January 2, 2023

We need to talk about the neurodivergent community being taken advantage of with unethical products claiming to be 'ADHD friendly'. 

If you've ever felt scammed by an ADHD brand claiming it can help you, I'm so sorry.

I'm fired up today, so strap yourself in. I got this bittersweet message today from a customer, and immediately I knew I had to say something, especially at a time of year where there is so much chatter about planners online. 

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Iā€™m sick to f*cking death of this online deluge of half-baked, sub-par, typo-filled 'ADHD planners'. We need more trust, transparency, and robust scientific evidence underpinning neurodivergent resources.

You may not know this, but it was because I was scammed by an ADHD planner store, that I created the Future ADHD planner. 

Let me set the scene... 

In mid-2022, I was searching for a planner and very quickly realized how many brands on Etsy and Facebook were clearly promoting poorly-designed, ordinary planners that they'd just slapped an ADHD title on, but had no psychological or scientific basis.

The reviews on these counterfeit products told me that neurodivergents had been taken for a ride. They were hardened and cynical from countless moments where their hopes were dashed. And that was sooo understandable.

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Seeing that neurodivergents weren't being treated ethically, sickened me to my core. 

My brain started pinging with ideas, and then in typical ADHD style, snowballing down a mountain into a huge rabbit hole. I had 7 years experience designing planners for educators, but had never created an ADHD specific planner before.

All I knew is I had to create this resource because there are so many fake, scammy versions out there preying on vulnerable people who are searching desperately for a tool that will help them create more ease & clarity.

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Our 2023 Future ADHD Digital Planner in low-stim dark mode.

Right away, I decided three crucial things:

1) My planner had to be robust, holistic, and based on the latest scientific research on ADHD brain-based differences.

2) I would share all my scientific sources, to bring ethical transparency. You can read more about the science here and here.

3) I would draw inspiration from my own lived experience of ADHD... the unique strengths, the unique challenges, the wonderful quirks and the quiet moments of despair ā€” sitting on the kitchen floor with a peeler in one hand, and a carrot in the other, because making dinner overwhelmed me (again).

So, I went into my creative space, and began working on a science-informed planner that would truly serve the ADHD community - my community - who had been taken advantage of far too long. 

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As I put the finishing touches on this resource, I knew I was creating something really exciting and innovative. I threw my planner up on Etsy and thought, hey, maybe a couple hundred people would buy it.

I was wrong. 

More than 15,000 people worldwide now use this planner. That number blows my mind, and yet, there is so much work still to do.

I am continually working on the integrity of Future ADHD to make it even more ADHD friendly, and smashing digital planner industry standards. 

And I'm sharing this ā€” not to toot my own horn ā€” but to lead by example to demand a more transparent online marketplace for neurodivergents, and fair pricing models that don't turn into insidious monthly subscriptions.

Four months after launching, we created a 'Buy Once, Use Forever' lifetime access system that means there are zero hidden costs or repeat expenses you'll incur for the planner you purchase. This offer is unheard of in the digital planning industry.

If you buy Rainbow, for instance, you'll get lifetime access to every future edition of the Rainbow planner, including 2023, 2024 and every year to come. 

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It's this kind of outrageous value and respect that the neurodivergent community deserves.

This is just one way that we are changing the planner resource space, and demanding a better standard for neurodivergents everywhere.

And there is another kind of work I'll commit to as well. 

I'm calling out all those fraudulent "businesses" trying to make a quick $ (or many) by preying on the neurodivergent community's trust

I'm calling out those Etsy stores who saw that my science-informed planner was rapidly out-selling their sub-par ADHD products, and hastily slapped 'science-based' on their marketing, but made zero meaningful changes to improve their planners, and continue to mislead people to this day.

We deserve better.

I'm calling out the 12 phoney "stores" who have stolen my intellectual property and marketing material, and sold my planner as their own on Etsy and elsewhere online.

We deserve better.

Thankfully, my co-founder has had these Etsy stores shut down because he's fastidious and committed to filling out boring intellectual property forms to squelch these scammers (you guys know I'd never have the patience to fill out those forms). šŸ˜ #ittakesavillage

Yes, stolen versions of my planner online are sullying my business reputation and integrity, and confusing people.

But this is so much bigger, because this rampant scamming and lack of respect hurts all of us in the ADHD community.

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This is not just about a planner. This is about integrity.

Scamming like this perpetuates a world where the neurodivergent community continues to be taken advantage of, and therefore has no reason to trust that systems and organizations have their best interests at heart and can actually create tools to support them. They lose hope that they will ever find the help they need. 

And it discourages innovators like myself from creating tools that are desperately needed, only to have our work stolen time and time again.

Don't worry, Future ADHD is not going anywhere, though. I'm still here only because of the incredible, profound messages of kindness and gratitude I get every day from you - this wonderful community of brilliant-minded people.

You guys make it all worth it. 

So what do we do next? Here's what I'm thinking...

šŸ’— If you love the truth, heart & soul of a brand (whether mine or another company), make sure you loudly support them to drown out the phoneys.

šŸ’— If you're a legitimate business who works with neurodivergents (or know of one), speak up about this bullsh*t, and connect with me so we can unite forces. šŸ’Ŗ

šŸ’— Finally, if this article touched you, and you're sick of this rampant dishonesty too, hit reply in the comments and let me know. 

Let's make 2023 better for everyone.

Be kind to you,

Grace Koelma

Founder, Educator & Advocate


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