by Judy BrenisLaurie Dupar is on a mission – a mission to create greater awareness about ADHD for all those who have been diagnosed with the disorder and for those who are still in the dark about how their own brains work. "I think we completely underestimate the number of people that have ADHD and the impact it has on their lives,” says Dupar, a Senior Certified ADHD Coach and co-author and editor of The ADHD Awareness Book Projectseries.
Dupar, also a trained Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, realized a few years ago that she just might need to shake things up a bit in order to get the information out there. "After years of working to increase the awareness of ADHD, I was concerned as to the sheer number of calls for help I was getting from people who still didn’t really have a clue about ADHD,” Dupar says.
"Too often, in the last nine years as an ADHD coach, I’ve met with parents, students and newly-diagnosed adults struggling alone, not knowing that answers to their challenges were available. Many had never heard the term ADHD,” Dupar notes. "They had no idea there were alternative ways to succeed by doing things that better fit their ADHD brain style.
"People tend to think I’m a rule follower, which I am,” Dupar says, but if something isn’t working, I’m going to find a way around it.” While Dupar acknowledges there are a lot of great people doing wonderful things to promote ADHD awareness, the word is still not reaching everyone. "We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results,” Dupar points out.
Therefore, Dupar says, she began to stick her neck out in order to disseminate the information she believes would help people know about ADHD, medication, and coaching. In addition to speaking at the usual well-known ADHD conferences, she developed her own annual Telesummit, "Succeed With ADHD,” inviting some of the world’s leading ADHD experts to share their knowledge about ways to succeed with ADHD. She created the ADHD Awareness Book Project to provide people living with ADHD valuable strategies and tips to help them succeed and increase awareness of ADHD worldwide. The book project is getting ready to launch its third book in the series. Previous books have reached #1 on Amazon.com.
Sometimes it doesn’t take a whole lot of information to make a big change,” Dupar says.
Dupar grew up not having a name for her ADHD characteristics, despite other members of her family being suspected of having ADHD. Being raised in a family with high expectations and big consequences for not meeting them can provide fierce motivation for not screwing up. "When you are raised in a family like that, it is common for people with ADHD to hold it together, and get by, because the consequences of not doing so are so great,” Dupar says,
"I was also very bright, curious and creative which allowed me to compensate for some of my weaknesses. Creativity helps you to be an innovative problem solver.” Being naturally curious… about almost everything… added to Dupar’s enjoyment of academics and learning. Admitting to being somewhat of a perfectionist, Dupar admits that "A little OCD was key in my ability to create calendars and structures, following them and taking the time to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’. Living without that perfectionist tendency would have been a nightmare.”
In school, Dupar says she was probably thought of as an under-achiever. While she earned fairly good grades, she never thought she was living up to her potential, a common characteristic of those with ADHD. Dupar used a common ADHD-friendly strategy of creating structure by being highly active. It was common for her to have multiple extra-curricular activities going on at one time. Between band, drill team, flag line and sports, her biggest dilemma came on parade day when she couldn’t figure out where she needed to be!
Dupar entered college thinking she wanted to teach, but after a short semester of tutoring, she changed her mind. Already in her third year of college, Dupar began to consider other ideas, everything from business to computers, to secretarial work and psychology until finally stumbling upon nursing.
"I was always interested in how the body and mind works and academically that interest and passion made all the difference.” Dupar’s grades took off and despite the late start she graduated in four years with two majors, one in psychology and one in nursing, as well as a minor in theology.
Continuing her pattern of "keeping busy”, Dupar says she would study nursing during the school year, and take psychology courses in the summer. "It was my interest and passion with the information and downright stubbornness that got me through,” Dupar says. "I was determined that this was what I was going to do.”
Dupar worked for many years as a nurse and there again, the structure helped, she says. "As a nurse, you knew what you had to do minute by minute, hour by hour and it was incredibly detailed. There are systems and structures I still use to this day that I learned in my early years as a nurse. "Sometimes I wonder how I did it, but again, the consequences were so great of not getting it right, that I persevered.”
Meanwhile, Dupar married and began to raise four children, her youngest diagnosed with ADHD at age seven. "Despite my experience and education in the medical field, I felt helpless as to how best to help him manage and overcome his challenges,” Dupar says.
Moving from the Portland, Oregon area to Sydney, Australia around the same time, Dupar was disappointed to find such a lack of awareness and information on ADHD there. She struggled to figure out how to help her son succeed, which became a contributing factor in her family’s decision to return to the United States a few years later.
The Dupars settled in northern California where the scope of practice for a nurse practitioner was not the same, Dupar says. "In California, I did not have the same autonomy as a nurse practitioner in Washington State. These restrictions (prescriptions needing to be co-signed by a psychiatrist for example), had me re-evaluate continuing as a nurse practitioner.”
While muddling over her decision as to what to do next, Dupar says she attended a CHADD (Children & Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder) support group meeting. She was still trying to find more information to help her son. The speaker that evening, Patrice Lynn, was an ADHD coach, and Dupar says she stayed after the conclusion of the meeting to speak with her.
Lynn, who was moving from the area, encouraged Dupar to become an ADHD coach herself. With Dupar’s background, she felt it would be a wonderful fit. In the end, Dupar agreed because the coaching profession provided the flexibility and autonomy she wanted as a mom where she felt pursuing her career as a nurse practitioner in California would be disappointing.
In true ADHD fashion, Dupar threw herself into pursuit of coach credentialing and never looked back. "It wasn’t a hard decision. My goal has always been to help people pursue the life they wanted for themselves. I am an incurable optimist.” The philosophy and emerging profession of coaching was a perfect fit. "I knew it was the right decision,” Dupar says about becoming an ADHD coach rather than returning to nursing.
"I saw what a difference coaching made in the lives of those with ADHD,” Dupar says. "I knew I wanted to use this approach to help other parents, students and adults overcome their ADHD challenges, feel more confident in their abilities, empowered and to experience success, no matter what that meant to them.”
In 2002, Dupar graduated from the Coaches Training Institute, an International Coach Federation accredited training program. "Ten years later, I’m still as passionate about working with the ADHD population, if not more so.
"It was always about helping someone, making a difference,” Dupar explains. "It has always been about making a connection, helping people find their answers and believing in them.”
Judy Brenis is an ADHD coach based in Santa Cruz, California. ADHD has touched her life in the form of her 24-year-old daughter who was diagnosed with ADHD at age five, and Judy is passionate about helping those with ADHD create successful, happy, and healthy lives. Reach her at www.judyadhdcoaching.com.