Sykesville mother and son team up to write book on navigating ADHD, inattentive guy – Baltimore Sun

As a student at Century High School, Andrew Wilcox has participated in marching band and track, and excelled in his information technology classes at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center. Now, 18-year-old Andrew is preparing to graduate and attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida to study spaceflight operations in the fall.

All of these accomplishments are noteworthy, even more so for Andrew, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Inattentive Type, when he was in third grade at Piney Run Elementary School.

“(ADHD inattentive type) is usually not recognized. Children are perceived to (only) have hyperactive ADHD,” said Andrew’s mother, Kristin Wilcox, of Sykesville. “He wasn’t hyperactive, bouncing off walls or restless.”

Rather, Andrew forgets things he doesn’t want to do, making it difficult to complete tasks like cleaning his room or doing homework. His brain takes in everything, but he doesn’t filter things, Kristin said, so she gets distracted.

“It’s like an overfull trash can, everything falls out and the lid doesn’t hold,” Andrew said in explanation. “It’s too much.”

Inattentive ADHD is most often diagnosed in girls, according to Dr. Miguel Macaoay, an Eldersburg psychiatrist. Children, he said, are more commonly diagnosed with hyperactive ADHD or a combined presentation, which has symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity.

“Boys tend to be more disruptive than girls,” Macaoay said. “This problem, inattentive ADHD, requires a good clinical evaluation by an experienced psychiatrist.”

After Andrew’s diagnosis, Kristin learned everything she could about inattentive ADHD. With a doctorate in pharmacology, Kristin had extensively studied the behavioral effects of drugs, including ADHD medications, and her work was published in scientific journals. She was surprised to discover little research on the inattentive presentation of ADHD in children. So, she took the job.

The resulting book, “Andrew’s Impressive Adventures With His ADHD Brain,” was published in February. The first half of the book tells Andrew’s story, and in the second half, Kristin shares hers. They hope the book will help people understand the disorder by breaking down the myths and highlighting the positives.

“When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t feel like it was super dumb, but something bad and incurable,” said Andrew. “I’m much more comfortable with it now. It’s not a bad thing. I know how it works and how to do things.”

You learned to use a paper planner to keep track of tasks and responsibilities. Approach projects by breaking them down into manageable segments, whether it’s writing an assignment or doing a chore. When he needs to clear his head, he likes to be outside.

People with inattentive ADHD generally enjoy challenges, are good problem solvers and can “think outside the box,” Kristin said. They are also very creative. Andrew likes to make pottery and, although he doesn’t like to write, he is an “eloquent writer,” she said.

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“Kids with ADHD get criticized for things they can’t do,” Kristin said. “I went through all of that. ‘Why can’t you just do that chore or clean your room?’ Once I understood, I was able to help him with strategies. ‘Here, try this.’”

“He can hyperfocus,” Kristin said. “In Embry Riddle, spaceflight operations are good for someone like him. He is small, specialized and what he likes”.

Still, she worries. At the beginning of each school year, Kristitn used to contact Andrew’s teachers to explain how Andrew works and request weekly updates on homework, upcoming projects, or tests.

“I don’t do that anymore because I won’t when he’s in college,” said Kristin, who noted that Andrew has been in contact with college in preparation for his life away from home.

“He wants to go to Embry Riddle and he wants to stay there. He’s motivated,” Kristin said, of Andrew taking charge of things his senior year.

“At some point, you have to let me live,” Andrew said.

His book is available at It’s A Likely Story bookstore on Sykesville’s main street. The authors will be featured at an in-store book signing event in June.

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