The first clinical description of ADHD was reported in the British journal, Lancet, by Dr. George Still in 1902. He was a British physician treating children who noticed some of his patients were disinhibited and impulsive.
In the 1930s in the United States, Dr. Charles Bradley made further observations on the effect of stimulant medication on children.
Since that time, the descriptive terms that have been used to identify ADHD people have reflected the current scientific understanding of the day as to what this condition represented biologically.
In the 1960s, the emphasis was primarily on hyperactivity and at that time a caricature of an ADHD child would have been “Dennis the Menace” – that is, a child with tremendous energy who could be seen, perhaps, as intrusive.
In spite of this impulsiveness, Dennis was always seen as a good child.
An important development occurred in the early 1970s when Canadian researcher Dr. Virginia Douglas began to focus on cognitive impulsivity, or the daydreaminess and lack of focus in addition to the outward manifestations of motor impulsivity, such as being fidgety.