Parenting Inattentive-type ADHD w/ Behavioral Pharmacologist Kristin Wilcox, Ph.D
Kristin Wilcox has a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and has spent over 20 years in academia as a behavioral pharmacologist studying drug abuse behavior and ADHD medications at Emory University and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She has authored several manuscripts published in peer reviewed scientific journals and presented her research at international scientific meetings. Her book “Andrew’s Awesome Adventures with His ADHD Brain” shares her son’s experiences with inattentive-type ADHD, and her insights on parenting an ADHD son. Dr. Wilcox serves on the executive board of the Inattentive ADHD Coalition, hoping to increase awareness and understanding of the inattentive subtype of ADHD in children and adults. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two sons. Enjoy!
In this episode Peter and Kristin discuss:
1:00 – Intro and welcome Kristin Wilcox!
1:40 – Cocaine for research whaaahht??
3:00 – Talk about inattentive-type ADHD?
4:45 – On adrenaline junkies. Ref Type T ADHD
9:00 – Tell us about the book!
10:30 – There was not much research in existence on inattentive ADHD in boys
10:52 – Does it occur in girls as well?
11:14 – What specifically are you studying in terms of drug abuse and behavior & things like that? Tell us a little more about your background?
14:25 – Thank you Kristin! Guys, as always, we are here for you and we love the responses and the notes that we get from you; so please continue to do that! Tell us who you want to hear on the podcast, anything at all; we’d love to know. Leave us a review on any of the places you get your podcasts, and if you ever need our help I’m www.petershankman.com and you can reach out anytime via [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!
15:15 – Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits
Yo, yo, Hey everyone. It is Peter Shankman. It is Faster Than Normal! It is another interview. It is a great Wednesday. Uh, it’s a great Thursday, Thursday? Oh my God the weeks are rolling into one. My daughter goes on a field trip for three days overnight and I no longer know what day it is. Ridiculous. Okay. Welcome. My name is Peter. Shankman. Said that already. We’re talking to Kristin Wilcox today. She’s a doctor. She’s a PhD in pharmacology from the University of Mississippi Medical Center has spent over 20 years in academia as behavioral pharmacologist studying drug abuse, behavior and ADHD medications at Emory University and John Hopkins University School of Medicine. In other words, she’s much smarter than any of us. It is great to have you here Kristin. Then she has written a book called Andrew’s Awesome Adventures with his ADHD Brain, where she shares her son’s experiences with inattentive type ADHD and her insights on parenting an ADHD son. She’s on the executive board of the inattentive ADHD coalition of an increasing awareness and understanding of yet attentive subtype of ADHD in children, adults. She lives in Maryland where there has been two sons, Kristen. Hi, welcome.
Hi Peter. How are you today?
I am great. Thank you for taking the time to join us. Um, it’s funny. I remember probably in 2005, I dated a woman briefly who was doing her second PhD at Rutgers, I believe, and was also studying drug abuse. And the thing I found so amazing was that when you are studying drug abuse in a university setting an academic setting, I guess, for a PhD or better, or whatever, you basically can call the government and they deliver you drugs like illegal drugs, like they delivered through cocaine to her or to her lab, I guess. And I was just shocked by that because my first question was, so can you.. and she immediately shut me down and said, absolutely not! But it was an interesting question.
They do actually, um, the, uh, the cocaine that we used to use in our, uh, experiments with. Cocaine that was confiscated off the street and then purified by the DEA and that’s how we got our cocaine for our research.
Unbelievable. The DEA was purifying their own cocaine. That is brilliant. I love it. That’s awesome. All right. I just need to throw that out there.
I remember she sent it to me. She goes, yeah, this stuff is like a hundred percent. Yeah, you wouldn’t want to use it or something like that.
That’s crazy. Unreal. Well welcome. I’m glad, glad you’re here. So tell us about, um, you know, we, we think of ADHD as both, um, you know, going down the rabbit hole of hyper-focus and also, you know; Hey, I’m bored. Give me some dopamine. Talk about inattentive ADHD?
