Married over 45 years, Audrey and Larry Jones are fun-loving mates, parents and grandparents who enjoy traveling and each other’s company. Audrey and Larry had a whirlwind spring romance as college students in 1970. They married and had three sons, one right after the other. As expensive, dangerous behaviors continued to be repeated, they sought help from teachers and therapists regarding their children.
During their adolescence, each was diagnosed with ADHD in the early 1990s, just as ADHD was becoming a recognized clinical condition. For at least 20 years of his career as a pediatrician and a parent, Dr. Larry did not link his children’s symptoms and signs of ADHD to himself.
In 2008, Audrey was stricken with an almost fatal autoimmune disease. Managing multiple businesses and four ADHD males took its toll on her health and led to a long-term and permanent illness. The gift of recovery included an opportunity to seriously reflect on their sons’ actions, starts and misfires as young adults pursuing college educations and meaningful employment.
Rather than writing about the road to recovery, Audrey and Larry chose to tell their story, intending to help other African American families acknowledge and address behaviors that can adversely affect couples and families.
BPM: Have you always been a writer? Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
AUDREY: This is my first writing since working with our sons and their writing assignments. They all write professionally in their jobs in marketing and training. My writing had been limited to business plans and marketing documents for our businesses.
LARRY: This is my first creative writing effort as well. I always wanted to write well, but it has been a struggle for me.
BPM: As doctors and parents, how has that influenced your writing?
AUDREY: We had difficulty understanding my husband, the doctor’s, behaviors and the learning and attention struggles that he had in medical school, residency, and working in his own practice. He was still in denial even after our sons were diagnosed with various types of ADHD. But Larry did not receive a final diagnosis and begin treatment until my psychologist recommended testing.
We started thinking seriously about how our stories would help other parents and affected adults understand what ADHD looked like and the path to unlocking their talents and gifts. I wanted to share this story because both Larry and I thought we could help parents like the ones in his practice who were silently suffering from the effects of ADHD in their families.
LARRY: The clash of parent vs. physician is a major struggle that other professionals will have as parents as well. In work situations you have control, over your life, but as a parent you have much less control and you are faced with situations that are challenging and filled with emotion and doubt about whether you are doing the right thing. My objective was to write as a parent while using my clinical background to provide depth and understanding.
BPM: Tell us about your new book. What do you hope readers take away from it?
AUDREY: We want our readers to: Recognize defiant, daring behavior leading to failures, including sexual acting out, running away from home and inviting danger.
Find the resources necessary to support your children in growing through ADHD to unlock their exceptional personal gifts.
Get out of the way of progress to do everything to make your family whole and healthy, even admitting when you’re wrong.
Nurture their children to become independent adults with clear and realistic goals, along with the solid approaches to achieving them.
LARRY: We want parents to understand that they are not alone and that there is help available, and how to find that appropriate help.
BPM: Give us insight into your primary message in Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir.
AUDREY & LARRY: Falling Through the Ceiling: Our ADHD Family Memoir is a book about the challenges encountered by both parents and children as they cope with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We provide our accounts in a parent-to-parent view of the obstacles in raising children with ADHD.
We want to inspire parents and adults living with ADHD symptoms to stabilize frustrating behaviors which allows the gifts of the ADHD brain to emerge and flourish.
BPM: How do you find or make time to write?
AUDREY: We worked with a writing coach and editor because of my impairment from my illness. It has truly taken a village to bring the project together.
LARRY: Working fulltime, I could only write evenings and weekends. Many of the stories required lengthy discussions to recall all of the details of the events. Audrey and I had the discussions during walks and driving trips.
BPM: How much research went into sculpting this story?
AUDREY: Since our sons were diagnosed, I have sought answers from educators, therapists, other mental health professionals, and all types of counselors. I tried to read books that I really didn’t understand. I began reading articles online during my recovery because of our grandchildren.
LARRY: I was able to draw on my experiences treating families with gifted ADHD children.
BPM: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?
AUDREY: My favorite chapters to write was “Falling Through the Ceiling” because for the first time our son shared his personal recollection of trials controlling his behavior. I told the story as an example of why parents needed to see God’s grace in parenting. When he literally fell through the ceiling from the attic to our home office, he just called it a painful lesson that changed his perception of the consequences of his behavior.
LARRY: My favorite chapter is the “Samurai Swordsmen”. It was through this trauma that we discovered the strength of the bond between our two youngest sons. The two were always squabbling about something and never seemed to be friends. Rob protected Jay from getting into trouble for cutting him. Then after the surgery Jay made himself available to help Rob in any way that he could to express his love for his brother.
BPM: Talk us through your experiences as a self-published author. Why did you go down this route?
AUDREY: Being serial entrepreneurs, we view managing the production and selling of our book and other media as a new business venture in our retirement. We have set up a publishing enterprise, ENABLE TABLES MEDIA, to work with other families to tell their stories.
LARRY: This was the best way for us to control the printing and distribution process. We feel that we have a strong message to share with other families through our book, speaking engagements, and media outreach.
BPM: Did publishing your first book change your thought process on writing? Was it a positive or negative experience?
AUDREY & LARRY: We thought writing was just putting words and thoughts on paper. But sharing intimate details of our lives became positive because of our journey from the unknown to the known about ADHD and the positive outcomes of our sons’ lives.
BPM: What is the most rewarding part of your artistic process?
AUDREY: The journey has been so fulfilling because the exchanges with other parents made this story’s value clear. Every time I share the topic and our experiences, it’s clear that the message is a vehicle for hope. Whether the person is a parent, grandparent, or are affected themselves by symptoms that are associated with ADHD, they are engaged and express interest in reading our book.
LARRY: We have an opportunity to encourage, strengthen and support families through the process of getting to the diagnosis of ADHD. We understand the emotional turmoil that families endure and their ongoing struggles to steer their gifted offspring to resilience.
BPM: Was there an early experience where you learned that the written word had power?
AUDREY: Writing the book was group therapy for our family, discussing and communicating openly with each other about our ADHD experiences.
LARRY: The personal catharsis for Audrey and me has been uplifting and given us courage to discuss our story on a bigger stage.
BPM: What is one of the things you’re most thankful for as a writer?
AUDREY: I’m most thankful for our Sankofa experience. We have shared our lives working with ADHD and building on what we have learned. We are thankful that we continue to nurture our precious eggs, our sons and our marriage. Of course I’m thankful to finish the book to give hope to others to stabilize behaviors and become resilient.
LARRY: I’m most thankful to have a creative partner in this process for mutual support.
BPM: In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
AUDREY: Successful writing translates as reaching the targeted audience with useful information.
LARRY: To me the measure of a successful writer is creating a story with universal appeal.
BPM: If you could pass on any advice to authors out there reading this interview, what would it be?
AUDREY: Pray for direction to understand your strengths as a writer and reach out to other industry professionals to help you tell your story.
LARRY: Get lots of feedback from friends throughout the creative process.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Falling Through The Ceiling – Our ADHD Family Memoir is available to order on our website: Enabletables.com