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For All Abilities

Mar 5, 2020

For All Abilities – The Podcast Warda Farah - Digital and Workplace Accessibility 


In this episode, I interview Warda Farah- Speech Language Therapist. On the podcast, Warda talks about her ongoing diagnosis and living and working with neuro diversity. We discuss her career as a speech language therapist. 

To connect with Warda, please follow her  on LinkedIn (Warda Farah) or email her at 


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Full Transcription from




Betsy Furler  0:05  

Welcome to for all abilities the podcast. This is your host, Betsy Furler. The aim of this podcast is to highlight the amazing things people with ADHD, dyslexia, learning differences and autism are doing to improve our world. Have a listen to for all abilities, the podcast and please subscribe on whatever podcast app you're listening to us on.


Hi, everybody, welcome to the for all abilities podcast. Today I have a special guest warda Farah, and she is a speech therapist in the London area she was diagnosed or as she's actually in the process of being diagnosed with ADHD. So she's another person who was diagnosed later in life. So I can't wait to hear more about her story. So please, let's all Welcome warda to the for all abilities podcast. Hey warda thank you so much for joining me today.


Warda Farrah  1:07  

Hi, Betsy. Thank you for having me. I'm really excited to talk to you.


Betsy Furler  1:12  

Awesome. Well tell us give us a little introduction.


Warda Farrah  1:16  

You're so I'm so I'm a speech and language therapist. I've been doing niche for about five years now. I've recently set up my own independent practice, which is called language waves. And so that's what I want. That's what I've been doing. Previously, I used to work in the NHS, which is kind of I don't know if you've got an American equivalent for it, but it's just a national health service. And so but now I work in private practice.


Betsy Furler  1:44  

So I'm I've always loved doing private practice as well as a speech pathologist. So that's great. Yeah, it's it gives you so much more freedom in many, many ways.


Warda Farrah  1:53  

Yeah, flex and scope to do things as you see fit rather than what's prescribed and The lines that you should work in. Yes,


Betsy Furler  2:02  

exactly. So I would love to hear a little bit about what you were like as a little girl and what school was like for you.


Warda Farrah  2:11  

I mean, it's a really interesting story because as, as, as a as a young child, I was in a problematic child, I was probably shy, quiet.


Did did pretty well in school.


But I could never finish homework, I could never start homework. And so I used to wake up really early in the morning to do my homework, because I wouldn't do it the night before. And that used to get me into trouble. So a lot of my early kind of reports or parent evening reports would say, has ability or has potential, but doesn't apply herself or is very, is highly gifted, but doesn't apply herself. And so I went through Lot of that in primary school. I don't know, I just always used to feel a lack of motivation. So not wanting to be at school, not wanting to do tasks, not finding them particularly interesting, switching off being chatty, but because I was quite academic or, you know, a quite bright child, I could always complete my schoolwork for the teacher, so it was kind of a mismatch profile.


Betsy Furler  3:36  

And it sounds like you were well behaved so you weren't the typical, hyperactive type of child. No, I'd


Warda Farrah  3:44  

be kind of a quiet child, but I do kind of kind of get away with things because the teachers weren't looking at me. I could get I could get away so it's not that I wasn't as naughty as the other children or as hyperactive as that. But the way that I would do it was quite in a controlled manner.


Betsy Furler  4:06  

Kind of daydreaming shut down.


Warda Farrah  4:07  

Yeah. Lots of fidget, sitting with my pen, lots of kicking under the table. Lots of just doodling. And that's how I kind of got it out and lots of chatting. Yes,


Betsy Furler  4:19  

we're good. It's inherently a speech therapist. It's interesting because I did a previous interview with a woman named amber Holly she's a therapist, marriage and family therapist and, and she had a kind of a similar profile as a young child. She was also diagnosed later in life. And it's interesting to talk to women who as girls really weren't identified because it seems like even in 2020, that it's the behavior that usually gets eyes on to the problem.


Warda Farrah  5:00  

I think nobody could even I think, because now was it as a speech language therapist and having so much experience with different children and seeing different profiles. Even I at the time knew something wasn't right. But I always thought I was lazy. Uh huh. The why. So the reason why I don't, you know, do things as I should is maybe I'm lazy, I look for shortcuts. I get bored easily. So the topic wasn't interesting to me. So for me, it was I was always trying to figure out exactly what it was it was only maybe a few years ago, when I kind of looked looked kind of at myself, let's stop looking at the children I was working with and looked at myself and looked at my profile and I saw another really mismatch type of profile, where I'm really gifted in some areas, but struggle with kind of basic tasks or basic kind of function. So what's, what's that out?


