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

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

What We’ve Learned About Trauma and Learning Challenges

What are traumatic events?

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network defines a traumatic event as “a sudden and unexpected occurrence that causes intense fear and may involve a threat of physical harm or actual physical harm. A traumatic experience may have a profound effect on the physical health, mental health, and development of a student.” These events are often referred to as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Traumatic events can arise from neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse.

The impact of trauma on learning

Recent neurobiological, epigenetic, and psychological studies have shown that traumatic experiences in childhood can have many long term effects.They can:

  • Diminish concentration, memory, and the organizational and language abilities children need to succeed in school.
  • Lead to problems with academic performance,
  • Result in inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and difficulty forming relationships.

According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser-Permanente, these impacts can add up to poor academic performance, and later problems in life, including:

  • Risky health behaviors,
  • Chronic health conditions,
  • Low life potential, and
  • Early death.

Resilience can make the difference

According to a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, entitled Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Lifelong Consequences of Trauma, past traumatic events do not necessarily dictate the future for the child.  The report authors cite the ability of “protective factors” that can counter adverse childhood experiences and  build resilience that allows a child to thrive. They state:

“Children survive and even thrive despite the trauma in their lives. For these children, adverse experiences are counterbalanced with protective factors. Adverse events and protective factors experienced together have the potential to foster resilience. Our knowledge about what constitutes resilience in children is evolving, but we know that several factors are positively related to such protection, including cognitive capacity, healthy attachment relationships (especially with parents and caregivers), the motivation and ability to learn and engage with the environment, the ability to regulate emotions and behavior, and supportive environmental systems,including education, cultural beliefs, and faith-based communities.”

Toward a practice of building resilience

Today, research is leading to a better understanding of the role that non-cognitive capabilities – e.g., grit, self-control, perseverance and delay of gratification play in a child’s ability to succeed in school.  Paul Tough, bestselling author of How Children Succeed and Helping Children Succeed, outlines this research in a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly, “How Kids Learn Resilience.” These non-cognitive capabilities form the foundation of the executive functioning skills everyone needs to perform well both in school and at work. Executive function coaching, a proven method for helping students with learning challenges, succeeds because it builds both interpersonal relationship skills and non-cognitive capacity.

Read more from Edge

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Is your Student Lacking Emotional Intelligence?

You’ve witnessed the scenario, the semester starts off smoothly and the student is doing pretty well. The assignments are not too difficult and the academic year is flowing with relative ease. As the semester continues, usually shortly before mid-terms, turbulence takes over. The student suddenly becomes overwhelmed and overloaded, assignment due dates are rapidly approaching and time is running out. The student is not properly prepared and encounters difficulty finding the help needed to succeed. This may describe your ADHD student, but it can also define someone low in emotional intelligence. Those with ADHD may likely be low in emotional intelligence skills as well.

 

ADHD AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
When dealing with ADHD, we tend to focus on proficiencies related to time management, procrastination, organization, and memory. These skills are important, but we do not spend as much time discussing critical areas that relate to persistence, self-advocacy, flexibility, emotional control and stress management. These areas of personal development, called emotional intelligence, can be learned to help avoid academic disruption. Self-advocacy can help a student to politely and confidently say no to excessive campus activities; emotional control can help one properly confront a problem roommate; persistence can help a student to bounce back from a bad grade on a test to try again with new determination.

 

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
Daniel Goldman, the father of emotional intelligence, states that life success involves only 20% intellect and 80% the ability to connect and build strong relationships with others. Those that are skilled at building strong relationships possess emotional control, self-advocacy, stress management, persistence and other such skills.  Emotional intelligence is defined as using emotions well to guide thinking and behavior. Studies show students with high emotional intelligence do better academically. High emotional intelligence also improves a person’s social interactions and helps one develop friendships and lasting relationships.

Low emotional intelligence stifles healthy social interactions. Low self-awareness and low self-confidence disrupts positive relationship building. The student may lack a healthy network of friendships and relationships with others, which can be crucial in social problem solving and motivation while in college. A student with low emotional intelligence is not comfortable approaching a teacher for clarity on an assignment or feel weird going to the disabilities office and asking for the necessary accommodations needed for academic success. This is because they have not built the relationships and comfort with those persons that would make interacting with them relatively easy. In some instances, the student is not even aware that an intervention is needed. Too often, instructors assume that the student is unwilling to try or not interested in learning.

