My name is Tina Harlow. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the founder of Guiding Bright. Over the last 25 years, I have had the pleasure of working with numerous children and families in a variety of settings including outpatient, day treatment, residential programs, intensive family treatment, child welfare, and even a performing arts camp. In 2008, I received the top Excellence in Practice Award from the Colorado Department of Human Services for my work with children and families. That is my professional journey.
It was my personal journey that led me here.
After feeling scattered and less than bright for many years, I realized that I have many characteristics of ADHD as well as a heightened sensitivity to self and others. Through that process, I stumbled upon the fact that I am also bright. I had been identified as “gifted” as a child, but that went away when my family moved to a new school. As an adult, I have come to realize that my gifts are interpersonal - "people smarts."
So I realized that I have two things going on: Giftedness and ADHD - which is called twice-exceptional. Once I recognized this, I really began to understand who I am and my life began to make more sense. This stuff is genetic! It gave me a whole new understanding of my family of origin, as well as my two bright children. In the words of Oprah, it was the greatest AHA moment of my life.
I started talking with close friends about this and learned that many of them, as children, had been identified as "gifted" as well. How could I not have known this? Well it turns out that it is a rather taboo subject. We don't talk about it. In keeping with societal norms, we minimize our gifts and focus on our detriments. The result: We don't believe in ourselves.
I set out to learn how to cope with the perfectionism, intensity and sensitivities that accompany my giftedness, as well my ADHD symptoms. I first had to tackle the disorder part. Initially, I felt like a freakstick…different from everyone else. Then I began to look at my successes, not in spite of my neurological makeup, but because of it. I took it upon myself to "dis" the word disorder and call it “difference.”
I studied ad nauseam and began experimenting with strategies. As a result, I have discovered a number of tools that help me, as well as my children, to manage our particular challenges. One of the most helpful strategies I implemented was hiring a coach to help me move forward. My ongoing quest for personal insight and acceptance has been pivotal in helping me effectively guide my children.
Now all is not perfect. I remind myself daily that I am a work in progress. But I know what to do when one of my children is refusing to do their homework or having a major meltdown. I no longer worry that I am a bad parent or believe that the future success of my children rests in my hands.
This journey has ignited a passion within me to create avenues for bright children and their parents to recognize, understand and accept themselves and to learn strategies for managing their accompanying challenges.
To the next chapter of your journey and mine…