Hi everyone! I'm Franki, the face behind this page. Owner of FAAB Consulting and Franki Bagdade Therapy. Like so many #femalefounders #mompreneurs and #adhdpreneurs I wear many hats: business owner x 2, public speaker, educator, educational and behavioral consultant, mental health therapist, and author. I have over two decades of diverse professional experience and now have expertise in ADHD, anxiety, autism, OCD, emotional regulation, and parenting. All the above makes me a passionate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advocate and Professional. AND (but wait there’s more…) I also hold the 24/7 role of a lifetime as a proud Mom of 3! As of next week, we will have a 16, 14, and 10-year-old!!! (How the heck did that happen!) I grew up as a quiet kid diagnosed with inattentive ADHD at 8 years old (I swear I was shy then I'll have my Mom write me a note.) I assumed I was lazy and made careless errors like everyone around me told me daily and therefore I must not be very smart or capable. When I left my rigorous dual curriculum and dual language private school for public high school I realized maybe I DID have some potential. The more I was able to take classes that matched my interests and my skills the more I realized I could achieve when challenged appropriately. It was there I found the theater department, permission to be weird, true friends, and passion. Then I went away to college moving out of state at 18 to a small one-building university as a Theater Performance major wanting to keep that spark I felt on the high school stage. This tiny school with no campus in the middle of downtown Chicago had little support for young adults living on their own for the first time. I wasn't quite ready for all that adulting at 18, like so many other young adults with ADHD I was behind in that way. I transferred to Michigan State University and realized that becoming a teacher could ignite that passion and challenge I so craved! After all, aren’t teachers “on stage” much of the time? Things were great until I started having unusual medical symptoms while driving. These symptoms spilled into other times of the day and I was often battling brain fog, fatigue, heart palpitations, feeling out of breath, and terrified. A year, and several medical exams and tests later, I finally got diagnosed with panic attack disorder, and generalized anxiety. A whole lot of mismatched, therapeutic relationships, and medication trials, and years later I learned to embrace that part of me as well. Why is this part of my history, so important to my why? Why am I sharing this with you as a business owner? Because it’s everything.
When I fell into special education as my first teaching job, it was fulfilling beyond my wildest dreams. I loved showing children how they were unique, bright, and capable, something I wished someone had shown me at their age. And while I was educating them, I was really re-educating myself and realizing my own unique talents. After the classroom, I found teaching consulting. It checked all my boxes. It was challenging, allowed me to use my creative, out-of-the-box, thinking, and each of my days felt different assuring I didn’t feel bored.
In the middle of my search for professional fulfillment, I became a mom of 1, then 2, and then 3. That was… well a different blog post, nope it’s actually a book (you can grab it if you’re curious, it’s sold at book retailers everywhere 😊) because there are endless things to share.
In 2015 I was consulting as a side gig to Mommying. My youngest was in preschool and I was yearning for more. More of an outlet to use my quick-processing, problem-solving ADHD brain. It was then that I found an opening for an inclusion professional at the overnight camp, I grew up at. This camp wanted to remodel and expand its small inclusion program. Much like my early school years, my overnight camp experience was lacking. It was great when I was little but I felt lost in the program as a middle schooler and never connected to the staff or my peers. Here was an opportunity to help children and young adults have a transformative overnight camp experience and maybe even avoid the “just Ok” summers I had as a pre-teen. Plus it was a job where the work hours never ended, and there were staff meetings that started at 10:45 pm. My ADHD always thinking brain rejoiced! I relocated to the woods for 10 weeks a year and there was always, always, always a problem to solve! My hyper-focus-loving, the fast-paced brain was in heaven!
In the fall of 2019, after my fifth summer, I along with many colleagues was unexpectedly laid off. How do you move on from a job that’s not just a job but actually is an alternative lifestyle? It was when this job was taken away from me that I began to truly feel the toll it had taken on my body, my mental health, my family, and even my self-esteem. While my ADHD brain loved and even demanded this relentless pace it wasn’t healthy and I was paying for it! I had an autoimmune condition I was unsuccessfully ignoring, and zero balance in my day to day. I also had a nagging feeling that I hadn’t quite found “it” yet. The career that would allow me to truly be myself. I was tired of beating myself up for being me. Too passionate, too talkative, too much. I wanted to continue my work with families, co-advocating for their children, teens, and young adults with disabilities. I missed my years consulting in schools and educating educators on best inclusion practices. After months of looking for any job remotely connected to education positions out of the classroom, careers that revolved around human behavior, and public speaking it was clear that this job did not exist! So, I did what over 50% of ADHD adults do and became an entrepreneur.
After 14 years as an educator, I realized that to assure that children, teens, and adults with disabilities truly had access to the experiences they craved wasn't only about special education. It was about true inclusion. It was seeing people as whole beings with interconnected mental, emotional, social health, and instructional needs.
In 2019 I launched FAAB consulting. I offered speaking and professional development to parents, educators, mental health professionals, camp professionals, and really anyone that would listen to help them understand the neurodivergent people in their lives and careers. I worked with parents to put procedures and techniques in place in their homes, and to better understand their own children.
On March 13th 2020 the state of Michigan locked down due to Covid 19. Thinking that the COVID-19 pandemic was temporary, my clients were reluctant to move online. My workshops were delayed indefinitely. Everything stopped.
I focused on my family. I did my best to help my children feel secure as they were scared and devastated when their whole lives changed in a day. I managed my little lab school as my three children struggled to acclimate to online learning. I shared anything that worked with other overwhelmed parents on my social media channels and everything that didn’t work so that parents didn’t overwhelm themselves with misguided goals of perfect parenting. And in the small pockets of quiet, I finished my first book: I Love my Kids, but I Don't Always Like Them, a parenting survival guide. It wasn’t enough, however, to keep my ADHD brain happy and give my anxious brain a focus beyond the devastation of the world! It was then that I found myself returning to a habit I had started several years before during sleepless nights. Somewhere along my career journey, I had become a behavior expert. And I loved it! It was the ultimate challenge to figure out why people behaved the way they did. After all, the why matters, behavior is always communication. Late at night, I would endlessly google local and online MSW programs. Sometime in the spring of 2020, I came to my husband, Jeff, and told him I was tired of wondering and late-night googling and I thought I could finally do it! I may as well take this forced career slowdown of 2020 and get my Masters in Social Work. Jeff, my always cheerleader, was on board.
After two years of balancing endless rewrites of my book, desperately trying to revive my fledging consulting business, supporting my children through online learning, hybrid learning, back-in-person masked learning… and somehow being in a full-time online master’s program, I graduated. Limited Licensed in Clinical Social Work in hand, Franki Bagdade therapy was born.
Today 3 1/2 years into FAAB consulting and 10 months into Franki Bagdade therapy, I'm still working on that elevator pitch. I have spent a ton of time over the past few years trying to succinctly communicate my everyday goal. My why I do what I do. I realized that my why, my what, and my how are not just a long list of services and goals. It’s a mission.
It is my mission to ensure access that, education, parent support, mental health services, and camp are accessible for those who are neurodivergent.
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