Whether it is called attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hyperactivity is a real-life problem for many children and their families. It affects mainly school-age youngsters, mostly males, although teenagers and adults also have it. Hyperactivity is not a new syndrome. Medical science has known about it since the early 1900s. "Fidgety Phil", as the patient was dubbed, reportedly suffered from restlessness and "moral" and attention problems. according to the prestigious British medical Journal The Lancet. Sound familiar?

Name Changes

Over the years, the syndrome has been known by several different names - including minimal brain dysfunction (1940s); hyperactive child syndrome (1950s); attention deficit disorder (1970s); and most recently attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. To avoid confusing you, we will use only the terms hyperactivity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in this publication.

Early Treatment

In 1937, at Bradley Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, medical professionals treated so-called hyperactive or "problem" children with the stimulant medication Benzedrine, now called dextroamphetamine. Bradley staff believed that this "was better than whacking them (the children) on the seat of the pants." This same drug was also found to improve the behavior of children who had suffered encephalitis as a result of having measles.

It is reported that Charles Bradley and Maurice Loffer were among the first to document both the benefits and the side effects of treating ADHD children with stimulants. The practice of treating hyperactive children with medications that affect the mind or behavior has been widely criticized by the public and most believe that stimulants medications make children lethargic or depressed.

We know from our research, however, that when used properly, stimulant medications actually normalize children's behavior.

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