If your child has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or you think that your child displays symptoms, you are not alone. Symptoms can show up as early as age 3, according to the American Psychological Association. The APA reports that the most effective assistance for preschoolers occurs with parental training and intervention from education sources. Early diagnosis could help your child cope better in the classroom.
Your child might not show every symptom of ADHD, but if he shows symptoms for more than six months and the symptoms began before he was 5 years old, your child’s teacher could recommend that you have him tested by your pediatrician, a psychologist or a learning specialist. Symptoms that alert you to ADHD in your preschooler could include difficulty sitting still, poor impulse control, difficulty focusing on a single activity and aggression. Kids with ADHD often have a history of accidents, poor balance and very high energy. All children show some of these symptoms occasionally, but the child with ADHD displays them more than most children his age, according to the APA.
ADHD or Normal?
Sometimes it’s difficult to decide if a child has ADHD or just very active and immature compared to others your child’s age. According to a 2010 study published in the “Journal of Health Economics,” children whose birthday is close to the cut-off date for kindergarten registration are more frequently diagnosed with ADHD than those who have a birthday past that cut-off date and start school a year later. Researchers suggest that the younger kindergarten students might be diagnosed more frequently because they were more immature and had less impulse control than their older classmates. If you have concerns about your child’s ability to function in a kindergarten classroom and her birthday is near that cut-off date, you might wait a year before sending your child to kindergarten, allowing her the opportunity to mature.
Students in a kindergarten classroom are expected to follow directions, sit in their seats during a lesson, wait in line to go to lunch or use the restroom, take care of their bathroom needs and focus on assignments until they are completed. It only takes one or two children who have difficulty with these skills to disrupt a class and make learning a challenge for all the students. If your child has difficulties with these tasks, you can practice them at home, use a visual behavior chart to help remind your child what is expected and praise your child when you see the desired behaviors.
Girls vs. Boys
Girls are diagnosed with ADHD less often than boys, even when both exhibit the same behaviors, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics website. Boys tend to act out and be more active than girls, so their behaviors stand out. Girls tend to be less active and cause fewer problems. If your daughter seems to spend much of her time in a daze, has difficulty concentrating and remembering what you tell her and appears clumsy, you might want to have her evaluated, even if she doesn’t display the anger, aggression and excess energy a boy her age does. Catching her symptoms early could keep her from falling behind.
- WebMD: How to Recognize ADHD Symptoms at Every Age
- American Psychological Association: ADHD Among Preschoolers
- Journal of Health Economics: Measuring Inappropriate Medical Diagnosis and Treatment in Survey Data: The Case of ADHD Among School-age Children
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Hidden in Plain Sight -- Girls and ADHD
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