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The #1 ADHD podcast on iTunes, hosted by

Educator Author Consultant Shelley Kenow on Individualized Education Plans

by Faster Than Normal

In her own words: I am a wife, mother to one amazing daughter, and a fully trained human to a Chihuahua. I am a certified special education teacher and have been a special educator for 30 years. I now work as a special education consultant, Master IEP Coach® and am a member of the Master IEP Coach® Network. I’ve worked in the United States and England. During my career I developed my own behavior modification system that worked with all my students, which equates to hundreds of students. I am the author of “Those Who ‘Can’t…’ Teach”, a video podcast host of #nolimits and “Friday with Fran”. I am making the world better for all, one IEP at a time. Today we ask her about IEP’s, the behavior modification system she’s developed, what led her to educating and consulting, and her experience thus far. Enjoy!

In this episode Peter and Shelley Kenow discuss:  

2:10 – Intro and welcome Shelley!

3:30 – What called you to work in Special Education?

7:09 – What are the basics, what is the overview of the behavior modification system you’ve implemented?

8:12 – On the different ways to ‘listen’ for behaviors 

11:18 – On the concept of what ‘other’ people find appropriate; who makes those ‘rules’?

13:00 – Learning how everyone has their own uniquely wonderful lens  

13:44 – How are things for the neurodivergent in Europe/What was your experience like?

16:37- How can people find more about you and what you’re doing? on LinkedIN  YouTube  @shelleykenowiep on INSTA @ShelleyKenowIEPconsultant on Facebook and via email: [email protected]

17:22 – Thank you Shelley! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know.  Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I’m and you can reach out anytime via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! 

17:53 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits


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 Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Faster Than Normal. Today’s an interesting day. It is the day before I leave for Paris. Um, another international trip coming up, which is normally not that big of a deal, but I am dealing with the joy of COVID testing in multiple cities, in multiple places. So I am currently talking to you, uh, with a stick up my nose. I’m about to put it into a little home test and see what kind of results we get. So that being said, who are we talking to here? We’re visiting with Shelley Kenow. And I hope I pronounced that right. She’s an education consultant. Today’s concept is going to be all about education. We’re going to talk about ADD ADHD and education. Shelley is a wife, a mother to an amazing daughter, and a fully trained human to a Chihuahua. I love that. She’s a certified special ed teacher. She’s been a special educator for over 30 years, working as a special education consultant now, and a master IEP coach. She’s worked in both in the US and England and during her career, she’s developed her own behavior modification system that works with hundreds of students. She’s the author of  “Those Who ‘Can’t…’ Teach”  and she does video podcasting and makes the world better for all one IEP at a time. Welcome! How are you doing?

Thank you, Peter. I’m doing well. And I’m sorry to hear that you have a stick up your nose. 

Well, it’s no longer there now it’s in a little device and I’m going to wait 15 minutes and see to get again. For whatever reason I don’t have COVID, you know, I gotta tell ya. I two and a half years almost. I was, I was in China when, when Wuhan, I was a thousand miles south when the virus was discovered. And, uh, I was, I went back to Asia three times before they, before. Uh, a thing and I was all over the world. I was in a Peloton class with 60 journalists from around the world, uh, in studio, um, the morning that everything was shut down in New York city. So the fact that I didn’t never got it is just a lottery, but it’s pretty crazy, but I hope that was a safe as well. Tell us what got you into special ed that’s that’s a, yeah, that’s not something you do for the money. So you must have really loved, loved what you do and still love what you do. Tell us about your background and your history and, and sort of how that started. 

Yeah, no, certainly didn’t get into it for the money and didn’t get out of it because of the money. Um, I, when I was nine years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I wanted to teach students in the general education population and wanted nothing to do with special education students, because I didn’t think that I was capable or that I had the right stuff, whatever that is, uh, in order to, to really be a good educator for those who had disabilities, um, throughout my, from the time I was nine, until I decided, yes, I’m going into special education, which was around the age of 25, I had that thought of, oh, you should teach special education. And I thought, Nope, Nope. That’s not the path I’m supposed to take. That’s not what I’m going to do. Um, I didn’t have anyone in my family that had any disabilities. I didn’t have friends that had any. And so I really didn’t have any experience with anybody and your audience. Can’t tell probably by my voice and you can’t see me, but I’m 51 years old. So this was, you know, I was growing up in the time when the law was just coming into practice and things were just starting to change as far as kids with special education needs. And yet I never saw anybody with special education needs. Um, it wasn’t until I was, um, Much older that I realized there had been a classroom down the hall from me when I was in third grade. That’s where the special education kids were. We didn’t see them, they didn’t have lunch with us. Um, you know, the, the whole idea of inclusion at that time was non-existent right. And so I just really had no idea. Well, then the Lord put me in jobs where I was working with kids who had different needs. And I didn’t realize that they were the ones who were considered special education, because I didn’t know they had an IEP or an individualized educational program if somebody doesn’t know what that is and, um, and I absolutely fell in love. And the thing that really shifted for me was a position that I had when we lived in England and I worked with kindergartners who had IEP’s and two of them had major behavioral issues that, um, we were able to address and help them. And I saw such a significant change from the beginning of the school year to once we, um, put a behavior intervention plan in place and were able to help these little guys, that was it. That was the final thing for me, where I just said, I’ve got to do this. This is absolutely what I love and I’m passionate about. And then for the next. I don’t even know how many years, um, started working with special education, finished up my degree to be able to do that, then had my own classroom develop this behavior modification system where it really is something that applies at every age. Um, but because I was teacher, I used it with my students. I might’ve used it on my husband, but don’t tell him I said that. Um, hehe, and I, I just absolutely every student that I worked with, it worked, it worked in varying degrees. It works with kiddos in individual settings, in small group settings, and in large group settings, it was used at one of the school districts where I worked with whole class General education students. And it was parts of it, not all of it, but it was able to, to, uh, show progresses in there as well. 

