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


Getting Better Sleep with ADHD


ADHD and Sleep Disorders

Recent research has linked ADHD to a variety of sleep problems in children. For example, the Sleep Foundation cites the following studies which outline some of the common sleep disturbances experienced by children with ADHD:

  • One recent study found that children with ADHD had higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD.
  • A second study found that 50% of children with ADHD had signs of sleep disordered breathing, compared to only 22% of children without ADHD.
  • A third research study found that restless legs syndrome and periodic leg movement syndrome are also common in children with ADHD.

How ADHD May Exacerbate Sleep Problems

According to Laura Tagliareni at Understood.org, certain tendencies among children with ADHD can keep them from getting a good night’s sleep.

  • They often have trouble with self-regulation which can prevent them from wind-down at the end of the day.
  • They are a more prone to things like nightmares and bedwetting.
  • They may put off doing homework until the last minute which makes the evening more hectic and less relaxing.
  • If they are in the tweens and teens age group, they may feel more productive during quiet nighttime hours which results in less sleep.
  • They often have anxiety problems. Their anxious feelings can emerge at night when there are fewer activities to distract them. This causes them to have trouble falling or staying asleep.

Tips for Helping Your Child Get Better Sleep

There are a number of steps parents can take to help their ADHD child get more and better sleep. These include:

  • Encourage your child to participate in physical activities after school
  • Monitor sleep patterns and begin the process of getting ready for bed earlier in the evening
  • Reduce stimulating activities before bedtime and try to get your child to start their homework earlier
  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in the evening, and if necessary, talk your doctor about the stimulative effects of any ADHD medication your child might be taking
  • Talk to your doctor about excessive snoring or any other breathing issues your child might be experiencing during sleep
  • Investigate meditation and other stress reducing techniques

You can find additional tips for helping your ADHD child improve their sleep from Madeline Vann, MPH at the Everyday Health website.

By working with your child and your child’s physician, you can create a sound sleep environment to help your child get the sleep they need to succeed with ADHD.

How to Get to Sleep When You Have ADHD

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