Parenting a Differently Wired Kid on Your Own Terms with guest Debbie Reber, MA

About this Episode

If you’re parenting a differently wired kid, you may have concerns that go beyond the already heavy stressors that can come with parenting. Am I parenting to bring out the best in my child or doing what’s comfortable, easy or socially expected?  Is my child’s IEP just addressing the behavior rather than the stressors that are causing the behavior? Is my neurodivergent student going to be left behind because they don’t perform well on standardized tests despite being very smart? Am I stuck in a cycle of “compare and despair” rather than respecting my child’s unique timeline, interests and gifts?

Dr. Amy and Dr. Jody host this conversation with Debbie Reber, M.A., author of the book, “Differently Wired: A Parent’s Guide to Raising an Atypical Child with Confidence and Hope” and founder of Tilt Parenting. It felt like a lifeline for many of us raising neurodivergent children and teens. Offering insights, personal stories, and guidance for listeners who may be grappling with insecurities around parenting a differently wired child, Debbie provided comfort—and useful tips—to help us all gain perspective.

About Debbie Reber, MA

Debbie Reber, MA, is a parenting activist, bestselling author, keynote speaker, and the founder of Tilt Parenting, a website, podcast, and resource for parents who are raising differently wired children. A regular contributor to Psychology Today and ADDitude Magazine, Debbie’s newest book is “Differently Wired: A Parent’s Guide to Raising an Atypical Child with Confidence and Hope.” In 2018 she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled, “Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired.” After living abroad in the Netherlands for five years, Debbie, her husband, and differently wired teen moved to Brooklyn, NY in 2019.

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Read the transcript for this episode:

Dr. Amy Moore: Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms brought to you today by learning our LearningRx Brain Training centers. I am your host, Dr. Amy Moore, joined by my co-host, Dr. Jody Jedlicka, and we are coming to you today from a very sunny, but a little chilly Colorado Springs, Colorado. And joining us all the way from Brooklyn, New York is our guest, Debbie Reber. Debbie is a parenting activist, bestselling author, keynote speaker, and founder of Tilt Parenting, a website, podcast, and resource for parents who are raising differently wired children. A regular contributor to Psychology Today and Attitude Magazine, Debbie’s newest book is called “Differently Wired; A Parent’s Guide to Raising an Atypical Child With Confidence and Hope.” In 2018, she spoke at TEDx Amsterdam delivering a talk called “Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired.” After living abroad in the Netherlands for five years, Debbie, her husband and her differently wired teen, moved to Brooklyn in 2019. Welcome, Debbie.

Debbie Reber: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Jody Jedlicka: Yeah. Good morning, Debbie. I love how you call yourself a parenting activist. When I was listening to your podcast, that seemed like such an appropriate way to describe you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you decided to write the book, “Differently Wired” and how you even came up with that term “differently wired”?

Debbie Reber: Yes, so I am, as you mentioned, the mom of a now 18-year-old kid, one child. And this was not my plan to do any of this, to create—to write, “Differently Wired.” I used to work as an author for books for young adults and teenagers. And I would speak to young women because I was a recovering teen myself and worked in kids TV before that and so I was just kind of humming along when I realized that my parenting journey was going to be a little more intense than, or different than what I had expected. I don’t know what I expected, but not what was unfolding before me because I discovered that the child I was raising was neurodivergent, which at the time we discovered that we didn’t know what that meant or what was really involved, but we just knew that things were gonna be a little more challenging. So, you know, going through everything we went through over the years of trying to figure out a path for my child, named Asher, figuring out a path for Asher, figuring out a school, multiple school situations, understanding how to support this kid and really support myself as a parent and a partner in going through this. I really wanted to figure out how to support other parents then in this journey, because it is—it can be very isolating and very overwhelming. It can feel impossible at times to find the right resources and to just know how to navigate this. And so when I kind of—I wouldn’t say I got through it, because I’m still in it. But when I really kind of learned more about this journey, I knew that I wanted to use my skills of sharing resources and information in writing and help other parents feel less alone in this journey. And that’s why I ended up writing, “Differently Wired.”  

Jody Jedlicka: Mm-hmm. I love that you saw the need or the whole—and you used the gifts that you had to be able to fill that need. Where did you come up with the word tilt?

