ADHD Diagnosis for 4-year-olds – Have Psychiatrists Gone Crazy?

Posted by on Oct 17, 2011 in Monday Musings | 1 comment

The American Academy of Pediatrics released updated guidelines for treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder at its annual conference this weekend that expand the ages for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD to preschoolers.

ADHD is the most frequently diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood, affecting an estimated three to seven per cent of school-aged children.

ADHD can be diagnosed if a child meets criteria set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the so-called “bible” of psychiatry. The criteria state that symptoms — such as “often has difficulty sustaining attention in task or play activities” or “often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat” — must have persisted for at least six months.

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ADHD Diagnosis in Toddlers

So, if your three-and-a-half year old child can’t sit still, or is easily distracted, pay careful attention.  Should such behavior persist through his fourth birthday, he’s a strong candidate for a diagnosis of ADHD.  Drugging him into compliance is almost certainly the best possible solution for all concerned.

Am I the only one who’s shocked by this?

My kids are growing up (11 and 13 now), and are both stellar students as well as being active in various sports and activities (don’t even get me started on how incredibly well they both play the cello – I’m very much the proud mom).   But I can remember when they were little – it wasn’t possible to go for a family walk after supper, or at least not the way an adult would do it – we’d have to stop every 10 feet or so while my son or daughter paused to investigate a pebble, or leaf, or ant, or maybe to climb a railing, or do somersaults on the grass…

This is how children learn – by exploring their environment.  Maybe it’s us that has the problem, because we’ve become so goal-oriented, so focused on achieving something or getting somewhere, that we aren’t even aware of the pebble, or leaf, or ant along the path.  Children are 100% conscious of the present moment – what a pity we start training that out of them as soon as possible.

But to actually DRUG them so that they’ll be easier to deal with, when all they’re doing is displaying normal childhood behavior (and you can’t tell me that having a short attention span, at the age of four, is anything out of the ordinary) – all I can say is – I’m shocked!

One Comment

  1. Could that be a reasonable sign to say that the child is a candidate for ADHD? I never thought that ADHD can already be observed in children as young as 4 yrs. Old. I am aware only on the symptoms of ADHD in children but I am not that aware on how old a child it will start.

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