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The History of ADHD

The History of ADHD

If your child’s teacher has suggested that your child might have ADHD, you might feel alarmed. Does this mean they’ll have to take medication? What is ADHD exactly? Aren’t all children energetic and generally lacking in focus? While ADHD is a very real diagnosis, it’s important to understand the history of ADHD to understand why some people – teachers, mentors, and even doctors – might be trigger happy providing that diagnosis.

The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

The Medicine Preceded the Diagnosis

Although doctors mentioned an “abnormal defect in the moral control of children” in the early 1900s (NOT the language or understanding of the diagnosis today), the invention of Benzadrine accelerated the discovery of the condition. Benzedrine was not originally created as an attention-correcting treatment. It was just for “pep,” to give people an edge, similar to coffee. Benzedrine contained amphetamine, which increased energy, but unintentionally also gave people motivation to complete mundane tasks.

The Diagnosis Was Not Recognized in the First DSM

The DSM, or the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, did not recognize ADD or ADHD as a diagnosis. Later, as Ritalin became the most popular treatment for, essentially, improved behavior in teenagers in school, ADD/ADHD became more and more recognized.

The Focus Shifted to Attention Span in the Late ‘90s

Attention Deficit Disorder finally received its name in in the 1980 edition of the DSM (III). Before then, doctors and researchers called ADHD:

  • First: Mild Brain Damage (MBD)
  • Then: Mild Brain Dysfunction (once studies showed that brain damage or injury is not a prerequisite to ADHD)
  • Then: Hyperkinetic Impulse Disorder.

As research continued, scientists named “attention problems” as the main issue with this disorder.

Why People Are So Quick to Say “ADHD” Today

Now that medication for ADHD is so readily available, popular and well-advertised. ADD and ADHD is more widely known and discussed, which is why, whenever a child is “disruptive” in class or has a difficult time focusing on the task at hand, people are quick to suggest that the child may have ADD/ADHD. It may be beneficial to discuss the symptoms with your doctor to see what they suggest. You may also try to some holistic approaches to ADHD (and for a healthy lifestyle in general) before or while considering medication.

Hope for People with ADHD

Those who truly have a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder have options for treatment. While some ADHD medications may be right for you, there are plenty of holistic approaches to try. You can either try these as a substitute for medication, or you can use them as companion treatments for your medication:

  • Improving your diet
  • Exercising regularly (a least twice a week, for 30-minute intervals)
  • Make time to play
  • Drink plenty of water

Our founder, Daniel, has ADHD himself and saw the benefits of exercise on his symptoms. Since opening Special Strong, he has seen how exercise has improved the lives of others. If you’re ready to improve your life and lessen the impact of ADHD, consider signing up for private training sessions with our personal trainers.

Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.