It is Neurodiversity Celebration Week and we are diving into neurodiversity and what it is like to figure out you are neurodivergent as an adult.
In this episode, I share my own personal journey of figuring out I am gifted + autistic with Jennifer Harvey Sallin, Founder of Intergifted. She helps me unpack that experience and shares how that has aligned with the many people she has helped through this process over the years.
Heaps of insight and reassurance and great resources.
Hit play and let’s get started!
“It’s part of my way of working. It’s just, sharing very personal stories so that people understand what people are really going through and can see real stories. I mean, I think that having some sort of ‘eldership’ in terms of the gifted and neurodivergent world is really essential. People who have had more experience, being able to talk about their experiences.
It’s so much more relatable than seeing IQ numbers on a board or whatever. Like, we need that. We need that storytelling, and we need that connection.” – Jennifer Harvey Sallin
- The difference between an IQ test and Qualitative assessment
- There is an oasis for gifted adults
- What is giftedness?
- High, Exceptional and Profound Giftedness
- Qualitative Assessments with Intergifted
- Intergifted Community
- Intergifted Courses
Bio – Jennifer Harvey Sallin
As a psychologist, trainer, assessor, writer and advocate, Jen is dedicated to raising awareness about adult giftedness and twice-/multi-exceptionality (2e/me) and meaningfully supporting gifted/2e/me people in their personal and social development. She has specialized in supporting gifted adults for the last decade, and in 2015, she created InterGifted to allow gifted people to socially engage in meaningful ways and to personally develop in community. She is based in Switzerland and supports gifted people throughout the world. Learn more about why Jen started InterGifted here.
Jen has developed a model of giftedness that is particularly useful for gifted adults in their giftedness (re)discovery, integration and personal and professional development. This model is holistic, starting with intellectual giftedness as a base, and factoring in other areas of intelligence as well as other concurrent neurodivergences and intersectionalities to create a full picture of each person’s giftedness profile. She uses this model in providing qualitative assessments to gifted adults, as well as in training professional therapists, coaches and other helping professionals to better support their gifted clients.
Jen wants to help gifted and 2e/me people understand how their unique minds work, so that they can have joyful and self-compassionate access to their own intellectual process, and so that they can live and contribute generatively in our changing world. She’s worked her own way through this process as well — you can read a bit about her personal gifted journey here and for a more complete bio, visit her personal page at Rediscovering Yourself.
To read more from Jen, visit InterGifted’s blog and her own Rediscovering Yourself blog. In addition to her work on giftedness, Jen has taken a leadership role in conscious climate engagement and ecological reconnection. You can learn more & get involved at I Heart Earth.
[00:00:00] Sophia Elliott: I am delighted to be talking today to Jennifer Harvey salon, who is a psychologist, a trainer assessor rider, and advocate. Jennifer has dedicated her life to raising awareness about adult giftedness and twice and multi exceptionality. And. The founder of into gifted which is an amazing organization and resource.
[00:00:27] If, if you’re ever looking to dive into what it is to be gifted as an adult and Jenner, I’m just absolutely delighted to be having this conversation with you today. How are you going?
[00:00:42] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: Thank you. I am so happy to be here and happy to discuss all of these, all of these exciting adult giftedness and neuro divergence themes with you.
[00:00:53] Sophia Elliott: And so maybe we can start just by telling everyone a little bit about into gifted and maybe how you actually got into to where you are, because I always think that story is kind of interesting.
[00:01:08] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: Oh, yeah. Always yeah, there’s kind of the joke that I’m like the pioneer or something going forging. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but you know, going on my own path I was a gifted kid and gifted education, and then I grew up and forgot about that and had some troubles related to the fact that I had forgotten about that.
[00:01:26] And it was trying to sort of do do my gift itself in in, in ways that I didn’t understand were not mixing well with the world, or I could see it. Wasn’t mixing well with the world. I didn’t know why. And it was very frustrating. And I had a mentor and during my twenties, late my later twenties, and she kind of brought something back up that made me go, Hey, I think this relates to that giftedness thing.
[00:01:50] And wasn’t that gifted kid. And I wonder what that means now. And then I started digging deep into all of the, what was available in the gifted Ms. Literature at that time. Which honestly wasn’t enough. I mean, I’m appreciative for what was there. Absolutely. But I just thought, oh my God, if there are other people like me looking for this information, I just don’t know how they’re.
[00:02:11] I mean, they need more and I need more. , I’d trained as a psychologist in my early twenties. And then I had become like a career coach. And so, I mean, naturally my life was, very focused on my life and my work was focused on self-development and I thought, yeah, get to the adults that want to do gifted specific self-development.
[00:02:33] Going to happen. There’s no information. That’s gifted specific, so very little. And so we’re taking regular self-development stuff and trying to apply it to ourselves and, meeting all of the dead ends that most gifted adults, no, at least at least like somatically, even if they don’t know like intellectually yet, what exactly how to explain what happened.
[00:02:54] We all know it somatically, those dead ends where you’re like trying and trying and trying this. I’m applying everything I’m reading and it’s just not working the same for me as it’s working for the other people that I see around me. So then I just thought, okay, I have to do this. And I have to work with this community and pro like produce information about, about it and start raising awareness about it.
[00:03:15] So I started writing, I mean, I did a ton of research and then I started writing and then I started developing a holistic gifted model. As well, because I just wasn’t happy with the kind of binary black binary IQ score measure was like, yeah, but there’s so much more to a person that just a number, like an IQ number.
[00:03:34] Like, what does that mean? Where does the person go after they learned that they have a high IQ? So, over time that led to me really supporting more and more gifted people. And then they all wanted to connect. They wanted me to connect them with each other. And I was like, I don’t know, as a coach, I’m not sure.
[00:03:53] And I once said, can you please, please, please create a community for gifted people. And I was like, I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s my strength. I’m not sure. And then I mentioned it to a few other. Of my clients and they said, we’ll do anything we can to help. So in 2015, then I started into gifted team and I started into a gifted.
[00:04:14] And since then, it’s grown huge. So now we’re all over the world. We have 700 and about 750 members who are all really engaged in their own personal development, their gifted, specific self-awareness and growth as a person. And, being, let’s say more sincere and aligned with their gift itself.
