Diagnose ADHD Beginning At Age Four
The new guidelines for ADHD now recommend that doctors evaluate children beginning at age four! Yes, that right. The American Academy of Pediatrics has just released its expanded guidelines.
Penny, grandmother of a seven year old with ADHD says, “I sure wish this recommendation had happened years ago so that we’d have been able to get treatment a lot sooner for my granddaughter.” Her granddaughter does very well in school now that her ADHD has been diagnosed, but prior to her diagnosis to say she struggled is an understatement. Her family knew something was wrong. Her teacher knew something was wrong. What a blessing the eventual diagnosis was since it meant proper treatment!
The “old rules” had doctors evaluate all children between age 6 and 12 for signs of ADHD, but this new change has expanded that to include all children from age 4 through 18. This change has come about for many reasons including:
- Behavior problems can show up sooner
- Over activity can show up sooner
- Trouble paying attention can show up sooner
- ADHD continues into adolescence
- ADHS has been shown to persist into adulthood
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rates of diagnosis are higher among adolescents than younger kids. Their data reveals that from 6 – 9 percent of kids have ADHD. "I'm glad to see the guidelines now recognize ADHD can occur both in younger children and older adolescents as well," said Aude Henin, from Massachusetts General Hospital's Child Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Program. "I think those are things that have been ignored in the past.” There are signs parents and teachers can look for in considering if a child or teen may have ADHD, including:
- Short attention span
- Difficulties following directions
- Excessive need for movement
It’s important for parents and teachers to be actively involved in observing the child’s behavior as the symptoms may not show during a brief visit to the pediatrician. It is also important for parents to be educated as to how they can contribute to the treatment of the child with ADHD, especially in those children who are diagnosed at a very young age. Teachers of such children should also be aware and be prepared to react appropriately. Depending on the severity of the problem, very young children can sometimes be treated through behavior modification alone rather than medicine. In more severe cases medicine as well as behavior modification may be necessary. As with most medicines, parents will need to watch for side effects of the medicine prescribed.
ADHD can persist for a long time. It’s important for parents, teachers, and doctors to work closely together in treating this condition.