Explaining the emergence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: children, childhood, and historical change

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This article argues that the origins of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be traced to the late 1950s, and the emergence of a series of political, demographic, technological, cultural, and environmental changes occurring in the United States. While some of these changes, for example, Cold War concerns about the Space Race, heightened academic expectations of children cast hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive behaviours in a negative light, others, such as the introduction of synthetic food additives in the American diet, increased the occurrence of these very same characteristics in American children. The article concludes by contending that it is crucial to understand these historical factors in order to develop effective and child-centred responses to ADHD.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalMovement and Nutrition in Health and Disease
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2019


  • ADHD
  • history
  • children
  • allergy
  • psychiatry

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