Ep 102: Milestone Hike Revisited: A Mother Son Neurodiversity Journey

Ep 102: Milestone Hike Revisited: A Mother Son Neurodiversity Journey

Welcome to this first episode of Season Nine of the Mother’s Quest Podcast with a returning and special guest, my own son Ryan Neale.

I first sat down to record an episode with Ryan in 2017, on his 13th birthday, after we embarked on a milestone hike, using the ascent and descent at our local Sugarloaf Peak to pack up the lessons of his first 13 years of life and my first 13 years of motherhood. 

At that time, Ryan knew he wanted to close out his teenage years the same way he began them. So this past March, in what felt like the blink of an eye, his 20th birthday approached and Ryan returned from college so we could set out on the trail again.

Though the path was familiar, we soon recognized just how much we each had grown, maturing through heartache and triumph in our own ways.

We knew we would want to record our reflections from the hike again in a special recording studio and with the support of someone who might help us go even deeper. The answer to our quest appeared in the form of Tricia Creason-Valencia, co-founder of PowerHouse, and who Ryan and I have been partnering with on a new initiative, the Autism Storytelling Project.

It therefore also felt right to invite Tricia to dedicate this episode. Listen in for her beautiful dedication. You’ll also hear her voice toward the end of our conversation, asking us each a question that brought us both to tears. 

Along with some tears, there were many moments of insight and even some laughter, as we share about this 20 year milestone in both of our lives, the lessons we’ve learned about our neurodivergent identities especially, and about the exciting chapters unfolding for us.

It was a gift to experience this and also to share it with you. Ryan and I both hope this conversation inspires you to find your unique way to mark the milestones in your life, to reflect mindfully with your children, and to give yourselves opportunities to see one another, champion one another, and to grow alongside one another.

About Ryan Neale

Ryan Neale is a neurodivergent sophomore at UCLA, planning to double major in Communication and Disability Studies with a minor in Film Studies. He is part of the College Scholars Program at UCLA and recently was selected as part of the 2023 Chancellor’s Leadership Program cohort. He is passionate about neurodiversity advocacy and sharing his own experiences to pave the way for others. He is currently a staff member at the Bruin Resource Center, where he is a student lead on a new campus-wide neurodiversity initiative, the Bruin Neurodiversity Collective, to make UCLA more inclusive for students like him. This summer, he served on staff for the Stanford Neurodiversity Project – Research, Education, and Advocacy Camp for high schoolers wanting to create neurodiversity advocacy projects. He was also a speaker at the 2021 Stanford Neurodiversity Summit and has been a guest host on the Mother’s Quest Podcast. Ryan was diagnosed with autism at the age of 18 months old and also identifies with ADHD and anxiety.

Connect with Ryan

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • The origins of our first milestone hike and why it was important to Ryan to end his teenage years in the same way he began them. 
  • Ryan’s grappling with his autistic identity, and how his desire to be “normal” over his teenage years was like navigating a “toxic ex.” 
  • Our growth and learning journey as a spiral, inviting us to revisit similar challenges but with new levels of self-awareness and knowledge. 
  • How Ryan’s perception of autism shifted over time, from internalized ableism and heavy masking toward self-acceptance and more authenticity.. 
  • My diagnosis of ADHD just before my 50th birthday and how my own perceptions of neurodiversity have shifted. 
  • The ways that both of us used our voices to highlight gaps in support for neurodivergent students at UCLA and how that led to Ryan co-founding The Bruin Neurodiversity Collective. 
  • Ryan’s first quarter at UCLA crash and burn and how writing his story about that experience for Business Insider was a turning point. 
  • How Ryan putting himself out there and experiencing rejection after rejection ultimately led him to the greatest gift of all. 
  • The letter of acknowledgment I wrote for Ryan about all the qualities I see in him. I read through tears but am so glad I persevered and could share it with him (and you!)
  • The power of mother and son sharing and growing alongside one another. 

