[LMB] On ADHD

Jelbelser jelbelser at comcast.net
Sun Oct 20 01:09:58 BST 2019


> I am probably an ADD adult, but have never been diagnosed. back in the
> 1950s AFAIK they weren't diagnosing it like they do now.

After WWI a study of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries found many displayed a combination of traits (distractibility, hyperactivity, and I believe perseveration). In the 1920s , a study of boys in an institution for boys with mental retardation found that many of the boys  also displayed these characteristics. Since these boys didn’t have a history of brain injuries, it was proposed that they had brain injuries that were not detected. This condition, or combination of traits, was labeled “minimal brain dysfunction.” 

By the late 1960s the idea that kids like this all had brain damage at some level was being challenged. At that point people started calling this condition ADHD to get away from the idea that it indicated brain damage.
> 
> Beatrice Otter:
> I'm pretty sure they hadn't even discovered it as a condition in the 1950s and were just assuming it was people being lazy and stupid.
> 
> Autism they did know about by the 1950s and 1960s, when my Dad was a kid, but pretty much the only way you could get diagnosed was if you were an upper class white boy with no other neurological or psychological conditions* with educated parents who knew someone who knew someone who knew Dr. Leo Kanner.  As my Dad was a working-class kid with working-class parents on the opposite coast, he didn't get diagnosed.  When I was a kid in the 80s, I didn't get diagnosed because I was a girl and a good student.  (I got diagnosed when I was in grad school because I needed the paperwork in order to get accommodations.)  But my baby brother is sixteen years younger than I am, and he got diagnosed at age three, largely because a friend of the family insisted he get tested. 

When I was studying special education in the late 1970s, autism was “early infantile autism” in the English speaking world. This label was applied only to severely affected children. I remember a class discussion on the topic “every special education condition effects in a spectrum of intensity, except early infantile autism. What would mild early infantile autism look like?”  Really!!! 

Both of my brothers would be diagnosed as autistic today. But until the 1990s mild, high functioning autistic spectrum was not on the radar of anyone in the English-speaking world. You were not diagnosed because that diagnosis did not exist in the 1980s.

A friend of mine had a son who was in an early intervention program in the 1970s. She begged for a diagnosis but was never given one. Part of that was the concept popular then that labeling kids was bad for them, but part was that he didn’t fit in any current diagnostic category. He is textbook Asperger’s.

Janet in TN




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