In 1937 Psychiatrist, Dr. Charles Bradley discovered, quite by accident, when attempting to treat “problem” children for headaches, that taking Benzedrine Sulfate resulted in a marked improvement in their behavior, academic achievements, social encounters, and emotional problems. It’s ADHD Awareness Month - to share your ADHD story get in touch using our Contact Form.

Dr. Bradley experimented with treating these children with stimulants. He later published articles describing his experiments using stimulants to treat children displaying a certain set of symptoms associated with what came to be identified as Minimal Brain Dysfunction. It was not until the 1950’s, however that prescribing stimulants became a regular practice.

The set of symptoms that Dr. Bradley’s children displayed can be described as the inability to sit still, pay attention, or focus. They were disorganized and had great difficulty completing tasks. The children had a tendency to make careless mistakes. They also seemed to be very self-centered and day dreamed a lot. They were extremely active, always on the go, they talked a mile a minute, they were also very impulsive, unruly, and disobedient. (Additude Editors).

All of the above symptoms are now commonly known as ADHD, but it was not until 1980 that the DSM-III actually recognized these symptoms to be a disorder and named that disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. (Strohl 2011).

Unfortunately, a controversy concerning the diagnosis of ADHD has developed in recent years. Even though there are documented deviations in the brains of many individuals displaying ADHD symptoms and there is sufficient evidence to suggest that ADHD impairs the daily functioning of many individuals who suffer with it, it is debated among professionals and parents alike, whether the disorder is a mental health issue, a neurological issue, an extreme expression of normal behavior, or just bratty behavior caused by poor parenting.

My own daughter displays many of the symptoms commonly associated with an ADHD diagnosis, which her doctors have admitted is a result of the brain damage she suffered during brain tumor surgery. Despite this very real and documented cause, my husband and I have been accused many times by many ignorant people of turning her into a spoiled, rotten brat because we do not “make” her behave!!

While on the one hand I certainly do not condone prescribing potentially dangerous and addictive medications willynilly to children, and I believe that all avenues of treatment, including safer alternative treatments should be explored and exhausted, I do feel that if a medication does happen to enhance a child’s ability to function more appropriately and therefore significantly improves their quality of life, then perhaps medication could be a good thing!

Whether or not you want to call it a mental health disorder, a neurological disorder, an extreme variation of normal, bad behavior or even ADHD, I believe it is impossible to ignore the fact that many children and adults battle with a set of symptoms that are commonly known as and labled as ADHD and these symptoms are wreaking havoc in their lives.

We should be supporting these individuals with care, concern, and understanding.

Works Cited: Strohl, Madeleine; Bradley Benzedrine Studies on Children with Behavioral Disorders; Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine; 2011 Mar; 84(1): 27・33; Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3064242/ Additude Editors; Is it ADHD? Checklist of 18 Symptoms; Retrieved from: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/621.html

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