This Episode Dedicated by: Tricia Creason-Valencia and The Autism Storytelling Project

Tricia Creason-Valencia is a dynamic force in the world of filmmaking, education & community building. Through the art of storytelling, Tricia weaves her own raw narrative of mothering, making movies, resilience and rediscovery. As an Emmy-Nominated Director/Producer, Motivational Speaker and Co-Founder of PowerHouse, she pioneers the way for women, people of color and youth to amplify their voices and claim their power through creative expression. She believes, deep in her soul, that truth-telling fosters empathy and connection, serving as a catalyst for social change.


About The Autism Storytelling Project

The Autism Storytelling Project empowers young autistic people who aspire to tell authentic autistic stories through creative expression by awarding unrestricted grants. The goal of the project is to expand understanding about autism by elevating stories about the personal experiences of autistic young people ages 16-25 in Santa Clara County, CA. All forms of art and creative expression are welcome, but the story must focus on the artist’s lived experience as an autistic person, or on autism as a whole. Connect with the Autism Storytelling Project:

About PowerHouse 

PowerHouse is a creative co-working space for women+ entrepreneurs, video and podcasting production studio and venue for professional development & creativity workshops committed to amplifying women’s voices. PowerHouse is a women & minority-owned social entrepreneurship venture in the heart of downtown San Jose founded by Farran Tabrizi and Tricia Creason-Valencia.


Other Related Episodes and Resources: 

Mother’s Quest May Gift Guide – Gift Yourselves and the Mothers You Love Beyond Mother’s Day!

Put yourself on your priority list and choose something special for yourself this Mother’s Day. Take a peek inside the Mother’s Quest Gift Guide at some of my favorite things I’ve curated for you. 

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

In celebration of our recent 100th episode, we invite you to help us spread the word by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts. Help us reach 100 reviews to honor our 100th episode milestone of the Mother’s Quest Podcast!

You can also support the podcast by making a contribution or joining one of our memberships at our Patron Page on Ko-Fi.com. 

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Smashing the Kyriarchy with Books for Littles Ashia Ray

Throwback Thursday: Smashing the Kyriarchy with Books for Littles Ashia Ray

I am honored to bring you back to a powerful and important conversation with a woman who deeply impacted my life and my children’s life, Ashia Ray of Raising Luminaries and Books for Littles.

Thousands of parents like me seek Ashia’s help in finding the best books to foster age-appropriate conversations with our children about white supremacy, cissexism, ableism, and other issues. Her thoughtfully researched and child-tested book lists, at BooksForLittles.com and in her private group is a big help for parents like me. 

Grab this opportunity to widen and deepen your awareness, understanding and advocacy for neurodiversity, and how we can fight all the isms, smashing the kyriarchy (the intersection of them all) through the power of books. 

Additionally, delve deeply into how Ashia experiences the world as an autistic adult and mother. I hope this episode will make you want to be a kinder, and more inclusive human being. 

Get your Live Your EPIC Life Planner today – now is always a good time to say “yes” to your EPIC Life. Pick Your Planner Now

Much appreciation,

Full Episode Show Notes

Check out the full show notes from the original episode here: http://mothersquest.com/ep67-ashiaray/

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Episode #5: Live your E.P.I.C. Life to Help Your Children Thrive
Throwback Thursday: “Flawed” with Truth Bomb Mom Kristina Kuzmic

Throwback Thursday: “Flawed” with Truth Bomb Mom Kristina Kuzmic

2022 is almost over; it’s time to reflect and set intentions for the upcoming new year! 

As I thought about what episode I wanted to bring back to you, I kept coming to this conversation with the Truth Bomb Mom Kristina Kuzmic. One of the most powerful takeaways of this episode is how owning her flaws and sharing them vulnerably with her children has become a key to living her epic life. 

If your 2022 has been anything like my year, there have been a lot of things that didn’t go exactly as planned. But I hope this conversation gives us all permission to look at the things that didn’t go right, and possibly to see how there might be some powerful lessons, special gifts, or even as Kristina says “one good thing” we can identify in them. 

