On a personal note ...
My story is not clear cut or straight forward. My path cannot be put into a neat little box or tidy package. But, I also see that as a metaphor for the students and parents I work with.
As a student, I felt that I was a "screw up" - never living up to my true potential. I went through most of my school years as a mediocre student. Although my parents made it clear to me that I tested with a very high IQ in grade school, I didn't always get the best grades. I was a solid B student (with some A's, and some C's depending on my level of interest in the class) primarily because I didn't study or do my homework.
I remember in the 8th grade I decided I wanted to get better grades and I got the bright idea that I could do that by staying up all night studying for tests. I tried this out on a history test I had to prepare for and I walked away with a solid A on that test. That was the start of my obsession with procrastination and last minute preparation that carried on way into my adult years. Using this "strategy" I was able to coast through most of my courses, while doing the bare minimum amount of work. In all honesty, I felt it was a waste of my time to start work on anything until the last minute because I couldn't get myself going until then. Unfortunately, my "strategy" didn't always work - in fact I failed a couple of classes my senior year of college.
At the time I didn't know I had AD/HD or Executive Functioning challenges. What I did have was guilt. A lot of it!
My biggest frustration was not being diagnosed with AD/HD until I was in my 40's. I truly believe that had I been diagnosed as a child, I would have been able to break through all the shame and self-loathing and get the support and strategies that I needed to live up to my own potential at a much earlier stage in my life.
But, despite this, I have had a few very special people in my life. My pastor, my high school guidance counselor, and most recently, my mentor who trained me as an AD/HD Coach took an interest in me, believed in my abilities, saw the potential in me and helped me feel good about myself. For me, having the right people believe in me and show me support when I needed it has made all the difference. It's because of their support that I was able to continue to push forward and keep trying despite my challenges.
As a parent, I know that nothing is worse than seeing your own child suffer. When your child is in pain, you're in pain. There is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing your child treated as "less than" simply because their brain works differently than most. I know this because I've been there.
I have three beautiful children. Two of my children learn differently.
My son, Victor, has been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism. We started seeing problems with Victor early on. At age 3, he was diagnosed with speech delays related to a central auditory processing disorder. By age 5, his challenges became more significant and he was diagnosed with PDD NOS. At that point, the doctors told us that they didn't think he would ever live a productive, independent adult life. I don't need to tell you how devastating this diagnosis was and what that did to us.
My daughter, Marlena, has AD/HD and Executive Functioning challenges. Despite her high IQ, this led to a lot of shame and frustration on her part when she was younger, and she oftentimes felt bad about herself and her abilities in spite of our encouragement and support.
Throughout the years, both my husband and I have fought very hard to get our children the services and support they have needed. As a result, Victor finished high school with a 3.7 GPA and is now a student in a college transition program for special-needs students. And, Marlena finished high school with a 3.75 grade point average and is now a full-time college student. Both of my children have worked very hard to get to where they are and I respect them immensely for their strong work ethic and their determination to succeed against all odds.
But, I know that there are many other families out there who are still struggling. And so, in August of 2010, I launched SAIL Institute.
With SAIL Institute, I hope to reach as many students as possible.
Eventually I hope to be able to get back to my beginnings in the inner city
public schools to help those students pro bono. The outcomes for our students
in general, post high school, are appalling. For students in the inner city
schools, it's a disgrace. These students are being turned over to the juvenile
justice system at an alarming rate simply because they don't have the resources
to get the support and services they need to succeed and perform to their
With SAIL Institute, I hope to provide you and your child with the support that you need. I love - and live for - the challenge of finding out what works specifically for each and every child I have the privilege to work with. And, I would welcome the opportunity to unlock the potential in your child.
Professionally speaking ...
Pam Milazzo is a graduate of the ADD Coach Academy. She has earned a Juris Doctorate degree and a Bachelor of Science in Education degree, and she trained as a Mediator through the Institute for Dispute Resolution of the Seton Hall University Law School. In addition to her coach training program, Pam has also completed the following courses:
- Executive Functioning Coaching - Landmark College
- Writing Solutions for Students with AD/HD - Landmark College
- Coaching for Writers - Landmark College
- Assistive Technology Solutions for AD/HD Students - Landmark College
- Supporting Students with Asperger's and Autism Spectrum Disorders - Landmark College
- Coaching Teenagers and Adolescents - Parent as Coach Academy
- AD/HD Across the Lifespan - Harvard Medical School Department of Continuing Education
- Special Education Advocacy Skills - Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
In addition to her work as a coach, Pam Milazzo has worked as a lawyer,
a Mediator, and a Middle School and High School Teacher.
Pam is devoted to serving the AD/HD, Asperger's and Special-Needs Community in a variety of ways. She is a national speaker, giving presentations and in-service training workshops throughout the country to parent advocacy groups, special-needs support groups, educators and professionals working within the AD/HD, Asperger's and special-needs community. Pam has been a featured speaker at the CHADD National Conference as well as the ADDA National Conference. She previously served as Chairman of the National AD/HD Awareness Campaign for ADDA, and as Chapter Coordinator and support group leader of the Union County New Jersey Chapter of CHADD.
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