[00:04:37] Then that grew into me training therapists and coaches creating a model for assessments. So we do assessments for this holistic version of, of giftedness using the model that I created. And those assessments look at. Everything. The areas of intelligence, so intellectual, creative, emotional, physical, existential, and central, because I defined them.
[00:04:59] And twice exceptionalities overexcitabilities trauma, if it’s present gifted, specific trauma, sometimes very often. And any of the other intersectionalities that come with being a. Being an alive social person. All of these things play into how we understand experience and express our giftedness and whether we feel that it’s a gift or a curse, because a lot of people, a lot of adults feel like it’s a curse.
[00:05:26] Like it’s the thing that makes me not fit in and these kinds of things. And the reality is it depends on how you use it. It depends on how you know about it and how much social support you have to express it. It can feel like a real big blessing if it’s correctly supported and understood, so that’s a lot of our goal with the assessments.
[00:05:46] Then we do integration work as well. So coaching to help a person really understand the, all that, kind of all the ins and outs of their profile and what to do with that. And then we have other kinds of coaching that are gifted specific. So gifted career coaching coaching for multipotentialite, for example, this is a common theme in the.
[00:06:05] World. If you don’t know what a multipotentialite is for the, for our listeners, that’s somebody who is really good at a lot of things and wants to do them all and cannot fit themselves into a tiny little career box or, I’m, I’m just this I’m, I’m just like in my case, I mean, I’m a lot of things, so I’m not a psychologist, but I’m also a musician.
[00:06:27] And I also do climate work hand and anti-androgens,
[00:06:31] Sophia Elliott: I’ve spent my whole life wishing I could just say I’m a teacher or just like a thing. Just the one thing.
[00:06:40] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: Yeah. It doesn’t for a lot of give to people and especially the multipotential lights in Monga amongst us. That’s never going to happen. And so then, and the reality is then you’ve got to figure out if that’s never going to happen, then how can I enjoy what I, what I am, who I am and how do I talk about, about it with other people and how do I not overwhelm, people?
[00:07:01] And how do I get my needs met? Like my complex needs met. And so a lot of it is geared toward that. So we have a whole range, relationship, coaching, parenting, coaching, et cetera, et cetera. But that’s all available on the website.
[00:07:12] We have also subgroups, parents, business builders, creatives a special group for high Cho, profoundly gifted people, et cetera. So there’s, there’s a lot going on and it keeps growing and growing. And we also have like partnerships. One of them is my climate work. I’m like, and figuring out how to engage with the emergencies that we’re in collectively and how to reconnect with our ecological selves.
[00:07:43] And then Kelly pride who is also a psychologist. And she’s been a collaborator with us for a long time, psychologist and coach. She leads our gifted mindfulness collective. So that’s for mostly for women adult gifted women who are like needing to, really use mindfulness for getting in touch with their own internal reality and figuring out how to how to provide the best support for themselves.
[00:08:07] The bus space support care. And awareness for themselves that they can. So we have a community of practice and like a mindfulness practice community and courses as well. We have one coming up that’s on gifted anger and rage. Yeah. For women, how to, deal with the, the effects that we have experienced in the patriarchal system with all of them, like normative expectations on us.
[00:08:36] And especially as gifted women, masking, lodging, all the things that any of our female listeners know about. So yeah, we do, we’re pretty on the edge of a lot of things. That’s why I say pioneer kind of blazing my own trail,
[00:08:47] Sophia Elliott: got you guys do lots of exciting things and yeah. I just encourage everyone to connect either through social media or.
[00:08:58] Into gifted newsletter to stay on top of what you guys are up to, because there’s just so much. And, and I think it’s so much of what we need. And, and I think this kind of leads on to where our conversation is going today, which is about so it’s neurodiversity celebration week. And as this sort of approached coming off the back of my experience last year, which we will talk about I really wanted to take the opportunity to talk about at that process of being diagnosed as neurodivergent as an adult because so many parents, I know it starts off with your child.
[00:09:40] Oh my God, they gifted, oh my God, that this, that, and the other. And then, a little bit later, I think, I think I might be gifted and I think I might be this or that. And that has certainly happened for me in a rather spectacular way. And I’m because I think that process for me was life-changing and I know so many, especially women I think maybe just because women talk about it a bit more, but because I know, I know this men and dads out there going through this as well to some degree or another.
[00:10:15] And it was actually a friend of mine who said, if people don’t share their lived experience, how will I know I have nothing to compare it to. I just think I am typical, which is what I felt. I was very much like, well, I I’m just typical until I wasn’t. And then I had to go find things. So this week is very much about kind of having that conversation as a sharing so that people might, it might resonate and it might unlock some things for you as it did for me.
[00:10:47] And I was really excited about Jen having, being on this journey this week with us, because obviously the way into gifted does with adults is so amazing. It was also an opportunity for me to kind of go, right. If this resonates here is some folk who can help you because, I, having been in that place where you definitely need that support.
[00:11:09] So, So where do we go from there? Okay. So as I’ve already said, a lot of parents start off with their kids, right. And, and often, I mean, we’re all talking about giftedness here on this podcast. So let’s start with giftedness and, and in some ways I think it’s almost socially easier, although there’s, there’s a twist.
[00:11:36] I say that with the twist, it’s socially easy to kind of go, oh, my kid’s a gifted, this is resonating with me. I think I might be gifted to. And the only reason I sort of felt like I would, I struggled to say that out loud was because it’s like that whole kind of taboo of it, big noting yourself when giftedness isn’t understood correctly.
[00:11:57] And so. Having gifted kids that was obviously in the back of my head, lots of things were resonating with me and who I am. But it was actually probably about 18 months ago that a couple of professionals that we were working with therapists commented on one of my children might be autistic.
[00:12:20] And yeah. Yeah, we’re a very quirky family. And, and I was on this mission to identify the clerks in a, in a way to support my kids. And so I, and so autism, I think is very interesting in terms of comparing gifted an autism. And I don’t need to use the word comparing. I feel like I’m jumping around a little bit here.
[00:12:47] But I guess this, this is how it kind of unfolded for me. I. My, one of my children is profoundly gifted and I’d always, always noticed on those checklists that you see on the internet that have gifted on one side and autism on the other. Right. And I would kind of, kind of go, and that particular child would just kind of tick all the boxes.
