Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself

I started this blog as part of the initial set-up for the launch of my consulting career. It was 2019, and the world was a much different place back then. Fast forward to our current time, and I am now refocusing my efforts on building my consulting practice and creating a foundation for growth as 2021 is coming to an end.

When I first began planning for exactly what type of consulting services I wanted to provide, I will admit that I struggled to put together my “elevator pitch.” You might have heard of that reference before – and if we end up working together it is a term that you will definitely become familiar with and have an opportunity to apply to your own life. For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, an elevator pitch or speech is about a thirty second statement that outlines your concept, company, or services you provide in such a way that the listener understands and ideally desires to then learn more about said concept, company, or services. At my first networking event as a consultant, I was less than stellar. I looked the part and had the business cards to pass out, but I struggled to put together an engaging elevator pitch that would open the door for further opportunities. Shortly after that initial event though, the world shut down in an unprecedented way. Once that happened, pursuing my consulting business was at the bottom of my priority list as my focus turned to adjusting to a new normal, keeping loved ones close, staying healthy and safe, and just managing day to day responsibilities in a world that was not making a lot of sense. I believe though, that the time I have spent away from actively building Kimberly Frey Consulting has actually made me more able to understand what services I want to provide and how I want to help my community.

I have been in the teaching profession for twenty years, and I worked with youth in various settings prior to that. The majority of my career has been spent in special education; teaching students with Individualized Education Plans that are designed to help them be as successful as possible in school and have access to an equitable education. During this time, the majority of my students have been those with learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disabilities, mental illnesses, and/or on the autism spectrum. When people outside of the special education field think of individuals with disabilities, they often picture students with physical or cognitive disabilities and lack an awareness of how other disabilities can impact a person’s life in both school and beyond. After having time to thoroughly assess what I wanted to offer others, I realized that success in the “beyond” years of life was exactly where I wanted to focus. The students I have been working with for over two decades are adults now, and they are navigating their post-secondary lives. College, careers, relationships, self-care and more – these are all areas where many adults still need guidance and support. A common sentiment shared by so many today is that, “Adulting is hard.” As a consultant, my goal is to make it a little easier. Additionally, I want to support adults who are now navigating their own children’s educational needs, as the special education system can be difficult to understand. Lastly, as my former students are making their way in the workplace and business world, I want to ensure that their employers understand that ADA compliance is so much more than creating physically accessible spaces.

So, here you go. Two years later, I finally have created my elevator pitch….. Kimberly Frey Consulting: I provide executive functioning and life balance coaching for individuals 18 and up, support for families of students with disabilities navigating the education system, and inclusivity coaching for workplaces. I will be offering various workshops over the next couple of months designed to help usher in a new year that is full of growth and success. Contact me for more information on how I Can Help!

You Mean There’s a Name for That?

Being unorganized. Losing things. Feeling overwhelmed by daily activities. Difficulty managing your responsibilities at home and work/school. There is actually a name for the set of skills needed to be successful in these various areas and more – Executive Functioning Skills.

If I were in a room with you right now, I would ask for a show of hands as to how many of you either 1) have heard of them 2) understand what the phrase means or 3) feels confident that you have the knowledge and understanding to teach them to others. Based on conversations I’ve had with teachers and parents over the years, my guess is that more people would raise their hands for the first choice than they would for the third choice.

According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, executive functioning skills are the skills necessary in order for a person to “plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.” These are the vital life skills we need to organize our day, create and work toward goals, and live successful, rewarding lives. All individuals with ADHD struggle with their executive functioning skills, but there are others out there who don’t have ADHD who also experience difficulty in this area. People who struggle with their executive functioning skills experience difficulties in many facets of their lives.

1) Organization – while this is an area of difficulty for many people, individuals who have weak executive functioning skills struggle even more. It is hard for them to sift through all of the information they receive on a minute by minute basis, manipulate it, process it, pull from it what they need, store it in memory to pull from later, or even realize it’s information that can just be dumped altogether. This disorganization can appear to others as just sloppiness or a lack of caring on the part of the individual, but that is far from the case.

2) Starting tasks – because an individual with poor executive functioning skills struggles to be organized when presented with tasks, it is that much more difficult for him or her to even begin a task. While a neurotypical individual can get right to it, a neurodiverse individual will often become stressed or anxious just trying to determine where to start. This in turn can cause that individual’s family, friends, co-workers, and boss to assume that the individual is indifferent or unmotivated.

3) Prioritizing – in addition to the difficulties that a person with executive functioning struggles has with just organizing and starting tasks, he or she also struggles to prioritize them. Therefore, what often happens is that the budget report which is due by 5pm is given the same amount of attention as the presentation that is being given in a few days. While these are both important tasks, a person with executive functioning skills has a hard time discerning when and how much effort to give to each project.

There are a myriad of other ways that a person struggles when they have poor executive functioning skills, but the good news is that there also a myriad of different strategies for overcoming these challenges. If you desire more information for yourself, a friend, co-worker, or loved one – I can help! Visit my website for more information or to request a consultation.

