Too Young for Treatment?


"What’s the youngest age at which a child can be diagnosed with and treated for ADHD? Like his older siblings, who have been diagnosed with the disorder, my three-year-old is hyperactive, and I worry about his safety."

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

It’s unusual for a child to be diagnosed before the age of five. But since your son is showing signs of ADHD (and considering the strong family history), there’s no need to wait. Have the doctor who diagnosed your other children evaluate your three-year-old, and ask about starting medication. The latest research from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that, at the appropriate dosage, stimulants are safe and effective even for preschoolers.

For more on this research and on treating preschoolers with ADHD, see
A Diagnosis for Preschool Children with ADHD.

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
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