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The #1 ADHD podcast on iTunes, hosted by

Helping Youngsters Find Their Gifts with Pediatric Mental Health Expert Robin Maddox

by Faster Than Normal

Having ADD or ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Hear from people all around the globe, from every walk of life, in every profession, from Rock Stars to CEOs, from Teachers to Politicians, who have learned how to unlock the gifts of their ADD and ADHD diagnosis, and use it to their personal and professional advantage, to build businesses, become millionaires, or simply better their lives.

I wanna give a shout out to Skylight Frame, the official Skylight frame. They are sponsors of this episode of Faster Than Normal. Let me tell you about Skylight! So I have a daughter, you all know, her name is Jessa, she’s nine. Jessa, like any nine year old, doesn’t really do what I tell her to do until I say it like 4, 5, 6, 18, 54 times. And the problem with that is that when your ADHD, you’re kind of forgetful to begin with. So Jessa sits there and I tell her, Jessa, change Waffles’ pee pads, my dog right? [@petersdogwaffle on INSTA] Changes defense. Okay, Dad. And she goes right back to Roblox. And then two times later, Jessa change Waffle’s pad? Goes, okay, Dad goes right back to robots. And by the fourth time, I’ve forgotten about it. She’s forgotten about it. Waffle doesn’t get his pee pad changed. No one’s happy. And the house smells. So Skylight Frame eliminates that. It is a essentially a calendar. It’s calendar with pictures. It sits on your wall, it connects to wifi, it connects to your Google calendar, and it adds your chores. So I tell Jessa say, Hey, Jessa before you leave for school, before you get in your iPad to play Roblox, before you go to school, are all your chores done? Are they green on the board? She looks. Now I gotta change Waffles pads. Change the pads, comes back. Click. Not you waffle. I, I know you heard your name, but I’m actually not talking about you. I’m doing, doing a podcast. He click, she clicks on the, click it on the, on the chore, it goes away. When all her chores are done, she gets her iPad, everyone wins. It makes life so much easier. It is unbelievable. It’s a 10″ inch touchscreen display. It’s digital, it’s gorgeous. You put all your photos in from your photo album, you can send ’em all there. And when it’s not in calendar mode, you get a beautiful display of all the pictures. Totally worth it. And as always, thank you Skylight for sponsoring this episode as well as many others of the Faster Than Normal Podcast. Discount Code:  PeterShankman for 10% off, up to $30 off.

Today’s guest! Robin Maddox, LMFT, is a pediatric mental health expert with over a decade of hands-on experience following data-driven, evidenced-based strategies to support and heal children, adolescents and families. As Director of Behavioral Health at Clay, a virtual company within early education centers, she has guided the development of an early identification platform that provides a comprehensive suite of behavioral and developmental tools for school communities that serve children ages 0-5.  Prior to Clay, Robin worked as a child and family therapist in her own private practice (Maddox Counseling), and at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. She previously served as Director of Special Education at Notre Dame College Prep, where she created, developed, and implemented a Special Education  Program for students with Down Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Trisomy 13, and other developmental disabilities. Robin also has prior experience as a Director and Executive Board Member for Camp Hope, a summer camp for children and young adults with developmental disabilities. Today we learn… Often with neurodiversity, by the time a therapist is seeing a child, they are pulling them out of the river. A good part of Robin and Clay Behavioral Health’s purpose is hiking upstream- to see why so much of our young neurodiverse population is getting thrown into the river in the first place. By intervening and putting good tools in the hands of teachers and parents, we’re learning more about our kids, a little earlier in life than before concluded. Today we learn about why and how. Enjoy!

00:40 – Thank you so much for listening and for subscribing!

01:52 – Introducing and welcome Robin Maddox!

03:30 – What drove you towards special education and towards neurodiversity as a whole?

04:35 – What is Clay?

06:11 – Six short sessions of work with a four-year-old, would take years with the same teenager

06:45 – How a ‘heads-up’ about your child, can be almost as effective to parents as a diagnosis

07:30 – It’s a GIFT! You don’t even have to stand in line for it; just learn how to use it!

07:45 – What if the school says: “We can’t test your child until they are six”?

08:36 – You don’t have to wait for a diagnosis. Tools are ready and available. 

