A Birds Eye View of Life with ADD and ADHD: Advice from Young Survivors by Alex Zeigler and Chris Zeigler Dendy

The son-and-mother team of Alex Zeigler and Chris Zeigler Dendy, have teamed up to produce a new video, Real Life ADHD: A Survival Guide for Children and Teens. Alex is a young videographer, editor, college graduate, and web designer, who was diagnosed with ADHD at age twelve. His mom, Chris Zeigler Dendy, is an author, teacher, psychologist, and and national consultant on children’s mental health. (I have had the privilege of hearing them speak: she is kind, practical, and expert, he is articulate and informative.)

Their bright idea was to gather from around the country thirty young people with attention deficit disorder, ages twelve to twenty-one, and ask them about their experience and advice on coping with this condition. This two-hour DVD is sensibly divided into short segments, so even very distractible viewers can watch one whole part with ease. Alex and his co-host, radio personality and fellow ADHD-survivor Lewis Alston, introduce and explain the format. Then the other young people take over, and talk about dealing with five common challenges and favorite strategies for dealing with them. Each of these segments is about fifteen minutes long. In each one, Alex deftly edited between several different groups of young people commenting on their experience with each topic, and their advice (like the value of apologizing when you blurt out something you should not have said!):

  • Inattention
  • Disorganization
  • Forgetfulness
  • Impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity

The next portion of the video, Ten Facts, is a set of even shorter clips, of one or two minutes. These scripted segments explain what ADD is, the difference between ADD and ADHD, how common it is, how different it can be, and more. This is a great way to convey many facts in capsule form.

While it surprised me to have two smiling girls explain that ADHD brains do not mature as fast as others, so “we may need more help than others until we mature more,” I decided I like their articulate, matter-of-fact approach. They seem comfortable with the need to adapt and cope with their condition. “It’s not like we’re slow or anything,” explains sixteen-year-old Alyssa. “If you plan to go to college as I do,” she adds, “you may ask for help from a counselor, tutor or ADHD coach.” “Be patient, you’ll get better at doing things independently,” concludes Allie. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.” Well said!

“Medication works” is one recurring theme of this video. If you have a teen who is becoming resistant to taking medication for attention deficit disorder, you may find this helpful. If you are determined that your child should not use medication, or if you have tried many medications without success, you will find other useful information on this DVD and in this book.

Watch the movie, read the book

What about the book, and which to get? The book contains more information, from fewer young people. The book is cheaper and can be marked up. But if your young person is more likely to watch a video, that is better than a book they won’t read.

Whichever you choose, Alex and Chris warn viewers and readers with ADD or ADHD to take the material in small chunks, perhaps 20 minutes at a time.

Stay tuned: Alex and Chris plan to create another DVD, Real Life ADHD, Part II, in 2013.

(Yes, that cover photo is of author Alex Zeigler riding his bike off a ramp into a lake as a friend looks on! And there is an explanation and disclaimer in the front of the book. Kids, don’t try this without parental supervision! Parents are told, “Ironically, the only person who ever got hurt doing this jump was an adult without ADHD–he was too cautious and tentative.” That should tell you something about this family and the informal tone of this helpful material.)

It’s a good value at $19.95. Visit Chris’s website to get your copy, and take a look at her other books, Teaching Teenagers with ADD and ADHD and also Teenagers with ADD and ADHD.

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