So talk, talk a little bit about it. So, you know, for an ADHD and sort of, sort of ADD perspective, what are the, what are the basics, give us the overview.

So the idea, the first main point of it is having a relationship with the student. Now that doesn’t mean that you take them out for ice cream or that you, you know, do anything outside or, or even anything big. It’s just a matter of letting the person know that you really do care about them. You really do want what’s best for them. And having that understanding goes a long way and how much trust the person will give you in order for you to be able to walk alongside them and help them figure out, okay, why are you having this behavior? What is this behavior communicating? All behaviors are communication. So what are you trying to communicate? And when you’re talking about younger children, especially, they don’t often know what their bodies are trying to communicate. Um, and. Or what their behaviors are trying to communicate. It often comes out through body, um, behaviors, you know, they’re, they’re fidgety there.. and it could be that their body just needs movement, that could truly be what they’re trying to communicate. Instead of saying, look, you know, you need to sit still or you need to sit in a desk or you need to, um, stop paying attention to everything and only focus on the teacher, understanding that some of those things are just how their body is built is what we need to know, and we need to get the person to know that about themselves as well. So walking, alongside, figuring out what the behaviors are, trying to communicate, adapting what we are doing as the person walking alongside and helping the person, um, who’s exhibiting the behaviors, possibly find what they need in order to be able to safely and appropriately exhibit whatever behaviors that they have, um, you know, for somebody who has maybe ADHD, that they need a lot of movement, maybe it’s getting them some sort of resistance bands on their desks or that they can hold, or, um, if it’s something that, uh, you know, as far as being able to focus, um, giving them some sort of a fidget or, um, some sort of other sensory input that will maybe give them what they’re looking for. I’m not a huge proponent.. I don’t, I don’t automatically go to medicine, but medicine is also something that can help and, you know, so just trying to figure out all of those nuances of, okay, there’s a person, and usually we don’t pay attention to behaviors that we want; we only pay attention to the unwanted behaviors. So figuring out how somebody can express what they need to say in a way that society ‘approves’ and that is ‘socially acceptable’ and safe..and that’s really the biggest one, um, for that person. And then when they have that time, when they do misbehave, rules are there. We have to have rules. And one of the other things that I say is you have to be consistent, with exceptions. So what I mean by that is when a rule is broken, the rule is broken; there has to be a consequence. However, that consequence doesn’t have to be the same thing every single time. and it doesn’t have to be the same consequence for every single person it’s having that relationship and knowing like, okay, why did this child misbehave again, going back to the behaviors or communication, what is going on? That you know, is this something that they really had control over? Did they not get enough sleep? Is there trouble at home? Do they not understand the material that we’re covering? Um, what is it that is controlling that behavior and then determining like, okay, look, yes, you broke the rule. Yes, you need to have a consequence, but maybe instead of jumping all the way to the most severe consequence, we just give you a mild one this time, but you have to have a consequence because you did disobeyed the rules.

Brings up an interesting question, you know, the concept of, um, you, you mentioned doing things that other people find appropriate. Right? Right. Um, you know, w w who’s who’s drawing those rules, who’s making those rules for what is and what isn’t appropriate, you know, God knows. I am not. Uh, when you think about me, you don’t necessarily think appropriate, uh, all the time, right. So, you know, what, what defines those rules as appropriate. And, and, and, uh, I guess, I guess I asked that question because I’ve always thought the concept of telling a kid you’re not appropriate in a lot of ways, because I mean, not all the time, but sometimes can equate to you’re different than everyone else, right? And you have to find that difference between being inappropriate by society standards and then just being different, which is not necessarily a bad thing. 