Debbie Reber: Yeah, so there’s a story which I can share with you, and first I will say it’s not an acronym. A lot of people think it is. And to that I say, if you come up with something good that works with T.I.L.T., let me know. Maybe it can become an acronym. But you mentioned that when you read my bio that we had moved to the Netherlands, and when we did that, it was in 2013, and we just like threw all the rules out the window. We decided to radically change our lives. I became a homeschool parent, wasn’t my plan either, but that’s what happened. And it was this really interesting time and the summer before we moved, we went to the Jersey Shore and we were riding—Asher and I went on the tilt-a-whirl, if you know that ride, you can kind of hold on and it whips you around unexpectedly. You never know when the next one’s gonna come. And so my husband took a picture of Asher and I on the tilt-a-whirl and caught us kind of mid whip. And we have these big smiles in our faces and our hair’s blowing back and we’re just holding on for dear life. But we’re excited but nervous and it really captured to me the big changes we were making in our world. And so when we moved abroad, I started a blog called Tilt A World where I started sharing what we were doing and what I was learning. And so then a few years later when I started realizing I wanted to create a community and a resource for parents, I had pages of brainstorms for names of this that I would run them by Asher, and Asher would say “no” to most of them because it was like, “Well, that has a negative connotation and this sounds like this, and this is, you know.” And a friend said, “What about that word tilt? It really captures so much about what you’re trying to do, which is reframe things, tilt the conversation.” We all need to kind of approach neural divergence and what’s happening with our kids through this different lens. And as soon as she said it, I was like, “That’s the word.” And then Asher approved. So I moved forward with that.

Amy Moore: Yeah. I think when I saw that you label your chapter in the second half of your book, you label your chapters tilt number one, tilt number 17, right? So to me it just said, “Hey, paradigm shift number one, like new way of thinking. Number two, right? Or new way of doing.” I mean, you tilt your parenting perspective and your parenting practices and, you actually, you had a quote in your book that made me cry. You said, “People apologize for things they’ve done wrong, things they regret. My son apologized for who he is.” And I have three neurodiverse kids and so completely related to that. And just knowing the struggles that they had in school and with teachers not understanding. And so I love the idea that your response to that is, “Hey, we have to think about a different way of parenting. Rather than trying to change our child, we need to look at this whole parenting process differently, right?”

Jody Jedlicka: Yeah.

Debbie Reber: Yes, and I, you know, that was based on a story that I share of my child apologizing and just realizing that he was doing it all the time. And when I realized that that was a conditioned response really to what had been happening in school, it did break my heart. And you know that when I wrote that book even was now seven years ago. I’m excited to see that. I feel like the shift is happening. There’s, maybe it’s just who I hang out with because I spent all my time talking to people who are in this. But I do feel like there is an increasing awareness of the fact that being differently wired is a difference. It’s not a deficit. And that everyone benefits when we—instead of trying to get these kids to be compliant or to better fit in, that we really lean into their strengths and help them kind of learn on their terms and feel good about themselves. Because the toll that it takes on these kids to get the message every day that there’s something wrong with them, or they’re doing it wrong, or they’re broken or they’re bad, you know, they’re the bad kids, that can last a lifetime. I mean, it’s really heartbreaking when you think about how many kids are growing up with this internalized sense that I’m a screw-up, you know, or I’m not smart.

Amy Moore: Yeah. So I want you to, I wanna dig in a little bit about some of these tilts for our listeners. But before we do that, can you talk a little bit about this idea of getting into that compare and despair cycle and what that means?