Um, well, I think the most important thing is that, uh, there’s very minimal hyperactivity and impulsivity. So a lot of the times when people think about ADHD and especially ADHD in a boy, they think about a boy who’s bouncing off the walls, who can’t sit still in class, who’s constantly fidgeting. They don’t really pay attention to the boy that maybe, you know, kind of dreamy and forgetting to turn in his assignments and has a desk that’s stuffed with undone worksheets. So that’s probably the biggest thing to know about inattentive ADHD. They do also have the, uh, like, you know, the inattention and the forgetfulness and the disorganization, which also occurs with, um, the commonly thought of combined type, which does have the hyperactivity and the impulsivity, um, you know, and these kids are also, uh, they’re very smart. Um, inattention has nothing to do with intelligence. Um, they’re very creative. They’re outside the box thinkers. They’re great at problem solving. Um, they love risk-taking and adventure. They’re adrenaline junkies.
Yeah, that totally makes sense.
Yes, my son actually wanted to skydive when he graduated from high school.
Well, tell him to give me a call and we’ll make that happen.
Haha! I’m glad somebody will go with him because it’s not me.
So that’s interesting. I remember there was a, there was a study. I wish I could remember the guy’s name, but it was, there was a TV show, probably the learning channel or something 15, 20 years ago, when I first heard it, got to me and it was talking about someone who came up with this concept of type T. T positive and T negative, where T is this adrenaline junkie right? And empty, positive T is someone who gets their adrenaline in positive ways based on upbringing. You know, they be able to do public speaking, whatever. And T negative is those who find it in negative ways, you know, drug addiction, um, um, you know, crime, things like that. And so, so in ADHD are they are adrenaline junkies.
Uh, they are adrenaline junkies, but it can also go both ways they can. Um, you know, like you mentioned before regulating dopamine, they can regulate dopamine by jumping out of an airplane, but they can also regulate dopamine by taking drugs or driving fast. Um, so it’s kind of a, it’s a double-edged sword. Like the, the risk taking is, um, you know, can have complete benefits and be fabulous and, you know, kids with ADHD are not afraid to do something and jump right in and they, they live life. Um, you know, cause they don’t think about it. We’ll just think about the concept and we’ll deal with the consequences later. There’s no thinking about them. Um, but you know, they, they do get into problems with drug abuse and crime and driving fast cause that’s also stimulating domain. So, um, you know, it, it, it is kind of a plus and a minus of having an iteration of inattentive ADHD.
But is there, I mean, is there, you know, I think that, that for a lot of us, you know, especially when we’re not diagnosed, it’s just okay: Sit down. Right? And we don’t realize that the things were drawn to come from this concept of…? but for me, for instance, you know, I never got into, I didn’t get into drugs at least not in high school or as kid, um, you know, the worst thing I ever did was smoke. Right. And this was the eighties where smoking was good for you. But, um, you know, it’s the premise that it is there. Is there a nature versus nurture component in there? Where, if you know, you, you, you, you look for positive things, or look for things to give you that dopamine, that aren’t necessarily negative things.(?)
Um, yeah, I, I, I would probably agree with that. Um, my son, as, as well, uh, hasn’t gotten into the drugs in high school, doesn’t go to parties and, and drank, um, you know, he finds his stimulation in other ways. Um, you know, like, right. He has a Onewheel, I don’t know if you know what a one wheel is.
Yeah, of course.
So, so he just got one.
Yeah. For those who don’t know what’s next generation Segway with just one wheel on it and and, and you..
He just got on that thing and just took off, you know, he, he went to space camp when he was in seventh grade and they put you in this thing that, um, you know, turns you all around
A Multi-Access Trainer. I know exactly what it is. I had a very bad experience with…
And he was the first in line to do it, you know? So he’s, he’s seeking his im, adrenaline out in self-regulating and positive ways. He’s not self-regulating with, with drugs and alcohol. Um, is that partially because of the environment that he’s in? Uh, probably he’s, you know, we have an open dialogue about things like that and, um, you know, so we’re kind of steering him away from that type of behavior, but, you know, um, if he wasn’t in that type of environment, maybe if my husband and I were constantly gone; working all the time and stuff like that, and he was left on his own, you know, he might try to, you know, get into some of that to help self-regulate.
And I think that, that, you know, that’s one of the interesting things is that you look at, you look at, um, uh, prisons, you know, it’s a 65 to 70% of um, incarcerated males are undiagnosed ADHD. And so it does come down to that question, you know, I mean, for me, you know, my, my being undiagnosed by parents just assumed, okay, he’s hyper, let them run around so I’d take my bike after school everyday, and I’d ride around for hours and hours and hours. Right. And then, you know, I don’t know if they ever noticed when I came back, I was much calmer. but obviously it was absolutely helpful. Okay. Tell us about the book!
