What is ADHD?

Question: What Is ADHD?


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common psychiatric conditions affecting children. Nearly 2 million children in the U.S. suffer from ADHD, yet the symptoms that characterize the disorder are often mislabeled or misdiagnosed by parents, teachers, and doctors. Of course, all children display hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive behaviors at some point, but these symptoms create serious problems at home and at school for children with ADHD.

Some of the key things to be aware of:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral and developmental disorder.
  • ADHD usually becomes apparent during the preschool and early school years.
  • Children with ADHD have difficulty paying attention and controlling their behavior.
  • Some estimates show that between 3 and 5 percent of children have ADHD, or approximately 2 million children in the United States.
  • Based on these estimates, at least one child in a classroom of 25 to 30 children is likely to have ADHD.

History of ADHD

Dr. Heinrich Hoffman in 1845 first described ADHD in a children's book, The Story of Fidgety Philip, which contained an accurate description of a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

In 1902, Sir George F. Still provided the first clinical description of the disorder in a series of papers about a group of children who displayed impulsivity and behavior problems.

According to Still, these symptoms were caused by a genetic dysfunction and not by poor parenting. Since that time, a wealth of research on the symptoms, causes and treatments for ADHD has been published.

Next: The Symptoms of ADHD

Reference: (1996) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder National Institute of Mental Health

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