Robert Bernardo knows the stigma of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and he wouldn’t wish it on his worst enemy.
What’s worse is that the numbers of children being diagnosed are rising at an unprecedented rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a million more kids had a parent-reported ADD diagnosis in 2007 compared to 2003, a 22 percent increase in 4 years. More than 4.1 million had a current diagnosis in 2007 and 2.7 million were taking medication for the disorder.
Bernardo, who went from growing up with ADD to authoring his first book, Johnny Paradise (www.robertbernardobooks.com), believes that the stigma of ADD does not have to be an impediment in the lives of those who are diagnosed. While living with ADD can be challenging, Bernardo believes it only makes overcoming those challenges more rewarding.
“I’ve lived with ADD for 55 years,” he said. “I have it and I passed it to my children, so I am intimate with both sides of the ADD equation. I know what it is to live with it as a patient and I know what it is to raise children who have it. The odd thing is that I have no problem with either. Some elements of life are made more difficult by ADD, but it does not make achievement and success impossible. My issue is how others can sometimes treat it as an excuse or a reason why they and they’re kids do not achieve. I think that’s the wrong approach and it only fuels the stigma surrounding ADD. I believe that a healthy attitude, forbearance and perseverance can overcome any of the obstacles that ADD presents. People just have to show a little faith.”
Bernardo is living proof, having just published his first novel, with several more on the way. For him, the novels are as much about telling good stories as they are about making a statement.
“It took me five years to write my first book,” he added. “But I finished it. Without ADD, maybe it would have taken five months, but that doesn’t matter. There are people without ADD who struggle for years to write their books, but never finish. I made it to the finish line, even though no one would have faulted me for giving up the dream. My point is that anything is possible. ADD can be a hindrance, but it doesn’t have to be a showstopper. The secret is to discard the stigma, forget the people who say you’ll never be able to fulfill your dreams and embrace only the words and wishes of those who support you. Stop looking to others for inspiration. Find the inspiration inside yourself, and pilot your own ship. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.”
Born in 1955, Robert Bernardo grew up in New Jersey and attended various schools. His Attention Deficit Disorder made it difficult for him to achieve, but he never gave up on his education. He continues to pursue a college degree, and has faith that he will graduate. He has a wife, Lisa, and three teenage kids, Adam, Emily and David. He was an investment broker during his years in Southern California, and also started and sold several highway construction businesses since moving to Texas 20 years ago. It has always been his passion to write on a full-time basis.