[00:13:09] And there was some obvious kind of what we would consider stereotypical autistic traits, lining things up and what we would easily consider to be somewhat stereotypical. So that was always in the back of my head, but also that question of. Where is that line between giftedness and autism. And so being the person that I am I didn’t just read a couple of books.
[00:13:31] I bring the whole world in conversation via podcasts and talking to people about what is gifted, what is autism? And start to unpack this, not just for myself, but for kind of everyone. And, and so the funny thing was I was at a friend’s house and. They had a book on eight, how to help people with ADHD, organize themselves and add of just purely cognitive interests.
[00:14:04] I thought, oh, just have a little look at that. Cause obviously I’m very interested in your I don’t budge, itsy, and this is like a play day at someone else’s house. And I open the book and I start to flick through and read it and I start to like melt down and I’m I’m, I’m in the lounge room and I’m kinda like fully just disintegrating.
[00:14:25] I’m like, okay, close the book back on the bookshelf, get myself together because this is not the time of place. And oh my God, what was that? And so that was probably the notable beginning of my journey of, I think I might be neurodivergent and. And so I guess let’s have a little chat about that when you people come to you to talk about giftedness and, and like we say, other than Euro divergencies, I I’m guessing that people are coming from all different perspectives in order to have those conversations that before.
[00:15:04] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: Oh yeah, yeah. It can be parents who went exactly through what you described and kind of are, I don’t want to say melting down exactly, but sort of kind of going, oh my God, could this be true for me as well? And interestingly, linked to what you were saying before, we actually find that for a lot of people, it’s easier for them to admit that the neuro divergence, before they admit the gifted.
[00:15:32] So like parents, like you who end up having ended up discovering that their child is twice exceptional, that like before they come to they, like, they would never come to us about the giftedness about recognizing the giftedness in themselves from their child. But they would come to us without recognizing the second exceptionality, and say, well, maybe that gives us being as true, but I don’t, I’m an adult.
[00:15:53] I don’t have to think about that. But like, what about this other thing? And so we work with them to understand, like, there are, there’s both sides to this. Like both sides are an essential part of you. And it’s important to look at the holistic picture. Like you can’t just cut one part out and then just look at the other part.
[00:16:15] So whether it’s that scenario or another, a lot of times. That’s the commonality, even though people are coming at it from totally different, like you discovered it through a book at your, at your friend’s house kind of thing. Even if somebody gets diagnosed by their psychologist and has a different discovery process, like they’re coming at it from a different angle, the most common kind of thing that does connect them is that defragmenting parts of themselves out.
[00:16:45] Like, that’s that part of me. And that’s the part of me and that’s the part of me. And so a lot of what we do is bringing all of those different parts back together and realizing like, almost like there’s this internal family of, of members and how can these members get to know each other in a safe. Way and in a way that it becomes trifle for them all to coexist in, in the world, in your world.
[00:17:12] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, no, I really get that. And and I’m still very much figuring that out because while I started off melting down, over and book on ADHD it actually led to me discovering that I was gifted and autistic. So I, it was almost like Pandora’s box opened with the book and then the universe, as it does, started sending little Little moments my way.
[00:17:43] And that just kept adding up, but like a snowball, like crushing down a mountain and it was little things like, I’d be chatting to friends, bearing in mind, I have a very neurodivergent, community around me. And, and, I remember one conversation they were kind of talking about.
[00:17:59] Yeah. I always watch, YouTube videos on speed too, because it’s just way too slow. And apparently that’s a real ADHD thing. I was like, really? I do that. And then it was someone else going oh, it was the compression where, and a friend was trying it out and, and the way she described it as failing, like all.
[00:18:21] It made me think of when we lived in Scotland and the UK. I always felt great because I will lots of types and layered, and I realized I always felt squished. And then it was kind of like, I had lots of these little moments of putting two and two together and going, oh my God. And the snowball is building and crushing down the mountain.
[00:18:44] And what does that all mean? Except, and I, and I kind of said to a couple of people close to me, it’s like, I think I might have ADHD. And the consensus was kind of like, nah, you didn’t have ADHD, but you know, like, get it checked out if you want to kind of thing. Which was unfortunate because first of all, that sort of, as well-meaning, as it was invalidated where I was.
[00:19:12] Which meant that when that snowball had turned into a gigantic crashing, avalanche of me falling apart, because my identity of a typical normal person was shattering. And I was coming to terms with actually thinking now, I think I’m autistic. I couldn’t go back and go, actually, I think I’m autistic because I’d already been rebuffed about the ADHD and, and it kind of backed me into a corner.
[00:19:46] And, and for me, and I don’t know if this is just me doing in spectacular style or if everyone has some of these kind of identity questions. But I think because I, my knowledge of autism was so superficial. I was having a physical reaction and an emotional reaction, but cognitively I couldn’t get my head around it, but then I couldn’t ignore the physical and emotional reaction because, physically and emotionally, I was just kind of melting down and disintegrating, but cognitively I’m like, how could I be autistic?
[00:20:24] I’m normal. I am normal. I’m typical. I’ve always been a high achieving, capable person. How could this possibly be me? And and I think that comes back to our kind of woeful understanding of what giftedness is and. And neurodivergence, and not just autism, but even ADHD. And there are different types of ADHD and all that sort of stuff.
[00:20:49] So, so would a massive identity crisis be typical as a response or do other people handle this more gracefully than myself?
[00:20:57] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: I see a whole range, honestly. It depends so much on on a person’s identity when they’re going into the discovery process. If you needed to look, I mean, let’s say you’re camouflaging a lot, and then you, part of your camouflage is to look really highly competent and capable.
[00:21:16] Like maybe you look more chaotic and less linear. If you, if you, if you didn’t mask or didn’t camouflage, well, then when it comes to comes to the moment that you have to let go of that mask or that camouflage that you’ve been using as a Like a safety mechanism, for however old you are yours.
[00:21:37] Yeah. It’s scary as hell. I mean, you get, like, you’re saying you get this somatic response, that’s like relief and terror at the same time. So that’s, and that’s really hard to navigate, especially when you’re going, like, yeah. Okay. Logically, I can see this. So there’s part of you, there’s like the left side of the brain.