Betsy Furler  5:53  

So when I think the procrastination is really interesting to me, because I've heard from several other people that home Mark is such an issue. And I think frequently when our kids don't want to do homework, we're annoyed with them. We feel like they just don't want to do it. They want to do something else. And I think sometimes that procrastination comes out in that homework piece when you're when you're little.


Warda Farrah  6:19  

It but what I noticed is that I say for example, it was a simple comprehension exercise or, or an essay. I could never get ready to start it. But if you gave me a different type of project, something I was really, really interested in. I could work on it all day and all night and all week and all month. So was for me, I was always trying to figure out why do I have periods where with some things, I can just immerse myself in them, complete them and totally do it. And with these simple kind of things, I just can't stop them. I can't stop them. And I will only Start them when there is this time pressure,


Betsy Furler  7:03  

right? When you have free


Warda Farrah  7:04  

will. And then it's extremely stressful because you're always doing things at the last minute. And when you do things at the last minute, you know, it's not a real representation of your ability. So you always kind of feel bad, like you haven't done you the best that you can do.


Betsy Furler  7:20  

Right, right. And then that guilt kind of, kind of Yeah, why?


Warda Farrah  7:23  

You know, why? Why am I so lazy? Why can't I do it? Why can everybody else focus? And just get it done? Why what, how can they just kind of kick their fingers and be able to do it, and for me, it I have to go around the long way around, and it might take me hours or days or weeks before I start a task which might not actually even take that long.


Betsy Furler  7:45  

Great, right? So you must have done fairly well in school because you did end up going to university and then graduate school. So tell us a little bit about that process.


Warda Farrah  7:57  

So So what We would call secondary school which is kind of like high school. I started off kind of being a promising student but just I don't know what it was a lack of motivation it I left with a few seeds and a few bees. So I didn't do very well there. And because it took me so long to figure out what I wanted to do, instead of going straight into going straight to college, I did a few different jobs realized it wasn't for me. So I took a bit of a bit of a detour before I actually decided to go to university


that a little bit longer.


Betsy Furler  8:39  

exactly the same as Amber, the other woman that I've interviewed. It's so interesting. You the two of you have followed a very similar path.


Warda Farrah  8:49  

Yeah, it just took it to where everybody at 18 will know will everybody at 16 knew what they wanted to do and had a plan. I did not have a plan. Right. So and it was what am I? What am I going to do with my life? And I thought, because I was quite, I wouldn't say I'd say quite. I loved education and learning, but just not at school. So I was trying to figure out what would I love to immerse myself and what would I love to know more about and I thought, you know what, I would like to work with children. So worked and worked in childcare and did that and then kind of saw that, actually, for me to ever kind of move up and do well in a career. I need to get kind of my academics done, so I'd have to go to university, I'd have to get that grade to show people that I am capable. That makes sense,


Betsy Furler  9:45  

right? Because you probably loved working with the kids and were great with it. But you knew you didn't want to be a childcare provider your entire life.


Warda Farrah  9:53  

No, I wanted to do I wanted to do more. Right. It just seemed that the opportunities were not there. If you don't have a degree or people that really kind of didn't take you as seriously or you have to go through many more hurdles to prove that you're smart, or the only reason that you didn't go to university is because you didn't want to go.


Betsy Furler  10:14  



Warda Farrah  10:17  

It was a it was a, it was a tough, it was a tough thing for me, but also it's kind of like a maturity thing. It felt like it took me longer to mature than others. Uh huh. So by the time I was at university, and I was older than some of my peers, that was the right time for me to figure out exactly what I wanted to do in life.




Betsy Furler  10:40  

So then he went back, how old were you when you went back to school? That was about 20. Okay, so not too not too much of a delay to a few years. If he


Warda Farrah  10:51  

is he a few years, but I mean, it's cool. Yeah, that bit of a delay,


Betsy Furler  10:57  

Ray, but I think it is, it's hard for a A lot of 16 year olds to know what they want to do when you have to choose so young. That's, that's a lot to expect someone to do.


Warda Farrah  11:10  

Yeah, but, and it is a lot to expect. But like I said, All my peers, all my friends, you know, they're not they even if they didn't know what they wanted to do, they kind of fell in line and just did it. Whereas I was kind of like, I don't want to do it, so I'm not gonna do it.


Betsy Furler  11:26  

Right, right. And I think that's what happens a lot. I know that's what happened to me. I went to college, you know, graduated from high school, went directly to college and studied psychology and sociology and religion. And then after I graduated, and decided, Oh, I think I need to get a grad school also, that's when I found communication disorders. So, once you went back to school, did you find it that you were procrastinating less that it was easier for you because of the maturity or how did that go?


