and what I’m doing because I’m able to connect with people around my passion that I’m getting paid to talk to people about the thing that I’ve, you know, took such a deep dive and looked at in such a broad way for the last 20 years. And not everybody makes a career out of their passion, but a lot of us do when we are given the time and space.

[00:32:58] Allowed to explore who we are. And there are some really interesting entrepreneur sort of enterprises popping up all over the place. But the important thing is to keep our children well and healthy from a mental health perspective, because we often shut these things down about ourselves. But this is our, our, I guess our talent, right?

[00:33:17] Is to go deep, is to go broad, is to be an expert and the way the world is moving forward. Is, experts are gonna be highly sought after, and whether it’s in drains and how the flow of water goes through pipes, that’s a specialist industry. And whether or whether it’s about autism and neurodiversity. So by really trusting our children’s internal curriculum and supporting that and being in awe of that and being like, Yeah, that’s great you do.

[00:33:45] One of my kids is into beauty at the moment, like she’s gifted and I have no issues about directing her path in any direction. If she wants to wax legs and eyebrows for the rest of her life, and that brings her joy, I’m happy with that because that’s her, that’s me. Really respecting and seeing her for who she is, not who I think she should.

[00:34:10] And I think we get a bit stuck in that when we’re looking at neuro division people because we don’t fit in boxes. And in order to have that joy, we need to be given that space to play to then learn about who we are. This is how we find ourselves. So it’s a very essential part of our childhood is to be able to explore our relationship with our special interests.

[00:34:33] Cause it helps us find who we’re

[00:34:35] Sophia Elliott: Absolutely, I mean, what better goal in. is there. Or what could you wish more as a parent for your child than to for your kids to wake up every day and do something that they love? And as parents, we can’t choose the things they love. They’re gonna love what they love. So it’s our opportunity to support them in that and grow in that area.

[00:34:55] Thank you Kate, for joining us today. I think it’s been hopefully a really helpful, insightful chat for parents about play and joy and. Hopefully people will have something there to think about this week. And maybe if you’re listening, you would like to share with us what your joy is. We would really love that.

[00:35:17] Regardless of whether it’s still gifted talent in neurodiversity week or not, we’re always up for sharing the joy. Before we go. Kate, tell us how people can get in touch with you because you work online, you do a lot of Zoom, so you can work with people from all over the place. So we will put your website in the show notes, but tell us a little bit about that.

[00:35:39] Kate Donohue: Yeah, so I have two things that I support parents with. Essentially, most of what I do is with parents because it’s what I’m passionate about. It’s about helping parents to understand their individual child’s needs and also who they are. And how they can be that mentor in their child’s life. So I do group sessions.

[00:35:59] I have a community where I’ve got a recorded course, which you can go through at your leisure with a heap of online resources. And then we catch up every fortnight and talk about everything and anything that comes up. And it is about that. How do we do life with our ch because we are just supported in the same way as other parents.

[00:36:17] Many of our children need accommodations at school. We can’t attend school. You know, there’s extra health issues that we need to manage as well. There’s the executive functioning load, the appointments, there’s so many other parts to parenting. Are invisible to society that we don’t get a lot of support with.

[00:36:36] So really it’s about bringing those parts and we talk through these things together. We also have a focus, which I prepare prior. So we talk about what is Alexia or what is Spoon Theory, and we discuss those things as well. But also I do one on one sessions as well where we unpack what’s going on and really.

[00:36:57] Have a deep look at what, what might be going on for your child or for yourself as a parent, and we work through the complexities of parenting.

[00:37:08] Sophia Elliott: I highly recommend it. Anyone with highly like. Doesn’t have to be, but those parents that I meet with super complex kiddos and lots going on, I’m always like, Yeah, maybe you should have a chat with Kate

[00:37:24] Kate Donohue: I love the, yeah, they’re the people I love. Like come and chat to me because that’s the life I’ve lived and that’s the person who I’ve been, I’ve got like five different disabilities, so. You know, I, and so do my kids and so do all the people that I work with. Like the people come to me when they have often PDA profiles, often two E profiles.

[00:37:47] So, uh, girls who haven’t been diagnosed because of, uh, their internalizing profile, people with five or six different diagnoses, uh, children who, who can’t go to school violent and complex behaviors. These are the things. I support parents with, and this is the area that I feel very passionate about because I find that it’s really important to do that deep dive.

[00:38:16] Cause it is often very complex. There’s no simple strategy, can’t just, uh, follow a textbook or a training program because it is really about how do. Help our child to know that they’re loved and supported while also helping them to navigate the world while they’re really struggling within their body.

[00:38:35] And that’s a really complex task for the parent. Oh,

[00:38:38] Sophia Elliott: absolutely. Absolutely. So if you’ve. If that resonates with you, super complex kiddos, families, grownups, definitely check out Kate and find her online at Dynamic Parenting and Links will be in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been

[00:38:59] Kate Donohue: absolute delight.

[00:39:00] I’ve absolutely loved it. Always loved being on your podcast and, and just talking cuz we’re on such the, and being able to talk about what we’re interested in is an absolute pleasure.

[00:39:11] Sophia Elliott: It out on

[00:39:13] Kate Donohue: favorite.

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