Debbie Reber: Yeah. I mean, a lot of us raising these kids live in that cycle, I think, especially around graduation time or you know, any kind of milestones. Because I think we, as parents of these kids, our experience is often different from what we expected and it’s different from what we may see, you know, happening around us in our community or with other parents or with other family members who are raising their own kids. And so we can often get the reminder that this looks different, this is harder, this is more intense. Or your child is not gonna have this experience, or, you know, all of these things. Because we have this picture in our mind about what our kids’ life is gonna be like, what our experience as a parent is going to feel and look like. And then we see what’s happening around us. And it can be really hard to hold our experience up to those standards and then to feel like we really drew the short straw. And I mentioned graduation because that is one of those times where, you know, we start seeing on social media the pictures of, you know, so-and-so just performed at this recital or just won this award in the class for being the most respectful student or being, you know, all of this stuff. And then we’ve got these kids who are incredible and are such sensitive, lovely, complicated, fascinating people who aren’t gonna win those awards and we may not get a picture of them. They may have had such a negative experience at school that they don’t even wanna go to an, an event. They may be disinvited from events. And so that compare and despair cycle of looking at these things and keeping ourselves stuck in that feeling like, I wish this was our life, but this is our life. And the tension between those, you know, and be really painful. And it’s pain that we’re really keeping ourselves in if we’re kind of mired in that cycle because we’re continually, focusing on what we don’t have as opposed to leaning into the awesome human that we’re raising and kind of redefining what success and joy looks like for ourselves.

Amy Moore: And so where do parents start? How do they start breaking that cycle?

Debbie Reber: Well, I think noticing it is the first thing, and that’s kind of a theme throughout my book. So much of this is, kind of doing our own deep inner work to start paying attention to the things that trigger us, the times we feel sad or frustrated or overwhelmed or you know, that default thought of “this is always going to be hard,” or we’re using language like, “My child will never, you know, X,” whatever that is. So we need to disrupt that. We need to catch ourselves saying those words, thinking those thoughts, feeling those feelings, and not that we, they’re not valid. Like I’m, I’m a fan of experiencing the feeling and trying to dig deeper and understand what’s really going on. Because usually it’s, you know, it’s underneath that. It’s just concern about our kids not being happy, which is what we want. We want our kids to grow up to be happy, fulfilled humans who can contribute to the world and feel good about themselves. So I think we need to kind of uncover what’s really going on and then start to just do our own work to reframe and to look for the bright spots in our own family and to realize that social media, whatever we’re seeing that’s not real either. You know what we’re kind of imagining everyone else’s life is like, is not actually what their life is like. And we really wanna just go into our family, like, Where do we find joy? What works for us? What are our strengths? How do we have fun? What does success look and feel like for us? And how can we do this on our own terms? And the more we can kind of stay in that space, then what other people are doing, it’s not gonna impact us as much.

Jody Jedlicka: Debbie, in your book you talk a lot about education and I think that’s such a huge part of kids’ lives and parents’ lives and my husband and I have both worked in education, and I often say that kids develop kids with challenges develop what I call “school PTSD.” It’s just, you know, these experiences that they’ve had that frame how they think and look at themselves. And so, can you talk about some of the limitations of various types of schooling, public, charter, private, for differently wired children, and some of the discoveries that you’ve made surrounding those different choices?