Warda Farrah  11:59  

Um, it Was it in a weird way on the surface, it didn't look like it was difficult for me. But under the surface, it was it was it was quite hard for me because now I had found something I wanted to do. And I wanted to excel in it, and I and I was interested. But that would be kind of issues with the motivation. So I I'd fall into the same traps again, and completing assignments.


Not late but the night before. Right?


I just not learning from it. And even even to the point where when I handed in my thesis will equal a thesis and we call it a dissertation over here. It was, you know, I had I had completed it on the day that it was supposed to be in. So even though Right, right, finishing, I still couldn't do it. You know, I did it in time. I couldn't you know, I had months to do it.


Betsy Furler  12:56  

Right, right. So it was still it was still a challenge. What about When you got out out of school and started working,


Warda Farrah  13:04  

and when I got out of school and I started working it was, I mean, it was it. It was fine. It was fine because I've always been able to, because I'm a person who does last things last minute, I'm quite flexible. And because I'm flexible, I'm able to adapt, which is great when you're working with people, children, or when things don't go well or they don't follow a particular timeframe. So working with people, the actual physical act of doing things that that just comes that just came naturally to me, I could do that. And that was not a problem. But it was always kind of the now I've got to write a report.


Betsy Furler  13:45  

Right, right, which is for the people in the audience who aren't in the speech therapy or other therapy world we have a lot of we have some daily paperwork and then we have to write these evaluation reports which can be very good difficult to get motivated to write? Yeah,


Warda Farrah  14:04  

yeah. It's very difficult to get motivated to do but because for me, I understand the importance of it. It was just one of those things that you have to do it. You have, you have to do it.


Betsy Furler  14:16  

So, so you just pushed through and and


Warda Farrah  14:20  

just just pushed through but hated it.


Betsy Furler  14:23  

Right, right. So when did you decide that you wanted to go through testing or however you're going about getting a diagnosis?


Warda Farrah  14:32  

Well, well, what happened is so for a number of years, I always thought what's, what's this all about? Or, for example, one example where if, say, for example, it was time to study for a test. I couldn't do it by myself. I'd need to have the study group. Aha, I could never I could never just kind of sit by myself and do it. I get bored really easily. I'd switch off. I you know, and then I do the last minute, type crumbing thing. So sorry, what was the question again? Why did you decide to pursue a diagnosis? What kind of how are you going around that about that? Well, because I, because I had kind of noticed that hey, actually, what I'm going through isn't typical. Uh huh. It was it was kind of when when I kind of realized that and I thought Actually, I'm putting in a lot of effort, a lot of hard work. I always feel like I'm not reaching my full potential. I always feel like, in some ways, I'm missing the mark. I'm, I'm, you know, I've got 10 different projects I'm doing. I'm doing this I'm doing this. I'm part of this club and pop that and everybody thinks I am balancing things really well. People think I'm an overachiever, a high achiever. I'm always doing something new. I'm always on the go. of always, but for me, it's like I just wanted to know, you know, These kinds of two facets of my personality where I'm on the go and overachieving and doing lots, but then there's this other side where it's not able to prioritize not able to focus.


You know, always losing things


for me was such a mismatch that I thought something's not right.


Betsy Furler  16:22  

Right. I think that takes so much insight to be able to see that in yourself and realize, wait a minute, I you know, maybe there's something else maybe it's not just me being lazy or me. Yeah. Not being as smart as everyone else. I think that takes so much insight to be able to, to, to see that and then go forward and do something about it. So I applaud you for doing that. And really taking really taking care of yourself.


Warda Farrah  16:54  

Yeah, I mean, for me, it was it was it was a really tough thing because it's, you know, something I always knew as a child, something's a little bit different, but I could just never say what it was. And I could, I could never articulate it. And whenever I have tried to talk to other people about it, it's always kind of No, no, but that's just you. That's just you. And so when you try to be really vulnerable and honest and not making an excuse for, you know, your behavior, why you are the way you are, you just want to kind of express yourself and explain it to somebody else. And they say, No, no, but that's just you. You're just last minute. No, but you're always losing things or new, you're just a bit clumsy. That's what you need to pay more attention. Right? Right. You need to you need to write a list, or, you know, keep your diary or keep your keys in one place. And people don't understand that. I've done a lot of that. Right.