[00:21:57] That’s like, yeah. Okay. That makes logical sense. Okay. In the analysis of things? Yes. Okay. And then there’s the body that’s like half, half of the, body’s like, don’t believe that that’s going to destroy you. And the other half, like, yay. I finally have something that describes me. So I mean, you can tell me if that explains how you felt, but that is how a lot of people go through it who have had, who have had to use this.
[00:22:22] Something, whatever they have to let go of in accepting their diagnosis or their self-identification that, that they have to let go of that kind of cover, the cover that they’ve used to, to feel safe in the neuronal Emerald. Yeah.
[00:22:36] Sophia Elliott: And I think maybe that, that really gets it in a nutshell, it’s the cover you used to feel safe.
[00:22:43] And, I also experienced trauma as a young child, so I think my sense of camouflage and cover to feel safe was like brick walls, thick, and unconsciously and, and not pretending to be someone I’m not, but I guess just being who I needed to be to survive day-to-day in a way that was, I felt socially acceptable in terms of, especially growing up as a girl and.
[00:23:14] Needing to be a people pleaser and needing to be good and achieve well and and all of those sorts of things on top of just the kind of the neurodiversity piece. And so I was actually the opposite. My body was screaming at me very loudly. Like you can’t ignore this. This is definitely we’re onto something here and emotionally I was so fragile.
[00:23:41] But cognitively I was like, how can I be autistic? I’m like, yes, I can cognitive. I can rationalize gifted. I have three gifted children. I know the stats it’s, it’s, it’s probable, but the autism thing totally freaked me out. And, and it’s not because I, I had any. It’s like, one of my friends said I was initially, and this is going back a bit further when initially a therapist suggested we look at autism for one of my kids and I was upset about that.
[00:24:13] And she was like, well, why are you upset? Is it, is it the autism? I’m like, no, it’s actually, it’s not that it’s just, they’ve had enough challenges. It’s like two, do they need more? I was just more upset about the idea that they had more challenges than, than they already had and I’d had enough.
[00:24:32] And so, and so even for myself, it wasn’t about any kind of, I don’t know, taboo or, or anything. It was just, I think a really lack of understanding how. Who I experienced myself to me could also fit that picture, and I think the more I dug around that I learned hell very different. Presentations of autism can be but it was, it was very tricky.
[00:24:59] And I, that, that snowball that was crushing down the mountain eventually crashed. I burnt out completely and I had to kind of shut down and. And I was, I was the little caterpillar in the cocoon when they tend to complete mush. And like for a while there, I was just complete mush. And of course I was like, I need to talk to a psychologist like stat, because I’m like, I’m not gonna cope for another day.
[00:25:27] Of course, you’ve got to go on a wait list. I was kind of lucky, but they can’t, they canceled a couple of times. And the second time they canceled, I was like, I was hanging out. I could hang out two more days. I cancel that. I just kind of broke down and I had to turn to someone and have a conversation.
[00:25:45] Thankfully, that went well because I felt I was so fragile that if that had not gone well, I would not have coped in terms of the validation. And so I was lucky. I found a great psychologist who was also, I think, well also neurodivergent so that certainly helped. And. And we embarked on a number of months of yeah.
[00:26:07] Assessment and exploration and with hindsight, like I know people who’ve had an assessment and a couple of hours and it’s all done and dusted. And I think mine kind of, it was like nine, 10 sessions over a couple of months, but I needed that as well, that depth to really consolidate and understand it.
[00:26:29] So I think so I, I know that that assessment process is. There are different ways of going about it. And I know for instance, with being gifted or autistic or I, I, I don’t know, probably even ADHD, I don’t know, but there’s an element of looks, self kind of assessment is acceptable. Like, if you kind of this aligns with you that’s okay.
[00:26:54] But there are other ways of going about it. Perhaps she could tell us a little bit about with being gifted or figuring it out, getting it confirmed. What can people do, I guess is the question when. They thinking there might be neurodivergent, but it’s kind of like, what do I do next?
[00:27:17] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: Yeah. I think it’s interesting to hear your, your experience in terms of needing the nine sessions or so to really make it make sense.
[00:27:25] I mean, I think most people do need, even if they have a, the, the assessment in two hours or something on one day or whatever, most people need some integration work afterward because it is a huge shift in the way that you are. You’re defining everything that like all of the little things of your day that you say, oh, well, isn’t everybody just like that.
[00:27:46] Or I’m a weirdo, or I don’t know. We have these ways that we explain things to ourselves I’m just highly sensitive or whatever. And then you have if you get a diagnosis or even if you sell this. And you see, you see, oh yeah, that’s that all kind of describes me. Then you need time to sort of talk that through and make it make sense for you and figure out how that awareness shifts, how you manage your energy and how you communicate with other people and what you prioritize.
[00:28:19] And even like, whether you’re at the right job or how you’re parenting your kids. I mean, it, it, it’s everywhere. It’s like, it’s an essential part of who you are and what your needs are. And and also like what gifts you can bring to the world. So it’s like everybody kind of needs to do that integration process.
[00:28:38] Now, some people will have a very short time of it and some people will have to take a lot longer. And that does play into this question of trauma. If you’ve had a lot of past trauma Interestingly, you can have, let’s say regular trauma. That’s not specific to your neuro divergence and regular trauma.
[00:28:59] That’s not specific to your giftedness, but you can also have trauma. That’s very specific to your neuro divergence and trauma. That’s specific to your giftedness. And in those cases, it’s trauma, that’s related to showing those parts of yourself or being authentic. And when that’s, when it’s not safe to be authentic.
[00:29:18] Okay. Sometimes one time, two times. Okay. That’s okay. But if every single day, for example, you show up at school and you can show these parts of yourself and you’re having to mask and control yourself. That can be really highly traumatic for a lot of people. So the more complexities you have there.
[00:29:35] Longer, it takes to integrate in the more support it takes for integration. I think that’s something to keep in mind when somebody is thinking about whether they want to have an assessment, a formal assessment or not. Because if you have the formal assessment, you’re still going to have to do the integration.
