Kori Tomelden thought of herself as a typical mom raising two neurodivergent daughters in upstate New York. However, the more she learned about neurodivergence surrounding her daughters, the more she questioned her own identity. Then, an official diagnosis revealed that Kori is also neurodivergent, having Autism and ADHD herself. Kori embraced the diagnosis and decided to quit masking her behaviors. Today as a coach and mentor, Kori helps clients on similar journeys understand why so many strategies that work well for the neurotypical brain just don’t work the same for themselves or their children. Listen to Kori’s story of discovering self-acceptance on Search and Replace.
More about today’s guest:
- Get to know Kori Tomelden at koriathome.com.
- Connect with Kori via her Podcast, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Explore these related stories:
- Kori Tomelden shares her self-diagnosis journey on the “Autism, ADHD, and Me” podcast.
- Kori’s Autism Family Life Routine Planner.
- Kori’s book: “I’m okay. It’s okay. I’m going to be okay.: I’m not okay. It’s not okay. I’m not going to be okay.”
- This guide provides an overview of autism and helps clarify whether you should seek out an evaluation by a professional.
- Learn more about Autism from Kirsten Corden’s article, “Personal Identity After an Autism Diagnosis: Relationships With Self-Esteem, Mental Wellbeing, and Diagnostic Timing.”
- Find out how using a daily planner helps those with ADHD.
- Here are tips for productive ways to support Neurodivergent Employees.
- “Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder,” by John J. Ratey and Edward M. Hallowell.
[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode.
[00:00:10] Joe Taylor, Jr.: What if asking questions about your identity leads to a whole new identity? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.
Kori Tomelden thought of herself as a typical mom, raising her family in upstate New York. And as the parent of two neuro divergent daughters, Kori started feeling something she couldn’t easily explain.
[00:00:39] Kori Tomelden: I was an early mom. My identity, or the main piece of my identity, was just tied to being a mom. I think I was just in this rut of, probably in the beginning stages of a deep depressive state and experiencing multiple panic and anxiety attacks and just feeling this very lack of sense of self and sense of purpose. And I’d already, to that point, I felt like I had given up so much in my life being a mom. Not that I would trade it for anything. I do love being a mom. I just, I felt that there was more out there for me more that I could be doing.
[00:01:18] Joe Taylor, Jr.: Just as Kori was investing time to learn how to better support her daughters, she started hearing advice she felt she could apply to her own life.
[00:01:26] Kori Tomelden: I was just on this kind of self-discovery process, as far as really discovering who I was as an individual outside of what society expected of me and outside of whatever labels are out there.
Masking is a fairly common term for neuro divergence, Autistic, ADHD or Dyslexia, Dyspraxia. There’s a couple of others that it covers. And what it basically is, it means that you are hiding those traits and those things that make you autistic or make you ADHD so that you fit in and appear more normal in society.
And from a very young age I’d been doing that. I grew up as a people pleasing, people watching, you know, outside validation seeking individual. And I carried that with me well into my late twenties, early thirties. But then it just got to the point where, no, I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not trying to please anybody else.
[00:02:26] Joe Taylor, Jr.: And as Kori recognized how to let go of that people pleasing mentality, she discovered she may have been masking some critical information from herself.
[00:02:35] Kori Tomelden: I have an Autistic daughter who also has ADHD and anxiety. And as I was also looking into ways to how to support her better as she was getting older, a lot of the things that I was putting into place were unintentionally helping me. And that got me on the self-diagnosis process for ADHD inattentive type, which used to be just a ADD.
And then while I had been more than happy to just sit with that self-diagnosis, I’ve also recognized at multiple points in my life that sometimes I need to be, or that we need to be, on medication and that there’s nothing wrong with that either.
So I wanted that official -slash- formal diagnosis for that purpose. And I sought that out in early 2021. And I walked away with not just this diagnosis of ADHD, but also the diagnosis of Autism. There is like a big weight lift being lifted.
[00:03:35] Joe Taylor, Jr.: Kori says her Autism diagnosis helped her recognize vital patterns from her past, so she could chart her future.
[00:03:44] Kori Tomelden: For me, it was also another jumping off point where I could really start researching and learning how to support certain things and figuring out why things that I had tried in the past just didn’t work. Because so many of the strategies and systems and things that are out there were designed for neuro-typical brains and they don’t take into account the neuro divergent population.
So once I understood more about that, I think I was able to help myself, not just myself, but also my daughter that much more. I actually started in the parenting coaching sphere as a parenting coach for parents of autistic children, cuz at the time that’s what I identified the most with. And I figured that’s where I could probably do the most good and be of most use.
Shortly after receiving my own diagnosis, the dual, I decided to completely pivot and shift my business from supporting the parents, to supporting neuro-divergent individuals with strategies. Many of the mainstream strategies, coaching programs, et cetera, while they’re absolutely wonderful and incredibly helpful they don’t always take into account the differences between neuro-typical and neuro divergent brains. So I wanted to come at it from that specific viewpoint.
[00:05:07] Joe Taylor, Jr.: Today as a coach and mentor to Autism moms, Kori helps clients on similar journeys understand why so many things that work well for neuro-typical parents just don’t work the same for them.
[00:05:19] Kori Tomelden: One of the main things that I can probably point to are the mainstream productivity tips. One of the biggest things they say is to, you know, just use planners, write it down and whatnot, and that it’ll change your life and that kind of thing. It’s just those little structural differences and those little nuances that I think most neuro-typical people would just take for granted, but that some of us are neuro-divergent, we really struggle with it. And we can’t just open a planner like a regular person would and say, oh, I’m gonna use this planner, it’s gonna help me. I can’t tell you how many planners I’ve purchased with that kind of intent and then it just went nowhere. Cause I got so overwhelmed with them.
I want my clients to walk away with an actionable, implementable tip that is going to help them find a win in some area of their life. And if that’s all they get from me, great. I feel very gratified by that.
[00:06:30] Joe Taylor, Jr.: That’s Kori Tomelden. We’ve got links to Kori’s projects, including her specialized versions of household planners, over on our show notes and on our website at searchandreplace.show.
Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard. With support from Christine Benton, Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith and Executive Producer, Lori Taylor. Our theme music was composed by Alex Refire. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.
[00:07:04] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at www.MakeTheWebsiteWorkForMe.com.