Did Shakespeare first notice ADHD?

Is ADHD a 21st Century phenomenon?

A lot of people I meet ask me why ADHD wasn’t around when they were at school (pre 1985).

My answer to that is that it WAS around, it’s just that probably it wasn’t in our ‘non-inclusive’ classrooms.


The first reference to ADHD could be in 1613, in Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII, where he mentioned what he called a "malady of attention."

ADHDFollowing this, a character affectionately called Fidgety Philip was created within a collection of children's poems, written by the German doctor Heinrich Hoffmann in the mid 1800s.  Fidgety Phil was a little boy who won't sit still at dinner and – obviously – fidgets constantly.  Another of Dr Hoffmann's book characters was "Johnny Head-in-Air" due to his day-dreamy inattention.  These characteristics were drawn from Dr Hoffman's observations when working with children in his professional practice.

Later, in...

Male. Female. LGBT

In recent years I have become only slightly encouraged by the slow increase of recruitment of staff with LGBT responsibilities in 16 - 18 education establishments.  In most cases this person has a student union or student services function in addition to other responsibilities but they are given LGBT training and counselling/mentoring skills which are sorely needed in that environment.

And it is with a heavy heart that I’ll tell you why.

LGBTApproximately 7 or 8 years ago when I was working in a general FE college managing the Behavioural and Additional Learning Support department, I was approach by a worried parent in July, telling me that her 16-year-old son **Mark was coming to college to enrol in September, and that Mark was currently transitioning from being her daughter to her son.

Mum was looking for reassurance that the college could put together the right...

Want to become a trainer? 6 tips to engage an audience

There’s something highly potent about being a learner in a damn good training session. I mean in the sense that you’re present in the moment, enjoying the experience and benefitting both professionally and personally.

I haven’t yet met a successful business person who doesn’t continually seek some new knowledge, to extend their success or to diversify.

If you’re thinking of getting into the training business, it’s probably because you have considerable and vital knowledge in your specialist topic that you’re just itching to pass on to others.

I have a tried and tested formula for creating an engaging training course, whether for 3 hours, 6 hours or 2 days.

It’s important to ensure that the learning experience is discerning, that your attendees can ‘go the distance’ and that they leave the session giving you a Good or Excellent feedback sheet. And then come back for more again and again!

The vital ingredients are some...

ADHD in class – Don’t mix up your Neurotransmitters with your Neurotypicals

In this post I’d like to try and explain - as simply as possible - the importance of neurotransmitters, and how a person with ADHD is enormously influenced (for the better and for the worse) by the fluctuating levels in their body.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word Neurotransmitter as:

“A chemical substance which is released at the end of a nerve fibre by the arrival of a nerve impulse and, by diffusing across the synapse or junction, effects the transfer of the impulse to another nerve fibre, a muscle fibre, or some other structure.”

Put more easily, these are brain chemicals which communicate information to nerve cells, and regulate our behaviour and emotions.

When these brain chemicals are lowered in effectiveness or the levels occasionally dip or peak, they become out of ‘synch’ which impacts on our behaviour.

trio dopamine serotonin norepinephrine

ADHD and Learning

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Have you ever wondered what the heck ADHD has to do with problems with learning?

When was the last time you were in a classroom or training room all day?

I’ll bet that even the most studious of you felt restless at times, looking forward to a break or a change in the pace of the learning.

Ask yourself this question: “What are the top skills you need in order to be successful in the classroom?”.

Some of you may come up with answers such as

  • an enquiring mind
  • the desire to succeed
  • a good pen!
  • organise work easily
  • be able to work independently

Whereas others might say:

  • able to concentrate on tasks
  • capacity to remember facts/excellent memory
  • ability to sit still in class
  • working with others
  • pay attention during lectures

The second set of skills (above) are examples of how a person with ADHD is disadvantaged because these skills are lacking (or reduced) as part of the condition.

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