Meet Cheryl

Photo of Cheryl SusmanA mother of three kids with ADHD, learning disabilities, and anxiety, I struggled to keep up with the demands of my family, devote energy to my work, and find time to take care of myself. I was stressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed.

I knew something wasn't right when our kid's second-grade teacher left him in the classroom alone, interpreting his ‘behavior’ as defiant while he hyper-focused on his reading. We didn't connect the dots that hyperfocusing for extended periods could mean our kid had ADHD. Our other two kids soon fell in line hiding under the school desk when asked to do a boring or difficult task, the other exhibiting memory issues, and distractibility.

In addition to after-school soccer or science club, our kids filled much of their days with tutors, doctors, and therapists. I worried about the message I was sending, maybe that they weren’t good enough, but I wanted and needed the best support I could find for them. Even though my background is in special education, even though I am a teacher myself, I knew enough not to be their educational therapist. 

Between the three kids, their rambunctious behavior fed off of each other. Our household was warm, loving, and caring, but hectic, crazy, and chaotic; it was like roping a herd of steers to get them out the door for anything, even if it was for something they wanted to do! When people called me, they’d hear our kids in the background and ask, “Are you having playdates over there?” “No,” I’d answer, “it’s just my kids.” I was overwhelmed and felt out of control. 

I was the parent running to school with forgotten homework or lunch, the parent receiving the phone calls about the inappropriate outburst on the playground. (Where did he learn that word?) Something had to give after the phone call that our kids mooned the security cameras outside their religious school. 

I can laugh at it now, but I felt like I was dragged through the mud, sorely embarrassed, judging myself as a terrible parent. Instead of enjoying my creative, fun, and spunky kids, I was the disciplinarian, the warden, and the taskmaster. I was exhausted, drained, and felt very alone. 

As parents, we want to fix everything for our kids. We want to take on our children's burdens and make everything better. It was tough to learn that I couldn’t just make things right. What I could do was help them advocate for what they needed, but I couldn’t shoulder the bullying or the comments my kid took to heart from a peer, for example, when he was late. 

As an educational therapist, I was able to help my kids navigate their needs in the school system, but as a parent, I felt isolated and conflicted. After years of working with other adolescents and young adults with similar challenges, I realized that other parents were at a loss too. When do we scaffold our kids, and when do we let go? When do we attribute their undesirable behavior to their brain wiring and when is it poor behavior? And why can’t they just listen? 

With a crew of therapists and psychiatrists behind us, I decided there had to be another way for us parents to assist our kids, who, as we well know, in the blink of an eye, become adults who also may want support. I felt drawn to support adults who did not have access to school support. Looking to do just that in my work, I discovered coaching when a colleague asked me powerful questions that changed my perspective. (This colleague turned out to be a coach!) After lots of research, I found ADHD Coaching, went back to school to get my certification, and began working toward mapping the principles of coaching onto ADHD Parent Coaching, ADHD Adult Coaching, Coaching for Entrepreneurs, Brain Health CoachingYoung Adult ADHD Coaching, and Launch Your Adult Child Parent Coaching, and Neurodivergent-Affirming Coaching. 

Many years later, I'm committed to helping other adults, parents, young adults, and families who are going through what my family faced together. As a certified ADHD Coach, mother of three amazing adults, and loving wife of an incredible husband and father who experienced similar challenges (our discovery on our journey), I gained knowledge and experience that reduced our stress, improved our communication, helped me gain the confidence and community I needed, and transformed our family.  

You may wonder if I still have rough days and if I still get bone-tired. Yes and Yes! Do I worry? Yes, I worry, and I know I will get through it. Yes, it can be crazy busy, but we can manage it. Yes, I have frustrating days, and I can do this.  And so can you. 

The coach approach to navigating the journey of living with ADHD and interconnected neurodivergent challenges led my family from surviving to thriving. And I believe it will make a lasting difference for you and your family.

Professional Qualifications

  • MA., Special Education, Learning Disabilities, California State University, Northridge
  • MBA, The University of Texas at Austin
  • BA, The University of Texas at Austin, Phi Beta Kappa
  • Associate Certified Coach, International Coach Federation
  • Neurodiversity, Support & Advocacy, Coach Approach for Organizers™, ICF Accredited 
  • Certified Professional Productivity Coach, Coach Approach for Organizers™, ICF Accredited 
  • Laser-Focused Masterful Coaching Intensive, Marion Franklin Master Certified Coach Trainer, ICF Accredited
  • The Power of Metaphor Coach Certification, Level One
  • Certified Professional Educator, Social/Emotional Disorders, Learning Disabilities, Learning Behavioral Specialist, Illinois
  • Professional Educational Therapist, International Association of Educational Therapists
  • Certified and Licensed Sanity School® for Parents Trainer
  • ADHD, Chronic Disorganization and Time Management Certificates, Institute of Challenging Disorganization
  • Productivity Professional, National Association of Productivity and Organizing
  • Parent2Parent Training™, Children and Adults with Attention Disorder (CHADD)
  • Seeing My Time Certification, Executive Functioning Success™
  • Member, Children and Adults with Attention Disorder
  • Member, Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder
  • Member, Association of Educational Therapists
  • Member, International Coach Federation
  • Member, ADHD Coaches Organization
  • Member, National Association of Productivity and Organizing 

Honors and Awards:

  • Phi Beta Kappa, National Chapter, Lifetime Member
  • Torch of Gold, For Service to Youth with Disabilities, Northeast Illinois Council, Boy Scouts of America, 2017
  • District Award of Merit, For Service to Youth, Potawatomi District, Northeast Council, Boy Scouts of America, 2017

A Little More About Me

In my free time, I support the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a national organization that provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives. NAMI provides free information and support, fights stigma, and encourages understanding, a much-needed beacon of hope for all people affected by mental health conditions.

As an outdoors enthusiast, I love to canoe, backpack, swim, and hike. I believe that getting outside fuels our spirits. I am also a devoted dog mom.

Contact me for an ADHD Strategy Assessment by phone or online.

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