[00:29:54] If you do self assessment, you still have to do the integration. And I think a lot of people hope because the integration part is hard work. I think a lot of people hope that if they do the formal assessment, that’ll be that. And it’s done. So, yes, I know now and that’s done. But the reality is a formal assessment can help somebody to, it can give good direction for how to integrate, because if you, if you self-identify and then you do the integration on your own, it’s totally possible.
[00:30:25] I see people do it all the time. It’s just, you have to be pretty self-directed. Courageous and willing to face, whatever little monsters might show up along the way or bigger monsters. And it can be harder because it’s you looking for this information, but if you go to a professional and this is their thing, then they can help you skip some steps there and also give you some clarity in terms of like comparing you with other people.
[00:30:51] So to say, okay, you might be on the how do they say it? I can’t think of the technical term on the on the border of the spectrum or you might be kind of somebody who has more, more pronounced traits.
[00:31:05] And that’s also helpful because a lot of people are like, okay, maybe I’m a little bit autistic. You hear people say this all the time. Oh, I’m a little bit autistic. And. They might be telling themselves that, but they might actually be on the more pronounced end of it. And that’s really important to know about.
[00:31:24] And it’s hard to judge that for yourself. It’s nicer to, I mean, it’s, it’s easier to hear it from a professional. That’s a, that’s a shortcut typically that said, one must pay attention when one goes to a professional because it just, because one goes to professional, it doesn’t mean that professional is going to give a completely accurate assessment.
[00:31:43] People, even professionals obviously come with biases and have bad days and, and stuff. And sometimes I’m misinformed. So it’s also important to not go and just like put your whole self on the table and take whatever they say has some biblical truth or something. It’s really important to, have the discussion to be open with them so that you’re, you’re able to say no, that does not describe my experience and then have a clearer clear assessment.
[00:32:11] And like, just to say for anybody who’s listening and really thinking about doing a formal assessment, if you do it, and you’re really unhappy with it, go have a second opinion. Don’t fight with yourself about whether it’s true. I’ve seen people get assessed as like profoundly autistic. I mean, that’s not like a phrase you’ll hear, but I mean on the higher end of the autism scale and and they’re not, and the, the person that was assessing them with.
[00:32:40] Jumping right in to give the worst news kind of thing, and then I’ve seen the other part to be true. I’ve seen people, I’ve seen a lot of gifted women go in and to an assessor who doesn’t know about giftedness and. The assessor says, yeah, well you make eye contact and you seem to know how to have a good conversation.
[00:33:00] So there’s no way you could be autistic. It was so frustrating because don’t, you understand camouflage don’t you understand masking. And also if you don’t understand giftedness, you don’t understand to what degree a person, an autistic person can read the social patterns and, and at least mimic them, even if they’re not feeling them from the heart, so yeah, there’s a lot of complexities when it comes to doing the assessments. And I think for each person, I mean, I would say it’s helpful to start from the self identification point, if you can, because the more information you can have when you go into your assessment, the more, how to advocate for yourself.
[00:33:44] And explain your experience to the assessor, the clearer the results are going to be, and the clearer you’ll be, if it’s not an assessor, who’s, who’s doing your right. Let’s say and so the quicker you can get out of there and find an assessor who’s who is doing it. Right. Yeah. So, cause I think people want, and I get it, I totally get it.
[00:34:03] People want like a final answer and they w they want it to be like, well, the professionals that
[00:34:15] you could see it with yourself where you’re like, okay, the second one said that, but now I need to discuss it and see if it’s really true and see to what degree it’s true. And if it’s true, what do I do with it? And, and, and, and it, so it’s, yeah, if, I mean, like for anybody who’s thinking about doing it, be ready to invest time and heart and courage, and a lot of yourself in the process, it’s not to be taken off.
[00:34:42] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Poof. Yeah, cause I started out obviously in a bit of a desperate place and I was like, I need to know immediately. And of course that didn’t happen. But as it kind of drew out and actually gave me time to process and come to terms and, and during that time, I was obviously coming to that, understanding that I was autistic.
[00:35:07] But nonetheless, when I actually got the report and sat down and like read this report, it was incredibly confronting. So during that process, I also had I would say gifted assessment, what Rosa, really? It was an IQ test. And I, I needed that because I needed to, in my own head understand how my giftedness, which was likely know was, or might be impacting whether how I was autistic and, and I, this won’t surprise anyone.
[00:35:43] I was very dotted driven and I was which, and it was kind of like, no, I need the data. I need to see this. That being said, I had, I went through all of this severely burnt out. And the week I did the IQ test, I was actually like sick with a virus. I literally, I was doing it on zoom. I rolled over, I spent two days in bed and which as a mother of three does not happen unless you can’t get out of bed.
[00:36:09] So. So it was kind of like the worst day in the worst week and the worst month of the worst year, not when you should be doing these things which made the results even more confronting. So I, I I’d been waiting for what felt like a couple of weeks. It may not have been that long, but felt like a really long time for this final written report.
[00:36:29] And I was, it was, it was a Monday morning. I was in my car about to get out and go to this last day of a leadership program that had been doing. And I checked my email as you do. And there it is not a lot of course, I’m going to read this now. I’ve been waiting. Yes, I’m in the car, on my phone, reading this report systematically like breaking at the same time because.
[00:36:53] Like, I, I knew that would be the outcome, but I, I still didn’t expect to take every books. I kind of felt like I would go through the report and some, and in some area I wouldn’t be autistic. Like, I’ll let you said before, I’d just maybe be a bit autistic. And as I read through it, and it was kind of, the, the, yeah, yeah.
[00:37:16] The kind of weight of realization that I was ticking, all the boxes, convincingly was, yeah, it was, was pretty full on. And then there was information there about the IQ test and I, I I’d done it because I needed to kind of understand where it fit, but I, I think like yourself Yeah, I don’t think I keep tests are amazing.
[00:37:40] I think there are, there, there are tool and they do certain thing. They’re not the be-all and end-all, and I think they’re a very small part of understanding of what gifted us is about and having done numerous of these with my kids. I know the impact of a bad day. Like one of my kids has, has sat in them twice.
