The Emotional Side

Thom Hartmann: ADHD Radio Host and Author Sounds Off

The radio host and author of “The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child” talks about his own childhood with attention deficit, his son’s diagnosis, and his sweet message for those who won’t accept ADDers for who they are.

Tom Hartmann: Radio Mic
Tom Hartmann: Radio Mic

My support system was a combination of wonderful parents, who were willing to reframe ADHD as “just being a boy,” and a few excellent teachers. My grandfather called me and my brothers “the wrecking crew” when we came to visit, but my parents never saw us that way. I’m eternally grateful to them for that.

My biggest challenges are time management and overcommitment, and I can’t say I have control over either of those things. The upside is, I get a lot done because I’m hyperactive — in one year I published three new books and updated two old ones. The downside is that I don’t do a lot of things nearly as well as I would if I could tame these two tendencies.

When my son was diagnosed with ADHD, we were told that he was unteachable. When he was 12, we were told he was an educational failure. He’s now working on his master’s degree at a major university.

[Your After-Diagnosis Survival Guide]

Twenty-five years ago, my wife, Louise, and I went to a bar where a big, hairy guy named Sweet Pie was singing and playing piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. In his last set, he sang, “You shouldn’t worry what people think of you. Just do your best and say to yourself, ‘Fxxx ’em if they can’t take a joke.’

It helped me realize that, in the end, we have to accept ourselves (and our children) for who we are. If others don’t, Sweet Pie has a message for ’em.