Betsy Furler  17:54  

That's what I say about like work accommodations is so you know, sometimes it's not that the person doesn't know Know what's available, you know, I use Microsoft OneNote as an example all the time, you may know Microsoft OneNote is available, but to know how to use it to help your specific need, and to use it in a targeted way, when you have a brain that works differently, is very challenging. Like it's just not it's not as simple as someone who's very organized and very focused to go, Oh, yeah, just use Microsoft OneNote I'm using it and it's just fine. It's like no, people's brains work in different ways. So it's Yes, it's easy for someone to say keep your keys in that one spot. But to actually execute that when you have ADHD or other forms of neuro diversity is really difficult. It's a battle it's it's a constant fight with yourself because you just want to be better not want to be able to function like everybody else and you want to


Warda Farrah  18:59  

not have to think so. deeply about things that other people take for granted,


Betsy Furler  19:03  

right? It takes a lot of energy. It's a lot of energy.


Warda Farrah  19:06  

So before before the day is up, I've used a lot of my energy coins, just by functioning. Like really simple things. Like if I'm really not paying attention, like the other day, I've got the wrong bus.


Betsy Furler  19:19  

Right, right. I mean,


Warda Farrah  19:20  

it sounds so silly. Just look at the number on the bus. Right? But if it's a perfect storm, if I'm tired, if I'm that my all of my energy's gone, and I'm not, you know, I'm just not in the right headspace. I will make mistakes like that and quite, you know, quite silly mistakes that other people necessarily weren't really make.


Betsy Furler  19:43  



Warda Farrah  19:44  

So for me, it was a lot of, you know, as a speech language therapists, we always talk to young people or adults about strategies. Uh huh. You know, us you know, that, you know, if you know if somebody's got aphasia or something else so you You have to kind of get used to a new way of doing things or because you know that you might have a deficit in this area, you need to kind of use new strategies, right for me. Yes, I have diaries. Yes, I write things down on my phone. Yes, I tried to keep keys in one place. But it's if I if I don't constantly do it, everything can just mess up just one day, one day. And all of that hard work can just mess up through through no fault of my own now, through no fault, but it just happens.


Betsy Furler  20:37  

Right in the it's a domino effect that spreads over lots of different areas of your life. So how did you go about the actual testing? How does that work?


Warda Farrah  20:52  

I mean, I don't know how it is for everybody else because for me, this has been quite a private thing and not many people know about it. Uh huh. So, but I went to, so it's a your GP so your, your, your family doctor, right. And so he's the one that can send you off for a referral to kind of a site team, etc to do to do further testing. And so because it's on the NHS, it can, it takes a really long time. But also the issue that I found is because I've, you know, done well in life, right? It's kind of hard for somebody to believe you've got these problems, because whenever you say, Well, yeah, I've had difficulty with this. And they say, Well, you've got undergraduates degree, you've got a Master's, you went through school, you have your own business, right? What's the problem? So they, it was kind of the discussion that I had was they, in my personal experience is more of a it's a mental health issue. Maybe you've got something else but depression or, or, or other. You know, that Going for other things, as opposed to believing that it's ADHD.


Betsy Furler  22:06  

Yes, yes, I must have been hard. Yeah. How? Where are you in the process right now?


Warda Farrah  22:13  

So I've been referred to the psychologist, so I'm waiting to actually do the testing for that.


Betsy Furler  22:22  

So you're How much longer do you think it'll take?


Warda Farrah  22:26  

I, at the moment, I think a couple more months to get to get the full diagnosis, because I think things run a bit slower over here. If I went private, and I had kind of paid privately I could have, you know, got it done rather quickly as well. Right.


Betsy Furler  22:43  

But it takes longer to get it through three any government, right? Yes, yes. But it's very expensive. So it's nice that you can get it that way.


Warda Farrah  22:55  

Yeah, I mean, I think it's it I think it's worth doing it. That one You're in a particular rush to get the diagnosis, then I'd say go private. But if you're not in a rush, and you're just doing it for yourself, then you can do it. You know, I know I've lived with this forever. So nice. Waiting a few more months for the diagnosis doesn't doesn't matter to me. And to be honest with you. Getting a diagnosis wasn't that important to me, but it's just when I realized, actually, it will kind of put my mind at ease, because it will kind of make me feel like Yeah, you are right.


Betsy Furler  23:33  

Right, that I was about to ask you. What do you think the diagnosis, what do you think the difference a diagnosis will make?


Warda Farrah  23:40  

I mean, it will just it will put my mind at rest because, like, Well, actually, you're not just, you know, a hypochondriac. You're not just imagining all of this in your head, and having that kind of validation from another professional. It just, it just kind of even if I don't disclose, even if I choose Not to disclose it to anybody. It's validation from somebody else.


