Reflections on my return: ACO Conference 2013

I’m B-a-a-a-ck!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC


Peggy Ramundo and I just returned from co-facilitating the coaching lab at the SIXTH Annual ADHD Coaches Organization [ACO] conference, again in Atlanta. ANOTHER great experience to reflect upon, now that I am home and almost unpacked.

Start saving NOW to BE there next year, in Phoenix, Arizona
May 2, 3, and 4, 2014 (pre-conference sessions May 1st)
Mark your calendars, and add a line-item to your budget.
[CLICK HERE for the 2014 Conference Page on the ACO website]

I am so grateful to have had another wonderful chance to swap expertise with my colleagues as I got to connect with many whom I’ve known for years, had the opportunity to meet many of my virtual colleagues “live and in person” for the first time, and to be introduced to many more I hadn’t had a chance to meet in any venue. What a feast!

And we had a BALL!

Again, I must second Dr. Charles Parker’s comment in last year’s post-conference article on his Corepsychblog, “If you are an ADHD coach and haven’t yet connected with the ACO  . . .  now is the time to get on it and get cracking.”

CONGRATULATIONS to the 2013 Conference Chair, incoming president Joyce Kubic (mentored by last year’s chair, Judith Champion), current president Sarah Wright, each of the presenters, the entire conference team and all of the on-site volunteers tasked with keeping the balls in the air in Atlanta.

Thank you Shire! 

Diamond Level sponsorship was provided by the pharmaceutical company that has always supported ADDers and their families over and above expectations – and NO, they weren’t on board to push medication.

Their representatives were there to learn more about ADD Coaching and how they themselves can work with the ADD Coaching field to better support the team approach they’ve always claimed is the best way to manage ADD.

  • They were willing to answer any and all medication questions that were brought to them, but they did not, and DO not, promote medication as the one and only thing needed to sharpen focus and improve functioning.
  • Those who know the history of ADD and our battles with various medication detractors will join with me in affirming that Shire put people over profits during the FDA Adderall re-approval debacle, and have generously supported CH.A.D.D., ADDA and now ACO.
  • For my money, they’ve always been the good guys, they take a lot of undeserved flak from the general public, and they deserve our support and gratitude, not our censure.

I’d like to encourage all of you to get to know them better by visiting the Shire website.

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A Global ADD Coaching Community Gathers

As usual, ADD Coaches came to the ACO Conference from across the United States. Many of our Canadian colleagues made the trip, including Rose Steele and Kathy Brownlow, two of the graduates Peggy Ramundo and I got to know originally through their participation in our ADD in the Spirit Coach Training Program. (Grad and training intern Ann Marie Nakata was also in attendance from Florida.)

Coaches from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Turkey also made the trek this year, and the coaches from Turkey delivered a presentation!  Will I see YOU next year?

An OFI Reunion

00_OFI_215x159I caught up with a number of the OFI Associates, those who received their initial ADD Coach training with the original two to three year ADD Coach Training curriculum (ACT) I developed and delivered through my first company, The Optimal Functioning Institute™.

I was thrilled to reconnect with OFI grads Linda Anderson, Dana Rayburn, Dee Doochin, David Giwerc, Barbara LutherPat Wood, ACO outgoing president Sarah Wright, ACO co-founder Glen Hogard and, of course, my business partner in several endeavors, Peggy Ramundo.

Look at them now!

As the developer of the world’s first ADD-specific coaching curriculum (the only one for years), and co-founder of the ADD Coaching field itself, I was again overwhelmed with gratitude for the beautiful garden growing from seeds I planted decades ago, like some female Johnny Appleseed.

I still stand amazed at all the “new varieties” being developed now — all over the world — and without my having to lift an additional shovel! What a relief to know for sure that I can finally put down my watering can and use that time to move forward personally!!

Sprinkled throughout the world (although still concentrated heavily in the US), ADD Coaches can now be found working

  • in the prisons
  • in our schools and colleges
  • with community mental health services
  • in their own coach training companies and treatment centers
  • hosting radio shows
  • writing books and producing videos
  • and let’s not overlook their private ADD Coaching with ADD-flavored individuals, partners, parents and groups with specialized techniques proven to be effective in neuro-diverse populations.

It is simply amazing to watch my original vision come alive before my eyes!

Meeting Colleagues “in person”

Even though the sessions themselves are enjoyable and enlightening, connecting 3-D faces and bodies to colleagues whom I’ve only met online or on TeleClasses is always my favorite part. It was a pleasure to connect with EVERYONE who was there, and to exchange a few words (however briefly) as we hustled to squeeze as much as we could into the relatively short time we had together.

Among the many I connected with for the first time last year were Kricket Harrison, Linda Roggli, Maureen Nolan, Virginia Hurley, Judith Champion, Joyce Kubik, Laurie Dupar, Jonathan Salem and Dr. Charlie Parker – all in attendance again this year! This year I finally got a chance to connect with the fabulous Joan Teach.

