ACO Conference 2012: reflections on my return

Amazing! Start saving NOW to BE there next year!

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

I just returned from speaking at the 5th Annual ADHD Coaches Organization [ACO] conference at the at the beautiful Crowne Plaza Hotel in Atlanta.  WHAT an experience!  

Congratulations to 2012 conference chair, Judith Champion, and her conference team, along with my gratitude for a simply stellar experience.  What a banquet!

I have to second Dr. Charles Parker’s comment in the post-conference article on his Corepsychblog, “If you are an ADHD coach and haven’t yet connected with the ACO  . . .  now is the time to get on it and get cracking.”

Silver and Gold

As always, I made new friends as I connected with long-time friends and colleagues. I also had the pleasure of seeing former students “all grown up,” giving those of us who are “old-timers” brand new inspiration.  I am still grinning ear-to-ear now that I am home and unpacked.

As usual, ADD Coaches came from across the United States and, as expected, many of our Canadian colleagues made the trip.

The surprise was attendance from as far away as Stockholm, Germany and Shanghai, eager to add their voices to the mix and to ask for our help bringing ADD Coaching to their countries.

As the founder of the world’s first ADD-specific coaching curriculum and co-founder of the ADD Coaching field itself, I was and am overwhelmed with gratitude for the beautiful garden that is growing now from seeds I planted decades ago.  I stand amazed at all the “new varieties” being developed all over the world — without my having to lift a single shovel!

Meeting Colleagues “in person”

I always love adding 3-D faces and bodies to colleagues whom I’ve only met online or on TeleClasses, and this conference was dripping with that opportunity.

Among the many are Kricket Harrison, Linda Roggli, Maureen Nolan, Virginia Hurley, Cindy Giardina, Judith Champion, Joyce Kubik, Charlie Parker, Laurie Dupar, David Nowell – and those are just the business cards I can find immediately!

It was such a pleasure to finally meet ALL of you and to exchange a few words, however briefly, in our hustle to squeeze as much as possible into the relatively short time we had together.

I want MORE!

In fact, my ONLY complaint to the conference organizers would be the one I always wish I could send to Mickey following a DisneyWorld visit: I didn’t get to ride ALL the rides before it was time to go home — and I REALLY wanted to!

Impressive aside:

As usual, we were not the only conference at the hotel.  Several attendees of the other, primarily technical, conferences choose to hang out with us during mutual break times. One of them even joined the ACO himself before he left!

As other hotel guests came across us in shared elevators and public spaces and learned that our ACO insignia identified us ADD professionals, many volunteered their own ADD experiences and shared how much better their teen and adult children were doing post-diagnosis and treatment.

Are we finally on the cusp of mainstream acceptance?

Conference Overview


The opening keynote on Thursday, by Evelyn Polk Green, concentrated on diversity and the crying need for ADD information and coaching in minority communities. The second keynote, by Wendy Lippart on Saturday afternoon, enlightened us on her seminars in men’s and woman’s maximum and minimum security prisons.

Breakout sessions

Despite the fact that every day bagan far too early for my taste, this conference seemed less frenetic than many I have attended in the past. Breakout sessions were an ample ninety minutes, and were offered three to four at a time, two sessions in the morning and two in the afternoon. They were punctuated with thirty minute networking breaks, along with meal breaks that were long enough to network as well as chow down – because nobody wanted to miss the great food.

The quality and variety of conference sessions was impressive.

They included many topics frequently missing in ADD conferences geared to a more general audience of ADDers: in addition to a Master Coaching track, there were tracks for Neuroscience, Business Building, Technology, and Self-Care (including spirituality).  There were sessions on delinquency prevention and the juvinile justice system, family communication, and working with adolescent girls.

The Innovative Programming and Communities track outlined coaching programs in prisons, schools, and a couple of new approaches to working with ADD — including Jay Carter’s Mind Mapping session, and Ron Minson’s Integrated Listing Systems (a combination of sound and movement that improve the ability of brain stem and cerebellum to process sensory information leading to the cortex).

Sharing the Wealth

Over the next couple of weeks I will post more of my impressions and some of my notes, in an attempt to share the wealth of information I picked up this past week.  I will also share content from my own presentations.

I had already planned to post the content from the Conference Binder from both of my sessions in pdf format for those of you who were unable to attend. Once I have time to attend to more than a few catch-up details, I will move that item up on my to-do list, now that I have noticed  that some of the brain parts on my Brain Part Imbalance Table (filed electronically to support my Brain-Based Coaching presentation), came across the ether only as a series of boxes.

Peggy Ramundo and I will add our dual presentation content to the ADD in the Spirit Coach Training section here on

As my colleagues are able, many of them will be writing articles about their experience of the conference, and many of the speakers will be adding content from their presentations to their blogs and websites.  I will post links to their impressions and information here on this post, as well as those that follow on this topic, as a loosely organized blog-tour develops. So stay tuned.

