I am Tom Nardone, and I am ADD

Screw the PTA. Worry About Your Child


By Tom Nardone

I have spoken to a lot of parents, who have children with ADD. They all have at least one thing in common; they all care about their children. I categorize them into two groups; those that medicate, and those who do not medicate. I fully agree with those who medicate, and I understand the skepticism for those that don’t.

I am Tom Nardone. When I was growing up I can remember back to some of the things that were done or said to me as a result of being ADD. I had a real hard time understanding simple instructions, because I could not quiet my own mind long enough to listen when they were given.

To this day, the greatest man I have ever known was my father. I remember some of the things he used to say to me; “Tommy, I sure am glad my life doesn’t depend on your speed” or “What? You left your homework at home? Did you think that you were having class at our house?” and my personal favorite is when my father would ask why I did not do something that asked me to do, and I would say “I didn’t hear that part” to which he would reply “Yah well Tommy I guess it is difficult to hear when your head is up your ass” I do miss my Dad.

I had a very tough time in school. It was common for me to work on projects for weeks or just do regular homework, only to leave them at home on the day were due. In spite of my studying for hours I did very poorly on tests.

Sometimes the teacher would be talking to the class about the days assignments and my mind would be somewhere else. I can’t tell you how many times I would come out of a daydream, and discover the rest of the class was quietly working, and I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. For most of my years in school I was the kid that everyone else made fun of for being stupid or weird. Sometimes the teachers chimed in, and that was more than I could handle.

I would like to tell you that the problems stopped there. But sadly, they went on to follow me at the many, many, many jobs I quit or got fired from. I don’t mind telling you, and I have said this before. I got fired every way you can think of. From “Hey Tom we are sorry but we just don’t have enough work to keep you on” to “YOU!! PACK YOUR SH#T AND GET THE F@#K OUT OF MY BUILDING” (I will tell you a little something about how it feels to get fired. It gets easier.) It is hard to drive through my town and not pass by two or three places that I have worked before. I thought it was funny at the time. It was however a source of concern for the people who loved me. My ADD also made relationships difficult.

During my former marriage, I had forgotten our anniversary two years in a row. The next year I committed to remember it, and I did. I had a card and gifts I went all out on decorating the house, so when my wife came home she would be surprised. She got home and she was quite surprised since it was not our anniversary that day. She was furious and made me take everything back. To make matters worse a few days later when our actual anniversary came to pass, I did nothing. I thought “Hey I blew it I’ll do better next year” That apparently was also the wrong answer. My point is that, to me that sounded reasonable

For those of you, who are looking for an alternative to medication, there you are. Everything you just read is the alternative to medication. The reason parents put their kids on medication is because it works. Yes we tried lists. We tried charts. We tried a system of rewards, reminder notes, and a lot of other things. None of it helped even a little.

Yes, you can micro-manage your child’s life and maybe you will successfully get them all the way through high school. Someday that kid is going to be on their own. It will be just them and their ADD and you won’t be able to go to work with them. You won’t be there to make a list for them. Then, what will they do. Well, I don’t know what they will do. I only know what you will do. Right or wrong, you will probably blame yourself.

The truth is parents are already giving their kids medication for other things. They don’t question it. They march them down to get a stupid flu shot every year. When their kids are sick and the doctor prescribes some anti-biotic that they can’t even pronounce, there they are in line at the pharmacy. Kids are regularly prescribed prednisone without their mom or dad batting an eye. (You should read the side effects for that). There is Tylenol for kids, Vicks for kids and over 100 different other drugs that parents buy right off the shelf and give their kids and why? Usually it is because they saw a commercial on TV where the kids looked so happy while they took their fun new medicine that has a picture of Sponge Bob on the bottle.

Given all of this, it perplexes me, why a loving parent cannot see their way clear to allow a doctor to prescribe medication for their own child who has been diagnosed with ADD. So their kid has the sniffles and they run right out and buy things they think will make them feel better. Their pediatrician tells them that their child has a stomach virus, they will go hauling ass out to the pharmacy to get that prescription filled. But a doctor tells them their child has ADD, and they simply won’t hear of “Oh NOOOOO!!………. HELL NO!!!……… I love my kids. I won’t be a party to pumping them full of meds!!”

