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Former ‘Extreme Makeover’ and ‘Trading Spaces’ Host Talks ADHD, New Book on Cheddar

Photo Credit: Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutterstock

May 15, 2019

Updated 6m ago

By Rebecca Heilweil

You might know him as the guy who screamed “Bus driver, move that bus!” on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition.” Now Ty Pennington is raising awareness of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) while promoting a new book that explores his childhood, his diagnosis, and his career as a carpenter and television personality.

“A lot of families have come up to me over the years and been like, ‘My child suffers from the same sort of issues,’” Pennington told Cheddar. “A lot of people worry that your kid is going to change if you get them diagnosed. The truth is, their personality stays the same.”

ADHD is “a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors. He or she may also be restless and almost constantly active,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The CDC reports that more than 9 percent of children and teenagers have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives, according to parent data from 2016, though adults can also be diagnosed with the disorder.

In addition to publicizing his memoir, “Life to the Extreme: How a Chaotic Kid Became America’s Favorite Carpenter,” Pennington is also working on the reboot of “Trading Spaces,” the 2000s TLC home improvement show where he first gained an audience. The show was renewed for a 10th season in January.

Pennington says he wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until the end of high school. “My entire life I heard, ‘wow, you’re so energetic, you’re so creative, what are we going to do with you? What direction do we send you in?’” he said. “That’s a challenge a lot of parents face. Like, what is it that you’re going to be good at.”

With the help of a mom who was studying child psychology, Pennington says he was eventually diagnosed. “It was just about focus, finally,” he said. “It had a huge impact.”

Pennington is among many celebrities and athletes, including Adam Levine, Michael Phelps, and Simone Biles, speaking out about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders. Several, including Pennington, have also participated in the Child Mind Institute’s ‘My Younger Self’ campaign, which seeks to end stigma around behavioral and brain health, including ADHD.

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