Ty Pennington’s Extreme ADHD Makeover

While many celebrities are reticent to talk about their learning challenges, Ty Pennington has been vocal about his ADHD diagnosis. Pennington is the former host of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and today the co-host of “American Diner Revival.” He says he is proof that a person with ADHD can focus on one thing long enough to make it happen.

Ty Pennington’s Childhood Struggles with ADHD

For all of his childhood, he wasn’t aware that he had ADHD. In grade school, his hyperactivity seemed in the way of everything he tried to accomplish. As a result, he spent a lot of his time in the hallway or in detention. School was difficult. By his own account, Ty says he swung on the blinds, ran around the classroom, and playfully slapped other students on the back of the head. He would read a book but not remember a word, cause chaos in the classroom daily, and spend most of his time being disciplined instead of learning. He was finally officially diagnosed with ADHD while in college.

He spoke with Nicki Gostin of the Huffington Post about his childhood experiences with ADHD.

“My mom was studying to be a child psychologist and she went to my elementary school to test the worst kid they had. They were like, “Mrs. Pennington, you really don’t want to know who that is.” They let her observe me through a window and within 20 minutes I stripped naked, wore my desk around and swung on the blinds. I was just a complete distraction to all the other students.

Back then, they didn’t even know what to call it. They put me on antihistamines to try and make me drowsy. They tried everything. It certainly affected my confidence and my belief in myself. When everyone’s afraid you’re going to hurt yourself from just mowing the lawn, you start to believe them. Once I figured out I was pretty decent at art and people were interested in hiring me, I realized I had a skill besides injuring myself.

What’s kind of funny is that I ended up working with power tools to pay my way through art school and still have all my digits.”

Finding Creativity Amid the Chaos

Pennington admits that ADHD hurt his confidence and his belief in his own abilities, but he found success by pursuing art, design, and carpentry. Later a modeling scout approached him and he began a career in print advertising, TV, and endorsements. Pennington was able to leverage his photogenic appearance, charismatic sense of humor, and love for carpentry into his own empire of television shows, magazine publications, home fashion designs, and personal appearances. He also won an Emmy award for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Today he manufactures his own line of furniture and writes a regular column for Enjoy magazine in addition to his work in television. Ty Pennington is proof that no matter how strong the symptoms of ADHD might be, they can be harnessed into a creative and fulfilling career.

Celebrities with ADHD: Ty Pennington

8 ways to combat ADHD Perfectionism

unique

Have you ever said, I might as well not try, I won’t be able to do it right anyway? Or how about, my work on this project really sucks, I’ll just hide it under my bed and forget about it. … READ MORE

Dyspraxia – the Little Known Learning Difference

Peter Ormerod argues that parents shouldn't force their children to write thank-you cards -- it's an exercise in insincerity, he says, and there are better ways to promote gratitude.

Although dyspraxia is fairly common, most people have never heard of the condition. Children with dyspraxia may have difficulty performing physical tasks such as speaking, jumping or gripping a pencil. Dyspraxia may also affect a child’s social skills, and kids with dyspraxia may act immaturely even though they usually have average or above average intelligence.

What is Dyspraxia?

Dyspraxia affects co-ordination, spatial awareness and sensory perception. It is part of an umbrella of conditions known as specific learning differences which are defined as exceptional variations in a person’s ability, as well as problems with concentration and short-term memory. Dyspraxia affects between 2% and 6% of the population, meaning there’s likely to be at least one person with the condition in every school class or workplace. Around 70% of those affected are male.

Researchers believe that the condition may have a genetic component. Current research suggests that it is due to an immaturity of neuron development in the brain rather than to brain damage. This interferes in some way with the messages that the brain sends to the body, though the exact mechanism is not known. It usually occurs in children who have had a difficult birth–either being born prematurely or with low birth weight. It can be accompanied by other learning disorders such as dyslexia or ADHD.

Dyspraxia can affect children in a variety of ways:

  • Communication – Children may have difficulty pronouncing words
  • Emotional / behavioral skills – Children with the disorder may have difficult in social situations and can become easily frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Academics – School work can be difficult for kids who have trouble with the physical process of writing
  • Life skills – e.g., performing routine tasks like brushing teeth or buttoning a shirt

Warning Signs & Treatment

While the symptoms of dyspraxia may vary depending on the age of your child, they generally start be seen early in life.  Understood.org provides a breakdown of the most common symptoms by age, beginning at the toddler stage and progressing through high school. It is important to monitor and record any of these symptoms so you can share them with your child’s doctor.

A general practioner or primary care physician will probably need help from a specialist to make a diagnosis of dyspraxia. These specialists might include occupational therapists, child health specialists (paediatricians), physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, neurologists and educational psychologists. An assessment can be made to determine whether a child has missed the usual milestones of development, and identify any issues with co-ordination and motor skills.

There is no medication to treat dyspraxia at this time. Treatment usually consists of a mix of occupational therapy, perceptual motor training, and speech therapy.

