Ahwatukee native Mallory Yee and her two partners last year founded a business that likely will take on a greater meaning as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on.
Yee, a Kyrene schools and Desert Vista High alumna – together with partners Lori Long of Scottsdale and Katie Severson of North Phoenix – started The Childhood Collective to provide online support services specializing in ADHD, autism, learning differences and anxiety.
They are preparing for a fall launch of their first online course for parents of elementary-aged children with ADHD.
“We hope to reach families that otherwise may not have access to one-on-one therapy or those parents looking to get started right away, as therapy waitlists are sometimes long,” Yee said.
For now, she added, “we are committed to providing parents with the most up-to-date and research-backed information.”
The Childhood Collective offers free daily parenting tips, tricks and advice via social media and weekly blogging not just on ADHD but on subjects such as distance learning, anxiety and healthy sleep habits.
Their weekly blogs also provide in-depth information for parents desiring more information on a particular subject.
“While all parents may find some benefit in our content, our information targets mostly families raising exceptional kids, that is kids with ADHD, autism, learning differences, language disorders, etc.,” Yee said.
The Children’s Collective also provides families with comprehensive evaluations and diagnoses, then makes treatment recommendations.
The three women worked together at Gentry Pediatric Behavioral Services in Central Phoenix.
Yee and Long are licensed child psychologists and Severson is a speech language pathologist who remains as head of Gentry’s speech department. Yee is currently a stay-at-home-mom and Long has a private psychology practice in Scottsdale.
They began talking about forming The Childhood Collective in February of last year.
“Lori approached me in February 2019 with an idea to provide much needed psychological services to families online,” Yee recalled. “Lori and I both have an expertise in developmental evaluations for families with children seeking answers. Through our time working with families, though, we noticed there were a lot of barriers for families in actually seeking treatment.
“When I was still in practice, some families would drive more than one-hour each way on a weekly basis to see me for therapy. They were desperate for help, but it just wasn’t a sustainable model. In addition to travel time, some families can’t access treatment because of the cost or time investment.”
Research has shown that treatment can be delivered to families online, with similar effectiveness to in-person therapy, particularly for families raising kids with ADHD, Yee said.
“We saw an opportunity to help more families access these critical supports through an online platform,” she added. Hence, The Childhood Collective was born.
Even before they launch their first fee-based online service for children with ADHD, the pandemic has impacted their focus.
“The pandemic has not necessarily made us busier or less busy, but it has shifted somewhat the content we provide families,” Yee said. “Understandably, parents are now in need of tips for distance learning, helping their child learn from home, managing anxiety that comes with big life changes like this, and ensuring their child doesn’t fall behind academically and socially.”
She said parents’ biggest concern centers around seeing their children succeed socially, emotionally, behaviorally and academically.
“Parents are in need of evidence-based tips for helping their child grow at home and at school,” Yee said. “Parents also seek out information for working with their child’s school and teacher. Understanding and navigating the school special education process can be confusing. Lori and I, as psychologists, have a good amount of experience helping families navigate this system to help them get their child’s needs met both at home and at school.”
Since The Childhood Collective is geared toward families with exceptional kids with learning and attention differences, the parents who contact them “have lots of developmental concerns,” Yee said, explaining:
“They ask for information such as, ‘Is this developmentally appropriate?’ or ‘What do I do if I have developmental concerns?’ I would say, most questions seem to be centered around helping their child learn at school, helping their child regulate emotions and helping their child manage worries. We really see the whole spectrum of questions.
Those questions can involve issues like children who have difficulty falling asleep or even guiding a child to emotionally manage the death of a loved one.
With a a focus mainly on parents with preschool or elementary aged children, Yee said younger children are impacted differently by the pandemic and resulting consequences.
“They don’t completely understand the ins and outs of what is happening,” Yee said. “While a teenager is generally capable of understanding what’s happening and why, younger children can’t yet grasp all of these concepts.
“We have been telling parents to expect big emotions. This is a time of big change for kids of all ages. Their normal routines have been upended. They miss their teachers, peers, and activities. It’s completely normal to have bigger emotional responses during uncertain and changing times like these.”
Then, too, parents themselves often are stressed and tired.
“They have gone from a steady work/school routine to being thrust into the role of homeschool teacher on top of having to work from home – or in some cases still go to work,” Yee said.
She said she sees parents “in need of validation that they are doing the best they can in a time of uncertainty.”
“They may be worried about finances, job loss, illness on top of figuring out how to help their children learn from home and stay on top of academics,” Yee continued. “This is particularly important for our audience, as many of our parents have children that already struggle at school.”
The three partners recently took an informal poll of their audience and found a 50-50 split between parents saying their child with learning or attention differences were doing better or worse with distance learning.
And three-quarters of parents with children confronted by anxiety reported their kids were doing better during school closures.
“In some cases, children have benefitted from this change of pace and change to their learning modality,” Yee said.
In an online interview with VoyagePhoenix last December, the partners also explained The Childhood Collective’s approach to the whole range of issues that come their way.
“Our varied strengths, areas of specialization, and past experiences really set us apart from others,” they said. “Our professional experience ranges from working in community mental health centers, pediatricians’ offices, private practices, and elementary, middle, and high schools. On top of that, we are all moms. We approach all we do with our heart first, and our expertise second.”