I learned that I was ADHD at the age of 29. A man named Chet Smith who, while firing me, explained that I had ADD. I didn’t know what he was talking about. Later I went and checked up on this. I read a list of the symptoms my eyes were opened, but I had never taken drugs before and I did not want to start.

I was committed to doing this without any drugs, but nothing changed. Years later, it occurred to me the current state of my life might be the alternative to not taking medication. I got a prescription for Adderall and it changed my life, quite dramatically, and quite overnight. I started projects and then, Yah. I finished them. I found things that I was interested in and realized that I was pretty good at them. When I was at work, I focused on my job instead of worrying about how much longer it would be until I could leave. Most of all I was not so irritable all the time. Things in my Life have never been better.

I am married to a woman named Yvonne who I love more than I love myself. I have a step-son named Brett who I have watched grow into a man. I have been at the same job for 14 years. I have a website where I catalog my unique and/or humorous observations and stories that keeps me pretty busy. People read them and enjoy doing so.

I was a child at a time when there was no diagnosis for ADD. I had an incredibly challenging childhood in a world where people who knew me simply wondered why I was the way I was. Strange that I have heard parents say “I got some bad news from my son’s school today. They told me he is ADD.”

When I found out I was ADD, It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I can’t even tell you how wonderful it was to learn that the problems I had been having my whole life were not for the reasons that so many of my peers and teachers told me. I was not stupid. I was not weird, I was Tom Nardone. Today things are pretty good. I am Tom Nardone and I can tell you one thing about being Tom Nardone and that is that it is fun as hell to be Tom Nardone.

Alternatives to medication for ADD, is what a lot of people are searching for. It is what I have lived through for 29 years and I would not wish that on you. Please don’t do it to yourself or your kids.

My life is not perfect today, and it is not without its challenges. I am on top of it though. I am glad I don’t have to do it w/o my medication, and I am glad I don’t have to do it alone

I am Tom Nardone, and you are welcome

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34 Responses to I am Tom Nardone, and I am ADD

  1. jadereyner says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and I can only begin to imagine how confusing the world must have been for you. Thank god that things have changed now and although some people are not necessarily grateful, I think that it can only be a good thing that conditions such as yours can be diagnosed and treated. Imagine if you had had to continue life unaware that you could take a tablet to make it better. I am a firm believer in taking medication IF it is needed and IF it is beneficial. When you are really unwell, or in my case, have a child who is really unwell, then in my experience, you don’t question the merits of whether not medication should be taken. You go with it, because you want to give your child (yourself) the absolute best shot at life.

    From the posts I’ve read I think you’re doing pretty great and as you know, I greatly admire your outlook on life. 🙂

    • Thank You Jade.
      I think that there is far more good than bad. I don’t consider it a bad thing. I consider it a blessing. I don’t know who I would otherwise be.
      Thanks for the kind words as always Jade.

  2. Hi Tom…Sorry for your experiences. As a special ed teacher I have seen lots of kids with ADD (treated and untreated, on meds and not on meds.) When I was in grammar and high school, there was no such thing as ADD or ADHD…just kids who “did not listen” or who were “lazy.” It took a lot of education and experience with students of all ages for me to learn there was more to ADD and ADHD than at first seemed immediately obvious. I have seen children (and adults) suffer needlessly because their condition was not treated. Fortunately, there are lots of treatments other than medication–which, for some, has horrendous side effects and can be quite harmful. These non-medical treatments include acupuncture, chiropractic, diet, meditation, yoga, and more. For some medication might be THE answer. All I ask is that people look at alternatives. I would take meds (or give them to my children) if necessary–but as a last resort and ONLY as a last resort.

    • Thank You Ellen.
      I wanted to do it without meds. I fought it for years. One day my wife and family was getting all over my ass about what I wore to our family Christmas celebration, and i couldnt take it any more and I just completely wigged out.

      I decided to try medication and had no intenetion of staying on them. I just wanted to pacify my now ex-wife.

      After taking them, my whole life changed. I am not saying meds are the only way, I just think that there are plenty of side effects from nearly all meds. that people seem to live with in spite of them. I think I would put up with a lot of issues if it meant not having to live the way I once did.