09:04 – How kids feel about themselves? How do they feel about themselves by age 5, at kindergarten?

10:00 – All of the research right now is on how one-third of teenagers have identified as having anxiety or depression. What the research shows is that those kids are showing those signs even at ages 3, 4, 5.

10:40 – What kind of signs should parents be looking for?

11:10 – How do people find out more about you? 

Web:  email: [email protected] 

Socials:  @carebyclay on Twitter  INSTA  Facebook  and LinkedIN

11:40 – Thank you so much Robin!!

11:45 – We are thrilled that you are here and listening! ADHD and all forms of Neurodiversity are gifts, not curses. And by the way, if you haven’t picked up The Boy with the Faster Brain yet, it is on Amazon and it is a number one bestseller in all categories. Click HERE or via My link tree is here if you’re looking for something specific.

12:00 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits. Guys, as always thanks so much for subscribing! Faster Than Normal is for YOU! We want to know what you’d like to hear! Do you have a cool friend with a great story? We’d love to learn about, and from them. I’m and you can reach out anytime via email at [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterNormal on all of the socials. It really helps when you drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! 

TRANSCRIPT via Descript and then corrected.. mostly somewhat:  

As always, thank you Skylight for sponsoring this episode as well as many others of the Faster Than Normal Podcast. Discount Code:  PeterShankman for 10% off, up to $30 off.

[00:00:40] Peter: Hey guys. Peter Shankman, another episode of Faster Than Normal is Coming Your Way at Lightning Speed. Wanna give a big shout out as always. Skylight, skylight calendar and skylight frame. Like I, I, look, I’m not gonna tell you again how much has changed my life. My daughter’s getting sick of hearing it. But I will say this, yesterday morning we were about to walk out to school and I looked and I noticed that the, um, dog doggy pee pads were not changed. And I said, Jessa I see if you’re forgetting something. And she’s like, no, I have, you know, I have my water bottle, I have my backpack. I’m like, really? You have everything? She’s like, yeah, everything you need. Like, did you clear off all your chores or, oh my god, I forgot. She runs, she looks at chores. What? Well, I’ll take care of your pads right now. And she ran and she changed the pads two seconds and she clicked that, that, that, that touchscreen and got rid of her chores today and everything went green. And she was incredibly happy. And I’m like, I’m like, why’d you forget? She’s like, because you were talking to me. So obviously it was dad’s fault cuz that’s what happens. But check them out. Skylight Use code Peter Shankman for up to 30 bucks off your order. I love this thing, one of the best things I have in my kitchen, uh, other than my, uh, ninja Ninja foodie, which is a whole ‘nother discussion. But anyway, welcome to the ever sort of fast than normal. I am thrilled that you’re here.

We are talking today to Robin Maddox. She’s a pediatric mental health expert with over a decade of hands-on experience following data-driven evidence-based strategies to support and adhere heal children adolescents, and families. She works for a cool company called Clay. And Clay is sort of like this virtual company within early education centers. So think like zero to five when like 90% of the brain develops, right? And they have this comprehensive suite of behavioral and developmental tools for school communities that allow. More insight into what’s going on and, and more sort of awareness of any sort of, uh, neurodiversity long before I guess other people would get it. Um, prior to Clay Robin was a child and family therapist in her own private practice and at the Family Institute at Northwestern University. She was the director of Special Education at Notre Dame College Prep. She’s much smarter than me, I can tell this. She created, developed and implemented a special education program for students with Down Syndrome Autism, cerebral Palsy, tri ME 13, and other developmental disabilities. Robin also has prior experience as director and executive board member for Camp Hope, a summer camp for children and young adults with developmental disabilities. I have a dog named Waffle. Either way. It is great to have you on the products, Rob, on podcast. Robin, my God. You have, you have a, you have quite the background.

[00:03:04] Robin: Thanks Peter. Thanks for reading that bio. 

[00:03:07] Peter: Notre Dame. Are you an Irish fan? 

[00:03:09] Robin: No, I’m actually not. Um, it was the, you know, first job I got.

[00:03:14] Peter: So you’re one of the few rams I discovered that there are very few people with connections to Notre Dame that do not shout, go Irish at every conceivable opportunity.

[00:03:20] Robin: Yeah, that’s not me. 