I also wanted to let you know that the Mother’s Quest Live Your EPIC Year Planner has arrived! It comes in so many different formats, and it’s filled with all the signature reflection practices that I’ve been building over the last six years. And I hope if you’re looking for a planner you might find what’s just right for you.

I’m currently doing a giveaway on Instagram www.instagram.com/mothersquestpod. It’s so easy to enter. And it would really help me to spread the word about these incredible planners. So I hope you’ll hop over to @mothersquestpod, sign up for the giveaway, take a look at the planners and see if there’s one that’s calling to you. The planners and this conversation will not only give us the opportunity to identify some things that we’re taking away from the flaws in our life, but also set some powerful intentions for 2023. 

I hope you love this conversation. Have a meaningful close to your year and a beautiful start to your new year.

Get your Live Your EPIC Life Planner today – now is always a good time to say “yes” to your EPIC Life. Pick Your Planner Now

Much appreciation,

Full Episode Show Notes

Check out the full show notes from the original episode here: http://mothersquest.com/encore-kristinakuzmic/

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Episode #5: Live your E.P.I.C. Life to Help Your Children Thrive
Throwback Thursday: Blazing a Transgender Trail with Corey Rae and her mother Judy Blank

Throwback Thursday: Blazing a Transgender Trail with Corey Rae and her mother Judy Blank

This Throwback Thursday, in honor of Transgender Remembrance Day that just passed and the memory of the five people who were killed this week at the LGBTQ+ Club Q, we reshare this episode with transgender model and activist Corey Rae and her mother Judy Blank. May the love and courage explored in this episode inspire us all to be a champion for the transgender community.

If you’re interested in supporting the Club Q community, please visit https://www.coloradogives.org/organization/COHealingFund

Much appreciation,

Full Episode Show Notes

Check out the full show notes from the original episode here: Ep 70: Blazing a Transgender Trail with Corey Rae and her mother Judy Blank

 

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Episode #5: Live your E.P.I.C. Life to Help Your Children Thrive
Throwback Thursday: An Honest Conversation with Rowan About Her Journey of Mental Health & Self Discovery with Casey and Rowan O’Roarty

Throwback Thursday: An Honest Conversation with Rowan About Her Journey of Mental Health & Self Discovery with Casey and Rowan O’Roarty

For this weeks’ Throwback Thursday, I’m excited to do a podcast exchange with Mother’s Quest member and fellow podcaster Casey O’Rourty. Casey is a positive discipline trainer and parent coach and host of the Joyful Courage Podcast. When Casey and I talked about sharing favorite episodes on one another’s feeds, I knew just which one I wanted to bring to you.

It’s a powerful, vulnerable conversation between Casey and her daughter Rowan, about Rowan’s mental health challenges with anxiety and depression. I remember I first heard this episode when my son Ryan was going through a hard time in high school. Listening to Rowan’s courage and self-reflection gave me so much empathy and insight. And listening to Casey’s humility and honesty about the challenges of navigating her daughter’s challenges, invited me to reflect on how I could be supportive to Ryan during his. In fact, we listened to part of it together and it opened channels of communication in a beautiful way.

I hope you get as much as I did from this conversation and when you’re done, that you download Joyful Courage on your favorite podcast app so you can check out Casey’s other incredible episodes.

Much appreciation,

ORIGINAL SHOW NOTES

My guest today is Rowan O’Roarty.

Rowan is my oldest child, she will be 18 in January, and one of my biggest teachers of personal growth. As we all do, we learn who we are as parents, through our relationships with our children. Rowan made me a mom, and continues to influence who I am in the world as I navigate what it means to mother her.

Rowan has been through her own journey of personal discovery over the past few years, maneuvering mental health challenges, dropping out of school, completing her GED, and stepping in to big responsibility while her dad and I were gone for 2 months going through my husband’s cancer treatment.