I Can Help

I’m official! I am proud to announce that my website is now live. I am setting forth on a new venture as an educational consultant providing services and support to individuals and families with special education and mental health matters. Before I tell you what services I can provide, let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I started my professional career working with adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral disabilities in the late 1990’s. At that time, I worked at a therapeutic residential treatment center in Florida where I used to live. The work there was hard. We served clients that most other facilities wouldn’t take. We weren’t quite a psychiatric hospital, but we were close. I have plenty of stories from my time there that most people would be hard pressed to believe were true. Yet, I also have so many memories of the good work that was done there – kids who were helped, families that were reunited, and lives that were changed. My time there is actually what started me on my current career path, although I didn’t really realize it at the time.

My entire childhood and adolescent years were spent with me dreaming of becoming a lawyer. I wanted to be a fancy corporate lawyer with all the perks that profession would entail. Seriously. As a kid I would flip through my step-father’s law books (he was a lawyer), and imagine my future self. However, due to a series of life-altering events, I realized I wanted to use my career to help troubled youth. So, I set out to be a social worker with a plan to get my law degree and eventually work with the juvenile and family courts.

While attending my local community college working towards my Associate’s degree, I began substitute teaching. I looked at it as a way to be around kids and continue building my resume while bringing in a little bit of income. Substitute teaching changed everything. I loved being in the classrooms with the students. I worked in a middle school that served a neighborhood that was in distress. Families often lived in poverty with many qualifying for public housing. The neighborhood was the heart of the drug business for that town, so there were the challenges of high violence and crime rates as well. I valued my ability to build relationships with the kids, even though I wasn’t their “regular” teacher. I often was at the school 3-5 days per week, and the more I worked the more I realized this was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be that teacher that impacted a student in a positive way he or she would remember years down the road. When I finished my AA degree, I had completed all the prerequisites for admittance into the Social Work program at the University of Central Florida. The problem? I no longer wanted to be a social worker. I wanted to be a special education teacher. So, I spent my summer taking the four prerequisite courses I needed so that I could be admitted into the Exceptional Education program at UCF instead. The rest, as they say, is history.

So, here I am after close to twenty years as an educator. I have spent most of this time as a special education teacher working with students who have had a myriad of disabilities: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Learning Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities, and Emotional/Behavorial Disabilities such as ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, and more. As you will see from my website, I provide services to both individual and families in the areas of special education and mental health awareness. Need help understanding your child’s disability and how you can best support him or her both at home and in school? I can help. Trying to navigate your way through your child’s IEP? I can help. Are you an adult with a disability that wants support in identifying ways to be the most successful in your professional and personal life? I can help. Perhaps you’re a business wanting to ensure you are providing a workplace that is focused on positive mental health and equity for all employees. I can also help. While I am not a licensed mental health professional, I am a licensed teacher who has spent years helping others achieve to their fullest potential. I am excited to offer that same expertise to you. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Preventing the Summer Slide

Summer Vacation. Two of the most magical words known to humankind, especially if you are a child. Summer is the time for staying up late, sleeping in even later, exploring, and adventuring. However, for far too many children, summer is also a time to forget what they worked so hard all year long to learn. Help your kids avoid the infamous summer slide with these helpful tips:

1) Read! Read! Read! I can’t stress this one enough. The more your child is exposed to reading, words, and new vocabulary, the more successful he/she will be in school. Here’s the kicker…. students can read whatever they want! Comic books/graphic novels, pop culture/gossip magazines, picture books, chapter books – it doesn’t matter. As long as your child is constantly being exposed to words within the context of a story, he/she will be in school. Use summer as a time to expose your student to all the different genres available to him/her in order to foster a love of printed word.

2) Find math everywhere! Help your child understand how important math is to his/her every day life. Have them help you determine how much the groceries are going to cost (or the movie tickets), have them cook with you using that new recipe you’ve been wanting to try, or have them help figure out the travel time to your next vacation destination. During the school year, these type of word problems are actually referred to as “real-world math problems.” So, give your children the opportunity to solve them with you as much as possible during the summer.

3) Create learning opportunities each day! Did you plant a garden this year (or even just a plant or two)? Involve your student in the process. Take a road trip to a historical site, even if its historical value is only to you. Share the things about which you are passionate, or that inspire you, with your child and explain to them why. Help them to understand the wonder that still exists in this world, and also they ways they can be a part of making this Earth a better place. Maybe use time during the summer to take him/her with you to work one day so they can learn about what you do all day long, and the academic skills you need to be successful. There are so many ways to create a love of learning in your children, and summer is often the season when you have the most time to be able to do so. Take advantage of it.

In closing, summer is a magical time for children. Capitalize on that by creating experiences that build their academic skills, foster a love of learning, and get them prepped for the work that will start again in the fall. It’ll be so much more fun for both of you than just buying them a workbook or a computer program, I promise!