 

DEVELOPING EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Believe it or not, for some people, emotional intelligence comes naturally. This means that it is easier for them to create the bonds and obtain the information they need to achieve their goals. These are the people that can connect with everyone in the room. They may have been the class clown or the teacher’s pet in school. They were probably a part of the popular crowd. The good news is, emotional intelligence is a skill that can be practiced and developed.  Research suggests that by making a person aware of the skills that they are lacking and practicing the proper responses, one can develop the skills needed to improve their emotional intelligence. For a student, this can mean better friendships, better relationships with professors or improved interactions. For students with ADHD, developing emotional intelligence can ease the mid-semester rush and equip students with the tools needed to finish the semester as smoothly as they began.

 

Steven McDaniels is an Edge Foundation coach. He serves as the Director of Fitness and Athletics at Beacon College, where he previously served as the Director of Life Coaching.

Overcoming the challenges of ADHD

The upside of failure and ADHD

Editor’s Note: How often do you feel like a failure? If you’re like most of us, plenty of times. Now how many times have you celebrated your failures? A great moment about the positive side of failure is in the cartoon, Meet the Robinsons. When our hero spectacularly fails to fix an invention, his friends aren’t mad, instead they celebrate. For, as they explain, without failure, you never learn anything. This week’s guest post, by Edge coach, Gayla Wilson, digs deeper into the myth of failure and encourages us to view “failures” as bumps in the road towards success.

Fail it Forward

Is it possible people who have not failed are people who have never gone too far…never gone far enough? What side of the coin do you fall on? The “I have failed side” or the “I played it safe side.”

How can we ever know how far we can go unless we are willing to fail? Playing it safe requires us to live inside the boundaries of our limitations. A diagnosis of ADHD can mean a limitation of too few neurotransmitters (the thingies that help us focus and concentrate). This doesn’t mean we have to live inside this limitation. We can manage this in several ways; education, coaching, medication, exercise, diet and therapy just to name a handful.

You know the game we all play sometime; “What would you do if money were not a concern.” I ask my coaching clients “What would you do if you knew you would not fail.” When we strip away the “yeah, buts,” “if onlys,” “shoulds,” “I can’ts” and my favorite “I tried that and it didn’t work” what do we have left?

I can. I will. I am.

It takes great strength and courage (an “I told you so” occasion for the nay-sayers in your life, real and imaginary) to consider the possibility of failing. To know in your heart you might fail and then decide to take the plunge and do it anyway. Anis Nin said, “Life Shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” What will it take for you to feel courageous?

A life of unmet potential is easier and less painful.

Those of us with ADHD have had our fair share of bumps in the road. Sometimes we settle for a life of unmet potential because it is just plain easier and less painful. Henry David Thoreau’s famous quote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” describes it well. Thoreau sought to learn to live deliberately and without resignation. He did not want to discover that he had not lived. Bob, my husband, has quoted this passage many times to me over the years. It has become his mantra, a reminder, as he learned to move through his daily challenge with ADHD. Like many adults diagnosed late it life Bob has had his fair share of bumps.

Many of us have learned to rely on the strategy of defensive pessimism. This strategy anticipates a negative outcome and then we take steps to avoid that outcome. Not necessarily a bad strategy, but certainly a limiting one. Yes, we must learn from our past mistakes. The learning and wisdom we gain from those mistakes guides our future…fail it forward, get it? As we side-step our way to the comfortable use of the word failure we can live firmly in the present. Fail, learn, grow, and succeed.

Want to think on this topic some more? You might also be interested in https://edgefoundation.org/blog/2009/07/14/adhd-is-it-a-good-or-bad-thing/.

How do you view failure in your life?  Do you agree that you can’t learn if you don’t fail?

Don’t give up, borrow some brains!

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Borrowing some brains

“We should not only use all the brains we have, but all that we can borrow.” President Woodrow Wilson

This quote of Wilson’s is often cited as an inspiration for why teamwork is important. Organizations of all kinds spend a lot of time and money on teamwork exercises designed to strengthen the ability of people to work together.  After all, it’s common sense that two people working together can accomplish more than one person alone, right?

This premise is one of the foundations of ADHD coaching – by working with a coach, a student who has ADHD learns to set achievable goals, build new skills to reach those goals and count on an outside support to be accountable for keeping on track.  Your ADHD coach can help you accomplish much more than what you could by yourself.  And we have proof!

Our recently completed research shows students who receive coaching have substantial gains in their overall approaches to learning — in other words, they become more effective students!

There’s proof!  Your ADHD coach will help you:

  • Get better organized
  • Achieve your goals
  • Effectively manage your time and
  • Stick with things when the going gets rough

If you’ve been sitting on the fence about whether or not you need an Edge coach, today is the day to stop procrastinating and take the first step.  There’s no obligation when you send in a request (or call 1-888-718-8886 right now!) to find out more.