I sat in amazement during an ADD Coaching Futures meeting heavily stocked with others now in coaching leadership roles, discussing new distinctions and directions.

Unfortunately, I did not get to do much more than smile, nod or wave at, and/or hug so many more I wish there had been time to speak with and get to know.

I think we need an entire WEEK — peppered with lots of time to meet and network!

I was especially pleased to note the attendance of colleagues and team-mates from the fields of medicine, psychology, and social work, as well as attorney Robert Tudesco — some of whom are also trained coaches in addition to their original specialties, and many who are “card carrying members” of Team ADD.

I believe ADD Coaching is now firmly established and primed for warp-growth, don’t you?

As other hotel guests came across us in shared elevators and public spaces and learned that the ACO insignia on our name tags identified us ADD professionals, many volunteered their own experiences as a result of late-life ADD diagnoses, and/or shared how much better their teen and adult children were doing post-diagnosis and treatment.

After 25 years of non-stop advocacy, are we finally on the cusp of mainstream acceptance?

Conference Overview

The Keynotes

The opening keynote on Friday morning, by author and psychologist Sari Solden, did a marvelous job of contexting what it is we DO as ADD coaches, in a manner that many of the presenters felt introduced their breakout sessions beautifully. I know Peggy and I felt that way.

The second keynote, by Jodi Haserodt on Saturday afternoon, provided an overview of targeted coaching interventions to address the needs of education for college readiness, and the connection between ADD Coaching and college Disability Support Services Offices.

The Breakout Sessions

I was thrilled to see that, again, Breakout Sessions were scheduled to allow for a full thirty minute of networking time between each time-slot, along with ninety minute meal breaks that were long enough to eat AND speak with one another.

Despite the fact that every day began at what, for me, was the crack of dawn, the ninety minute Breakout Sessions were all worth attending. It was impossible to actually attend them all since, to get everything in, they were scheduled three to four sessions at a time, two time-slots each morning and two each afternoon.


The sessions were taped this year, however, so that attendees will be able to hear what we missed in the many sessions we were not able to attend live, simply because we were elsewhere at the time.

If those tapes become available to the general public, in MP3 format or any other, I’ll let you know the minute I find out, and will include a link to where you will be able to find them with the Related Links below this post.

The Topics

Once again, the ACO Conference included topics frequently missing in more general coaching and ADD conferences, with tracks for Research, Technology, Business Building, Technology, Partnering and Collaborating, and Self-Care.

The pre-conference sessions included an Introduction to Career Services Specialty Training by Wilma Fellman and Victoria Roche, and attorney Robert Tudisco’s The Future of ADHD Coaching: a view from the outside in.

The Talent Show & Raffle

A special project, a reprise of sorts of The Bad Girls Breakout Session from the early ADDA days was a highlight for many of us.

ACO’s first Talent Show – coordinated through the planning of many and headed by a team including myself, Peggy Ramundo and organizer Judith Champion — was a hoot!

  • We probably could have gone on ALL night, line-dancing, singing, and telling jokes and stories (and by Saturday night we were all tired enough from rising early to opine that maybe it DID go on all night!). 
  • It was more fun than even I envisioned to see the more “human” side of my colleagues, as they showcased talents of many sorts.

Emcee Dean Solden kept things moving as well as ANYONE can keep a room full of partying ADDers on track, and added a professional note to our offerings through his magic fingers on the baby grand. I especially loved the ADD lyrics he tailored for this particular crowd.

Technical director Jay Carter deserves a medal for keeping the mechanics working – and especially for making it possible for us to view the final presentation of the night: an extremely touching video honoring Kate Kelly, now our ADD Guardian Angel (keeping company with ADD Coaching pioneer Vickie Ball most likely, who passed away unexpectedly last year).

The video was put together by comedian Rick Green and partner Ava (of ADD and Loving It), using edited out-takes from some of the Kate Kelly interview footage from their original video (which gained national prominence when it was featured on Public Television.) Peggy and I were grateful for the Kleenex™ we had stuffed in our purses — we were touched again, even though we’d previewed the rough cut.

As soon as this video is posted for viewing on the web, I will include a link with the others below this wrap-up so that YOU can see it.

Moving the Raffle

Since it was getting late, the raffle was postponed until the morning of the Farewell Session. Sleep deprived, make-up free, coffee in hand and downstairs with the wrong glasses at o-dark-thirty, I was suddenly pulled to the mic to read names on business cards pulled from the hat, since Judith’s laryngitis made it impossible for her to do so.

So much for my professional reputation!

Prizes included coaching sessions as well as first, second and third editions of You Mean I’m NOT Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!, and The ADDed Dimension, early ADD classics by [the since deceased] Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo, along with one of the only remaining “Lazy, Stupid, Crazy” tee-shirts from the very first marketing campaign. Bittersweet memories of days that will never come again.