Betsy Furler  24:04  

Right. Internal validation. Yeah, yeah, I think I think that makes complete sense. And then you can start thinking of the way you think in that different way. So you're not expecting yourself to be doing everything in this, you know, imaginary norm.


Warda Farrah  24:24  

And I think it'll be acceptance for me. I think I think it will be a bit of acceptance and understanding for myself. So right now it's all kind of like a hypothesis or not, but I know it is. But it's just having that is just that.


Betsy Furler  24:40  

Yes, I think I think you're doing the right thing. And like I said, I I applaud you for taking care of yourself. I think it is 


very easy for us especially as women I know men do it too. But especially women, we have a tendency to, to put our own needs on the back burner and take care of everybody else.


Warda Farrah  25:00  

Yeah, and I think for me one of the other thing that made me want to go ahead with it is I work with children every day that have different needs and I you know, whenever they come to me they're not feeling confident about themselves or they feel you know that they're stupid or not worth much or the self esteem is really low or they've you know, they've got autism or different types of communication difficulties, I always tell them to you know, that this label doesn't define you be, you know, you be who you are, you be who you want to be. It doesn't matter that you have to have speech and language therapy. But for my own self, I was quite embarrassed and ashamed.


Betsy Furler  25:37  

Right, and that, that's the purpose of my podcast is because I had so many people come to me, adults, with neuro diversity. Families of kids, kids themselves saying, I don't want anyone to know that I have ADHD or dyslexia and autism or learning difference or I don't want anyone to know that my kids have it. I don't want it. You know, it. I was like, there's so much stigma still, I kind of kept summarizing me and I'm not, we got to do, we've got to do something and show the world, the amazing things that people with neuro diverse conditions are doing because our world needs everyone to think differently if we all thought the same women have a very interesting or productive world now. But also unfortunately, that stigma does exist. So for me, I realized it's so easy for me to tell these children or tell these parents, don't worry, it will be fine. You be you be your authentic self, and I couldn't do it.


Warda Farrah  26:37  

Right. And so for me, it's actually I caught I caught up with these children and say all of that stuff, but really not mean it. So for me, it's kind of even having this discussion with you. It's kind of a bit. I don't want to talk about something like this, but also, you know, what is I think it's a first step. Yes, me?


Betsy Furler  26:59  

Yes. And I think will help so many people that are listening to this to realize you're a speech language therapist, do you went to grad school? You did. You've done all of these amazing things with the brain works differently. And that, you know, I just dream of the day that we can all accept ourselves and other people for all of our differences. I think it's, you know, I think it's the key to, to race relations to gender issues, all


Unknown Speaker  27:29  

of that.


Warda Farrah  27:31  

And I think and I think, kind of looking back in hindsight, it's one of the things that kind of makes me a really good speech and language therapist because even though the children don't know about it, it's almost kind of like, it's sessions a different reason why I report with parents are different, or the way that I see the world or the way that I see therapy and kind of the stuff that I'm doing now in private practice. It's that that is That is where it all comes from that creativity, that ability to that that flexibility and just kind of always, I think it's the empathy that I have. So when I think because I've known growing up as a little bit different, and I was kind of similar to the children that more deeply for them to feel how I felt, yes, so


you can understand it. Yeah, it's definitely different. Yeah.


Betsy Furler  28:27  

Well, that's wonderful. Well, if anyone in my audience wants to reach out to you For more information or connect with you, where are they? Where can they do that?


Warda Farrah  28:37  

Well, we can find me on LinkedIn. So it's all too far on LinkedIn. Or you can email me at inquiry at language


Betsy Furler  28:49  

Awesome. And I will put that in my show notes so people have that information. So warda thank you so much for joining me today. This was a fascinating conversation and I I think it was helped so many people that are listening to the show.


Warda Farrah  29:04  

Thank you. Thanks for Thanks for having me. Actually, it's been really great.


Betsy Furler  29:08  

Yes, thank you so much, and I will talk to you soon. Bye.


Bye. Thanks so much for listening to the for all abilities podcast. This is Betsy Furler, your host and I really appreciate your time listening to the podcast. And please subscribe on any podcast app that you're listening to a song. If you'd like to know more about what we do and our software that helps employers support their employees with ADHD, dyslexia, learning differences and autism. Please go to WWW dot for all abilities. com. You can also follow us on Instagram. And you can follow me on LinkedIn at Betsy Furler f as in Frank, you are LA or have a great day and we will see you