  Absolutely. No, absolutely. Like you talk about, you know, it’s ‘a superpower. Um, especially ADD and ADHD, that is a major super power. People who have that, you can multitask. And that’s a thing that I can’t do, um, to be perfectly honest, but who determines if it’s appropriate or not? That’s kind of why I use the word wanted and unwanted because a classroom teacher determines what behaviors they can tolerate and what behaviors they can’t and what behaviors they want and what behaviors they don’t want. Parents, we do the same thing and every person who is applying that ‘appropriate or wanted’ views things differently. And so that’s the other thing is like, okay, you know, kind of getting the, the broad overview of quote unquote, socially acceptable norms, as far as behavior goes, But also being able to embrace exactly what you said. Like I’m, me and I am a wonderful person the way I am. And if some person has a problem with my, my behaviors, then that’s as much on them, because their behavior is communicating something also. So learning, you know, that, hey, everybody’s gonna look at you with a little bit different lens; that doesn’t change who you are in your wonderfulness, that’s on them and how they’re dealing with their own wonderfulness, and how those two things interact with each other. 

No question about very, very cool. So this has been implemented in school districts. Is that what, how, when did you live in Europe and, and what’s the, is there a different mindset, um, over there in terms of kids who are different? Um, I know that in Asia, it’s, it’s huge. It’s a huge difference compared to America. What’s it like in Europe? 

When we lived in England, it was in the middle nineties. My husband was military at the time. And so we lived on a military base. Uh, it just so happened that prior to us moving onto the base, we lived, um, on the economy as they call it. And there was a school basically in our backyard. So I volunteered at that school and they do have at that time. And I don’t know if it’s still that way today. They had a very different approach as to, it was much more individualized in the Gen Ed setting. Um, people were working on the same subjects, but they were working maybe on slightly different levels within those subjects. So they might all be learning the same concept, but as far as how much practice they did or the exact level of that concept, um, which is very different than the United States classrooms that I’ve been in because we are all, well, here we go. We have 25 people in here. We’re all getting the same lesson. We’re all getting the same assignment. We’re all getting the same test, and you all have to just deal with it. Um, so at, at that time, And again, I can’t speak to it today, but it did seem much more individualized, much more, um, what we have here in the states that I have seen that is kind of like this are Montessori schools, where they really work with the child’s abilities and interests and let them kind of move at their own pace, but not exactly. 

I was a Montessori kid until Junior High, so I get it.

And so the other thing that I found really appealing about the schools that I volunteered in there were that they were year round schools. So you had more breaks, built in to the system, they still attended the same number of days per school year, or maybe, you know, maybe five or six different, but, uh, one way or the other, but the fact that they had those breaks so that the students could absorb what they had learned, give their brains that break and then.. they retained the information so much better because of that. And that’s actually more where the science goes as far as having learning opportunities is you need the little breaks. You need to have stuff repeated and taught different ways. Multiple times. We don’t do that here in the states. We like to just say, okay, here you go, here’s the new skill. All right. That’s on Monday on Friday. We’re going to test. Okay. Next Monday, we’re doing a different skill. All right, for.. and just lather rinse repeat. And that isn’t necessarily well, it isn’t, period, the best way to do it, according to Science. 

No, that makes sense. That makes a lot of sense. Actually tell us about, um, tell us like last question really, is how can people find more about you and about what you’re doing and where can they look you up and where can they learn more about it?

[  on LinkedIN  YouTube  @shelleykenowiep on INSTA @ShelleyKenowIEPconsultant on Facebook and via email: [email protected]]

so they, I feel like I’m everywhere, Peter. Um, I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on Facebook. I’m on YouTube. I’m on Instagram. I have a website which is and, um, that’s S H E L L E Y K E N O Um, Parents teachers admins trying to help everyone. As you said at the beginning, make the world better for all one IEP. By helping everyone really collaborate and understand the student and writing an appropriate, and not what the law says is appropriate, which is why I use that word, um, IEP for each individual student. 

Great interview. Great stuff. Very, very interesting. I learned a lot today. Thank you Shelley, for taking the time. I appreciate it. Absolutely. Peter, thank you for having me!

Guys you’re listening to Faster Than Normal. I’m not going to say, you know what I’m going to say, but if you’re looking, if we’re always looking for new guests, if you know anyone who might be a guest or you want to be one yourself, like is just shoot me an email, [email protected]. We would love to have you, uh, ADHD is a gift. We all know that I’m going to go use that gift, and I think I’m going to go do a couple of hundred laps, that’ll help. So have a wonderful day! Everyone, thank you for listening. We will see you next week with a brand new interview. Stay tuned. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Guys. You’ve listened to Faster Than Normal. If you like what you heard, drop us a review. If you have a guest, uh, Emma came to us by a suggestion so that it does work! So if you have a suggestion, pick anyone you want to. Let us know, and we will get them.. we will work our butts off to get them on the podcast. Um, you can find me at and @petershankman on all the socials. Our producer is Steven Byrom, he does an amazing job, give him a shout. [thanks Peter! I’m for hire! @stevenbyrom on Twitter and also via We will see you next week with a brand new interview. Thank you for listening. And remember that any form of neuro-diversity is different. Different is good. It is a gift. It is not a curse. We will see you next week. Thanks for listening.

Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week!


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