[00:38:01] And there’s like a 56 point difference in one area because she was off bit off that one day. Right. So I went into all that knowing it, but I was like, Sada, I know I’m not, well, I’m going to do it anyway, cause I just need to get done. And I refuse to put too much emphasis on this. And then, and then I read the results and it was like, I still tested highly gifted.
[00:38:27] And that in itself was really confronting because. I was just like, fuck, I don’t usually sweat. Or at least at least on the podcast. But I, I was, it was just kinda like, like many people, and I actually, I started post today in a Facebook group from a mom saying, everyone talks about their kids in here and they’ve got these amazing, special things.
[00:38:55] And I don’t feel like my kid has this kind of amazingness. And it’s kind of like, I just want to wrap her up and say, that’s not giftedness is it’s, it’s, it’s who they are. And so I guess it was kind of like a, a crushing down of understanding. I think how, I dunno maybe how, how that had helped me survive.
[00:39:22] And, and I think even though I don’t know what the, quite the words are, but, but like many kids as a multipotentialite and a generalist and a very creative thinker I didn’t have a big G on my forehead as, kind of going through, but then to kind of get this validation at this point, it was kind of like, it just, it just made it all make sense.
[00:39:47] I think in a, in a kind of brutal, shocking kind of way on top of this autism thing, which was kind of. Yeah, that was a crazy day. And thankfully they were a group of people that I walked in. I walked in the door and they’re like, Hey, how are you? And then they’re like, oh, you’re not good. And I was just kinda like, I just found I’m autistic and gifted.
[00:40:15] I’m not good. I’m I’m processing and I’m crying. And it’s kinda like, it was the right place for me to be that day, but it was it was pretty full on. And I think I share that because I think people need to know the impact, and the, the magnitude of these discoveries, these conversations, these realizations cause a lot of people will say, either about the kids or themselves, it’s like, well, what’s, what’s the point, what’s it really going to do for me?
[00:40:43] And I’m just kind of like, oh my gosh, if only you knew knowledge is such power. Do you find that as well?
[00:40:51] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: Yeah, absolutely. And it’s why we always say like, and like I said before, our services are geared towards somebody who’s really ready to learn about themselves and go through that process because if you’re not, I mean, you were in a place where even though it was like snowball crashing down the hill, I mean, you had done enough research and enough work on giftedness and for your kids and their integration and everything that you still had a place for the information to land.
[00:41:22] Like it might’ve cracked, the, it turned into an avalanche and it did crash on you, but like you still had tools in place to be able to manage it. But for somebody who really doesn’t have those tools in place, like somebody who’s never done any work on giftedness, that’s the first time they’re learning about it.
[00:41:36] And they’re not in a like stable place emotionally or socially. Then it can really like, not be good. And we, we learned that early on. And it’s one of the reasons that we put this requirement in that, somebody really has to be in a stable place. Like we have on our website, ways to self assess to understand like, if you’re in a stable enough place to learn about it because it’s, it is such a big thing.
[00:42:01] And there’s a range within that. I mean, for some people it’s a big thing, but the integrated and, and they, they take the time to integrate it and it’s nice. And then they live with it and then there’s like two, then there’s everything in between. And then there’s the other extreme, which is like, this is causing me a gigantic positive disintegration.
[00:42:18] And I can’t function for awhile. So, there’s everything in between. But in any case, it does have huge impact. Even if it’s the lighter version of the impact, it still has like lifelong lasting impact because it’s always. Sort of the same thing. Like you learn, your language, your culture, or you learn about where you live, you learn about economics, you learn about the way that the world works, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:42:42] But did you know, like allowed to learn about this part of yourself, which is like the basics of how you think and the basics of how you take in information and the basics of what you need, like intellectually, emotionally, creatively, and so on. I mean, going around without this information seems really strange.
[00:43:03] Like, it seems crazy that we are even asked to do that, but of course, being in a a, a very extreme minority makes it so that it, that information hasn’t been. Top on the list of the human infant, human areas of information to, to get. But it’s growing obviously because people, because people on the fringes are talking about it and talking about their experience.
[00:43:28] I mean, that’s also why you’re sharing this today. And the same thing is true with the autism. It’s like, not, not knowing these things about yourself, it’s really, really basic stuff. Like how, like I said before, how you, how you need to manage your energy and what brings you joy and how you get your relationship, like relational needs fulfilled and all of these kinds of really basic things.
[00:43:49] So, and so then when you have suddenly a way to understand why your configuration didn’t fit in with the general configuration in the world, Yeah, that does shift everything, especially because it does allow you to then be able to ask for things differently and to tell people you have different needs.
[00:44:13] And that’s one of the big things that comes out of, for example autism self discovery. It’s like, oh, all of these things that I’ve been trying to force myself to do now I can ask for accommodations and it’s like legitimate, like loud noises and bright lights or whatever else might be bothersome is like, now I can ask, can you please turn down the lights because it’s bothering my eyes and it’s not like, I’m just always the person who bothers everybody about the things.
[00:44:43] It’s like, no, I, in order for me to stay okay. To feel okay, I need to not have these lights in my eyes. I mean, it’s, it’s such a tiny, tiny thing, but it’s like, It’s a cute, these are these things accumulate throughout every day, day after day, week after week, year after year. And we don’t even realize that it’s not normal.
[00:45:07] Like, or like, oh, I guess that’s just how life is. And actually not everybody, those lights and some people do not mind that the loud noises and some, the world is the way it is because a lot of people don’t mind that the world is the way that it is. And that’s what a lot of, neurodivergent people who aren’t, who are not aware of them.
[00:45:31] They’re neuro divergence thinks that they are like the other people who don’t care. That’s where they get confused. And so it’s was like, yeah, you got to know this about yourself. When you do know it, you will, you’ll fight for something to.
[00:45:46] Sophia Elliott: I think for me, some of the things that’s given me other than like in a, like, just completely different identity, but like in a good way.
[00:45:55] First of all, I’ve got a new language and a new understanding, let alone a new narrative to apply, to understanding my past. But it means that when I talk to my kids like, I was sharing how I feel when I get sensory overload and one of my kids was like, yeah, I totally get that. And I’m like, oh my really well, okay, well, we, we can, we can do stuff about that.
