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Introduction: The View from the ADHD Roller Coaster—Both Sides

Read “Busting Common ADHD Myths”

The monthly meeting comes to order in the heart of Silicon Valley, a world center of leading-edge technology. Household names such as Google, Yahoo, Apple, YouTube, Netflix, and Hewlett-Packard dot this short stretch of coastal California between San Francisco and San Jose. In attendance this evening are software developers and computer scientists, some from these very companies.

What’s on tonight’s agenda? The Next Big Thing in high-tech? Not exactly. Not unless you have adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). In that case, keeping track of your keys can be a very big thing indeed.

Phillip,* 32, a talented software programmer with a beautiful smile and an engaging personality, begins: “Okay, I’ve been practicing some of the suggestions we talked about last time for keeping track of my keys, and I can’t believe how well they’re working.” No one snickers. No one rolls their eyes. Most people attending this support group for adults with ADHD chuckle and nod in agreement, relieved to hear someone speak openly about an embarrassing problem that they, too, have, or a problem similar to theirs.

Make no mistake: Silicon Valley might be a worldwide magnet for people with ADHD, what with their stereotypical love of the new and novel. But even here, ADHD is not limited to young men who tinker in high-tech, and its challenges aren’t limited to lost keys. The people gathered tonight—male and female, professionals and blue-collar workers, teens and retirees, long-time locals and new immigrants from many different nations—find themselves dogged by a few or many of these other difficulties

  • Losing track of priorities
  • Arriving late to events and missing deadlines
  • Having trouble initiating tasks and following through to completion
  • Being chronically disorganized
  • Managing finances poorly
  • Losing their temper easily
  • Overspending, smoking, video gaming, and other addictions
  • Not being “present” in relationships

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