As always, if you want notification of new information in the ACO Conference Update series – or any new posts on this blog – give your name and email to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right.

(You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too) STRICT No Spam Policy

Links to speakers and attendees blogs and websites will post below as they contact me that their content is ready.

Wrap-ups from the speakers:
All links below open in a new window/tab 

(read, close the window, come back here for the next stop on the tour) 

• Dr. Charles Parker

Other CP posts worth seeing:
Vyvanse for ADD/ADHD: The Water Titration Recipe
Intuniv For ADHD: Dosing Details
Intuniv for ADHD: Understanding Tenex, Guanfacine and Alpha 2

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

6 Responses to ACO Conference 2012: reflections on my return

  1. G Matthews says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience of the conference. It sounds like it was really educational, warm and a hub for networking and sharing experiences. I like the fact that you met some of your former students. I like it when that happens. Makes all the work worth it I think. Makes you feel like a proud parent.


    • Thank YOU for stopping by, checking out a slightly older post, and taking the time to comment.

      It was an amazing conference – especially for those of us who are “old timers.” Thanks to the forward thinking of the conference organizers (Judith Champion and her team), the content was fresh, and reflective of what’s going on NOW.

      It was also a conference targeted to ADD coaches and professionals, so the “beginner info” was refreshingly absent (SO important at general conferences to support the new dx folk, but “been there/done that” for those of us who have been working with ADD for a decade or several).

      I also found it a bloody miracle to attend a coaching conference where the focus was on providing a service and extending our reach, rather than “making a six figure income as a coach.” (I like money too, but COME ON already – marketing conferences need to market themselves as such, doncha’ think?)

      Re: former students – while I did meet one or two, mostly it was “catching up with” my former students/ current colleagues, most of whom I had met at prior conferences.

      What I loved was hearing what they are up to NOW and seeing them at the front of the room sharing THEIR expertise. I LOVE it when that happens – effectively “extending ‘my’ reach” in proportions no single individual could match. I agree, it does make the work “worth it.” SO proud of what they are doing/have done with their training – mama duck time — “Look!” The ducklings are all grown up, with little ones swimming behind THEM!”

      Thanks again for checking out the post!


  2. Madelyn, so glad you could join us this year! I enjoyed your summary of the Conference, as I did miss a few things while handling my ‘volunteer’ role! Each year I am amazed by the quality and diversity of the people we continue to attract. We are indeed going GLOBAL.
    I look forward to seeing you again next year!

    Kricket Harrison
    Bright Outside the Box
    VP ADHD Coaches Organization


    • Thanks Kricket – ditto, ditto.

      One vapid question for YOU (“girl” to “girl”) – HOW did you manage to look so pulled together the entire time. As the days rolled by I started coming apart at the seams, I fear. I could either pull together clothes, face, hair, or limit the “crack of dawn” tasks to “get cognition working,” so I could focus on all of the womderful information and all of the wonderful people. 🙂

      Hmmmm, NEXT year we need a new track: Conference Logistics 101 – Packing (how, what and when – and getting it all back home again), Time Management (adjusting your hours, getting down to breakfast, putting yourself to bed when everything is too much fun to leave), Business Cards (remembering your own and keeping track of those you collect), and Teleportation (being in three places at the same time). And I’m only half joking!

      Let me know when you post YOUR conference wrap-up — I want us to link ACO Conference posts in an “as we can” blog tour so folks can easily jump from one to the next — BOTH to catch up on what they missed and to allow them to realize they simply MUST make it to next year’s conference (which I’m sure will be even bigger and BRIGHTER and MORE “outside the box.”)

      As I told Judith, I am SO impressed with the leadership of ACO and where you are all taking the organization. GOOD JOB – and thank you. I enjoyed meeting you “live” and will see you next year. Drop over to let my readers know about “related content” on your blog as you post in the upcoming year.
      “It takes a village to educate a world.”


  3. So well said Madelyn – and same here! I would loved to have visited with a few more speakers/presentations. The diversity of commentary was simply outstanding, the venue was over the top excellent, and the work that Judith and her super team did to organize and prepare – phenomenal. The meeting stands in marked positive contrast to many I’ve attended, and I can tell you, I’ve been to a few!

    Well said, great meeting you… we, as many there, are on the same path.


    • We are indeed on the same path — EXCEPT for HOURS, Charlie – I hit “post” and toddled off to bed about the time you got up and left your message. Or perhaps, as I’ve suspected for a while now, you ARE twins, so one of you is always awake?

      YOU are one of the folks I had intended to talk with about events coming up AFTER the conference excitement, but I guess the universe would rather we talked by phone and in the ether. And so we shall! GREAT to meet you in person. You are a doll.


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