Debbie Reber: Yeah, I mean, education is, I think, the biggest challenge when our kids are younger because that’s really one of their primary jobs, right, is to play and learn. And so, often for us, those of us raising these kids, it isn’t like that’s clear to the neighborhood school and they’re good to go for the next 12 years. It doesn’t often look that way. I think there are challenges and potentially, you know, pluses in really every type of school. I think for public school, which is where most of these kids end up, if they have a formal diagnosis, then the possibility of them getting an IEP or having a 504 plan can work. It depends on the school district. I think the challenges of the public school system is the limitations with how mastery and knowledge have to be demonstrated. Or, you know, there’s so many tests that have to be taken in standardized tests and you have to check all of these boxes and a lot of these kids learn differently and they may have a very different way of demonstrating knowledge and there isn’t much wiggle room in a public school system. I think there’s more than we sometimes think, because sometimes the school will say, “Nope, can’t do that.” And then we accept that and I think there’s more room to push. And some school districts are more open than others. But a lot of it comes down to having a teacher who really sees that kid. And a good teacher can make all the difference as you know, and a good IEP plan. But even IEPs tend to be so focused on a behavior, as opposed to the underlying stressors that are causing the behavior or, you know, that those behaviors are coping strategies for. So I think public school can work, but it can be really tricky. Also the size of the classrooms and, you know, for a lot of these kids, sensory issues are a big deal and so bigger classrooms could be overwhelming. And then private schools can work great. It really depends on the school. I think the challenge with kind of a more mainstream private school, and by that I mean one that isn’t specialized for learning disabilities and things, I think they don’t have to provide any supports if they don’t want to. And so, that can be really challenging. Living in the Netherlands, the—most expats send their kids to an international school. So I looked at them and they were like, “Mmm, no, we can’t do that. We can’t support ADHD. We don’t have the resources.” And that’s the same in a lot of places that they—and legally they can say no. So I think parents can feel like they have less of a voice in a public school. And if it works, it can work great. And if it doesn’t work, it can be ugly. As I write about in my book, we had some pretty gnarly breakups with some schools in early elementary. And a lot of then, you know, what’s happening now is there are a lot of micro schools cropping up, which is really exciting to see. A lot more specialized schools for kids who are twice exceptional or have other learning differences. And those can be really expensive. So that can be really tricky and a barrier for so many families. And then a lot of families end up homeschooling, which you know, is also not an option for everyone. It worked really, really well for us. What I find is that a lot of families with these neural divergent kids—a majority of them will spend at least some time homeschooling, even if it’s like an emergency situation or a school refusal situation. And so they pivot to homeschooling to get through a season or a certain phase, and then they try to find a better fit. So I think homeschooling can be a great option if it’s available to you, because then we’re not like focused on these arbitrary guidelines or approaches that have nothing to do with the way our kid learns. We can really tailor an educational experience that is rooted in their strengths and that is can be a really great gift, especially as you mentioned PTSD to get these kids out of that cycle. I can take the while actually to detox from a negative school experience. Months or years even.

Amy Moore: So what is your advice—I think one of your tilts is to make a ruckus when you need to. And so talk about that in terms of your advice to parents who have no other option but go to public school, right? They’re dual working families or they don’t have the resources to pay for a private program and they can’t homeschool. Apply that tilt to how they can be advocates for their children in public school.

Debbie Reber: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a lot more, as I said, that we can do that we don’t know is available to us. You know, we often are relying on other people to tell us what to do. You know, we’re not all experts in IEP. I mean, even the word IEP like makes my brain hurt. My kid has had IEPs. I’ve been to IEP meetings and I still would not consider myself an expert in that at all. And I get really overwhelmed when I have to go to those meetings. And so I think kind of finding people who are really—who understand that system really well. Working with an educational advocate, someone who can kind of be there, can be really supportive because there actually is a lot that we can push for in terms of the types of accommodations our kid might have.

A school will often, you know, there’s like a boilerplate accommodation. “Oh, you’ve got this diagnosis, we’ll give you this, this and this.” And oftentimes parents will just say, “Okay, I don’t know what that stuff means. Sounds good. I’ll sign it.” And then we assume that it’s all happening. And so I think realizing that actually if we can get in the weeds and we can say, “This accommodation isn’t gonna work because of this. This is what we propose.” Like, we can negotiate. A friend of mine talks about this like buying a used car. Like it’s a negotiation. We both wanna get what we want out of it and we don’t have to take no for an answer. So I think working with someone and actually is a great resource in, in terms of finding ideas for what you can ask for in an IEP. But there is opt more we can push for. We also need to know that we can ask for IEP meetings at any time. Like, so if we realize the teacher isn’t enforcing an IEP or actually it says we’re gonna do this, but none of this is happening, we can ask for another meeting and we can go in and say we need to make some changes. And so knowing that it’s more of a living, breathing document and that we can continue to advocate. I think a lot of parents are worried about being that parent, right? We wanna be liked, we want to—we don’t want people to be like, “Oh God, there’s that mom again,” like walking down the hallway. And then we’re also getting often phone calls, right? Or emails for early pickup. And we’re the ones who get calls from the principal or whatever, because of what happened on the playground. And so we can lose some of our power in that because we feel embarrassed or judged and we can internalize that. And so, I think we wanna like kind of reframe that to be a good advocate and know, listen, what matters is this kid’s experience. What matters is that my child feels successful in school. I know that’s what you want as a school. That’s what I want as a parent, and that’s what this child deserves. So how are we gonna make that happen? And so really working to build an alignment with the educators involved. And then just knowing this is gonna be something we’re gonna keep tweaking together. It’s not a once and done kind of thing.

