Boy playing with building blocks

My Experience With Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

My diagnosis first started when my parents decided to pull me out of the Revere public school system, and put me in a private school for children who had learning disabilities. It just came to my mother one day when she was helping me with homework. Because it was obvious that my city’s public-school system could not help me. They could pretty much only help students with criminal records, not children with learning disabilities, or anything else. So, my mother called my pediatrician, who told her that his secretary’s son had a learning disability, and went to one of those schools. My exit to the gritty public-school system in Revere was coming, we just needed the blessing of the city, and that would be the hardest part.

And so, we had to see the head of the Revere Handicap Commission by the end of the year. Little did I know the woman was going to evaluate me. By the end of the evaluation my parents asked her if she could help me get into this school. And her response was,

“I don’t know, look at him, he’s a rocker, he’s a roller, his eyes ae rolling. He has ADD”.

After this odd meeting my young eleven-year-old life would never be the same again.

After I was diagnosed with ADD my depression would deepen. I would start to isolate even more, and become suicidal. The interesting part is that when I was first put in Special Ed at age 7 I just had a mild learning disability. By the time my family was actually trying to help me leave at age 11, I was very mentally ill. And instead of someone working with me to help me overcome my disability I had people working against me to add ten more disabilities. It was as though the Revere Public School system did not like me, and ruined me in ways that I could never and will never be able to imagine. It is the Great Epic Tragedy of John A. Federico.

Around the same time that I was first diagnosed with ADD, my older brother Domenic was supposed to graduate Savio Prep in neighboring East Boston, or Eastie to locals. He attended Savio from the year of 1995 to 1999. The same year he was accepted to Savio, I was placed in Special ED. As though he escapes the Revere Public School System, and I was exiled from Regular ED, in the Revere Public School System at the same time. One day when my mother was home and not working as a Substitute Teacher in Revere, she received a phone call from the Vice Principle of Savio. He said that Dominic had just took up a seat at Savio for the past four years, and there was a chance that he might not graduate. Between my recent and most unexpected diagnosis, and this sudden and most anxiety provoking news about my older brother not graduating, my mother was frightened. This also happened at the same time that my family was having the first-floor bathroom rebuilt. 1999 was a very anxious year for my family. And an extremely bleak year for myself.


When I look at the year 1999, I see the year that I changed in such a negative way, so drastically. By the end of that year, I was showing the same signs of a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran from the 1960’s or 70’s. It was just one negative after the other. The hardest part was knowing that at one time I was, “normal”. And I do not use that word too loosely. But I played and laughed. I loved my birthday, I loved Christmas. By the year 1999 that had become a bygone era. And I just wanted it back, and I felt as though that coming down with mental illness at age 11, I was cheated the last two years of my childhood, to play, joke, and laugh as a, “normal child”. But it was because of the public-school system I went to that stole those two years away from me. It was as though that they tore me down, and never bothered to build I back up.

I still remember the summer of 1999; it was a great summer for me and my family as I look back on it now. I was not undergoing the trials of my elementary school. I was not being tortured, bullied, and teased because I was a, “Sped”. We vacationed at the White Mountains of New Hampshire that summer, in a resort named, “The Beacon North Motel”, which was the northern section of the Beacon Resort. I still remember being there and hearing my father say,

“When we go back home where going to have to deal with what Johnny is going through in school, with the city, with the state, let’s just enjoy this and forget our problems for a week”.

In the end that is what it was a way to forget our problems for a week. Revere was changing at this time, the Beach had been deteriorating since the late 60’s, and that had been thirty years earlier. Everything surrounding Revere had been deteriorating for the same amount of time, like Chelsea, Lynn, East Boston, Evert, and Malden. Starting in the late 60’s gangsters disguised as corrupt politicians took one area over after another. In the early 60’s when my mother’s family first left East Boston to come to Revere, the city they left had been overtaken by the mob. A few years later the mob followed them out to Revere. It was a social epidemic that killed everything in sight.

My mother still remembers the Frolic’s down Revere Beach. The Frolic’s was noted for its high-end ball room where Italian American women would have their bridal parties. It was quiet clique, this was during Revere’s golden age, when the city was noted for its beach, piers, ballrooms, hotels, Greyhound Park, and of course it’s amusements. The golden Age of Revere stretched from 1896 to 1966. But by the late 1960’s and early 70’s the city and its beach began to deter ate. For one there was an entire urban exodus from Boston, and other major cities across the country. They moved to the suburbs away from the city center, and instead of taking the T to Revere, they would drive down to the Cape, and the Islands, or to Disney World near Orlando, Florida by it’s opening in the early 70’s. Also, in the late 60’s corrupt politicians like who I called, “Tony Sicilian”, rose to power. There were several, or several dozen corrupt and mobbed up politicians that rose to power in Revere in those years the Tony Sicilian was closely based on. They rose to power in Revere start in the late 40s, when there were serious talks of cleaning up city hall after the war.