I am honored that she is willing to come share herself and her journey so candidly with you all today.

Takeaways from the show:

  • Where the anxiety started
  • When Rowan became aware of her anxiety
  • Things we did that helped Rowan cope with depression and anxiety
  • Panic attacks 
  • Navigating anxiety attacks and how parents can be supportive
  • What depression feels like
  • Things parents can do that are helpful to their teen’s mental health
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Realizing only YOU can change your experience
  • What Rowan has learned about herself these past few years
  • Mental health and high school
  • Rowan’s freshman year
  • Opting into online school
  • Dropping out of school and gaining parent’s support
  • The GED test
  • Plans for the future

ABOUT THE JOYFUL COURAGE PODCAST

Joyful Courage Parenting Podcast is a weekly show that is designed to entertain and inform as host, Casey O’Roarty tease apart all there is to learn on the parenting journey. The solo shows and expert guests interviews are packed full of useful nuggets for parents to take away and integrate into their own experience.

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Episode #5: Live your E.P.I.C. Life to Help Your Children Thrive
Ep 93: Learning Outside the Lines in College with Neurodivergent Advocates Ryan Neale & Jonathan Mooney

Ep 93: Learning Outside the Lines in College with Neurodivergent Advocates Ryan Neale & Jonathan Mooney

I’m honored to bring you this special part two with dyslexic writer, award winning author, entrepreneur and activist Jonathan Mooney, this time interviewed by my neurodivergent college freshman son, Ryan Neale.

If you haven’t yet listened to part one for a full exploration of Jonathan’s E.P.I.C. life journey, I encourage you to go to that episode next. This episode, inspired by part one, was Ryan’s opportunity, just before he left for college, to ask Jonathan for wisdom and guidance about how to flourish at a university while being neurodivergent. What unfolded was that and so much more.

In this episode, I passed the microphone completely to Ryan, sat back and listened to him and Jonathan uncover how we can all learn and live outside the lines and stop faking normal. I invite you to listen to this conversation with the same sense of curiosity and trust. I hope you will arrive at the end as Ryan, Jonathan and I all did, personally transformed by the experience.  

About Jonathan Mooney:

Jonathan Mooney is a dyslexic writer and activist who did not learn to read until he was 12 years old.

He is a graduate of Brown University and holds an honors degree in English Literature. At Brown, he became the co-founder of Project Eye-To-Eye, a widely duplicated mentoring program for disabled students. He is also a winner of the prestigious Truman Scholarship for graduate studies in creative writing and education and was a national finalist for the Rhodes scholarship.

Jonathan Mooney’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, USA Today, HBO, NPR, ABC News, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. A nationally recognized advocate for neurological and physical diversity, he’s been speaking across the nation about neurological and physical diversity for two decades, inspiring those who live with differences and calling for change.

He has published three books: The Short Bus, Learning Outside the Lines, and Normal Sucks.

Connect with Jonathan:

Jonathan’s Books Mentioned in this Episode:

About Ryan Neale:

Ryan Neale is a neurodivergent UCLA Freshman from San Mateo, California. His parents discovered he was differently wired when he was 18 months old but he has been in mainstream education for his academic career, with most people around him not knowing about some of the struggles that he faces.

His experiences masking his neuro differences have given him a unique perspective on many of the struggles neurodiverse people face, such as public stigma, internalized ableism, and the ever-present desire to fit in. As he has begun advocating more for his needs, he has high hopes to use his perspective and communication skills to increase public understanding of neurodiversity, and hopefully create a more inclusive society for everyone.

In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball, coaching youth sports, roughhousing with his little brother, and diving headfirst into his many fantasy special interests. He is thrilled to have participated in the 2022 Stanford Neurodiversity Summit on a K-12 student panel. You can listen to the panel here.

