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Howie Mandel’s Impulsive ADHD Pranks

Howie Mandel, comedian and Emmy-nominated host of Deal or No Deal has OCD, ADHD, and depression. He speaks openly about his life and the need for mental care.

Reader be warned: Here’s another plug for the Spring 2010 issue of ADDitude magazine! Howie Mandel is the focus of this issue’s “In Their Words: ADDers sound off on family, work, life,” an ADDitude regular feature.

Out of ADDitude’s whole stable of writers, I was somehow the writer to draw this great gig — taking down Howie’s words as he talked about his ADHD and OCD symptoms, and how they’ve impacted his relationship with his wife of 30 years, his three (adult) children, his career, his new book, and why he’s an activist for mental health awareness.

(Imagine this — ADDitude’s editor asks if I’d be “willing” to interview Howie Mandel for a piece in the magazine. Are you kidding me? No, I have to give the cat a bath that day. I think I’ll pass. No one else in the free world is willing to do it? Oh, okay, I guess I can squeeze it in, but you’ll owe me.)

It was a joy to talk with Mandel, though he was surprisingly serious. Here’s some dirt that didn’t make it into the magazine. Picture Howie Mandel as a kid — frenetic, funny. Now, imagine you’re his teacher. How would you deal with the ADHD-inspired class clown? Here’s what Mandel had to say about his past school deviance when I asked him in our interview.

Howie Mandel: I wasn’t an easy child. My behavior in school and at home was not to be applauded. But my parents were incredibly supportive. I don’t have a high school diploma, and I’m sure that’s not a source of pride for them, but I never felt any less loved and supported by them than I would have had I gone on to higher education. I didn’t finish high school because I am, and always was, incredibly
impulsive. It’s really hard for me to focus and listen for any length of time; to sit for any length of time. I spent more time in the [principal’s] office than in the classroom. One of my last pranks was, I didn’t want to go swimming, so — this was years before Caddy Shack came out — I threw a candy bar in the pool, and you can imagine what that looked like. After the whole school was gathered around trying to figure out who defecated in the pool, I dived in and came up with it in my mouth. I thought it was funny at the time, but the administration didn’t.

Now, does that give us some perspective? Imagine getting that phone call from school about your ADHD kid’s behavior!

What is the most impulsive stunt your child with ADHD has pulled?

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