      If I knew another way I would do it. Thanks for your post Ellen. Feel free to read the other articles on my site in the ADD heading. Thanks for taking time to leave such a detailed comment.

  3. ksbeth says:

    your honesty is wonderful tom, i teach kids each year who clearly are add, and i do my best to reach them in whatever way i can, know they learn/focus/react differently, know they need to move and feel things and make noise and on and on and i honestly do my best to help them find whatever works for them. the meds have made a huge impact on some of their lives, helped them focus, not ‘get in trouble’ in other places where people may not react to them as positively. i work with the whole family to try to let them know there are options and i don’t judge them either way, based on what they decide. i tell them it will be like a moving target and things will need to be adjusted along the way and things won’t be perfect, but who among us is? it’s strictly key to finding whatever method will help their child find comfort and confidence and security in this world. i want them to feel good about themselves and know they are just as important and valid and can contribute as much to the world as anyone else. these are the most amazing kids and they need to know that, just need some understanding and support along the way. sorry, got on my rant but you know what i mean….

    • Hey thanks so much K
      I am glad you are helping the little ones before they have to go through some of the crap that i did. I know for most parents this can be a touchy subject. I like writing about this. This was not at all my favorite. My other articles are far more entertaining than this one. That is probably because i used way more swear words in them

      • ksbeth says:

        oh i know it is very hard on the families and my kindergarten (4s and 5s) is really when it begins to stand out. when i first broach the idea it is usually met with some measure of sadness or denial, but over time, most come to understand that this is not a death sentence, simply that we all have to do everything we can to support and encourage these kids so that they do not get down on themselves. these kids are not bad at all, they are the world too and just work differently within the framework. kids at this age begin to notice when someone acts ‘different’ and the child seems to begin to realize he is ‘different.’

        i talk to my whole class every year about how people learn and get through the world in different ways, and that is what is so interesting about being a person. i don’t want kids to go through what you described, i want them to use their add as a gift and find their strengths and know it won’t be a straight road, which can be very interesting and frustrating for them at the same time. i’m so happy if i can help even one child/family each year to realize this ) i’ll have to read your other post ‘cuz i’d be much more comfortable with the swearing )

  4. What a great article! I swear, I could have been telling the story! I wish ADD meds were around when I was a kid! Instead, I was “treated” by being sent to a strict Catholic school where the “spare the rod, spoil the child” mentality was suppose to straighten me out – It didn’t! As a parent pf an ADD child, I can completely relate to the frustration and hesitation on medicating but, whenever I meet up with criticism I use the same argument in the article – we medicate for asthma, colds, strep throat etc.. why not ADD??? Thanks for a great article!!

    • You are welcome Nancy, and that is quite a story. Shipped off to catholic school, wow that is the stuff movies are made of haha. I thanks for taking time to comment and thanks for the kind words

  5. This blogpost arrived at the perfect time. One of our clients wrote us an e-mail last night furious about another Ritalin is evil story. Your story Tom is similiar to mine and countless adult clients of ours. Thank you.

  6. Bev Nolker says:

    Hi Tom,

    Your article was great, straight from the heart and honest. I loved reading it. I am a parent to a 10-year-old boy who, six years ago, was identified as having a ‘learning disability’, although nothing concrete was diagnosed.

    The children in school hated him and his teachers didn’t like him much either. I would pick him up from school and the children would run and tell me that he had been in trouble that day, or his name was on the board for doing something bad. The teachers would moan about him and we were constantly at war with the education system. He was never invited to birthday parties or social events, but he was oblivious which I am grateful for.

    I changed his school and the difference was amazing. The teachers were understanding and encouraging, even though he had not been formally diagnosed with anything. It’s only been this year that we were told he had ADHD. I had my own thoughts previous to the diagnosis and had been reading about the medication and side effects etc… I was determined not to medicate him and certainly didn’t want my child to be ‘spaced-out’ or ‘out of it’.

    The paediatrician was great, she explained to me that the medication could be altered according to Mason’s needs and – it was. He now takes his medication daily and we explained to him that it’s because it will ‘help him concentrate’, nothing else. He doesn’t feel any different to his peers and is very accepting. Mason isn’t spaced out when he takes his medicine. He’s a creative, loving, happy boy.

