Launching Into Young Adulthood with ADHD…Ready or Not!

It is an honor to have Chris Dendy and Ruth Hughes share about their new book to my PTS Coaching community.

I have known both Chris and Ruth for many years through my involvement with National CHADD.  They are each compassionate advocates and outstanding practitioners.  Their new book, Launching into Young Adulthood with ADHD…Ready or Not! is full of guidance and strategies to help your preteens and teens develop the key life skills necessary for the adult world and identify potential vocational interests and career paths before graduation.

Here’s what they have to say…

Launching into Young Adulthood with ADHD…Ready or Not!
Chris A. Zeigler Dendy and Ruth Hughes

              When our gifted son with ADHD was struggling in high school, my husband and I worried: would he ever graduate, ever get a job, or ever live independently. 

Many of you may be wondering the same thing about your high school student. But I have good news for you. Your teen will continue maturing into their 30s and 40s. Today our son is happily married and has a job that he loves.

Having lived through helping our sons launch into young adulthood, both Ruth Hughes and I want to share a few of the lessons that we learn along the way. 

              First, it’s helpful if parents understand that most of our children don’t mature as quickly as their peers. Because of delayed brain maturity, key executive skills such as organization, remembering, getting started, and finishing work so critical for college success are often lacking. Recognize that your teen may take longer to reach their goals, but they can be successful with your support. 

              So, bottom line: parents should expect to provide support longer than expected to help their teen launch successfully. One parent put it this way, “I would advise parents to see advocating as a lifelong parental job.”

Our new book provides the guidance parents will need to support their teens through high school and beyond. So here are just a few of the key topics we address.

  1. School success. Successful students build a solid academic foundation, learn to compensate for deficits in executive skills, and have enhanced self-esteem. Ensuring school success provides your teen with the solid foundation needed beyond high school and for life. 
  2. Self-esteem. If your teen is struggling academically, of course, address those concerns first. But then encourage participation in activities outside of school that utilize their strengths plus provide opportunities to succeed, thus building self-esteem.
  3. Friends.  Facilitate your teen’s ability to make friends. Host a trip to a special event so your teen can invite a friend to go along.
  4. Anxiety & depression. Anxiety is rampant among students with ADHD yet is often unaddressed. If your teen is struggling, be alert for signs of anxiety or depression. Several self-help strategies are discussed in our book.
  5. Gap Year. Consider a structured Gap Year Program after high school graduation to give your teen’s brain more time to mature. The planned delay provides opportunities to explore potential career options and also enhances success later in college. For example, a Gap Year might look like this: the student takes one community college course, teaches a dance class, and volunteers with a school counseling group.
  6. Specialized professional or technical training via a community college. Several of these high-demand jobs pay more money than the average college graduate is paid. Advantages of these programs include lower tuition, less debt, a shorter time frame for completion, and the added advantage of having much-needed parental structure and support.
  7. College. However, if your teen goes directly to college, provide the supports needed for success. Help them apply for supports under Section 504, join them to visit the campus, meet the director of Student Services, and request accommodations if eligible. 
  8. Career match. Identify your teen’s strengths and interests. Consider encouraging your teen to complete a career or interest inventory, such as the Strong Interest Inventory. The test results provide a wonderful springboard for discussion of potential careers with your teen. The goal here is to help your team find the right career match.
  9. Career Launch. Our teens will need support as they launch their careers. Job-hunting is so much more complex and difficult now. Parents can familiarize themselves with key steps in the job search by helping them practice job interviews, identify potential jobs plus available professional supports, and be a cheerleader when interviews don’t go well.
  10.  Speed bumps of life. Life never goes quite as planned, and this is especially true for our youth with ADHD. Fortunately, as teens mature, the speed bumps are fewer and further between. But when challenges do arise, you’ll be there to help guide them through it.
  11.  Gallery of Hope. Finally, we close with the success stories of 20+ youth that I have followed for 20 or 30 years. Each young adult is pictured as a teen, then again as an adult, plus their current job titles.


Chris A. Zeigler Dendy is a popular author, educator, & school psychologist with 40+ years’ experience, plus mother of children with ADHD, LD & executive function deficits. She has authored five books: including Teenagers with ADD, ADHD, & Executive Function Deficits Her latest book Launching into Young Adulthood with ADHD… Ready or Not! is co-authored with Dr. Ruth Hughes. In 2014, she received CHADD’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, she was inducted into CHADD’s Hall of Fame.

Dr. Ruth Hughes is a clinical psychologist, the mother of an adult son with ADHD and the former CEO of CHADD. Although semi-retired, she’s working nearly full time in her Community College in the Disability Services Office. Dr. Hughes has co-authored this new book with Chris Dendy: Launching into Young Adulthood with ADHD… Ready or Not! Both she and Chris have lived the struggles of parenting teens throughout their young adult years and into the work world.


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