Got distractible, disorganized, impulsive teens? Here’s help

By Kathy Kuhl

Raising a distractible, impulsive child is an adventure. Homeschooling that child, especially as they grow older, can be a bit scary—especially if Mom is also distractible, as I am.

So as my son approached adolescence, I went looking for help. I found Chris Dendy, and I want you to know her, too.

A nationally known speaker and author, Chris has been a leader in the attention deficit disorder community. She’s been a teacher, mental health counselor and administrator, national advocate, and much more. With her late husband Tommy, she was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the national organization CHADD (Children and Adults with AD/HD). But best of all, she has three grown children and four grandchildren with ADD or ADHD, and her father and sister and other relatives have it, as well. So Chris gets what life is like at my house. She is informative, encouraging, and practical.

When I first heard Chris, she was giving a workshop in my city on teaching teens with ADD and ADHD. It was very helpful and realistic, chock-full of ideas. I recommend her books on the subject. (See below.)

When I met her again, at national convention on ADHD, she was escorting a group of teens who’d contributed to her latest book, A Bird’s-Eye View of ADD and ADHD: Advice from Young Survivors. Co-authored with her youngest son, Alex, the book and the related CD Real Life ADHD, incorporate the advice and experience of thirty young people from age 12-21. See my review here.

I’m delighted to say the third edition of that book is about to be released, A Bird’s-Eye View of ADHD and EFD…10 Years Later (3rd ed): Advice from Young Survivors. Since attention deficit disorder and executive functioning disorder (EFD) are related, many strategies help teens with both kinds of difficulties. So Chris and Alex have slightly changed the title. Soon you can buy it here, where you’ll also find Chris’ other books, Teenagers with ADD and ADHD and the companion book, Teaching Teenagers with ADD and ADHD, as well as Father to Father: Expert Advice on ADHD, her husband’s video for dads, and other helpful resources.

Though most of her experience has been with public education, Chris supports home education. She knows how valuable it is to be able to customize curriculum to a student’s strengths and to manage the environment to limit distractions.

Her website has lots of helpful information for any parent of a child who struggles with distractibility, inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity. Here are two jewels from her website:

  1. Under “Parenting,” Chris Dendy posted a helpful article called “Ten Key Facts About ADD and ADHD.” She succinctly covers lots of ground.
  2. Under “Treatment,” is an outstanding summary on how to help your child or teen. Don’t miss the positive approach described in #7. Though she begins with “Keep a Disability Perspective,” Chris is not saying “think of your child as broken,” nor “encourage your children to think of themselves as broken.” Instead, Chris explains a trap we parents easily fall into:

    If we think the teenager is maliciously misbehaving and intentionally failing to do school work, then a logical response is to believe that he will get better only if we force him to do things or punish him. On the other hand if we believe that he wants to do well but is struggling to cope with a disability–an attention deficit disorder, then we will convey a different attitude. We will be positive, provide support and guidance, teach new skills, consider medication, and when needed, implement consequences for misbehavior.
    Teach the teenager to cope with his disability and solve his own problems….

 Don’t miss the resources Chris Dendy provides at And if you have a chance to hear her speak, go listen!

Got a tip for a parent of teens who struggle with inattention, impulsivity, disorganization, or distractibility? Please share it in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.