But it was not until the late 60’s and early 70’s that corruption began to become a social ill killing off Revere and its beach. A lot of it had to do with the political back drop. If one is to look at that time, they will see a time of gangsters, Hell’s Angels, drugs, free sex, and Rock Roll. It hit one city after another, across the entire country. It started in the lower ends of East Boston, south of the more so at the time St. Andrew’s Road, and Orient Heights Yacht Club quarters of the city. It than migrated to Suffolk Downs, one of the largest fixed race tracks that bordered Revere. And from there came to the gleaming city of Revere. And then Chelsea and Lynn. By 1968, 69, 70, and so on Revere, East Boston, Chelsea, and Lynn where four whole, “Cities of Sin”, they ran rampart with corruption, vice and sin. And where the perfect setting for my organized political corruption epic, “Revere, Mass”.

In Revere, Mass, Tony Sicilian takes two Revere denizens under his wing named “Joe Neapolitan, and Tommy Florence”. It was in classic Goodfella’s or A Bronx Tale fashion. Only a shady Revere machine version of the dominant crime families of Brooklyn and The Bronx, NY. However, by the time those movies where released in the early to mid-90, Revere’s shady past was a bygone era. The Tony Sicilian’s of Revere had fallen, and for several years in the 90’s this once wide open and violent city had been rather quiet. But by 2000 things would start to pick up again, and old stories would be revised.

I still recall the mayor election in Revere of 1999, between the who would be outgoing mayor, and a political figure I will just call, “Tommy Taxes”. There was talks of a new mayor in Revere since 1997, the previous term. But the president of the Revere city council who was supposed to win the election turned out to be a bit too close to the Tony Sicilian of years gone by in the city. But by the year 2000 it was any one who challenged the outgoing mayor’s election. And so, it was Tommy Taxes election. I still remember Tommy Taxes placing his campaign poster on top of his opponents HQ. The younger voters in Revere saw that as a symbol of rebellion, something they could identify with. After that it was obvious, Tommy Taxes was the next mayor of Revere. And those dark days of Revere where coming back.

Tommy Taxes came to our door one day, and my father told him to clean up, “250 Broadway”, and “Shirley Ave”, which where the two neglected parts of the city. Tommy Taxes ran away from our door. It was obvious right there that Tommy Taxes was not going to call out the rising corrupt forces coming to power in Revere around 1999 and 2000. Even though Tommy Taxes was not corrupt, virtually every one under him where. This would be a time when these underlings who really ran the city under Tommy Taxes where making threats all across the city to each other, saying “I’ll be in the mayor’s office this January”, and “I want this one and that one gone”. Tommy Taxes would take us back to the days of Tony Sicilian, Joe Neapolitan, and Tommy Florence from years earlier for the next ten years. It would all begin around the years 1999 or 2000, when I would come of age in this city that was once again all about politics and revenge.

I still remember my diagnosis, and how it all started. My mom and dad were not happy with my negative experience in the Revere Public School District. It was quite negative, specifically because I was in Special ED classes. Finally, in the beginning of 5th grade, somewhere towards the end of 1998, my mom decided that it was time to place me somewhere else. I think she wanted to put me in a private special with school for kids with learning disabilities. I think it was the LA MN dark school in Prides Crossing, Beverly, which is an affluent neighborhood on the North Shore of Eastern Massachusetts. That is when my mom and dad decided to take me in to meet the head of the handicap commission in Revere, because she might be able to help. Furthermore, that was at the beginning of the dark times.

I walked into the woman’s office at Revere High School one afternoon after school. I was not expecting to be in the midst of a two-hour evaluation, after she declared herself my “student advocate.” Somewhere in the testing the woman made an error in speech. I unintentionally started laughing out of anxiety. She then said that she is not like my mom and dad and will “wipe my nose for me.”

Finally, at the end of the evaluation my dad asks her if she can help my family put me in the Landmark School. She said that she did not know. I wax a “rocker and a roller,” my “eyes were rolling,” and I have “ADD.”  My mom left her office in tears that Friday night.

Somewhere afterwards I was at either playing at Bonker’s Fun House, or a Chucky Cheese Fun House. I was playing by myself, as always. Suddenly, a mother approaches my mom and told her that I was playing by myself like her son, who was diagnosed with PDD NOS. PDD NOS is anything in the PDD family, such as Autism, or Asperger’s syndrome. I would be diagnosed with PDD right before my 12th birthday. I would not know what it meant until I was in my late 20s.

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