Connect with Ryan: 

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • How Ryan got introduced to Jonathan and his book Normal Sucks 
  • Jonathan’s invitation to Ryan to lean into his “badassness” 
  • How Jonathan transcended the obstacles in his path as a neurodivergent young adult with ADHD and dyslexia on his way to Brown College
  • The biggest barrier for Jonathan on his path: the internalized messages that he was stupid, lazy, crazy
  • The key question Jonathan says we should be asking instead of “how smart are you?”
  • How and why an F on an English final became an inflection point for Jonathan in his advocacy journey  
  • How neurodiverse students can survive and thrive in a flawed system   
  • The importance of meta-cognition
  • Why we should reframe our language from “diagnosis” to “assessment” that identifies both the challenges and strengths of being neurodiverse.
  • The importance of seeking out people in your life that can help you build self-knowledge and find the good in you
  • What Ryan and Jonathan think Batman has to teach neurodiverse students
  • The negative impact of trying to pass or mask as “normal” and what helped Jonathan move from shame to pride in his own journey   
  • Jonathan’s message to “find your crew” and do something to contribute and make the world better
  • The commitment Ryan is making as he embarks on his college journey

Resources and Topics Mentioned:

www.thrively.com 

Related Podcast Episodes: Listen to these Next

This Episode’s Challenge: 

Jonathan challenges us to not ask yourself, “are you going to be successful?” but instead,  to hold yourself accountable to be successful in the right way. 

He wants us to stop hiding and be out and proud of our differences that make us special. This way, we can give to the community with purpose, pride, and passion.

This Episode is dedicated by Cindy McCormick:

Some people are lucky enough to have a career doing EXACTLY what they were born to do – Cindy is one of them. She loves running Cindy McCormick College Advising (CMCA,) but more importantly, she thrives on guiding high school students along their paths to college. She received her B.A., teaching credential, and Masters in Education from UCLA; instructional writing certification from UC Santa Barbara; and college counseling certificate from UC San Diego. With the highest standards in education, training, and ethics, she believes in getting to know her students thoroughly while relentlessly researching schools to ultimately guide kids to their best fit college homes.

Before college advising, Cindy taught school in both Westchester County, NY and Southern California, and then specialized as a college application and essay writing instructor. She also served as a PTA President and a team manager of a global top-ranked STEM student team for ten years.  

As a mother of five children, Gifted And Talented educator, autism specialist, and Spanish bilingual instructor, Cindy embraces diverse abilities, perspectives and backgrounds. Her wide variety of experiences allow her to bond with all kinds of teenage personalities and interests; she delights in getting to know each student, motivating and coaching them, and ultimately customizing their unique college plans.

In her downtime, she loves spending time with her family of 6 men, running marathons in beautiful places, and cuddling her Goldendoodle, Ollie.

Connect with Cindy: 

Announcements:

Our Fall Virtual Milestone Hike Is Here!

Ready to press pause and set YOUR course for an intentional new school year?

Our kids have had new beginnings… now it’s time for us!

Sign up today for the fall Mother’s Quest Virtual Milestone Hike and a powerful interactive experience like none other.

Intrigued? Check out the links below for more info and to register for one of two upcoming dates: 

Tuesday Sept 27 – https://mailchi.mp/mothersquest/septvirtualhike22 

Saturday Oct. 1st – https://mailchi.mp/mothersquest/octvirtualhike22 

It’s Pay from the Heart to make it accessible to anyone who wants to come. Hope to see you there!

P.S. Have a friend who would like to join? Invite them along. Always better to hike with a friend

Mother’s Quest Circle: Next Chapter Edition

Registration is now open for the Mother’s Quest Virtual Circle!

I’m facilitating a Mother’s Quest Virtual Circle in November for moms like me who have children going off to their next chapter (whether that is college, trade school, travel or the workforce) 

Our children’s next chapter is a window of opportunity for us to invest in ourselves in new ways. Doing it in community with like-minded mothers is always powerful.

Click here to register https://mothersquest.com/virtualcircle-nextchapter/

Much appreciation,

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Episode #5: Live your E.P.I.C. Life to Help Your Children Thrive