Children With ADHD: When Is A Child Too Young To Be Diagnosed With ADHD?
Posted Feb 18 2009 12:00pm
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about very young children being diagnosed with ADHD… Parents want to know:
Can my child be diagnosed at <insert age here>?
How do I know if it’s ADHD or not?
What should I be looking for?
How can I help my child?
These are all great questions to ask! Unfortunately, like so many things when it comes to parenting children with ADHD, there is just no ONE size-fits-all answer!
According to the DSM-IV criteria symptoms of ADHD must be present before age 7.
BUT - we still know that kids are still developing at that young of an age. Furthermore, according to Dr. Daniel Amen, our brains continue to develop until we are 25 years-old. So what it is then? What is the answer?
I’m beginning to sound like a bit of a broken record, but ADHD looks differently in every single individual. On top of that, there are so many different conditions that share the major symptoms of ADHD, as well as factors that can mimic symptoms of ADHD.
To Answer The Question
The diagnostic criteria for ADHD are more of a guideline. They are NOT by any means the determining factor that definitely makes a diagnosis.
For me, I don’t personally like to officially diagnose a child before age 7 or 8, and even then that can be a bit beyond my comfort zone. Instead, I offer you this perspective:
If your child is showing some signs and symptoms of ADHD, then act accordingly. Regardless of a formal diagnosis, there are still strategies and supports that we can put in place to help your child be successful. There are tools we can rely on to make life a little less stressful and overwhelming for you, your child, and the entire family.
So yet again, I ask you to consider the diagnosis a piece of the puzzle. Focus more on the behaviors that you are seeing, and consider how those are causing problems.
As your child gets older, and things become a bit more clear, then we can start to identify whether or not it really is ADHD.
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