Amy Moore: Yeah. What I found was, when I would negotiate those IEPs and the 504s for my kids was that, the teachers actually appreciated suggestions. Right? Because they sometimes feel like, well, we’ve tried A, B, and C and it hasn’t helped. And so for the parent to come to the table and say, “Well, this has worked for me at home. What if you tried this, you know, in the classroom?” I got less pushback on that than I expected. And then I also found that if I leveraged the relationship with the pediatrician, my child’s pediatrician or whoever diagnosed my, you know, different children and said, “Hey, I drafted an accommodations letter. Would you put this on your letterhead?” Right? Save your pediatrician the work. They’re typically more than happy to say, “Hey, here’s our recommendation.” And then you kind of have a little bit of, you know, some credibility behind your suggestion.

Debbie Reber: Yeah, I love that. I mean, you’re just getting creative and I think again, it requires us, because not all, some of us, maybe a lot of us are non-confrontational people. And so for us, we don’t—we’re worried that we’re gonna be perceived as antagonistic. And so, and we also wanna trust, you know, or defer to the wisdom of people that we perceive to be more educated about this than we are, but that’s not always the case. And so, you know, I love that your child’s teacher was open to that. I’ve had mixed experiences, I’ve had teachers love that and I’ve had teachers been like, “I know what I’m doing. Thank you very much.” So I think it really depends.

Amy Moore: Absolutely.

Jody Jedlicka: Weirdly, I’ve been on both sides of the table of an IEP too. And I think sometimes the staff of the school wants to be non-confrontational as well. And so I think that also can be frustrating for parents because they know something needs to be done and they’re happy that you see all the good things, but they wanna know what are we gonna do to move forward with this? And so, I think it makes parents feel validated when everybody’s on the same page.

Debbie Reber: Yeah, a hundred percent.

Amy Moore: So talk a little bit about how parents can react to other people shoving their opinions at you about, well, what your—what your child should be doing right now, or developmentally, how come your child isn’t doing this right now? Give our listeners some advice on, on how they can respond to those suggestions from others.

Debbie Reber: Yes, well-meaning often suggestions, but very misguided. Yeah, I mean there’s, there’s no like easy answer in terms of how to do this, because I think a lot of us do get triggered by that because again, it feels personal. It feels like this person is judging and they may be very well be judging our—how good of a parent we are, and we all wanna feel like we’re doing a really good job. And so I think if it is something that you get triggered by, then that’s worth separately—before we get to the tactical things—kind of working on that piece, like why, why is this upsetting to me? What am I making it mean that this person has given me advice or has insinuated that I don’t know what I’m doing? Like, and just uncover that, uh, what’s going on often, again, like I feel like so much of our stuff is triggered from our own baggage that we grew up with, of feeling like we’re not good enough or we’re not smart enough. And so it’s worth taking the time to be like, oh yeah, that’s, that’s why this is really bothering me. Just so we can make peace with that in some way. And then I think it can be really helpful to just have some, some scripts at the ready for. For those types of situations when someone gives you unwanted advice or asks you a question, you know, I write extensively in the book about, I love the Dutch, I’m just gonna say this. Dutch people are some of my favorite people on the planet and they’re super direct. Which I’m good with. Like I live in New York, I can deal with directness, but there was a lot of, “Why are you homeschooling? We don’t believe in homeschooling. It’s bad for kids.” And people would just say that to me, point blank. And I, so I would instantly get defensive and feel like I had to explain, and then I realized I don’t need to explain, like this is triggering for someone else because it’s confronting their picture of what they think things should look like. It has nothing to do with me. So just kind of, if you find that you’re getting, you know, messages like more than once and you’re like, “Oh, this is gonna come up again.” I think it’d be really helpful to just write down like here are my like canned responses for all of these situations. Just so that we’re not in that situation where we have that deer in headlight moment where someone says something and then we get triggered and then we respond in a way that makes us feel bad later because we overshared or we gave power to someone that that took away some of our own or we disciplined our kids in a public situation to make somebody else feel better when it was the completely wrong thing to do for our child. So I think if we can proactively plan for those scenarios, then they’re not gonna trip us up as much. And then we’ll start to feel more empowered and confident, and it won’t rattle us as much when people do that.