Ok! So, um, so the book is in two parts. The first part of the book is my son’s story with his inattentive ADHD and the ADHD elephant that lives in his brain. Um, and the second part of the book My experiences raising an ADHD son and I kind of, um, put, you know, some of the science behind ADHD and how that relates to my son’s behaviors. And, um, the reason I wrote the book is because there is virtually no information out there on inattentive ADHD and boy s. So, um, when my son was diagnosed, fortunately, he was diagnosed in third grade, which is young for inattentive ADHD. Most of the time, these kids are diagnosed after nine years old, sometimes not until their teens, because, you know, it’s what I like to call the silent ADHD, if they’re not disruptive and, you know, creating chaos so they’re not really noticed. Um, and we were fortunate. He had a teacher in second grade who recognized his symptoms because her son at the time was in high school and he had inattentive ADHD, so we were fortunate that he had that teacher. Um, and at the time is when I was working at, um, Hopkins on the ADHD project. And I was talking to a psychiatrist who was consulting on our research project. And he actually said, there’s nothing out there on boys with inattentive ADHD. And of course I went home and started to look and do some research and he was right. So, you know, the purpose is just kind of to increase awareness that this occurs in boys. Um, you know, get it out there.
Uh, it does occur in girls as well?
It does occur in girls and adults and it’s, um, most often discussed in girls and more recently in adults.
Okay. And, and obviously it’s, it’s being discussed more in adults because adults are taking their kids to get diagnosed and they say, huh, it sounds like me.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Interesting. What, um, talk for a second about, uh, about your, about your background. What are you, um, what specifically are you studying in terms of drug abuse and behavior and things like that?
Um, well, when my son was diagnosed, I stopped working to focus on him. So I haven’t done research in quite awhile. Um, but the majority of my research was looking for therapeutics for cocaine abuse and finding cocaine taking behavior. Um, and it was preclinical studies. Um, and then when I worked at Johns Hopkins, Uh, the ADHD study was looking at long-term effects of ADHD medications, because at the time there were no studies on it; long-term effects of ADHD medication. So we looked at, um, physical features. Um, we looked at cognitive functioning. Um, so that was, uh, was the nature of that study.
Interesting. That’s fascinating stuff. Um, is the book available everywhere?
Cool. Did you self publish it?
I did not. Okay, cool. Excellent. A lot of our, a lot of people are, um, I’ve talked to a handful of people who’ve written ADHD books down and they’re all self published. Um, just like, yeah, whatever helps people whatever gets it out there. I’m a fan of..
No, yeah, I was very excited. It was picked up by a publisher. I didn’t, I didn’t have high hopes. And I thought that if it wells, it’s never really published, hopefully it made me a better mother to my son because it helped me to understand his brain and to work with him instead of working against him, because he doesn’t think the way I think.
Yep. Now it’s it is, it is, you know, I think that’s one of the biggest things that the parents need to understand. I mean, I remember growing up, my parents just didn’t understand the difference, you know, why, and then they still treated me a hundred percent wonderfully, you know, and, and I had a great relationship with them and I still do, but they weren’t the way I was and it was just a, it was a very, they just never got it. They never really got it.
Yeah. Now I asked my son before I, um, but while I was writing the book, I said, tell me what it’s like to have ADHD, because I don’t know what that’s like. And here I’m writing this book about ADHD and I don’t really know what it’s like to have ADHD. And so he describes it as an overstuffed garbage can where the lid doesn’t stay on and everything’s falling out on the floor.
So that’s how he describes his ADHD.
I couldn’t come up with a description nearly that eloquent.
I love it. I love it. All right. Well, very cool. Um, how can people find you?
Awesome. Kristen, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. It’s been a lot of fun. We will definitely check out the book and we will link to it on your Amazon link and in the show notes. And we really appreciate you being here today. This was great.
Great. Thanks Peter. I appreciate it.
Guys you’ve been listening to Faster Than Normal. We love when people come to us and say, Hey, I would like to be on the podcast, or when they have a great idea for a great story. And they have a great story themselves. If you’re that person who knows someone who has let us know, we’re always trying to find new people. We have a plethora!! of new episodes that we’ve recorded that are in the can that are coming up. The next three months are already filled but if you have someone to let us know, we’ll record you and get you on the podcast as well. And you can find me at [email protected] The podcast is FasterThanNormal.com on iTunes on Stitcher, Google play anywhere you get your podcasts. Thank you so much for listening and remember that ADHD and all neurodiversity is a gift, not a curse. And we will see you next week with a brand new episode. Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk to 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 www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com 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!