Childhood dyspraxia: James’ story

Achieving Academic Success With ADHD & Executive Function Challenges

Are You Ready For College?

ready-for-college

ADHD 
and
 college: a
 challenge
 you
 can
 handle

Do 
you
 get
 an
 anxious 
feeling
 when
 you
 think
 about 
school? Going
 to
 college is
 an
adjustment
 for 
anyone,
 but
 when
 you
 have 
ADHD,
 the
 challenges 
are
 that
 much
 greater.
However, 
college
 is
 a
 challenge
 you
 can 
handle
 if
 you
 go
 armed 
with
 the
 knowledge 
of 
a 
few 
extra 
things you 
can
 do to 
make 
sure
 your
 college
 experience 
is
 everything
 you
 hope
 it
will
 be.

Do
 you
 have
 the
 4
 student
 qualities
 for
 success?

Successful
 students
 usually
 have
 four
 qualities
 that 
help
 them
 achieve
 their
 goals:

1. Sticking 
with
 things even
 when
 the
 going 
gets
 tough
 ( a.k.a.
 perseverance),

2. Ability
 to
 delay 
gratification
 and
 focus 
on
 the
 big 
picture,

3. Time 
management 
and
 organizational
 skills,
 and

4. Striking
 the
 right
 balance
 between
 fun 
and
 work.

Are
 you
 feeling
 discouraged
 already? No
 surprise. These
 particular skills
 don’t
 come
 easily
to
 students with 
ADHD. Organizational
 problems, 
impulsivity
 and
 time
 management
 issues 
are
 actually
 the
 hallmarks 
of 
living 
with 
ADHD. You
 think,
 “If 
I 
just
 get
 this
 special
 planner,
 I’ll 
never 
forget 
anything
 again.” Or 
you 
promise
 yourself,
 “Next 
time
 I’m
 going
to
 start 
working
 on
 my
 class
 reading
 at
 the
 beginning
 of
 the 
term
 instead
 of 
cramming
right
 before
 finals.” It’s
so
 easy
 to
 think,
“If
 I 
just 
make
 myself
 do
 this…
it’ll
 be
 fine.” 
But
what 
if
  we 
told
 you
 that 
making
 yourself 
do
 it 
is 
the 
totally  wrong 
approach?

Read more at: Your guide for college success

Apps for Students with Learning & Attention Issues

kids-using-tablet-computersIn today’s world, apps are indispensable. They give us directions to keep us from getting lost, allow us to manage our money, and a hundred other daily tasks. So it is no surprise that apps have been created for helping students, especially those with learning and attention challenges such as ADHD, to organize and perform tasks more effectively. Apps, in combination with treatment modalities and coaching support, are empowering these students to perform at a higher level than they might otherwise.

Distributed Cognition

Brock Eide, M.D., and Fernette Eide, M.D. discuss an interesting idea called “distributed cognition.” It has emerged as educational researchers rethink the concept of intelligence. Traditionally, intelligence has been measured by our ability to remember and regurgitate something we have studied. The Eides define distributed cognition in their article “A New View of ‘Smart’ for Kids With Learning and Attention Issues.”

One helpful idea is called distributed cognition. That term is a mouthful, but the concept is simple.

Cognition means how your brain knows and understands thingsDistributed means shared. So distributed cognition is what you can know and understand if your brain cooperates with outside helpers—whether they’re tools, printed information or other people.

It also means that your intelligence isn’t fixed by the information you carry around in your head. Intelligence can be increased by the way you interact with your environment.

In other words, how “smart” you are is really the sum of two things: The first is what you know on your own. The second is what you can easily learn by interacting with the things you have easy access to.

Apps, search engines and other software tools assist students with learning and attention issues by freeing them of the necessity for memorization which is difficult. Apps can be especially useful in memory intensive areas such as:

  • Procedures, especially multi-step instructions for how to do things
  • Rote facts, like times tables, state capitals or the lists of chemical elements in the periodic table

Apps Aplenty

There are dozens of apps to help students and adults with learning and attention issues, and more coming to market each year.  Understood.org provides an excellent survey of apps for students of all ages.  For example, the Voice Dream Reader helps students with reading issues: it is a customizable app that lets kids highlight text and have it read aloud to them. Healthline also publishes a regular survey of apps for people with ADHD.  Below are demonstrations of some apps for users with ADHD.

Traxion is a mobile app aimed at helping those with ADHD organize your time and time tasks more effectively.

The Social Navigator helps children and teens with social and behavior issues learn to cope more effectively in various social situations.

Time to Rethink Our Educational Model?

As software becomes more deeply embedded into our world, it brings greater urgency to the work of updating our traditional educational model to match what we encounter in life. Distributed cognition is a way of life now outside of the classroom. Most adults would find it hard to navigate the complexities of modern life without Google and smartphone apps. In school, these technologies can be a great leveler for kids struggling with learning and attention issues.