[00:03:21] Peter: That being said, thrilled to have you as always and thrilled to have everyone listening as always. So, Robin, talk to us first about. Sort of what drove you towards special education and towards neurodiversity as a whole? Because, you know, it’s, it’s a, a lot of people go into it, but you’re very specific. You’re very specialized here. 

[00:03:39] Robin: Yeah. I love that question. Uh, when I was in high school, I did a camp for kids with disabilities, um, pretty profound disabilities. So my Camper, who I was in charge of for the week, uh, was non-verbal in a wheelchair, and I was in charge of feeding her, changing her diaper, and she was older than me. Um, but I feel like she taught me more about life in that five days that I was taking care of her than I had you know, ever experienced. And so that drove me into special ed, um, in, in my undergrad. And then I met one of my students, um, family therapist. They came to observe me at school and I was like, that’s exactly what I wanna do. And so for the last 10 years I’ve been in, um, child and family therapy, working with kids with disabilities and all different neuro divergence. 

[00:04:29] Peter: It’s not easy. 

[00:04:32] Robin: Yeah, it’s not easy, but it’s really fun and really rewarding and um, I love it.

[00:04:37] Peter: I imagine it would be. Tell us about, so Clay is really interesting. So this is one of those things that get sort of to the heart of what’s going on long before other people figure it out. 

[00:04:44] Robin: Yes, yes. I joined Clay because, you know, I felt as a therapist, I was so burnt out. I was, you know, helping one family at a time, pulling them out of the river and never going upstream to see why are you getting thrown in the river. Um, and I think so often, you know, parents are bringing their kid to the pediatrician and saying, you know, we’re having these different behavior issues. Um, or they’re having behavioral issues at school or home, and the pediatrician has 10 minutes, you know, for all the vital health assessments and vaccines, and they’re not equipped to always handle behavioral health issues. And then the teacher’s pretty burnt out and not always equipped, and the parents burnt out and not equipped. And the end result is, you know, from zero to five when it’s the most. Like you said, the most crucial time, 90% of the brain’s growing these negative neural pathways get set. These negative coping and self-soothing skills get set. Negative family dynamics, negative association with school and negative self-esteem. And then the research says kids don’t land in my office until 11 years later. I. So, you know, that was kind of my goal at Clay was, and what Clay is doing, we’re solving this, um, we’re intervening and putting the tools in teachers and parents’ hands earlier. So what I can do in six sessions with a four-year-old would take years and years with a teenager. And we’re really seeing the mental health crisis start in preschool. Even though they’re talking about teenagers, 

[00:06:07] Peter: You’re preventing having to undo things essentially. 

[00:06:09] Robin: Yes, exactly. Exactly.

[00:06:11] Peter: Huh. That is interesting. I mean, it’s, it’s interesting the statistics you rattle off there. I, I always talk about how, you know, it’s difficult to undo years of being told you’re broken, but I didn’t realize it started that early. 

[00:06:22] Robin: Yes, I know often. That’s fascinating. Yeah. Often we undermine how important, uh, Zero to five is, and it’s really the most crucial. And it’s when parents are the most burnt out and, um, you know, many preschool teachers are underpaid and overworked and have these massive classrooms of behavior issues and they’re not equipped to handle it. 

[00:06:41] Peter: I’m still blown away by, by five years old. So, so you’re saying is if you get the kids in. Before that sort of settles.

[00:06:47] Robin: Yeah. When we, you know, it’s much, much easier. We’ve found our research so far of the kids that we’ve screened, a third of them have been flagged for, you know, a certain behavior concern. Um, 40% of those kids were flagged for anxiety and 19% were flagged with A D H D symptoms. And so we’re not diagnosing them, but we’re flagging the teachers and the parents with this is what’s going on. So they’re not just a behavior issue, they’re not a lazy kid who’s not trying or purposely being defiant. They actually have something else going on. And if we can give them really effective coping skills and ways to talk to the kids. And, um, you know, to really see the gifts. I love that about what you do on your podcast is always talking about the gifts of A D H D and there are so many gifts of anxiety and gifts of A D H D and we really have to help kids get those coping skills and see that as their superpower and, um, figure out how to make school and family life work for them.

