Jennifer Gay Summers
Author | Journalist | Blogger | Inspirational Speaker
ADHD and Neurodivergent Parenting Advocate
Are you a grandparent, parent, or caregiver raising a neurodivergent child with ADHD and other mental health challenges? Are you feeling alone and overwhelmed on your parenting journey? Are you searching for a deeper connection with your child and more effective parenting strategies?
Well, you’ve come to the right place! I’m a fellow parent of a child with ADHD and other mental health challenges, a longtime journalist, an author, a parenting advocate, a former high school teacher, an ADHD mom blogger, and an inspirational speaker.
I’m passionate about helping YOU build a deeper connection with your neurodivergent child and giving them the toolsthey need to succeed, in their homes, classrooms, and communities.
But first, let me share with you MY STORY:
The minute my adopted daughter, Lee, learned how to walk, the chase was on. To the top of jungle gyms, through amusement parks, down the aisles of a plane. Telling Lee to sit still or keep her hands to herself wasn’t an option. It wasn’t in her DNA. At 18 months old, Lee’s impulsive rocket launch down a slide into a Mommy and Me circle time, full of kids, landed us into a time-out on a chair in a parking lot. When a seagull flew overhead, and Lee tumbled out of my lap and followed, right into the path of an oncoming car, I still didn’t get it. “This was my fault, somehow. I just had to be a better mother.” Sound familiar?
Desperately wanting to believe my child was typical, despite her inability to develop at the same rate as her peers, I plunked her down into public elementary school. I tried to convince myself that she just needed time to develop at her own pace. Then came the day in first grade when I walked into the classroom and found Lee cowering under a desk. I crouched down and she said, “Mommy I’m the dumbest person in the class.” My heart broke in a million pieces.
Desperate, feeling alone and scared, I started on my journey to find help. Lee’s ADHD, sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and other learning disabilities would force me to let go of any traditional ideas of motherhood. But, through acceptance and ADHD education, I found the support I’d needed all along! And, I found joy in celebrating the beauty of Lee’s strengths.
I became Lee’s fiercest ADHD parenting advocate, from elementary school through high school, demanding ADHD support: accommodations, resources, and coping mechanisms for a child struggling with a host of disabilities. In the process, I started a popular blog at ADDitude magazine, that would last a decade, as I chronicled the ups and downs of our daily lives. I loved connecting with parents all over the country who were also searching for ways to become empowered and help their children, just as I hope you and I can do here! Together, we can spread ADHD awareness and help our children thrive.
My essay focuses on a time I lost my neurodivergent child in the mall at the same time I was losing my mother to Alzheimer's disease
Thrilled to be a guest on the Parenting with Impact Podcast that aired on 8/30/23! Here’s a quick preview of our interview that focuses on the moment when I knew I would need to leave behind my traditional expectations of motherhood and embark on a whole new journey.
Hope you can join me and the wonderful Impact Parents coach, Elaine Taylor-Klaus, as we discuss the challenges and joys of parenting complex children.
As Mother’s Day approaches, I want to thank all the special moms who supported me through the years. Parenting a neurodiverse child is challenging and makes it difficult sometimes to find understanding friends. When I was struggling, long before my child’s ADHD diagnosis, two moms stepped forward and gave me hope and the gift of friendship. This blog is in honor of them.
Over the years in my quest to help my child with ADHD and now complete a memoir about it, I accumulated many books on the subject. Maybe it’s the teacher in me or just my passion for books, but I ended up with a pretty good collection. This month’s blog focuses on some of my favorites.
Even though I’d heard that communication is a skill we learn and practice, no one told me how important that would be in raising my child. Between Lee’s inability to focus, a lot of hyperactivity, and emotions that were hard to regulate, it became my challenge to find a different way to communicate. In this month’s blog, I put together the tips that worked for me over the years. Hope you’ll find one that works for you!