Monthly Parenting Magazine

Interview: Claire Quigley Ward, the founder of All...

Interview: Claire Quigley Ward, the founder of All Aboard ADHD podcast

Claire Quigley

Mama-of-two Claire Quigley Ward has recently launched a new podcast called ‘All Aboard ADHD‘ to help parents navigate the ADHD journey. We chatted to her to find out more about how she’s building a supportive community for ADHD parents…

(Main photo by Charlotte Gray Photography)

Could you tell us a little bit about the All Aboard ADHD podcast and how it came to be? 

All Aboard is a new podcast which helps parents navigate the ADHD journey. Episodes alternate between experts in the field sharing key credible information, alongside real-life parent interviews sharing their lived experience. 

My own ADHD journey began six and a half years ago when my son (now nearly 13) was diagnosed aged 6. His diagnosis came as quite a surprise and a shock because it wasn’t something we were actively seeking. When I first went to see the GP to discuss the struggles, I honestly thought I was the issue, that it was my parenting, as opposed to it being anything to do with my son. I knew nothing about ADHD beyond the usual stigma and stereotypes. But I was acutely aware of the emotional, behavioural and education differences between my son and his peers, a gap that was continuing to widen. I felt so unbelievably alone. I couldn’t see my son reflected back at me in other children, and I didn’t know other parents in the same boat. But given that we know from population studies, prevalence rates of ADHD in children in the UK are around 3-5% (whether diagnosed yet or not), I couldn’t possibly be alone. There had to be others in my son’s school, in the city we live, and beyond. That’s what has driven me to continuously learn about ADHD, to speak openly about this neurodiversity, advocate passionately for my son’s needs, and ultimately want to help others.

Whenever I spoke to new teachers, sharing resources and insights, I’ve always stressed that my motivation isn’t just for my son, but rather to help make a difference for every child with ADHD that goes through the school, or indeed they go on to teach throughout their career. I believe that creating change for our children, starts with us as parents. If we want our children to grow up in a world where their neurodiversity is not only compassionately understood, but welcomed and celebrated, then we must begin by educating not only ourselves, but other children. I’ve always spoken to my son about his ADHD from day one, using age-appropriate language and different metaphors to help him understand his brain. There is no doubt having ADHD causes huge impairments and challenges every single day, but my son has truly grown up believing his ADHD is his superpower. And I want to help all other children with ADHD feel the same way about themselves and their unique brains, so they too can thrive.

Having spoken so honestly and openly about ADHD to anyone I knew over the years, gradually more and more people would approach me at the school gates asking if they could talk to me, or if they could put their friend in touch with me. I’ve been privileged to listen to countless parents share their experiences and help them as they begin their ADHD journeys. As a result, in November 2021, I founded Winchester ADHD, a support group for the parents of children with ADHD, where I live. We have a wonderfully supportive community with about 70 members, who actively communicate online, and we try to meet up in person about three times a year.

How does the podcast contribute to educating people about ADHD, and what kind of impact do you hope to achieve? 

Since the support group began, I continued to have personal requests almost on a daily basis from parents asking to meet up in person, or to chat on the phone, with people contacting me well beyond Winchester and as far as the Netherlands. Particularly those at the beginning of the ADHD journey, who would often ask if there was one perfect book or resource to start with. My answer was always: if there is, then I haven’t found it yet. There is a wealth of literature on ADHD, and there are many incredible resources that I would direct people towards, but there was no one perfect place to start for parents. Whilst ADHD is much more widely discussed these days, not least on social media, there is still a lack of accurate, credible, and digestible information out there for parents to rely on.

As a parent of a child with ADHD, and someone who has since been diagnosed with ADHD myself, I understand the importance of offering a compassionate, accessible, and trustworthy ADHD resource. So, I decided to create it – a UK based, free audio library, providing everything parents need to know. All Aboard is an inclusive, welcoming, and upbeat podcast inviting parents and caregivers of children with ADHD, along with those interested in learning more about it, to come on board.

My dream is to create a supportive and engaging community that can help parents and caregivers navigate ADHD across the UK, regardless of their social demographic. And ultimately to make a difference for more children.

Who are some of the experts and guests we can expect to listen to on the podcast? 

All Aboard ADHD launched in February 2024. The podcast opens with my personal parenting story, followed by expert guests Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, and Professor Susan Young with their episodes: What is ADHD?, and Identifying ADHD.

The first parent guest episode features vocal coach and neurodiversity ambassador Carrie Grant sharing her parenting story. Carrie is former judge on Fame Academy, former coach on Pop Idol, and now reporter on The One Show. Alongside her husband David, she is the author of A Very Modern Family in which they share their incredible family story. And a support group founder.

New episodes are released on a fortnightly basis with many expert guest episodes recorded and still to come including: Sarah Templeton, Dr Deba Choudhury-Peters, Soli Lazarus, Leanne Maskell, Dr Mark Kennedy, Pippa Simou, and many more.

What has the feedback from parents in the ADHD community been like so far? 

Feedback has been incredible since the podcast launched in late February. I’ve been genuinely blow away. When I first had the idea for All Aboard, and indeed when I recorded my opening solo episode, I thought there was a very real chance that nobody would listen. In many ways that helped me just get on and do it. 

Then launch day came (I say launch day but I’m doing this podcast myself without any backing, so it was a case of the episodes going live without any fanfare) and suddenly people were listening. The organic plays were ramping up fast. And I quickly went from being excited to get All Aboard out there in the world, to feeling incredibly vulnerable having shared such a personal insight into my family life. But then I remembered the powerful words Leanne Maskell said to me (whist I was training with her to become an ADHD coach): “it’s not about you, it’s about them” and I’ve been repeating that to myself every day since. This is about making a difference for all children with ADHD and helping their parents feel less alone. That is my mission. One that I’m incredibly passionate about. It’s what motivates me every single day. 

Carrie Grant kindly said, “Claire is that Mum who advocates for her child and has the tenacity to break down doors for those who come after.”

And finally, is there anything exciting that you’ve got planned coming up that we should watch out for?

As well as hosting the All Aboard podcast, I’m also an accredited ADHD Coach with a special interest in supporting parents and teens (12+).

ADHD coaching is a supportive process that helps children with ADHD shape their sense of self, build positive self-image, understand the challenges they face, celebrate their strengths, and teach them the skills to thrive.

It’s valuable for parents too, providing a framework within which to understand your child and their behaviours. Helping to embody ADHD, parent with compassion, and lead by example.

There are more exciting things in the pipeline for All Aboard ADHD too!