[00:07:45] Peter: Talk to me about the parents. So I was just talking to a parent who said that, yeah, pretty sure my kid has is, is neurodiverse, but. We can’t test him until he’s six, according to the school. Mm-hmm. Right. And so I’m curious, when you go in and talk to parents who are at a much younger age 

[00:08:00] Robin: Yep. Right. 

[00:08:00] Peter: What’s the, what’s the reaction, what’s the response?

[00:08:02] Robin: Yeah, I mean, it’s a common response of like, they’re too young to have ADHD. They’re, um, you know, it’s kind of crazy to put my four year old in therapy. And I hear that and I get it, and we can’t diagnose ADHD pre four, but we see the symptoms and we definitely see, um, the family genetics of that. So, if a parent has ADHD or anxiety, we typically, you know, there’s a higher rate of a kid having that. And so there’s never any harm in getting coping skills and language around ADHD or anxiety or autism sooner. You don’t have to wait for a diagnosis. If you’re seeing some of the symptoms and you’re seeing the behaviors, we can jump in there and, and get coping skills. I’m not, I’m not encouraging, you know, an increase in diagnosis. I’m just encouraging an increase in screening and getting those tools. 

[00:08:51] Peter: Right, right. And it’s interesting because I don’t know, I, this is the first I’ve ever heard I like, like think I know what I’m, you know, I’ve heard a lot about this. The first thing I’ve ever heard about. Young age, um, about really sort of young age intervention.

[00:09:04] Robin: Yeah, it’s crucial. It’s really crucial in terms of how kids feel about themselves. You know, often you’ll see a five year old going to kindergarten and already feel like they’re stupid. They don’t wanna go to school, they’re a bad boy or bad girl. They’re bad at listening. Um, they get all of these messages about themselves before school’s even started. Right. And that’s what, and, and you know, the family dynamics have been set up. So, um, you know, parents get in a loop of how they’ve been parenting a, a kid, and it really affects how they cope, how they self-soothe. And then I see them 11 years later and they’re addicted to their screens or they’re using food to cope, or they’re depressed or anxious. And so what I try to tell parents is if we intervene at four, you won’t be doing this at 15. You know, you won’t have a depressed, anxious kid who’s who’s using negative coping skills. That’s our hope. 

[00:09:58] Peter: And the research backs it up, Robin. 

[00:10:00] Robin: Yes, yes. You know, the, the mental health crisis, all of the research right now is on teenagers being anxious and depressed. One third of of teenagers are, um, identified as having anxiety or depression. And, and what we’re seeing is those kids are, they’re showing those signs at 3, 4, 5, um, and we can intervene way sooner. 

[00:10:24] Peter: Wow. Three, four, and five. They’re showing sign of depression. That is, that is sad. 

[00:10:30] Robin: Yeah. Of what will end up, you know, I think we might not see a kid who’s depressed, but we could see a kid who’s, um, you know, got some pretty [hectic?] Behavior and, and then they start to feel depressed about 

[00:10:41] Peter: what kind of signs should parents be looking for?

[00:10:42] Robin: Yeah, I think when it’s persistent, uh, when it’s happening in more than one setting. So if it’s happening at school and at home, that’s, you know, a good sign that, that it’s prevalent in both places. Tantrums, unexplained tantrums, um, pervasive, you know, negative moods, feeling like you’re walking on eggshells around your kids. Um, feeling like nothing you do works seeing that like typical parenting strategies or typical school strategies are not working. And I think anytime you have that gut feeling as a parent, something’s not right, or I think something’s going on, or I think they’re gonna be the kid and I. You know, first grade where we get them diagnosed. Right. Intervene now. You don’t have to wait. 

[00:11:24] Peter: That’s a really, that’s really good advice. It makes a lot of sense. I think it’s gonna help a lot of people. Robin Maddux how can people find you? 

[00:11:29] Robin: Yes, you can find us @ and Cool. Yes. .And you can always email me at Robin [email protected]

[00:11:40] Peter: Awesome. Well, I think this is gonna be a very, very helpful episode. I really appreciate taking the time, Robin, as always, thanks to our audience for listening. Thanks to Steven Byrom for being our amazing producer/editor. We’ll be back next week with another episode where we will learn a lot and hopefully continue our mission to let the world know that all forms of neurodiversity are gifts, not curses. We’ll see you soon. 

Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week! 


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