Amy Moore: Can you share some examples that you, you added in the book, of how you would respond or how you did respond?

Debbie Reber: I don’t remember what I wrote in the book, but I will say that I, you know, some things are like, “Oh, this is really, this is a really good fit for our family right now.” And that’s a complete sentence. Like, that’s it. Like, you don’t—I don’t need to go on more than that. Or like, you know, or sometimes it’s like, “Wow, your kid is too old to be doing this.” It’s like, “Oh, you know, this is a really hard situation for my child right now, but we’ve got it. Thanks for your concern.” You know, just like very kind of, it doesn’t have to be mean. Or, you know, a lot of our kids are asynchronous developers, right? So they may be, have the, what, you know, operating at an emotionally lower age, you know, than their biological age. But meanwhile, cognitively, they might be doing something that like a college student is doing. And so, I think that’s another one. People sometimes get confused and it’s like, “Oh, we’re focusing on other things right now.” Like, “This isn’t a priority for us right now. We’re really going all in on art because that’s what we’re doing.” Again, complete thought, full sentence period. We don’t need to overexplain. That can feel really uncomfortable for a lot of us because, I mean, think about when we’re making an excuse for saying no to something we’ve been invited to, like we feel like we have to make a—give them a reason and explain all the things. And actually we can just say, “Oh, I can’t make it. Thanks for asking.” Like, that’s it. So it’s kind of retraining us to have some healthy boundaries and just realize that other people don’t need to be in our business.

Amy Moore: I love that. Yeah. I, I used to say to my own mom who would give me parenting advice, “That’s a really great suggestion. I’ll think about that.” And so there’s not a way to argue with that comment, right? Mm-hmm. Like it’s a you—like you’re saying, it’s a full sentence, it’s a full thought, and it kind of shuts down the conversation there. I mean, there isn’t much else to argue about.

Debbie Reber: Yeah. Yeah. Or like, “Oh, I’m so glad that works for you.” Right? Like, “Oh, I’m so glad that book was like the answer to your whatever.” Period. Yeah.

Jody Jedlicka: One of the things that you talked a lot about, Debbie, I don’t know if it was all in the book or if it was on one of the podcast episodes that I listened to, was how parents can be kind of their child’s safe space so that you’re almost using your own energy to calm them and keep them calm, and I really loved that. I don’t know what my question is in that, but if you could talk a little bit about that. Just being able to calm them in those situations where things get out of hand.

Debbie Reber: Well, yes, I did write about that in the book. There’s a tilt about, you know, our own energy. I don’t remember what the chapter is called, but it’s this idea that, we can use our energy for good or for bad when we’re—when we’re with our kids. And I wrote about a time that I realized in a really profound, like light switch kind of a way how the way that I responded to an incredibly dysregulated little kid from a place of calm and groundedness. Like it ended what was happening immediately and it was like, “Oh my gosh. Like this is a superpower! Like all I have to do is stay like this for the rest of my life and we’re good to go! Like no more regressions, no more meltdowns.” Of course, that wasn’t possible. It’s not possible for any human to do that, but I really started to get curious about the way that my energy and the way that I was, and responded to Asher when Ash was dysregulated, could really make or break any situation. Of course, Dr. Dan Siegel talks about this and Tina Payne Bryson in their book, “The Whole-Brain Child” and mirror neurons and what’s really happening and the way our brains are communicating. And now, you know, in recent years there’s been so much conversation about co-regulation and, you know, Dr. Mona Delahooke talks a lot about this in her amazing books and Tina Payne Bryson does as well. Like, anyway, I feel like what I thought was like, well, I’ve just discovered something amazing. It’s like, actually, you know, this is neuroscience, Debbie, and it is so powerful what we can do to the way our nervous system talks to another human’s nervous system. And it is my daily work right now. It has been this whole time, but now raising, you know, having a teenager I am, it’s all about me figuring out how can I co-regulate. Because what I’ve learned, I’ve just interviewed Deb Dana for my podcast. She is kind of a translator of polyvagal theory that we are always co-regulating with everyone around us. Like it’s just what—we don’t even know we’re doing it. And so that is, it’s an incredible thing to think about. And so knowing that we can really support a person who’s dysregulated by staying regulated ourselves is—it is such a worthy endeavor to try to do. It’s not easy to do because we get triggered when our kids are like, venting at us, or you know, we’re the recipient of all of their stuff. It can be really hard. But to work, to get back to that place is, is really important.

