Ep #47 Coaching Parents of Autistic Adult Children with Lynn C. Davison

podcast Apr 12, 2023

This series is called "Founders Over 50" and features people who started a business (or even more than one) after the age of 50 years old. It's my birthday month and to honor that I invited a few guests over 50 to share their business journey.

In this episode, I interview Lynn C. Davison who at 65 years old has a coaching business helping parents of autistic adult children. Lynn is the founder of "The Art of Adulting" and in this episode, she shares a lot of wisdom that can help anyone—autistic or otherwise—change their circumstances by changing their brain.

Here are the highlights of our conversation.

Camille: We met when I was a coach in a marketing program you were in and I immediately fell in love with your business and you. Can you tell us more about yourself?

Lynn: I graduated from Indiana University with Spanish and Business. Lived in Columbia and. Had 18 years of marketing experience. Then we adopted 5 kids who are all neurodivergent. Then I decided to stay home. And then I started a travel business. I helped over 3,000 people take vacations to the Dominican Republic. I taught myself how to start a business and even built a website. I decided to pivot from that to something closer to my heart which was coaching. It became clear that I wanted to work with other moms like me who were raising kids who are alternative learners.

Camille: I learned a few new things about you, including a child that passed and that you ran a travel business. Can you tell us about how you pivoted into this new business?

Lynn: When autistic kids graduate from school they lose their support network. They lose discipline from the structure of their days. Autistic kids lose this and they need to put it back.

Camille: Are you saying that these folks are capable of evolving into independence?

Lynn: It's not just for the kids it's for the parents and to give them tools to help their kids make this evolution. Most parents feel overwhelmed and fearful about the future. I give them both the structure that works for both of them. 

Camille: The work that you're doing is two-fold. It's a business that works for you but you also run a "mission-based business" which is one from your heart. I run a mission-based business too. Tell us how you got started.

Lynn: I kept thinking about it. But our brains tell us to stay safe, avoid risk, and that starting a business is a bad idea. I needed to have something that was going to drive me. I enrolled in a course that helped me launch my own course. 

Caille: Ok so you started the online course before you offered coaching?

Lynn: No I did it all! An online course and coaching. The very first client I had I only had one tool to teach which are the three questions.

1. What -  these are the facts of a situation. Like "I have a body"

2. So what - the thought/emotion combination which is our brains making meaning out of the facts. This also fuels our "now what".

3. Now what - this is the action we take and thus the consequences of our actions based on the meaning we give facts.

Camille: I love this model! So if we take a fact like "I have a body" and " I don't like it". If I don't like it, then why eat healthy? How do you flip it then?

Lynn: First just notice that thought. Then notice what is driving you. Then if you want a different result you work backwards and decide what actions to take to get that result. then you have to think about the thoughts that drive that action. 

Camille: This is a simple model and easy to understand. I also love this for any person, not just people on the autism spectrum.

Lynn: yes this really helps the parents. So the parents have to get centered to inspire their kids.

Camille: Speaking about fear then, did you have some fear when starting this business?

Lynn: Well you never get over fear. This is how our brain keeps us safe. 80% of our thoughts are negative and 90% are the same ones we had yesterday. Because our brains don't like to spend energy coming up with new thoughts. Fears often come in two messages either "I'm not good enough" or "My life isn't going the way it should." For me, I had doubts about my ability to start a business from technology to money.

Camille: Are you comfortable sharing your age?

Lynn: yes I'm 65. 

Camille: I thought you were 55 and what I'm impressed by is that you started this business at 61 and worked through the barriers.

Lynn: Let's put that in the "what, so what, now what" model. I'm 65 and tool old to start a business which creates fear and overwhelm, so you do nothing and thus don't start a business. Literally, there are 8 billion ways to think about this situation. Find a thought that feels true to you. Like, I could take the frit step and see what happens. That makes me curious/ "Curiosity" is my favorite emotion. Any problem we have we can ask 

Camille: I like that. I didn't expect this rich deep conversation. I can't wait to use these three questions. if I can detach my thinking from the day-to-day I can see how I've made progress.

Lynn: Right, our brains won't look for that progress. I train my brain to be my own coach. If I don't train my brain and let it run on autopilot then 80% of the time it will feed me negative thoughts. I listen to my inner coach on a daily basis.

Camille: And these thoughts are unhelpful.

Lynn: Our thoughts only need a small shift. Find a thought and then the next helpful thought.

Camille: Do you have any tips to encourage people who have fear about starting a business?

Lynn: If you can't put it down you know you're on the right track. If you feel like "I have to do this". Also, Facebook is a really great place to validate your ideas. I had to test the market test. I talked to my friends and asked about my strengths and weaknesses. I knew about a few dozen Facebook pages and I was reading about the pain and struggle on those pages, I knew there was 

Camille: I love how you took your personal experience and life work and weave that into a business. I love how you validated that in a few simple ways like asking people, looking at Facebook maybe seeing if anyone has content on YouTube. Did you ever find someone in your niche and think this person is so good why would I bother?

Lynn: Oh yes! There's a guy who runs a similar business and has a huge audience. And another guy who coaches autistic couples. But what drove me is that I have people in my life who are autistic and I love them, so that's what fuels me more than comparing myself to other people in my niche. If you can align yourself with what your clients need it makes you a better coach.

Camille: I love that you took steps and had doubts but what you did you took steps, at some point your passion combines it with steps. 

Lynn: You have to be patient because it is slow. But I am faster now than I was three years.

Camille: I agree with that. It gets easier. I bet you have more compassion for yourself too right, because I bet you were hard on yourself. But then you realize that it is hard and compassion is a better emotion than self-criticism.

Lynn: That's just managing your mind again.

Camille: Lynn this has been a pleasure. Where can people find you?

Lynn: www.whenautismgrowsup.com. I am so excited I am re-launching my course. Seven Practices that Inspire Doing What Matters. I have a practice for every day of th week.  I am so excited for this! 

Camille: I love your framework. I help people take what they do and put it into an easy-to-understand framework like yours. I am convinced I have family members that fit in this category, so I plan to attend as much as I can. 

Lynn: Somewhere between 2-4% 6-12 million people fit into this category so it's no surprise.

Camille: Lynn, thanks for joining us today I am excited about your re-launch!

If you have any questions  Click here to DM on Instagram.

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