As my colleagues are unpacked, caught up and able, many of them will no doubt be writing articles about their experience of the conference. Many of the speakers will be adding content from their presentations to their blogs and websites (as will I). I will post links to their impressions and information here on this post, as a loosely organized blog-tour develops. So stay tuned.

I hope to see YOU next year in Phoenix!

As always, if you want notification of new information in the ACO Conference Update series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right.

(You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too) STRICT No Spam Policy

Links to speakers and attendees blogs and websites (and anything ELSE mentioned above) will post below as they contact me that their content is ready.

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

8 Responses to Reflections on my return: ACO Conference 2013

  1. fake email - linkspam website says:

    Excellent web site you have here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


  2. Glad you’re back safe and sound! I, too, needed extra sleep! I liked this conference last year and was happy to join in again, mostly because I get to concentrate on my passion for ADHD advocacy…my family and friends here at home just tolerate me! So great to spend time with you and Peggy, Rose and Ann Marie….and some of those fabulous people you mentioned…Joan Teach, Virginia Hurley, Judith Champion…they, once again, inspired me with their messages.
    Take care of yourself!!!
    Kathy B.


    • THANKS for ringing in here, Kathy.

      And BOY do I get that “tolerate” comment – it often seems that my non-ADD friends’ eyes start to glaze over at the mention of any related word! I DO see an increase in interest as they experience the effects on short-term memory and the deliberate direction of attention as the result of what is frequently called “normal brain aging” in their OWN lives, however! ::evil grin::)

      I’d love for EVERY ADD Coach to be able to experience the inspiration of the environment where all of us are engaged in (and fascinated by) the conversation of how to increase functionality and intentionality. Life affirming and life-changing, IMHO.

      Are you going to ADDA, or will it be next year in Phoenix before I see you again?



  3. Mustafa says:

    I came across this site in search of a “coach.” That was the original goal. Now, I’ve skimmed 10 or 20 engrossing posts. This is an aside, pointing out I’m amazed how the overall model is presented by means of discursive insights which are veritably logical and internally consistent to a huge degree. Oh well, I guess it’s good to know someone sees things from a similar perspective, albeit my conceptualization is subsumed by this vast ocean of of insights.. Meanwhile, could you recommend a coach who sees things the same way as explained on this site?


    • I’m SO pleased to read that you are looking for a coach. Coaching REALLY works – but if you are dealing with ADD (or family), make SURE you understand that VERY few “regular” coaches know enough about ADD etc. to be much help.

      I trained non-ADD coaches for the Coach University for 7 years in coaching’s e-a-r-l-y days, founding the ADD Coach Training field for that reason, so this is not “marketing hype,” btw

      LOL – the coach who BEST represents the info on this site would be ME, and I do have a few openings in my private practice currently. You can also get on my “waiting” list for Group Coaching or classes with me (meaning you want to know when I get to the place where I am offering them again – when gets redesigned to handle the administrivia required)- same approach, considerably cheaper than private fees. (ALL virtual — i.e., over the phone, so same location and/or getting dressed and driving not required)

      Click the E-me link [<==HERE], at the bottom of many of my articles, or (most easily found again) on the top menubar on every page. That will result in a form that will send me an email with an expression of interest, and I’ll contact you back ASAP.

      Second best (in terms of closest match to the content on this blog), would be a coach I have trained.

      FYI: Generally, private coaching costs rise with experience (unless you can snag one of the sliding-scale slots that I maintain, & strongly suggest that coaches I train do likewise.) Sliding-scale slots are limited, since we DO have to keep a roof over our heads, etc., but many ADD coaches do offer at least one or two, reserved for those who need ADD Coaching to get to the point where they can AFFORD ADD coaching – and you MUST, since we are investing in you, be committed to, really-no-kidding playing-full-out or you will be asked to come-back at a time when you can actually DO that, opening a slot for someone who is ready NOW.

      FINALLY – once ADD in the Spirit 2013 class gets going to a certain point, we can refer you to our Intern Program as a client. I’ll post a article here when we are taking clients again.

      Hope this helps.


  4. Welcome back! Hope you are ready to rest up after this exciting adventure. Congratulations on this successful conference! I’m hoping next year will lead me to Phoenix. Sounds like so much fun and education … an excellent combination to keep the wheels of the mind turning.

    Take care and stay safe. Edie


    • Thanks – once I repay some serious sleep-debt and catch the balls I had to drop to be away I’ll say more. (Just lost my former reply – grrrrr! – so grouchy when I’m under-slept!)

      Conference WAS fun – packing and unpacking (several times, thanks to perfectly avoidable hotel snafu), not so much!

      Off to bed! Hope *your* week was 100% wonderful.


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