    He is currently on his first residential school trip for a week, which I didn’t think would’ve been possible a few years ago. The medication has helped Mason and, as much as I worry about giving it to him, I know it helps him tremendously.

    I believe the problem lies in the education system. Both of my children are kinaesthetic, they are creative, enthusiastic, passionate and love life. They see beauty in everything and anything. They love to learn, they just but they struggle within the confines of a classroom for 6-7 hours a day. Take away the confines, encourage the learning and you have a child who can and will contribute to the world in the most amazing way.

    Sorry for waffling!

    • Bev,
      Thanks for your comments, and don’t be silly I love waffling. Your story brought me to tears. I could not be more sincere when I tell you how happy I am that your son is doing better. It is a hell of a thing for a parent to send their child to a school knowing that they will be treated poorly. I am so inspired by the actions you took.

      Thank you again Bev. for taking time to comment in such detail. I wrote another article called ADD, you will find what you look for. I think you would like that even better.

  7. I am so glad you wrote this Tom. There are so many similar stories to yours, so many adults who have come through the education system with labels, are fighting both the labels and to find some normalacy in their adult lives. I suspect reaching adulthood without knowing what makes you ‘different’ is even more difficult, the likelihood of a diagnoses as an adult is damned near nil.

    I am entirely in your court! If medication works, if it improves your life or the life of the child take it. If medication provides relief, provides options take it or in the case of a child give it. I know it is difficult for parents, but not providing the very best opportunity for a child is even more difficult.

    Thank you Tom, for revealing your history and for your ongoing advocacy.

    • Thanks Val. when I was a child in school i thought the best thing I could be was normal. Now as an adult, it is the thing I would never want to be. Life was difficult for me all those years but, if that is what it took to get me where i am today, then so be it.

      • Just think how spectacular today is, here and now. I will bet, if you really think about it, you look around you, stare at your wife, your son and all the other things that make your life fabulous you would say to yourself….”I am Tom Nardone, f’ it I am awesome and the world can simply kiss my ass!”

  8. MindBody says:

    Hi Tom,

    I put this up on your Linked In page, and hope it is not too long for this forum- but here goes:
    thanks for your article. It is a great consciousness raiser. ADD/ADHD is much commoner than people think and can present in many different ways. About 10% of us have very intense hyperfocus that allows us to do well or even very well academically (but still have difficulty in social settings including workplaces).

    I work as a doctor and was diagnosed at 46.

    I guess I would make a couple of comments
    Firstly undiagnosed ADHD is very destructive to our wellbeing and to that of those we love.
    The amount of damage increases with the delay in diagnosis- that damage takes the form of low self esteem, failure to develop skills- both social, organisational, academic, and the risk of developing addictions and even criminal behaviours. Lack of awareness of ADHD on the part of practitioners simply constitutes negligence.

    Secondly- stimulant medication can greatly improve symptoms for many of us while we take it- but is not curative. Finding something longer lasting is something that really motivates me.

    Thirdly stimulant medication is usually relatively free of side effects, and what side effects do occur will usually be adjustable for with time. It comes in short or long acting forms so can be easily adapted to the individual requirements. While some people fear a loss of creativity with it- i personally find that in allowing me to finish projects and structure my very many good ideas, and in assisting me with learning attention training, it has greatly enhanced my creativity.

    Having a good grasp of the current literature I will say though that most work being done on ADHD is based on the “disease model” of Western medicine. I have a strong interest in mind- body medicine and in mindfulness. It is apparent to me that the key ADHD researchers have only the dimmest awareness of the neurology or the psychology of attention.

    It has been known for thousands of years that attention is a trainable skill- not a fixed quantity. Meditation, and martial arts are both special examples of this type of training.

    Furthermore attention is normally directed by our emotions to the relevant target, and the brainstem mechanisms that stabilise head control, and direct eye movement towards the target of attention are critical elements of the integrated attention- action process. Close assessment of many ADHD sufferers will reveal significant defects in balance and in eye movement.

    My own path towards mastery of my ADHD has involved training in meditation (top down control), chiropractic treatment, more recently yoga and martial arts, and finally psychotherapy to work through some of the psychological baggage left by these years of missed diagnosis.

    There is now hard evidence to show neuroplastic increase in brain areas involved in attention with as little as 10 hours of good quality meditation. Meditation also helps regulate stress- and stress never helps good attention.

