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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