At what age can a child be accurately diagnosed with ADHD? My 3 and a half year old son exihibits signs of having ADHD but his pediatrician thinks that he is just being a typical 3 year old. Please help. Each day grows increasingly frustrating for me and his babysitter. The other day he was running around the house and I asked him why he won't sit down and he replied that he couldn't help himself. Am I overracting? Is this behavior normal for 3 year old boys?
Generally, pediatric mental health clinicians prefer to wait until the age of seven or so to diagnose ADHD, because so many of the symptoms (inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity) of ADHD are typical of the behavior of yopung (particularly pre-school) children.
Having said this, it does happen that ADHD is diagnosed in pre-school children, and medication is sometimes prescribed in these circumstances. However, there is considerable debate about the appropriateness of such diagnoses, leading some to conclude that ADHD is over-diagnosed and medication over-prescribed in this young population.
A reasonable stance is that ADHD should be diagnosed, and medication prescribed, only in the most serious (even severe) situations in children as young as your son.
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