[00:46:21] And so it gives us this a language to share an understanding, but also just for myself, because previously I was always just either tired or overwhelmed. That was all the language I had now. I know. Tired is different from exhausted is different from being sensory. Overwhelmed is different from being overwhelmed with life and stress, like I have all these layers of actually these different things.
[00:46:50] And that means I can take different actions for each one. And I’m still figuring a lot of that out. But already it’s, there’s an illumination and understanding that makes sense. Like it really just resonates, on the inside, just that sense of, yeah, this, this makes sense. And.
[00:47:15] And so I think even, in terms of a parent or an adult sort of saying, well, what, why should I go through all of that time, money, expense, energy working on myself I think, the opportunities are a huge in terms of caring for yourself better. Like you said before, actually, knowing what accommodations you need, having that language around, what works for you, what doesn’t I now realize this is gonna sound, I don’t know.
[00:47:44] However, it sounds, but I always thought I was organized, but now I realize I’ve always been a disaster, but I’ve always just worked extra hard at it to, to be organized. And prior to having kids, and being young. You have that energy, but when you have kids there’s so much in your life that you don’t have an energy, you don’t have for me and I think probably others I think that’s when the wheels start to fall off a bit, because you just, you don’t have the massive reserves you had when it was just you.
[00:48:22] And so that’s been quite a revelation because I always call it yet know I’m organized, I always rent, I’ve always run projects and I’ve always been, want something done, give it to Sophia, that kind of person. And I realized now it’s just, it’s just not big. Not, not because I’m kind of organize it.
[00:48:44] Well, I just, I have. I don’t even have a to-do list. I have like a to-do basket. It’s like, usually I have like a mound. This is my to-do mound. And I’m calling, ah, okay, this is, this is making sense. And it’s, I actually, I don’t want to work that hard anymore. How can I do this better for me? And and even just the last month, I’ve kind of got a new system so far, it’s working mostly, it’s kind of amazing.
[00:49:11] So there’s all sorts of, I think revelations, that can be had of reinterpreting things that you knew and waking up another day and go, actually, that thing I knew now I know something very different and
[00:49:26] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: yeah, I think there’s something powerful about what you’re talking about in terms of the compensations that no divergent people do.
[00:49:33] And again, yeah. You might be working so extra hard and you don’t even know it. You’re not even, you, you think that you’re working as hard as the next person, but actually the other person so what you’re saying was really important because it’s highlighting how hard the Nordic region people are often working without realizing how hard they’re working.
[00:49:54] So just to compensate, and they think everybody else is compensating that much and it’s not true. And so then they’re, self-defining by all these things, like I’m organized, I’m efficient, I’m on time. I’m all of these things and yeah, maybe they are in a way, but it’s like, because they’re doing triple the amount of work that somebody else that is that organized is doing.
[00:50:15] So one kind of selling point for, taking the time to figure this out about yourself. If you are nor divergent is like, you’ll probably have to work a lot less, like a lot, a lot less hard because you find better, like you said, Updating your systems and doing it differently. So that it’s more a flow for you.
[00:50:38] And what you were talking about made me think a lot about chronic illness and how high the the numbers of chronic illness are in gifted, like gifted plus neuro divergent population. And I really think that is part of it. I mean, there’s also many other factors, but I should say gifted neurodivergent and female population, the chronic illness numbers are just so crazy high.
[00:51:03] And I do think it’s because we’re just working so hard to compensate. And it’s like you said, you just have exhaustion all, like, you’re like always tired and overwhelmed. It’s just tired, I’m tired and overwhelmed, tired and overwhelmed. And so figuring out that it’s not just tired and overwhelmed, it’s also a long list of other things that can, can have specific actions that make it easier.
[00:51:29] And also like when you, one of the reasons for getting diagnoses for children, for example, whether it’s about gifted identification or neurodivergent identification it’s to get them special accommodations in school at, wherever, wherever they go and not you can’t, you can’t have a diagnosis and go like this.
[00:51:48] As an adult, you can, don’t go to your friends or you don’t go to your partner or something and, and, and wave your diagnosis and say, okay, now you have to do things differently for me, but it does give you a different way to advocate for yourself and to ask for support and in the ways that people.
[00:52:03] Don’t ask for support because they just think everybody is struggling, struggling, like they are. And they, they just think, like, I remember when I was a kid and I would see other people and I would think, well, they’re, they’re just, they’re struggling as much as I am internally, but they just handle the stress better.
[00:52:19] I get really exhausted by it, but somehow they must have like reserves of energy that I just don’t have. So I always thought of it as like, I do have a lot of energy, but then I like my battery drains really, really fast. And it doesn’t drain, but they’re struggling with all the same things as I am. So realizing that, that wasn’t the case helped me realize I do need to ask for help in a lot of ways that I don’t ask for help because I just assume everybody’s working this hard at these things.
[00:52:50] So it also legitimizes that. Reaching out for help. And many, many parents that are listening and especially the moms, take care of everybody and do all the emotional labor and stuff. It’s always a good reminder that like, you’re, you’re part of a community and that community wants or should want the best.
[00:53:10] You, the best you for yourself and for their relationship with you. And if you’re like working, if you’re like not aware of your needs and you’re just working so hard that you’re exhausted all the time. I mean, you’re not getting the best of yourself, your kids aren’t getting the best of yourself.
[00:53:28] And if you knew more about what your actual needs are, you could advocate and ask for the support that you need. It doesn’t mean you always can, but if you don’t, if you’re not even asking there’s zero chance, you’ll get it. If you’re asking, at least you’re, you’re getting some more chance, but you’ll get, you’ll get those needs met.
[00:53:47] Yeah, it, what you were talking about, it just brings the point of like, it humanizes, it humanizes you when you find out what your real profile is like no divergence and gifted and, and all of the, all of the things, the overexcitabilities and trauma and whatever else is existing in your profile on it, it humanizes you and it makes you able to
[00:54:10] really respond to your human self. And not this some ideal that was put on you because of culture or whatever, which kind of brings me back to the first thing you were talking about. Just like of the podcast, where you were saying, you’ve just had such a difficult time seeing yourself as autistic. And that’s no surprise because the cultural ideal of people is like, that, that normal is so great.
