Getting to know Chris (and her family)

 

Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, M.S.

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For over 50 years Chris has been recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in the ADHD field. This recognition has come because of the excellent materials she has developed to help families cope with ADHD and executive function deficits.

    

A popular author, she has written four books and produced two videos in collaboration with her son Alex Zeigler. Perhaps more importantly she has lived the experience of have parented now grown children who have ADHD: two sons and a daughter.     

    Based upon her lived experience, she wrote her first book, Teenagers with ADD, ADHD, and Executive Function Deficits that has now sold over 120,000 copies. (click on “Products” to read more about all the publications Chris and Alex have produced.)

    Her many years of experience span numerous careers: author and speaker, classroom teacher, school psychologist, mental health counselor, local and state mental health administrator, lobbyist and CEO of a Florida mental health advocacy organization, and national mental health consultant on children’s issues.

    She has been active in CHADD for over 30 years, having served at every level of the organization: Chapter Coordinator, Clinical Adviser, CHADD Board of Directors, plus CHADD Executive Committee, Conference Program Chairman, and a charter member of CHADD’s President’s Council.

    In 2014, her peers honored her: CHADD selected Chris to receive their prestigious lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the field. She had previously been inducted into CHADD’s Hall of Fame in 2006.

     In addition to the books she has written, she also volunteered to write CHADD’s ADHD Educators Manual and cofounded their Teacher-to-Teacher training program. ADDitude Magazine has designated her as one of their expert authors and has dedicated a web link that includes all the articles she has written for them.

 

My Family

My late husband and I have three grown children and five grandchildren. All three of our children and four of our grandchildren have been diagnosed with either ADD or ADHD. In addition, our fathers, a sister and brother, and a few aunts and uncles also have attention deficits. Since attention deficits run in both our families, it has always been an accepted part of our lives. Fortunately, we were exposed from an early age to relatives with ADD or ADHD who were successful in their chosen careers. As a result, we have a more optimistic view than many people do of what it means to grow up with an attention deficit.

 
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Meet my late husband, Tommy Dendy.

My late husband and I were high school sweethearts who married some twenty years later. When our children were diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, we read everything we could get our hands on and sought out the best doctors in town to help our sons. Neither of us had ADHD, so initially, understanding the condition was especially difficult for us. We were both excellent students and in many ways, high achievers: he was a graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and I earned my BS degree from UGA and Master's from FSU. In our video, Father to Father, my husband asks somewhat humorously, "Where did these children come from? They are not like us." One of the most painful lessons we had to learn the hard way is that we must love and accept our children just as they are! 

My husband and I experienced so many painful lessons during our sons' teenage years; we want to help others avoid the same mistakes we made. This passion for sharing our experiences about living with ADD or ADHD is the primary reason for my books and videos plus our travel around the country and in Europe to speak about our family's struggles coping with ADD and ADHD!

Our children have found active careers that take advantage of their
personal strengths!

 

My Father & Sister

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Although my father, Judge Abney (the lawyer), did not do well in school because of his undiagnosed ADHD, he was a very productive and a highly respected community leader. After serving as the county probate judge for thirty-five years, he finally retired at the age of 75. Obviously, his hyperactivity and high energy served him quite well in his later years. Community respect for him was reflected at his retirement ceremony and later his death at 80 with front-page headlines in our local newspaper. His aggressive and creative political campaigns won him a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives when he was 28. The Atlanta Journal ran an article chronicling his campaign adventures in 1947. He was the first person in Georgia to ever campaign by airplane. Dad was very out-going, loved talking, and never met a stranger, so serving in public office was a natural choice for him. When my parents married, my grandfather sadly shook his head saying, "I hope you can settle him down". And settle down, he did. Had he lived, my grandfather would have been very proud of my dad's accomplishments.

My sister, Billie Abney, (the doctor), did not do well in school either. However, she blossomed academically when she entered college. She has always had a wonderful zest for living and a great sense of humor. In college, her strong athletic skills and competitive high energy helped her win the national tennis doubles championship for small colleges. In her late twenties she returned to graduate school and is now the only one of us three daughters with a doctorate degree. With her outgoing gregarious personality, her career choice as a chiropractor was a natural. She has a wonderful "take charge attitude" and displays an extraordinary calm level-headedness during a crisis. Her patients loved her sense of humor and competent personalized care.

After retiring as a chiropractor in 2007, Billie began teaching high school. She is certified to teach across all sciences including biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics, and forensics. An excellent teacher, her students score well on all their achievement tests. In 2016 she was honored as Georgia’s Outstanding Biology Teacher of the Year. CHADD honored her as their Outstanding Educator in 2013. She speaks at national and international ADHD conferences sharing best practice teaching strategies. 

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