Jody Jedlicka: Yeah. I feel like that’s such an important tool to have in your toolbox because it doesn’t say that their reaction is good or bad or anything. It’s just this is what I can do in this situation.

Debbie Reber: So powerful.

Amy Moore: And that tilt is called “Recognize how your energy affects your child.”

Debbie Reber: Yes. Yeah. AKA co-regulation.

Amy Moore: Yes. I’ve heard that described as having one foot in and one foot out. So you have one foot into their space. Right But while anchoring yourself with your emotions in your space. So that you’re not fully in theirs, right? Because then their energy’s gonna impact you and trigger you, like you’re saying. And so, yeah.

Debbie Reber: Yeah. I use the metaphor always of like, I’m really good at jumping in the pool with my kid, and so I’m really trying to stay on the deck and not go into the pool, but I’m there in case I need to throw a life, you know, a ring. Or as someone else just shared this metaphor with me of like, your kid can be up in a tree like waving their arms and, you know, having a freak out and you’re just staying on the ground. Like you, you’re there, you’re—but you don’t wanna get up in the tree with your kids. You wanna stay solidly on the ground.

Amy Moore: Yeah. I like those metaphors. You could keep your legs dangling in the water while you sit on the edge of the pool.

Debbie Reber: Yeah. Sure. Have a margarita or something.

Amy Moore: Yeah. Right?

Jody Jedlicka: Now we’re talking.

Amy Moore: All right. So, we need to let—take a break and let Dr. Jody read a word from our sponsor. And when we come back, Debbie, we want you to tell us a little bit about your podcast and your club and how listeners can engage with you. When we come back.

Jody Jedlicka: Are you concerned about your child’s reading or spelling performance? Are you worried about your child’s reading curriculum isn’t enough? Well, most learning struggles aren’t the results of poor curriculum or instruction. They’re typically caused by having cognitive skills that need to be strengthened. Skills like auditory processing, memory, and processing speed. LearningRx one-on-one brain training programs are designed to target and strengthen the skills that we rely on for reading, spelling, writing, and learning. LearningRx can help you identify which skills may be keeping your child from performing their best. In fact, we’ve worked with more than a hundred thousand children and adults who wanted to think and perform better. They’d like to help you get your child on the path to a brighter and more competent future. Give LearningRx a call at 866-BRAIN-01 or visit That’s

Amy Moore: Okay. And we’re back talking with author Debbie Reber. So Debbie, talk to us about your podcast and you have a club, and just share those resources with our listeners.

Debbie Reber: Sure. Thank you. Yeah, so Tilt Parenting, which I’m coming up on seven years, I’m just gonna say, which is crazy pants to me, but it started as a podcast and that’s still kind of my key way of sharing resources. I’ve got more than 300 episodes and I will just say, if you go back in the archives, I used to do inter—conversations with Asher when Ash was 11 and 12, and we’d have these great conversations about, What does it feel like to be distracted? What does it feel like when you’re frustrated? So those are really fun episodes, but just conversations with authors, parents, thought leaders, and on anything having to do with neurodivergence. So I love my little podcast and, and it’s also Tilt has kind of evolved into a community. So we have a pretty active Facebook group called Tilt Together and that I started three years ago, the Differently Wired club, which is my way to kind of get in the weeds with parents and you know, we have a lot of office hour calls. We do—we read a book together every month and have the author come in and talk with us. And it’s just a really supportive community of parents who are in it and who get it. And again, including me, I always create what I need and I still need the club. So I love the Differently Wired club. And then I just wanna share for listeners too, I have some good free resources on there. I have something called the Differently Wired Seven-Day Challenge, which every day is a little video that includes a tilt, you know, a reframe that you can just play with. It’s a little tweak that you can make in your life to see how you might be able to shift things in a way that feels better for you and your family. I have a new series I just put up that’s also free. It’s called “10 Things You Need to Know About Raising a Differently Wired Kid.” And it’s basically, if I could go back and tell myself, here’s what you need to know, these are those things. And sometimes I wish I could have a do-over, but that’s not gonna happen. And then I have a roadmap for parents seeing a differently wired kid as well, which is an interactive PDF with a ton of resources for how to kind of move through this journey. It’s not a linear journey as you guys know, but there are kind of different phases that we find ourselves in, in repeat as we go through this parenting. So all of those are also at