[00:54:35] And everything abnormal is. Something scary. And there’s a lot of conflation with autism and intellectual disability. And so a lot of times people think, well, if you’re autistic, then you aren’t able to do complex thinking or something like that. Or you’re you can be autistic and a savant, but that’s like, such a small percent of the population that people often don’t even think about that.
[00:55:05] And so there’s also this sort of cultural thing where there’s so much misunderstanding and so much so much expectation on normal, be normal because normal is the high standard that I think it’s, it’s hard to even understand how much we’re putting that on. And so opening these questions for ourselves helps us to start like getting out of that.
[00:55:35] Normalicy hegemony, if I can say it like that, even for our own sense of how we define who we are and what we need in relationships and who we can be for other people and for our kids and stuff.
[00:55:47] Sophia Elliott: Yep. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s the, I think that’s the real gift. It’s actually the journey after you have the knowledge, it’s the, what comes next?
[00:55:58] You can get so much from it because I know myself like, the burnout I experienced, I now, realize that it was a combination of burnout and autistic burnout and, and I’m still, I still feel like I’m recovering and that’s not going to be a quick fix. But it’s also, like you said before, and I know so many women moms who are getting to that pointy end of chronic illness because they have just given beyond for so long and the, and they have these complexities of being neurodivergent and having highly complex kids as well.
[00:56:36] And I’m kind of like, okay. I really need to look after myself and make some changes because I don’t, I don’t want to be in that place. And that’s quite confronting. But then, like we said, there’s all these opportunities, first of all, to acknowledge, okay, there are challenges, but they’re also strengths.
[00:56:54] And I look back and I kind of go like back in the day, I worked in politics now it changed portfolios. And I just looked at that as oh, and you portfolio, I just learned the content. Yeah. I just learned the content now. I realized no, I was doing my gifting. Autistic brain was like doing a massive deep dive and kind of sucky up all this knowledge really quickly.
[00:57:16] And that allowed me to do that really well. Cause I was a great problem solver and I’m like, that’s a real strength that I have. And and the flip side of that is even like with, when I do now realize I’m getting overwhelmed in terms of a sensory overwhelm I can say to my husband sometimes more successfully than others, but it’s kind of like, ah, I need to go.
[00:57:41] And I, I, I do sometimes I’m like at the point where I just hide under a blanket with my headphones in. And I’ve learned though that if I do that, even sometimes we just half an hour, I feel so much better. It’s why I needed to just shut everything down. And that helps me. And he now also knows that I get to a point where I need to do that sometimes.
[00:58:06] And, but I’m like, Hey, if, if I can just go do, do the thing, often and, and he, he kind of understands it as well. So it’s given us a language. It’s given me some tools and strategies. It’s given us tools and strategies. And, and it’s actually a lot easier. And it’s kind of like, well, how do I, and then the next step is, well, how do I avoid getting to that place?
[00:58:26] Of course, but. Yeah, it’s kind of figuring this out with this new language, new understanding and, and also looking at my kids and going, right. How does this working for you? And what can we do about that and how can I empower you to advocate for yourself and know these things about yourself? Yeah. I want to save them like I I’m 45 shortly.
[00:58:55] I found out 44 that I was autistic. It’s a lifetime of masking and camouflaging and not understanding myself and knowing who I was and the gift that we can give our kids is not that decades of challenge and therapy. We can actually arm them to be who they are with all their challenges and strengths and go out into the world and thrive.
[00:59:24] How wonderful. What a wonderful opportunity.
[00:59:27] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I sometimes joke, but it’s only half joke. I sometimes say like parents have a moral duty to understand their own cognitive complexity and their own profile. Because for their children, every day that they, that, that the parent ignores that part of themselves, they ignore part of it and their children, even if it’s like, no, no, I’m doing everything I can to, to fulfill all their gifted needs.
[00:59:53] But I’m ignoring mine. You’re saying to your kid that there’s some value in ignoring that part of yourself and that if there’s some value in holding that back and not, not sharing that with somebody. And so even, it’s kind of do as I do, as I say, not as I do, if I do that kind of stuff,
[01:00:11] Sophia Elliott: it’s like, I mean, we’re always modeling to our kids and we’ve got to be careful of what we’re modeling.
[01:00:15] Yeah, absolutely. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
[01:00:18] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: But that said, I mean, I know that not everybody’s in a position to, for example, pay, oh hell yeah. Some
[01:00:24] Sophia Elliott: places are energy, money. It’s all very challenging.
[01:00:29] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: And to some, in some places and finding in assessment, can, you can be on a wait list for a year or two. Yeah. So, so I say that, that’s why I say it’s half joke because I think that there’s some truth to it, but then how you can actually apply that in real life is very dependent on circumstances.
[01:00:46] And also depending on where you’re at in your own life, like obviously. Put on the table. That’s not, I mean, that’s going to
[01:00:55] position where you do have time and energy to devote to it. Then I do think it becomes some somewhat of a moral duty.
[01:01:02] Sophia Elliott: Definitely an opportunity we should take if we have the opportunity to take it. So thank you so much. It’s been a wonderful conversation. And I think a really important issue and I hope that everyone who’s been listening, if this has resonated for you you’ve got some ideas about next steps that you might take, or you could think about taking or or just feeling a bit brave enough to dive in a little bit deeper and All of, into gifted links in the show notes because like Jennifer said, they’ve got so many resources courses and all sorts of services and support.
[01:01:41] And they’re really great place to, to start. If you’ve got questions that maybe you need to get answered. Thank you so much for being with us today.
[01:01:50] Jennifer Harvey Sallin: Yeah, it’s my pleasure. And thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s very powerful and I I totally, support and, and on my own side, it’s part of my my way of working.
[01:01:59] It’s just, sharing, sharing very personal stories so that people understand what people are really going through and can, can see real stories. I mean, I think that having some sort of eldership in terms of The gifted and neurodivergent world is really essential. People who have had more experience being able to talk about their experiences.
[01:02:19] It’s so much more relatable than seeing IQ numbers on a board or whatever. Like, we need that. We need that storytelling and we need that connection. So I really appreciate your openness as well in sharing your story and being, being the one to say, I’ll go first and talking about it and hopefully it’ll help somebody.
[01:02:36] And I’m sure that it will help a lot of people who are listening. So thank you to you as well. Thank you very much, Tom.