By: Dr. Cat Baker, PhD, BCBA-D
Growing up (and into my mid 30s), I was always a high achiever, a hard worker, a people pleaser, the “smart kid.” These all sound great, right? Wrong! These were some of the ways I was trying to cope with a brain that works a little differently.
I was trying to compensate for feeling like I wasn’t quite as smart as my peers, or my brother, or my parents. I felt like I wasn’t working hard enough, or that I was lazy because I couldn’t finish my reading. I would bend over backwards to make everyone around me happy because if they were happy then they would be happy with me. These strategies I was using to cope were slowly killing me inside, and causing my true self to “shrink.”
This is precisely why I’m so passionate about what I do: working with children whose brains work differently! I know, firsthand, how tough it can be for children to feel resilient, confident, and happy when they don’t “fit in the box.”
If you don’t already know, I have ADHD and Dyslexia, and when those aren’t managed well, I get crazy-bad levels of anxiety trying to manage them (a super common pattern in people whose brains don’t “fit in the box”).
My ADHD was caught early on, in 2nd grade or so, but the dyslexia wasn’t identified until I was in college. With the help of a tutor until middle school, I was doing okay! But when tutoring stopped, I was left to my own devices in middle and high school…
I was under the false impression that the reason I never finished my reading in high school and early college was because, “I was lazy (another super-common pattern for people whose brain works differently).” To deal with that, I decided I needed to work even harder! Working my butt off and extreme people pleasing became my ways of proving to the world (and to myself) that I was good enough to take up space.
After many years, and lots of learning, growing, and self-discovery, I’ve earned a total of 4 degrees in health and exercise, psychology, developmental disabilities, and behavior analysis.
This was all possible once I learned how my brain worked, and how to work with it instead of against it. I’ve learned that I actually love learning – I just learn differently. I’ve learned to be resilient and never give up, even when the going gets tough and emotionally uncomfortable.
Most importantly, I learned that my passion in life is to love, support, and teach those who think differently. This passion guides my vision for FCI, and the children and families we serve. We strive to support children to find their passions, develop skills that help them learn and grow, and feel like they can be their best selves as they grow up!
Looking to get scheduled with our team? I can’t wait to meet you! You can contact us here. Want to know a little more about what we do? I recommend reading What is ABA? Myths, Facts, and who can Benefit or check out our services page. You can also read more about my personal journey with overcoming disability here.