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A Look At Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder & Its Common Signs

Student laying his head on the back of his chairThe condition of ADHD is often discussed by parents who suspect their child may have trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks at hand. It seems the condition has made it into the mainstream in the past few decades. For many, it might seem that this condition has suddenly worsened or that it is a relatively new phenomenon probably the result of increased video games or the use of computers. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, has actually been around a long long time. So we thought we’d take a look at some of the first descriptions of the condition and how it has changed throughout history. 

If you have a child that seems to be especially overactive, don’t panic! You want to get your child seen by a physician, but ADHD carries a heavy connotation and the truth is that the condition can be mitigated and many times children with ADHD in their youth will improve over time. 

Early Appearances of this Attention Disorder 

Some of the early medical descriptions of conditions go as far back as the early days of Hippocrates. For people who have studied medicine, this name is all too familiar. He was considered, after all, the father of medicine, as he was responsible for many important thoughts and discoveries that contributed to the study of modern medicine. In any case, Hippocrates lived in Greece from about 460 to 375 BC. He was known to have made at least one reference to patients that were unable to keep their focus on any one thing or task in front of them. He wrote that this was an imbalance and described it as an “overbalance of fire over water.” His recommendations were of a bland diet with plenty of exercises. 

Fast forward all the way to 1798, when Sir Alexander Crichton, a Scottish physician described something like ADHD in medical notebooks. He would refer to it as a “disease of attention.” Crichton practiced in hospitals in Paris, Stuttgart, and Vienna. He observed many cases of mental disorders and became exceedingly interested and intrigued by mental illness. He published a famous paper called, “An inquiry into the nature and origin of mental derangement.” He studied human thought patterns and tendencies. Crichton was important, not because he made specific discoveries on ADHD, but because he was one of the first physicians to really look at mental disorders in a serious way. 

In 1902, a British pediatrician by the name Sir George Frederic Still began to deliver lectures regarding children that struggled with paying attention. He would assert that these children would often be aggressive and have trouble self-regulating or be very emotional. Physicians in the 20th century also began studying the effects of benzedrine, an amphetamine. Dr. Charles Bradley began by using it to treat headaches in children before he observed that it actually changed the behavior of the children and improved the ability to concentrate. In 1944, an alternative to benzedrine became a part of treatment. Another stimulant called methylphenidate was developed and studied. It hit the market as the popular brand named Ritalin. 

Ritalin was named after the wife of Swiss chemist Leandro Panizzon. It is said that he tried the drug on his wife Marguerite, whose nickname was Rita. The medication was named in her honor and is now commonly known as Ritalin. 

It was not until 1980, however, that the disorder was known by the name ADD. The APA named it Attention Deficit Disorder. Then, in 1987, the name was changed to ADHD. IN 1994, the diagnosis was even more refined, as different types of ADHD were identified. It listed three different types including inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. 

What Are the Signs of ADHD

If you suspect your child might suffer from this condition, it is important you talk with your trusted physician. Some of the characteristics of the disorder include excessive motor activity, inattention, and impulsiveness. Many of the historical descriptions of this attention disorder match with what is now commonly known as ADHD. For kids, some of the common behavioral traits might include: 

  • Self-focused behavior
  • Frequent interrupting 
  • Trouble waiting their turn
  • A lot of fidgeting
  • Emotional turmoil 
  • Unfinished task 
  • Lack of focus 

How is ADHD diagnosed? 

Today, healthcare providers use the guidelines provided by the Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. These guidelines are the result of many years of study and collaboration between physicians about the symptoms and signs of the disorder. 

Wondering About ADHD? Get the Support You and Your Child Needs at Pasitos Clinic

Here at Pasitos Clinic, we specialize in many behavioral conditions in children. If you suspect your child might be struggling with focus and attention issues or exhibits one or all of the symptoms above, have them assessed by a medical professional. We provide the support and resources parents need to help their child lead a productive and happy life!

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