Amy Moore: Fantastic. So listeners, Debbie’s book, like I had mentioned in the very beginning, has 18 different chapters that talk about suggestions for reframing how you parent, from connecting with others to being on the same page with your spouse, to ensuring that you take time for self-care to being an advocate for your child, and those interactions and how we interact with our child. Just full of great tips and exercises that I wish I had read 20 years ago when I started parenting diverse kids. So we do encourage you to take a look at, at her book and her resources. Debbie, is there anything that you haven’t gotten to say to our listeners that you would like to leave us with today?

Debbie Reber: Yeah, I’ve got a few things actually. No. I will say one is that I always like to just remind people that our kids are not broken. And I think especially if you’re newer to this journey of realizing that this path is a different path than I expected, or oh no, we just found this—oh, this is happening and we’ve gotta do, you know … We kind of get into panic mode and just kind of take a pause and take a breath and say, “You know what? This is okay. Like we don’t need to fix anybody here. We need to figure out how to support this human on their unique journey.” And we’re all unique. And so kind of leaning into that and getting out of that kind of panic fix-it mode would be important. And, I don’t remember the other thing I was gonna say, but it was gonna be good. But we’ll just stick with the … We’ll just stick with the, “get outta fix-it mode.”

Jody Jedlicka: I think the community that you offer on so many different levels for people is just unbelievably valuable. So I know of at least a couple who are gonna get an email from me saying, you really need to listen to this. It’s awesome.

Debbie Reber: So, oh, that’s awesome. Thank you. Yeah, I did think of what I wanted to say. Do you want me to say it?

Amy Moore: Absolutely.

Debbie Reber: Before it leaves my brain again. I just wanna say that one of the tilts in there is about respecting your child’s unique timeline. And that to me, I feel like now, especially in these quote unquote “post-Covid” days, and there’s so much we’re learning about our kids’ development or maybe learning, you know, loss or whatever’s going on. And I really wanna encourage people to, if you find yourself getting panicked and stressed about, you know, your child being behind, to just, again, take a deep breath and realize like every child is on their own unique timeline. Every child is—has their unique strengths and they’re ahead in other areas where they may be lagging. But we don’t have to figure it out all out right now. Like really lean into the strengths that your child has and really focus on supporting them and feeling good about themselves and knowing about who they are, and don’t stress about that compare and despair cycle. Don’t think all these things have to happen this way; you know, A, B, C. They don’t. Like, we get to figure out the right path for our families and our kids. There is no one way that this has to look. So if you’re feeling stressed about that, I’m just gonna encourage you to take a breath and be like, it’s gonna be okay. We can do this on our own terms.

Amy Moore: I love that. And I’m gonna say something a little controversial here, but in response to the panic that I’ve been seeing over the learning loss during Covid, everyone is behind. So, yes, schools really struggled to help kids make a year’s progress in a year’s time during the lockdown, but everyone was in that same boat. So compared to whom far behind are your children actually falling, right? Like the entire country is in the same situation. And so yeah, we can all just commiserate about that, right? And we can all say, “All right, it happened. Let’s do the work we need to do.” So, yeah, don’t panic. All right. Well, we are out of time and need to wrap up. So this has been a fantastic conversation today. Thank you so much, Debbie, for being with us. Listeners, if you would like more information about Debbie’s work, her website is You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Tilt Parenting. We’ll put all those links in her handles in the show notes, including how to purchase her book as well. So, thank you so much for listening today. If you liked our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. You can find us on every social media platform at The Brainy Moms. You can go to (edited to reflect new website) if you want to visit our website. So look, until next time, we know that you’re busy moms. And we’re busy moms, so we’re out.

Jody Jedlicka: Have a great week everybody.