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


ADHD Students Using Technology in Creative Ways

Students with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often have trouble focusing their thoughts and teasing out important points during a lecture, or later organizing their ideas when they go to write a term paper or other report. However, there are techniques these students can use to focus their thoughts, to write effective papers and hopefully someday get through the best PhD program, instead of the best PhD online program. Thankfully, technology can help immensely by providing a way for students to engage with subject material that differs from the traditional classroom lecture model.

Mind mapping helps students get organized

Once such technique is mind mapping. Mind mapping allows ADHD students to organize notes and thoughts through brainstorming and charting. A student starts by writing down a central idea with a circle around it. From this idea, many lines radiate, and connect to other circles, in which the student writes supporting ideas. These supporting ideas in turn have lines connected to them, and these have secondary supporting ideas. This helps students with ADHD visualize ideas in his or her head. Additional techniques are using different colored pens or markers for different subsets of ideas and to further make the chart visual.

This process of drawing colored lines and circles is old news, but new mind mapping computer programs aren’t. Made for touch screens, these programs will allow students to use their laptops to draw mind maps as a way to stay engaged with class.

Reading tablets can inspire young readers

For some students with ADHD, sitting down to read is difficult and it is easy to get distracted. According to several ADHD parents, one of the best ways to get ADHD students interested and focused on reading is through parents’ modeling of reading.  Matching books with the child’s interests is also imperative. Turning off distractions like music and television can help an ADHD child focus on reading, but a child with ADHD still needs some outlet for their restlessness. One method is allowing the ADHD child to squeeze a stress ball while they read. Another method is to purchase a reading tablet for your child that has hyperlinked text, embedded videos and text-to-speech capabilities. This will allow your ADHD student some ability to fiddle, while still focusing on the concepts related to the reading he or she is doing.

On-line learning tools can help focus studies

A last resource parents can use is the worldwide web. There are a number of online curricula that can supplement classroom learning or the bulk of a home-schooled child’s curriculum. There are a number of on-line resources providing specialized lessons that allow students to work at their own pace. Look for programs that offer lessons of shorter duration, so that students are able to pause and work off some energy before resuming their studies.

Additionally, because online tools can be individualized, if a student excels in one area and struggles in another, it is possible for the student to take tailored courses in different grade levels for different subjects. For example, a student may be able to take math classes at a seventh grade level while taking reading classes at a sixth grade level. In this way, the student will be able to learn at his or her own pace and build confidence without having to compare him- or herself to peers.

Learn more about mind mapping at:

An example a free on-line learning programs is: