ADDitude Magazine at 25: Giant Strides — and More to Go
When ADDitude launched in 1998, ADHD was a punchline and a medical mystery. As ADDitude turns 25, here are some of the changes we’ve seen — and brought about — from our pages.
February 7, 2023
Nearly three decades ago, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and rarely discussed. There was strong resistance, if not outright skepticism, to the notion that ADHD was a “real” disorder. Today, ADHD is the most common mental health diagnosis among children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 million Americans aged 3 to 17 have ADHD — nearly 10% of that population.1
It might not surprise you to learn that it was a devoted mother who helped to create public awareness — through the pages of ADDitude — that this neurodevelopmental disorder needed and deserved understanding and appropriate treatment. That mother was Ellen Kingsley. She left her 20-year TV journalism career when her son was diagnosed with severe ADHD in the mid-1990s. In researching treatments and approaches, Kingsley found very little parent-friendly, practical information about the condition.
The Journey to “ADHD”
One hundred years ago, ADHD was known as “hyperkinesis,” and later as “minimal brain dysfunction.” It was first recognized as “attention deficit disorder” in 1980, with the publication of the DSM-III by the American Psychiatric Association; seven years later, it was given another name: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.2
In the early 1990s, ADHD pioneers Edward Hallowell, M.D., and John Ratey, M.D., changed the ADHD landscape with the groundbreaking book Driven to Distraction, which dispelled old myths, reassured caregivers, and helped a growing number of adults recognize their own ADHD symptoms. Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D., published Taking Charge of ADHD in 1995, and, soon after, the advocacy organizations CHADD and ADDA began to speak more forcefully about ADHD.
Still, public awareness of ADHD lagged behind growing evidence that it was a neurological disorder. Ellen Kingsley launched ADDitude in 1998 to share what she had learned with other families touched by ADHD. In the inaugural issue, she articulated her vision for ADDitude:
[Read: The History of ADHD and Its Treatments]
- ADDitude is about compassion.
- ADDitude is about ending stigma. We will be a powerful, proud voice for people with ADHD.
- We will provide strong, positive role models who shatter negative stereotypes.
- ADDitude is about fair, accurate journalism. You can count on our reporting to have integrity, to be factual and honest.
- ADDitude is about good science. We have assembled a Scientific Advisory Board comprised of some of the nation’s leading ADHD experts.
- ADDitude is about respecting our readers. We will provide you with the information you deserve.
The ADHD Journey Ahead
Respect for and collaboration with ADDitude readers remains a guiding principle today. It is ADDitude’s editorial goal to publish important and useful information that recognizes the serious challenges of living with ADHD, while offering solutions from trusted experts. We also aim to be a platform for the latest research into ADHD and co-occurring conditions, and to provide experts’ analyses on the implications of these new findings.
To this end, ADDitude has contributed to an array of ADHD awareness initiatives over the last decade. We’ve seen considerable growth in ADHD understanding and treatment, yet there is much more to accomplish. We aim to highlight the emotional dysregulation associated with ADHD, its presentation in women (who remain diagnosed at much lower rates than men) and underserved populations, and the role of coexisting conditions. These topics will provide ADDitude with a critical mission for the next 25 years.
ADHD Advocacy and Support: Next Steps
- Find: ADHD Specialists and Clinics Near You
- Free Download: “Is ADHD Real?” Smart Comebacks to ADHD Doubters
- Read: Famous People with ADHD
- Read: 17 Things to Love About Your ADHD!
Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.
View Article Sources
1 Bitsko RH, Claussen AH, Lichstein J, et al. Mental Health Surveillance Among Children — United States, 2013–2019. MMWR Suppl 2022;71(Suppl-2):1–42. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.su7102a1
2 Lange, K. W., Reichl, S., Lange, K. M., Tucha, L., & Tucha, O. (2010). The history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, 2(4), 241–255. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12402-010-0045-8