"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."
Deidre Donchian '74
“People with ADD and ADHD have an expansive thinking process, they see beyond the detail and take in the whole picture. However, they often get hung up on how to get started. We need people with ADD and ADHD because they bring many wonderful things to our world, with their great imaginations and fully formed big ideas.”
After years as an artist making jewelry, Deirdre Donchian ’74 recently went back to school and completed a Master’s in Social Work. During that period Deirdre also trained as an ADHD Coach, and along with her LCSW, she became an accredited Professional Certified ADHD Coach by the Professional Association of ADHD Coaches. Deirdre’s motivation stems from a desire to understand and help herself and her children. It is also tied to a lifelong interest in psychology that in the past she was unable to explore. Since acquiring her degree, she has counseled and worked in schools, and most recently she has struck out on her own and begun an ADD/ADHD coaching service, Life in Action ADHD Coach.
“Coaching means that we work with the internal motivations of the person, try to engage with the times they have felt joy, curiosity, excitement or success.” Deirdre structures her sessions around the goals of the client. “Every session we start off with areas of success, even small ones, which we call ‘wins’ and we close with ‘actions steps.’ Action steps are the specific things the client can do toward reaching their goals and are worked on between sessions.” Deirdre’s work has shown her the ways that social perception can affect those with ADHD. Witnessing this inspired her to begin her own coaching business. “There is often a lot of shame involved with the self-perception of a person with ADD/ADHD because it’s so hard to be who they are in a culture that misunderstands them and does not offer extensive enough support.” As someone who grew up with undiagnosed ADHD and dyslexia, Deirdre has found that her ability to relate has deeply informed her ability to help her clients. Her work focuses on “what is right with you versus what is wrong with you, let’s celebrate that and spotlight what is right.”
Deirdre, a lifelong Quaker, has been deeply influenced by Quaker values. “When you think about Quaker values, you think about acceptance, tolerance, and a willingness to have a tricky conversation and hear the other side.” Deirdre’s experience with Quakerism is deeply connected to her work today. She finds that mindfulness is a common value that connects her work and her Quakerism. “Mindfulness can be about the self, noticing when you’re telling yourself a negative thing, such as ‘This isn’t for me’ or maybe ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘Why am I here?’ When you practice mindfulness, you can change that to a positive such as ‘I’ll give it a try,’ ‘If this is for everyone else, why not for me?’, ‘I belong here too.’” Another Quaker value at the center of her work is an appreciation for the individual as well as the community. “The community at Friends really works to support the individual, and encourage young people to find their voice, try things, and be who they are. While keeping an eye on the smaller community of the School and then on the greater community that surrounds them.” If there is one thing that Deirdre would like our community to know about her work with people with ADD/ADHD it’s that she “would like to see us take a breath, be a little kinder, have patience” and “make peace with who you are.”
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.