My name is Matt, but some people have called me HazMat, which is short for “hazardous material.” My wife, Judy, says she’s the Tasmanian Devil Whisperer. That’s because I have a condition called Attention Deficit Disorder, commonly known as A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. My A.D.D. makes it really hard (OK, impossible) for me to sit still and focus on anything for more than a few minutes. I’m like a pinball, bouncing off the walls, switching gears on a dime. My mind and body go full tilt from the moment I wake up in the morning until I finally fall asleep at night. Life is kind of crazy for me sometimes.
I was diagnosed with A.D.D. back in the 1970s, when I was eleven years old. I always got along great with the other kids in school, but as I grew older, my non-stop energy became harder for me and my teachers to manage. Consequently my grades weren’t very good. I was getting low B’s and C’s even though everybody told me I was smart enough to earn A’s. Unless I was doing something I enjoyed and appreciated, I had trouble sitting still and staying on task, not only at school, but also when it came time to do my homework and other activities. My parents were worried about me, so they took me to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for testing during summer vacation between the sixth and seventh grades. I had no idea why I was there. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me. I was happy. I was involved in sports, and I had lots of friends. Life was good from my perspective.