    The chiropractic treatment has corrected my posture, and reduced my tendency to get stressed (There is a strong link between posture and stress responses).
    Most particularly though, the chiropractic treatment has involved specialised exercises to improve balance and eye hand co-ordination. These exercises greatly reduce demand on working memory and improve attention and emotional calmness. They belong to a new area called functional neurology.

    The bottom line is that all of this has been easier with stimulants, and has led to a situation where my need for stimulants is greatly diminished- and may resolve completely.
    I have had low stress times since diagnosis when I did without medication with no problem.

    I really hope that we will see a much more integrated approach to ADHD management, and that we will not have the situation where people like you and I reach adulthood before our problem is resolved.
    That change will depend upon the advocacy of people like us.

  9. Your response was not too long. you may comment on my page anytime you like.

    I want to make something clear. I am in no way against treating ADHD without medication. If it works then that really is the goal. What I have a problem with are parents who dismiss the notion of it without consideration, while at the same time having no problem with medicating there kids for anything else. The reason as far as i can see is they just dont believe their kid. If he had a visible infection ok lets have the pills. ADD “Ohhh not my child” these are the assholes of which I speak.

    I am so glad you as a doctor have found an effective way to deal with your challenges. I am not opposed to them. the thing with me is that i do not want to do shit unless i have my adderall. I could even keep a job. I dont have the patience or the time or the money to do such a thing. There are those who can, and I think it is fine for them.

    The other thing is that time is limited. I dont know how many years non-medication methods take to cure (for lack of a better word) ADHD. I would be unemployed by then. And some kids could fail grades in that period of time. I am not saying it will take years but I suppose it could. What I mean is this; are minor, possible side effects worth the time it takes to get this right. For me they are not. I know this my Adderall cost 8 dollars, and I was a rock star 30 minutes later. the people at work had no idea what was up with me. My boss said “Who are you?”

    I write about ADD not only to help people, but to entertain. I share my personal story, I am thrilled that you took the time to read it. I posted one today that is by far the most widely recieved post i have ever made about anything. If you care to read it it is the first post on my home page and features me as a child.

    M&B thanks for taking time to respond so thoroughly I thing you are a good man and I imagine a fine doctor.

    I am Tom Nardone and you are welcome.

    • MindBody says:

      Thank you Tom.
      I also have a great problem with the “non believers”, and also with extremists who are “medication only” or “non medication only”.
      Medication by itself can be enormously successful for some, but has only been a partial benefit for either of my children, and a significant, but incomplete benefit for myself.
      We all have to look carefully at what works best for us, and to be aware of the options, and what is the cheapest and most effective.

  10. Danielle Donkin says:

    Tom Nardone. I would just like to send my deepest thanks to you, your story has touched my heart and opened my eyes to how my own son must feel . The medication question has been a sorce of a lot of anger in my house as my son is only 5 however he is unable to function in his classroom and normally becomes the class clown . His anger towards himself is very up setting and he crys at home because he know what is asked of him but can not appy himself to the task or instruction . He is my beautiful little boy and I have had a terrible time understanding how this happened to him . I do blame myself because I have learning disablities however after reading your story I have no dout I am going to continue trying to find the right medication for him. So once again thank you.

    • Tom Nardone says:


      Something I did not mention earlier today. Don’t blame yourself. This is not something you caused. This is something that you are fixing because your son is amazing, and creative and you want to see him grow up and not be ridiculed for it. I am so happy to hear about your decision to search for the right medication for your son. I do hope you will keep me posted. I would love to hear about his life changing story. Thank you so much Danielle.

  11. Dawn Smith says:

    Tom OMG!! Yes!!! The stigma with meds drives me nuts. My son is ADD and suffered badly without meds. He struggled it was horrible. Once he started meds it was like night and day! Straight A’s without much effort. Other parents actually had the nerve to tell me I was wrong to give him meds. Of course their kids didn’t have ADD . So what do they know?! That was in the nineties and my son went on to graduate and go to college . Now he is 28 doing very well and we talk about what could have been he not taken meds and we both couldn’t be happier we made the right choice! I agree you give them meds when their sick there is no difference . Nicely said Tom!!

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